It’s one of the certainties of this age. School children learn it the way they learn their multiplication tables.
The world is bursting with human beings and unless severe measures are taken we will all gradually be squeezed out of existence. The environment, our resources and food supplies are stretched to the breaking point. The population is spinning wildly out of control.
But a growing number of economists and population experts are saying don’t believe it. Don’t believe the doomsayers, they say.
They are saying, if anything the world’s population growth is leveling off and the Western world has begun to experience severe declines in population.
Jacqueline Kasun, an economist and population expert, has become an outspoken critic of the “population- spinning-out-of-control” theory. Kasun, who gave a day-long seminar in Toronto recently, says the problems which plague the world are not because of overpopulation. She concedes the well-publicized threats to the earth but says pointing the finger at overpopulation as a culprit is misguided if not downright fraudulent.
“We must be extremely wary of those who would use the environment or the existence of poverty and hunger as excuses to establish their dictatorship,” she says.
She gives an almost bewildering array of facts from independent sources to back up her argument.
- Most of the earth is still empty. The area occupied by human beings amounts to about one per cent of the land surface of the world. The fact is we tend to crowd together not because of lack of space but because we need to work together.
- The birth rates for women both in the U.S. and Canada are well below replacement rate. Total fertility among Canadian women (1.7 children per woman) has fallen by 45 per cent since 1965.
- If present fertility rates continue, the less developed world will reach zero population growth by the end of the next century.
- There is no economic reason for anyone on the earth to go hungry.
- Farmers use only a fraction of the world’s arable land. The former director of Harvard Centre for Population Studies has estimated the less developed continents are capable of feeding up to 18 billion people.
- Severe food shortages are more often the result of war and social problems. In Ethiopia, for instance, the government seized no only the food but the draft animals as well. It then exported the food in exchange for arms.
- There is enough natural gas and coal to last for at least a thousand years. Much of the earth has yet to be explored for oil.
- Environmental threats are attributable to the way we use our resources rather than simply to increased population.
The problem with predicting the future population of the world is so fraught with uncertainty that the United Nations has recently released three predictions to cover all the possible bases. One says population growth will increase drastically, one says it will remain steady, and another predicts a decrease.
Yet, with this degree of uncertainty, agencies such as the U.N. and the World Bank continue to pursue active anti-population initiatives. Through the generous support of the U.S. government and the Rockefeller Foundation, the movement to control the number of births has taken on a sinister nature.
Kasun uses a document by Planned Parenthood to show where the population control movement is going. It calls for measures such as “fertility control agents in the water supply,” measures to “encourage increased homosexuality,” a “substantial marriage tax,” “permits for children,” “compulsory abortion” and “compulsory sterilization of all who have two children.”
American agencies, strongly backed by Congress, have made it a policy to tie foreign aid to countries which curtail their population.
One idea, which a wide spectrum of international agencies including the World Bank have advocated, is the use of birth licences which would be required before a child is born.
Kasun traces back the modern movement to Margaret Sanger, the infamous founder of Planned Parenthood, who called for population control as early as 1932. She was a proponent of a “stern and rigid policy of sterilization” for tens of millions of the American population who she thought shouldn’t be allowed to have children.
The American government and its policy makers are major proponents of the anti-population movement. The director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, for instance, has advocated the sterilization of one quarter of the fertile women of the world to maintain “the normal operation of U.S. commerce around the world.”
With such powerful and determined foes, people like Kasun seem to be voices in the wilderness. The anti-population lobby hopes to consolidate its success next year at the International Conference on Population and Development. Kasun says it will have the “enthusiastic support” of President Clinton, the American Congress and media giant Ted Turner. She predicts it will be a “banner year” for the population controllers, but adds, “the world’s families will have to live with the consequences.”