There has been so much in the news recently about last year’s Cairo Conference on Populations and Development and the forthcoming Beijing Women’s Conference in September that I felt myself almost impelled to do some study on world population and the world food situation.
I confined myself to three sources, The War Against the Family, by William D. Gairdner; The War Against Population, by Professor Jacqueline Kasun; and the May 1995 issue of New Federalist, an American publication. In view of the coming conference in Beijing, it may be of interest.
The World Food Situation
- We have more food than ever. The world food output has continued to match or outstrip population growth since 1970, especially in some of the poorest nations.
- Only 2 per cent of the world’s population suffers from serious hunger according to the Harvard Centre for Population Studies.
- Political tyranny, no people is the problem. War, political despotism and socialism are the great destroyers of food supply in Africa and elsewhere, not the climate or natural agriculture.
- The world’s farmers use only half the arable land. The world has vast, untapped productive sources.
- Prof. Colin Clark, of Oxford University, writes that, using current best methods, the world could easily support 35.1 billion people. At present we are about 5.5 billion
- Roger Revelle of Harvard estimates that Africa alone could support 10 billion. Indian economist, Raj Krishna says that India’s arable land could be doubled and sufficient food grown to feed the entire world.
Western Europe – In 1986, the number of births in the entire European Community (Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Britain, Ireland, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium) declined overall by 30% from 1964 – 1986. In Germany and especially in Italy—the two most populous nations in Europe—the fall has been 40-45%. By the year 200, the average age of a European will be 43 (up from 34 at present) and 20% of the population will be over 60. In Germany, with the fertility rate of 1.4 children per woman, nearly 40% of the population will be 60 years or older by 2030. In some regions of Italy, fertility rates have fallen below one child per woman as of January 1992. That figure is 48% below replacement rate and the lowest in the world.
The Former Soviet Bloc – In the new eastern states of Germany, births have fallen by fully 50% since 1989. By summer of 1992, fertility rates, in the Ukraine had fallen to 1.17 children per woman. Russia’s population fell in 1992 for the first time since World War II and is now decreasing by 196,000 people per year. In Russia there were 201 abortions per 100 births in 1991—up 166 since 1987.
Asia – In Thailand, where 22% of the married people are sterilized, fertility has fallen by over 60% since the 1960s. In Sri Lanka, 25% of married women are sterilized. In Japan, the birth rate for 1994 was 9.8 per 1,000 population, the lowest recorded in the world. In China the fertility is now reported to be between 1.8 and 1.9 children per woman. In 1990 it was 2.3 per woman. 28% of Chinese married women are sterilized. The proportion of couples of child-bearing age in China who were sterilized or used contraception in 1992 was 83%.
The Americas – In North America, net international immigration accounts for about 25% of population growth over recent years. Between 1960 and 1970, fertility rates fell in the U.S. and Canada by 40% to 1.8 per woman. Fertility rates are holding in Canada at 1.7, approximately 20% below replacement. The U.S. rate rose just above replacement level at 2.1.
Africa – Fertility rates have fallen sharply in North Africa. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, with its 2-3% population growth rate, fertility is falling rapidly. The Aids epidemic is tragically taking its toll on many countries.
Despite these statistics, State Department Counsellor Timothy Wirth who led the U.S. Delegation to Cairo, made the following statement, “President Clinton is deeply committed to moving population to the forefront of America’s international priorities, with the goal of stabilizing world population growth. The U.S. believes the Cairo Conference would be remiss if it did not develop recommendations and guidance with regard to abortion. Our position is to support reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion.”