Who says the world is overpopulated? And what does that mean anyway? Hunger? Crowding? Environmental harm? For over 200 years we’ve been told that the world is overpopulated. But is it? Check this out.
In 1798, Thomas Malthus thought the world was overpopulated when world population was under one billion. In his book, An Essay on the Principles of Population, he advocated not supporting the poor and controlling the population. He was wrong.
When world population was about 1.3 billion, Charles Darwin, who’s Theory of Evolution was based on Malthus’ book, thought the struggle for survival would cause the extinction of underdeveloped cultures by developed peoples. He was wrong.
Francis Galton, creator of Eugenics, the so-called science of improving the human race, thought the African races were so inferior genetically that Chinese should be settled in Africa to drive the Negro races to extinction and replace them. He was wrong.
Around 1920 when the population was about 1.9 billion, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a prominent eugenicist, believed we needed to get rid of “human weeds,” including dark skinned people from Southern Europe, Africa and India as well as the mentally or physically impaired. She advocated for sterilization, birth control, and abortion. She was wrong.
In the 1930s when world population was about 2 billion, Adolf Hitler believed the world was overpopulated and sought to gain “Lebensraum” (living room) by invading other countries and exterminating “inferior” people, including Jews and Gypsies. By doing so he sought to create a super race of Arian Germans. He was wrong.
In 1966 when the world population was 3.3 billion, to control population, under President Johnson, US AID began requiring population control quotas as a condition for receiving foreign aid. Mass sterilization camps were set up in poor countries using equipment supplied by the UN and US. He was wrong.
Meanwhile, in the 1960s the Green Revolution of higher yield, more disease resistant and more nutritious varieties, increased crop yields by orders of magnitude, making it possible to feed the world without sacrificing forests and other pristine wilderness areas.
When The Population Bomb was published in 1968 by Paul Ehrlich, world population was about 3.7 billion. He believed the world was overpopulated and required drastic action to reduce the population in order to prevent mass starvation and collapse of the society. He was wrong.
In 1972, after nearly 30 years of controlling disease carrying insects, DDT was banned by the EPA in spite of overwhelming evidence refuting claims of harm; the ban was based more on political fears of growing populations in developing countries than on real science or perceived harm. Before the ban DDT eliminated Malaria in the developed world. Developing countries were threatened with loss of foreign aid if they did not discontinue DDT use. Most did, but India did not comply.
Today the world population is about 7.5 billion. USAID, UNFPA, (UN Fund for Population Activities), UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), WHO, World Bank, International Planned Parenthood, Population Council, Marie Stopes and other groups continue the Overpopulation Myth with abortion, sterilization, IUD implantation and birth control activities in poor countries around the world. They are still wrong.
So, is the world overpopulated? Not by any measure. Let’s look at what we mean by overpopulated.
Do we have enough food for everyone? Yes. Thanks to modern agricultural techniques and high yield crops there is more than enough for at least 11 billion people without any increase in acres cultivated. Advancing technology will probably multiply the yield still further as it has in the past. Myths against modern pesticides, herbicides, modern agricultural techniques and biotech crop enhancements (aka GMO) are used to keep poor countries on subsistence agriculture, which results in deforestation to replace depleted fields.
Is the food distributed fairly? No. Other than disasters and wars, hunger has more to do with local politics than with food supplies. Corrupt governments, propped up by government to government foreign aid, which the poor rarely see, are incentivized to help with international population control schemes, but not to build infrastructure, attract investment and help to raise the standard of living of their own rural poor. As long as the people are kept poor, the aid money keeps coming, so corrupt governments have little or no incentive to improve conditions for their people. Foreign aid must be replaced by foreign and domestic investment in infrastructure with accountability.
Is there enough room for all the people? Compared to the land area of the earth, the population is very small. For perspective, if all the people in the world were placed in an area the size of Texas, each person would have almost 93 square meters. A family of four would have 372 square meters. That’s about 4000 square feet, enough for a 2000 square foot house and a yard or garden. This thought experiment puts population in perspective with the size of the earth. No one is suggesting we actually do this, except for the loony left who are grasping at straws to defeat this argument against the overpopulation myth.
Global average population is 55 people per square kilometer of land area, excluding Antarctica. That’s 17.96 acres per family of four. In 2016, over 54% of the population lived in cities, which covers only 2.7% of the land. That means that 46% of the population is rural and lives on 97.3% of the land area. That calculates to 26 people /km2 in rural areas or 38 acres per family of four. Yes, I know that large areas are uninhabitable. Even if we assumed 50% uninhabitable, that’s still a lot of land per person. The fact that only 10% of the land is actually inhabited doesn’t change the picture. There is still a lot of land out there to accommodate and feed a larger population. All this doesn’t even count the 71% of the earth’s surface that is water, which is a food source and a highway between markets.
Is Overpopulation causing Climate Change? As a part of the biosphere, the human race is a small contributor to the total carbon and carbon dioxide gas, and is exceeded by orders of magnitude by land and sea vertebrate animals, and even more extremely by insects and other invertebrates, both in numbers and total mass. One estimate claims there are 300 pounds of insects for every human pound, or 1.4 billion insects per person. With almost 2 million different species described so far and possibly many more un-described, estimates vary widely, even for human populations, especially in poor countries. Corrupt governments may over estimate numbers and under report economic conditions to receive more foreign aid dollars.
Is the environment being harmed by too many people? No. Poverty, including subsistence farming, not population, causes environmental harm and deforestation. Modern agriculture and higher yield crop varieties can end deforestation and provide surplus crops to sell. Roads, electricity, clean water and disease control can provide a healthy workforce and energy to attract investors and run industry. Historically, improved infrastructure and opportunity also stabilize populations and reduce family size. By keeping the poor in poverty, environmentalists actually are doing more harm to the environment. Raising standards of living means people will be able to care for their environment.
Many developed countries have bought into the overpopulation myth to the point that their birth rates are below replacement value. Japan, which reached one of the lowest global birth rates of 1.4 in 2014, has started paying people to have children because of the looming demographic catastrophe of too few people to work and support the elderly who cannot work. Some of the highest density areas of the world are the richest. Look at Shanghai. It is not only the most populated city in the world, 24 million, with an average population density of 2050/km2 (3854/km2 urban) but is one of the most prosperous.
Rural poor areas in developing countries are underpopulated. With diseases from insects and contaminated water taking a high toll and attrition from migration into cities by the young and healthy, there are not enough healthy people to build infrastructure and markets and raise the standard of living of the rural poor. They already have population control by disease and poverty. They certainly don’t need birth control, sterilization and abortion.
Is the planet overpopulated? By all measures of overpopulation, the earth is far from capacity to support its people. Since overpopulation advocates have been scaring us for 200 years, why should be believe what they keep saying? Quit worrying about an assumed problem that has yet to materialize. The real problem is with the population control advocates, the abortionists, the sterilizers and the international governmental and nongovernmental organizations that keep paying these organizations for killing off the hope of the future while keeping people in extreme poverty: poor, sick, isolated, ignorant and controlled. Free market solutions are the answer, not money given to prop up corrupt government officials, which the poor rarely see.
The rural poor in developing countries need disease control, electricity and roads to end isolation. They need Employment, Education, Investment, Infrastructure and Disease Control to join the 21st century. It is possible and you can help.
How can you help? Get involved through charities, investments and campaigning against policies that hurt and oppress the poor. Be an advocate for economic development and against population control.
Note: Updated from an earlier post, June 2018.
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