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The over-population myth

Yesterday someone wrote into the local 'rag' complaining that large families were wrecking the planet. I could not resist replying with what I believe is a factual challenge to her argument. I didn't however address the various implications of her point of view which is a fear of human beings and seeing them primarily not as "children of God" but as "drains on resources". It is a tragic viewpoint but sadly prevalent.

Susan Chapple's letter of 3rd Feb to Plymouth Herald:

WHAT is wrong with these selfish people who keep on having massive families whose offspring mainly are financed by the taxpayer?

From these families will come thousands more who one day will require somewhere to live, food to eat and the use of utilities, all of which will not be available for much longer. Thousands more houses will be built, taking away precious land used for growing food.

There will not be any more parkland, fields or moorland, they will all be covered with concrete and brick houses. Animals and birds will be extinct because we will have eaten them all or wildlife's habitat destroyed for more houses.

We will be eating genetically-produced food, in tablet form or dried packets: how delicious. All the resources will be depleted from the sheer number of people crowding an already-full planet. Human rights will fly out the window when someone in power has the guts to enforce the law of two children per family, and not before time.

We are killing our wonderful planet very quickly. Where else would we live? Everyone should be more responsible for their actions and think of the future instead of today. All some seem to think about is filling their wombs with another child they can't afford, getting their booze and fags for the week and what day is benefit day. This may sound a pessimistic view but true, I think. I just hope that future generations have a future.


This is my response: 

IN RESPONSE to Susan Chapple's email of 3rd February promoting the idea that large families are wrecking the planet, I would like to say that her ideas on human population and the earth's resources are at least forty years out of date and have been proven to be wrong.

It was back in 1968 that a professor called Paul Erlich published "Population Bomb" and made all sorts of gloomy predictions about the future, much of which Susan Chapple repeated in her email. Lo and behold they have not come true and in some of the predictions the opposite has occurred! For example we know that far from there being a food shortage because of population increase there has been food increase: since 1968 the world population has increased many times over, yet calorie intake per person has increased by 24%! Far from population causing famine it is politics that causes famine for humankind produces more food than it needs.

The real reason for population increase now is not births but the lack of deaths! The death-rate has been falling for some time (due to modern medicine) and as we know that means the elderly are increasing in number. Whereas birthrates worldwide have been falling because of a number of factors. In Britain and most of Europe we are below replacement level, which means our economies can only remain healthy if we encourage immigration. Because of this many people think that indigenous cultures are dying because of the shear numbers of immigrant workers needed for the economy.

Far from condemning large families for selfishness, Susan Chapple should be commending them for their selflessness in trying to make up for the majority of couples who have chosen to have less than the replacement level of children (2.1). In a society with increasing numbers of elderly, how on earth are they to be cared for by a much smaller population of economically active citizens? As far as I know no one has been able to answer that question.