“We have met the enemy and it is us.”
(Kelley, Poster 1970 Earth Day)
By Dr. John J. Hidore
October 16, 2015—Over the period that humans have been a species on Earth the number of individuals has increased over time. At first it increased very slowly. Gradually the total population increased and is currently increasing at a faster rate than previously recorded. There have been times when disaster struck, which slowed the population growth, or possibly even decreased the total number of people.
Growing Pressure on Earth’s Resources
During the 21st century the earth has added approximately 80 million persons each year. For each additional person added to the total, there must be additional resources of food, fresh water, energy supplies, and material for clothing and shelter. There has been growing pressure on Earth’s resources to support this rapid increase in population. The 2013 report by the Inerter-governmental panel on Climate Change states, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.” The growth of the human population and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.
The key to reducing climate change, global hunger, and poverty is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth. There are means available to slow or even stop the growth. However, there is tremendous pressure to keep the population growing. There are major groups that thrive on population growth and spend huge amounts of money and time to keep it growing.
Organized Religions thrive on Population Growth
Many organized religions contribute to climate change and global poverty. The strength of organized religions is in the size of their adherents. Since their power lies in their numbers they often encourage large families and oppose the use of any kind of family planning including birth control. Population growth could be slowed substantially if it were not for this type of thinking of many organized religions.
The two major religions in terms of membership are Christianity and Islam. There are about 2.1 billion adherents of Christianity. The holy book of Christianity is the Bible which does not address the issue of family planning. Within Christianity there are many different organized churches, the largest being the Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has long considered any kind of birth control to be a sin and this was reiterated by Pope Francis this year. Other Christian churches also support rules against abortion and the use of contraceptives.
There are approximately 1.5 billion followers of Islam. The Islamic holy book is the Quran. Like the Bible, the Quran does not prohibit family planning and does not formally address the issue. Some forms of contraception have been in use in Islamic countries since the origin of Islam. In today’s world the followers of Islam have a wide variety of choices of birth control. In some countries, where Islam is the prevalent religion, contraceptive use among women is a high as 70%. In others it is estimated to be substantial. Islam has strict rules that prohibit sexual relations before marriage. It views sexual relations between husband and wife as an expression of love and is encouraged. However, prohibition of contraception has grown as a means of increasing the followers of Islam. Many other countries or sects are prohibiting contraception for a variety of reasons.
Wall Street and Economic Development Thrive on Population Growth
Nations that advocate economic growth do so for reasons of profit. In much of the world today the advocates of increasing profits control the economic policies. In countries such as the United States and other western countries, almost all governmental economic decisions are aimed at increasing the market for goods and increasing profits. The profit motive inevitably overrides the needs of the majority of the human population or the impact on the environment. The end result is often predictable–civil disobedience and popular uprisings!
Much of the global business community has denied climate change and resource scarcity since before the Kyoto conference, and has been a major proponent of population growth in the name of profit. This manifests itself in the form of government opposition to family planning, sponsoring legislation to limit abortion and contraception. It is often counselled by the global business community as a woman’s health issue.
National and tribal interests
In some religions and geographical areas, the use of birth control methods is considered a crime. A case in point is the nation of Iran. This year the government declared the use of contraceptives to be a criminal act. Even in some secular countries there are laws that make abortion a crime of murder even to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape.
Iran is not alone. A number of European countries have become concerned about their declining birthrate. Among them are Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Italy. The populations of these countries, as in many European countries, is aging due to the low birth rates. The number of residents over the age of 65 has nearly doubled the world average and is expected to increase. This has major economic and social impact on these countries. Denmark has now introduced education on having children, as well as not having them.
These group policies are responsible for much of the rapid growth in population. Their self-interest is more important than the welfare of the human population or the condition of the environment. It is time the effect of these policies should be made clear and the policies made subject to re-evaluation. Much of the global population is now under great stress as is the environment.