Saturday, June 21, 2008

Too Many People!

I met a man and his wife tonight. They were sitting on benches in front of our church as I mowed a section of the two acre churchyard. They were enjoying the cool evening in a lovely setting. After I finished I stopped to talk with them.

They were an elderly couple who lived in Bombay, India, but were visiting their daughter and her family here in upstate New York. The wife was here to consult with pain specialists who had recommended a non-surgical approach to the chronic leg pain she suffered. They had lived in New Jersey for some years before moving back to India.

The lovely lady, in her sixties, said she was lonely for company. "Where I live," she said, "you walk out of your house and people are everywhere. But not here." The gentleman chimed in, "But there are far too many people in India, and so much corruption, and not too many opportunities for work." He loved he opportunity to walk out of his daughter's home and enjoy a relatively benign setting with beauty and quiet.

I read recently that China has 1.3 billion people, and I know India has at least a billion. Populations in the third world are booming despite chaos and poor living conditions. In the United States, birth rates in the immigrant and lower classes are still high. Forecasts show a dramatic increase in world population by 2050. This must not happen.

Some futurists believe humans will solve their population problem by creating the engine of their own demise. Global warming, bird flu, and nuclear war all have the potential to reduce our population dramatically, and other major killers probably lurk outside our imagination. Any of these would be a poor way to solve the population problem. We can do better.

First world countries are currently growing their populations at the lowest rate. Educated people marry later and have fewer children for a variety of good reasons. Second and third world countries have higher growth rates for a variety of reasons, such as children being the substitute for Social Security in many places. But the growth must be stopped.

At the risk of being accused of racism or "ethnism", I think it's time for world leaders to speak out about uncontrolled population growth in countries that do not have the resources to support their current populations. I feel badly about youngsters who grow up in pitiable circumstances, and I even support one of them in Uganda, but I'm ambivalent about the efforts to provide relief, medical care, and food to groups who simply view their improved circumstances as an opportunity to grow their families. Birth control should be part of the deal.

The lady from Bombay missed her many friends, but her husband was dismayed over the teeming population in his city and the disfunctionality that it caused. For the sake of the human race, we need to find the right balance and find it before nature does it for us.


Dave said...

You are right of course; but, we are disapproving of societies that come to prosperity a few generations after we did? And did so as we start our decline?

They are doing as we did, while we are kind of trying to do as we said.

ThomasLB said...

I agree. A lower population would be better for the environment and give us a better quality of life. I think people freak out when they can't get away by themselves from time to time, and quiet spaces are getting harder and harder to come by.

Ron Davison said...

Apprently, the simplest way to lower birth rates is by raising literacy rates for females.