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  • Writer's pictureKyle Crider

World Population Day 2022

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

Let’s talk about World Population Day.

There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of billions who are its victims. ~Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (May 1966)

As I write this, the world population is an estimated 7,959,915,542 folks. By the time you read this, that number will be considerably larger, as the population grew by more than 300 folks just in the time it has taken me to write this sentence and add the hyperlink.

According to WorldOMeter,

At the dawn of agriculture, about 8000 B.C., the population of the world was approximately 5 million. Over the 8,000-year period up to 1 A.D. it grew to 200 million (some estimate 300 million or even 600, suggesting how imprecise population estimates of early historical periods can be), with a growth rate of under 0.05% per year.
A tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in 30 years (1960), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987).
During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.
In 1970, there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now.

So, what to do about the estimated 8 billion humans due to be present by November of this year? Is this a problem?

Unfortunately, going all the way back to Malthus, racism and colonialism have been closely linked with calls for population control. (See also: The politics of population: birth control and the eugenics movement.) Some, like Global Justice Now, dismiss population concerns for these reasons: How racist myths built the population growth bogey-man.

We know that, on the other hand, there is a well-documented racist history of abortion and midwifery bans (of which the majority of our Supreme Court is sadly ignorant). And to confound matters, there are numerous false claims of racism related to contraception, vaccines, and more, e.g., Fact Check: Was Planned Parenthood Started To 'Control' The Black Population? and Fear mongering about vaccines as “racist population control” in Kenya.

Let’s set history and politics aside, for a moment, and examine the objective facts related to the present status of Homo sapiens {“wise man” [sic]) as a single species currently dominating the eight million, seven hundred thousand—give or take 1.3 million—estimated total species sharing planet Earth.

We know that humans and our farm animals account for 96% of all mammals. This is because, while humans comprise just 0.01% of all life, we have destroyed 83% of wild mammals. Over the last 126,000 years, humans have driven a 1,600-fold increase in mammal extinction rates, compared to natural levels of extinction.

It’s not just mammals, either. Indeed, all us “wise folk” are single-handedly driving a sixth mass extinction, placing us in the same league as planet-killing asteroid impacts.

'Smart growth' destroys the environment. 'Dumb growth' destroys the environment. The only difference is that 'smart growth' does it with good taste. It's like booking passage on the Titanic. Whether you go first-class or steerage, the result is the same. ~Dr. Albert A. Bartlett
Overpopulation of the earth is a danger to the planet's life-support system and to the people themselves. ~David Brower, Earth Island Institute

According to New Scientist, We need to talk about how population growth is harming the planet. But if you think talking about climate change is controversial, try throwing out the P-word in public.

Eventually, the P-word became taboo, tainted by what has been called “population shaming”. This is the idea that any calls for population control are hypocritical, racist and coercive, typically consisting of rich, white people lecturing poor, non-white people to have fewer children. Those same advocates consume rampantly while blaming environmental problems on population growth in the developing world. Given that most of the growth up to 2050 is projected to happen in Africa, you can see why accusations of racism and neocolonialism strike a chord. ~ Graham Lawton, New Scientist

An evidence-based analysis of human impacts on the planet clearly shows us that the number of humans impacts the planet. However, our analysis is seriously flawed if we stop at this simplistic cause-and-effect relationship. Population is only one of three critical factors determining human impact on the planet. The other two are Affluence, that is, the number of goods and services per person; and Technology, that is, the impact of those goods and services. This relationship is represented by the equation I = PAT: Our Environmental Impact (I) is determined by our Population (P) multiplied by our level of Affluence (A) and our level of Technology (T). (For an explainer, see this MIT paper.)

This is why every additional affluent, technology-laden “developed world” person has far more impact on the planet than a “developing world” person. A new study puts a price tag on the damage caused to poorer nations by richer ones, and the U.S. is the lead offender: Between 1990 and 2014, U.S. carbon pollution inflicted some $1.9 trillion in damage on other countries. In comparison, that is more damage than the annual economic output of Canada (GDP: 1.71 trillion) and Brazil: (GDP: 1.87 trillion), and is more than 2% of the total world GDP of $85.18 trillion.

What can we do about this? Easy: The single most important thing any of us richer folk can do is to decide to have one fewer child. (If you want more; consider adoption.) This has far more impact than going Vegan and going car-less (and many other lifestyle changes) combined. Then there is the U.S. Climate Fair Share. I also ask you to prayerfully listen to this GrowthBusters podcast and act accordingly.



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