1 Oct 2008

First Guest Blog: Making the case for a lower birth rate

I have been approached by various companies including large ones like Sharp and Virgin to run ads on this blog - I am certainly not alone - these big companies attempt their viral marketing in almost any corner of the web - more recently there have also been moves to either encourage me to write articles for other blogs or to run guest articles - one even for a cream to make hair grow - well I have resisted - ensuring the integrity of this site??

Well I have been thinking more on this - and after a discussion with a friend about how to help promote key issues I thought we might make a few exceptions. First up comes this article below kindly supplied by Simon Ross of The Optimum Population Trust: www.optimumpopulation.org/

Some might remember the controversy in the SNJ earlier in the year over a quote of mine that people might consider stopping at two children (see here). Anyhow this is not meant to be my blog entry so over to Simon....although have to confess the red highlight was mine 'cos it is such an amazing figure!

Making the case for a lower birth rate

Thomas Malthus, who predicted that population growth would outpace agricultural production, is remembered today principally for failing to anticipate the role of the industrial revolution and fossil fuels in expanding food production. Again, in the 50’s and 60’s, widespread fear of global overpopulation was overcome both by the “green revolution” of better crop yields, driven by increased fertiliser use and improved crop variants, and by falling birth rates across much of the world.

Today, concern about the relationship between human numbers and our environment is again rising up the political agenda. The world population, despite a generally falling birth rate, is continuing to grow at the rate of 1.5m people every week. Development continues to dramatically reduce available habitats and therefore biodiversity.

And the consumption of limited resources is increasingly threatening the prosperity and sustainability of the human race itself. Irreplaceable resources are being depleted, whether we talk about peak oil, the extraction of water from deep aquifers or the use of agricultural land for other purposes. Both the sea and soil are being exploited more aggressively than ever before.

Equally importantly, man made climate change is real. Even today, climate change is endangering food production through glacier reduction and changing weather patterns. And fears are increasing of the reoccurrence of historical episodes of runaway global warming which could dramatically reduce the availability of food and water, as well as radically redrawing our coastlines. The reducing ice cover will reduce the amount of sunlight being reflected while the massive quantities of carbon sequestered in rainforest, wetlands and permafrost is at increasing risk of release.

Technological solutions to resource depletion and climate change are partial and fraught with difficulty, while injunctions to become vegetarians or travel less, while welcome, are likely to have limited take up. Even if the West does reduce its carbon emissions, and little has been achieved as yet, these efforts will be negated by the rapid industrialisation and urbanisation of much of the developing world.

Limiting population growth should thus be considered as a legitimate contribution to seeking a sustainable future. The Optimum Population Trust was established in 1994 to make just such a case. It argues that couples should consider limiting themselves to having two children and that governments should ensure couples have access to family planning services, something currently denied to hundreds of millions of women across the world.

What you can do:

- Support efforts in the UK to improve sex education and contraceptive provision for young people by the fpa and Brooks

- Support international family planning charities such as IPPF, Marie Stopes International and Interact Worldwide

- Join the Optimum Population Trust to support the campaign and stay informed about developments in the field of population.

Sign petition at: www.optimumpopulation.org

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This issue should ahve more coverage - in the 70s everyone seemed to talk about it now it seems taboo - yet the problem remains...thanks for covering it here.