The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 8 May 2009

We Are Hungry Men

Recently joined the Optimum Population Trust. At last, an organisation which is prepared to address the issue of over-population in a practical, apolitical manner. Quite simply, this world ain’t big enough for the seven billion of us, and if the number of humans continues to rise, there are bad times just around the corner.

The obvious example is that of Ethiopia. Twenty-five years ago, as a result of a civil war and a famine, they discovered they didn’t have enough food to feed the population of 44 million. Now that country has a population of 80 million; a population with an average age of 22. What’s going to happen the next time there's a famine?

I only used Ethiopia because it’s a familiar example; it’s the same story all over the world. It’s nobody’s fault; it’s human nature, an evolutionary impulse, for us to breed and have more children than they can feed. The only solution is a voluntary one, as a result of better family planning, increased availabilty of contraception (and the end of religious/superstitious objections to its use) and equal rights for women so they have an opportunity for a life beyond child-rearing.

In the past, this subject has got bogged down in racism or anti-immigration sentiment. When clearly racial bigotry and anti-immigration sentiment are both consequences of the pressures of over-population; as the world’s population grows, so the animosity between neighbours will rise. In a world with spare capacity, there would be greater freedom of movement and less inequality of opportunity.

The other problem is the pension gap; the idea that we can solve the problem of paying for my generation’s pensions by increasing the country’s population. But all this means is that none of us will get a seat on the bus in our old age.

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