Seven Billion People: Over-Population or Birth Dearth?

In what was perhaps the biggest global birthday celebration in decades, our planet welcomed its seven billionth person. Although no one knew the exact time or day population totals would reach that count, the United Nations declared Monday, October 31 to be the expected date that would symbolically mark the occasion. Likewise, no one knew for sure who exactly the seven billionth person would be or where he or she would be born, so "7-billionth babies" all over the world were welcomed.

In the Philippines, Danica May Camacho was greeted to joyous ovation and was presented with a huge birthday cake with the inscription "7B Philippines." Although she was born on Sunday at 11:58 pm, doctors at Manila's Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital considered it within close enough proximity to be deemed a Monday birth.

Yet, not everyone extended a warm and hearty greeting to these newborns. Along with the festivities came words of caution from those berating our planet's limited resources and supposed overpopulation crisis.

According to Dr. Eric Tayag of the Philippines' Department of Health, "Seven billion is a number we should think about deeply. We should really focus on the question of whether there will be food, clean water, shelter, education and a decent life for every child. If the answer is 'no,' it would be better for people to look at easing this population explosion."

In an interview with Russ Mitchell of CBS News, Joel Cohen, a demographer at Rockefeller University, added, "If we could slow our growth rate, we have an easier job in dealing with all the other things like education, health, employment, housing, food, the environment and so on."

Finally, a recent Reuters article suggested, "One important policy tool to manage a growing population is to give women access to family planning, experts say, adding that 215 million women worldwide want it but do not get it. Access to education is also important as it motivates women to reduce their fertility and improve their children's health." According to Reuters, "resources are under more strain than ever before," and a major concern is "how to provide basic necessities for the additional 2-3 billion people expected to be added in the next 50 years."

While these warnings are espoused by seemingly reputable organizations and claim to be steeped in research, in reality, they are mere scare tactics designed to elevate environmentalism over human expansion. The phrases "giv[ing] women access to family planning" and "motivat[ing] women to reduce their fertility" are simply codes for easier access to contraception and elective abortion.

In his article, "Taking on the overpopulation myth," Joseph A. D'Agostino asserts that "the world's population growth rate maxed out in 1965 and has been in sharp decline." He continues, quoting Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute:

"The unprecedented fall in fertility rates that began in postwar Europe has, in the decades since, spread to every corner of the globe, affecting China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America," says Mr. Mosher. "The latest forecasts by the United Nations show the number of people in the world shrinking by midcentury, that is, before today's young adults reach retirement age."

Mr. Mosher is also an expert on China, a country that has advocated a gruesome population control plan through its "one-child policy," which has led to forced abortions and infanticide and has literally prevented hundreds of millions of births since its establishment in 1978.

According to demographer Phillip Longman, birthrates have dropped by over 50 percent since 1979 (from 6 to about 2.8 children per woman), and he says that the U.N. statistics reveal that by 2100, approximately 25 percent of people globally will be over the age of 60. 

The UN Population Division (UNPD) estimates that by 2050, there will be 248 million fewer children (under five years of age) worldwide than there are now. In developed nations generally, 20 percent of the population is over 60. By 2050, 32 percent will be over 60. According to UNPD, these nations will then have two elderly persons for every child.

"Ten billion people by 2100 creates a nice headline, but when you get inside the numbers, you see a growing population of seniors, combined with a dearth in babies being born," Longman said. 

According to a May 2008 New York Times article by Sam Roberts and Sean D. Hamill, "In the 1990s, deaths outnumbered births in...four [U.S.] metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 people, and three of those were in the South. Since 2000, 10 metropolitan areas - half of them outside the south - have suffered a net loss of population to natural decrease."

There are many contributing factors to these plummeting birth rates, not least of which is abortion. In 2003 alone, there were 42 million abortions worldwide (equal to the entire population of Italy). Moreover, contraception on demand paired with rising cohabitation rates have so removed the concept of sex from childbirth that children become only an option. Currently, just under half of the world's population uses some form of birth control. They are delaying marriage and children longer and longer in the pursuit of careers and sub-par living arrangements that foster an ethic of selfishness and disdain for large families. Finally, a loss of faith has played a key role in diminishing birth rates. In Europe, which has a weekly church attendance of only 5 percent, the birthrate is 1.5. In the U.S., where 42 percent of people attend religious services weekly, the birthrate is 2.1, the minimal replacement rate.

Today our world reaches a major population milestone, and that is great cause for celebration. And while many around the world are doing just that, far too many have bought into warped statistics and faulty estimates - the "overpopulation myth." Their mentality has gone from "filling the earth" to "family planning," and from "be fruitful and multiply" to "population control." As we reexamine the "facts," may we discover the truth and be challenged to celebrate life in all its fullness - yes, all seven billion of us.

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