Guest Opinion: Solving global problems requires end to overpopulation


May 2, 2014 

There are many issues and challenges knocking at the door of humanity that demand attention, such as climate change, hunger, genocides, war, energy, AIDS, etc. However, they are all symptoms of the major issue and cause, which is the "overpopulation elephant" already in our humanity house.

The human population has experienced a colossal change in a flicker of time. For 200,000 years the human population had been constant, at approximately 2.5 million people. In the last one-tenth of one percent of human history, there have been more births than deaths each year, and the human population swelled 2,800 times over to 7 billion people! There are now 219,000 more people at the dinner table each day. We all support longer life spans and celebrate the miracle of birth. However, the status quo is not sustainable.

The world has moved from food abundance to food scarcity. Today, 25 percent of people in our world suffer from chronic hunger. The average American uses 1,400 pounds of grain a year and spends 9 percent of their income on food. Developing world people spend 70 percent of their income on food and currently use 380 pounds of grain a year. This disparity and rising food prices will worsen as 3 billion additional people move up the food chain where we are.

Much of the world's population is dependent on protein from the ocean fisheries. A startling 80 percent of oceanic fisheries are being fished at or beyond their sustainable yield.

When you see "survival of the fittest" or "natural selection" on the Discovery or National Geographic television channels, it might be entertaining. When it happens to your own species, it is not pretty.

There is not a single global problem that wouldn't be solved easier with fewer people. Human population growth is the only global challenge where the following three points are there:

• We know how to fix it: modern contraception.

• It is relatively inexpensive.

• Woman everywhere want to control the trajectory of their own lives.

There are currently 222 million women who lack access to modern contraception. When women are provided basic education and access to modern contraception, they always choose smaller, healthier families. Reducing birth rates is a result, but by no means the only benefit to increased education for women. Male medical contraception methods also need development, marketing and acceptance. The United Nations Population Fund and other similar programs have shown significant benefits with their focused funding on population issue programs.

Since no one, but a few psychopaths, favor raising death rates, there is only one choice: lowering birth rates.

Population Connection is the largest nonprofit grass-roots organization that advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a sustainable level. It recently published a Report Card on how the 113th Congress voted on various pieces of legislation that affected its mission. Idaho legislators voted to oppose every piece of legislation presented that Population Connection supported. Another bottom-of-the-pile statistic for Idaho. It is apparent we need to increase our politicians' "depth perception" on this world issue.

The world challenges of family planning and reproductive health care are bigger than the political boxes some people try to force them into. Wouldn't it be great if an Idaho legislator would step up and be the conductor of this train? They all at least need to get on board.

Becker, of New Meadows, is a retired natural resource specialist who spent 34 years in natural resource management.

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