Abortion Not Necessary to Control Overpopulation
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Time and again the media has proposed the reasonableness of an abortive mentality because it is consistent with maintaining the world's population at a stable, feedable level. In order to examine the validity of this argument, it is necessary to look at related issues. To determine whether a nation is growing or dying, we must examine three factors: birth rate . . . death rate . . . immigration.
Birth Rate: This is the ultimate determinant. In a developed nation the average woman must bear 2.1 children (Mean Fertility Rate) in order to maintain a level population. In an undeveloped nation the rate must be 2.3 or more because of higher infant and child mortality.
Death Rate: In recent years fewer people have died than have been born in most countries because the average age of life expectancy has been extended. Everyone will die, of course, but for now this has resulted in increases in population.
Immigration and emigration: Many want to come into the U.S., Canada and most developed nations. Few want to move to Cuba, Libya or Russia. These dynamics explain why the total populations of the U.S., Canada and Australia (to pick three) are still growing, even though their birth rates are below replacement level. With a much higher percentage of their people aging, but still alive, most Western nations have a rapidly aging population. In the U.S. people born in 1970 had a life expectancy of 70 years. In 1993 it was 76 years. By 2050 it will be 82 years. (US News)
With heavy immigration to fill the younger age slots, we see a progressive change in ethnicity, e.g., the U.S. is becoming more Hispanic; Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Israel more Muslim. In Italy, the birth rate is 1.2, the lowest in the world in countries keeping accurate records. In '93, there were 5,265 more Italians buried than were born. If this continues unchanged, within 100 years, its population will shrink from 57 to 15 million, with half of those over 65 years old.
Russia is worse. Accurate statistics are not available, but by the mid '90s, estimates place the birth rate under 1.0 among non-Muslims and burials exceeding births at over 1 million per year. (Boston Globe)
But notice the change in age groups. There were four in the working years for each one retired.
Now look ahead. There will be only 2.5 in their working years to support each one retired. The Western world, in the past half-century, has supported its senior and disabled citizens with tax funds on a scale previously unknown. But, unless there are enough taxpaying younger workers, there will be no way that such retirement and medical benefits can continue.
Only one and one-half to two taxpayers to support every retired person? That's an impossible situation! What will happen? Euthanasia! Yes, that will be the answer. Today's "Every Child a Wanted Child" will become tomorrow's "Every Grandparent a Wanted Grandparent." The above figures are from the U.S.A. If we were to examine other developed nations, we would find that, with some variations, all reveal a similar pattern.
But hasn't there been a new baby boom in the U.S.? Call it a mini-boom. Many thirty-ish women have finally been having babies before their fertile years are gone. This upped the U.S. birth rate from 1.8 to 2.0 where it leveled.
The continuing increase in U.S. population has been due to (1) older people not dying yet and (2) a substantial increase in immigration.
And what of underdeveloped nations? These all started with very high birth rates. These are dropping rapidly, e.g., in the 1980s the following drop occurred in mean fertility rates. Tunisia 5.0-4.1, India 5.3-3.9, South Korea 3.2-1.6, Mexico 4.8-3.8, Indonesia 4.1-3.0, Brazil 4.4-3.3. In the '90s this drop continued and some, like Indonesia, are nearing ZPG (zero population growth).
But cities seem so overcrowded. Over-concentration of people is a problem in some places, but, overall, the world is not overpopulated.
But what about enough food? Back when Paul Ehrlich wrote Population Bomb, this was a real concern. Since then, world food production has grown much more rapidly than numbers of people, e.g., India now exports food. For example, the International Rice Research Institute in October '94 announced a breakthrough in unveiling a new "super rice" capable of boosting world rice production by 25%, with a further boost in another decade of 25% more. (NYT) "Today India can not only feed its own growing population but also is emerging as a major food exporter. . . India will have an advantage in any product that is harvested by hand." (Forbes)
"New breeds of corn, developed to withstand droughts and acidic tropical soil are being tested. The World Bank predicts that, within 10 years, corn production will increase 40%, rivaling the green revolution in Third World wheat and rice production." (Nesmith)
World population rose from 3 billion in 1960 to 5.3 billion in 1960, but food production grew even faster, outstripping population growth by 20%. The result was a 60% drop in real prices for food commodities. This is the continuation of a trend in prices that started over 100 years ago. Along with this, the incident of outright famine has dropped ten-fold since the early 1960s, and caloric intake per person has risen 25% worldwide in the same period. (Far Eastern)
China's food output per person has increased by more than 40% since 1979-81. The daily food supply now amounts to more than 2,700 calories per capita. The food problems, and even starvation, which occurred in the past were the result of government policies which taxed farmers in order to subsidize industry, controlled and requisitioned output, drafted farmers to work on poorly planned government projects, restricted agricultural trade and shipping, and prevented farmers from acquiring the land and other resources needed to produce food. The government is gradually reforming these policies and food output is increasing greatly. (Kasun)
But can this continue? Sadly, the world's media seems obsessed with telling only scare stories and suppressing all the good news about food. The definitive answer has been a report in 1994 entitled "How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature." This is a thoroughly documented, 63-page analysis. It was written by a consortium of 30 major national agricultural societies in the U.S. It was published with the cooperation of the Rockefeller Foundation. In essence, it details how, even with a doubling of the present earth's population to 10 billion people, better use of currently farmed land can still feed everyone. While - get this - at the same time returning as much as 10% of current crop land to nature rather than plowing under new virgin areas. (Council)
But does the U.S. use up a high percentage of the world's natural resources?
It is a fact that there are more such resources available today than there were a decade or two ago. In America one farmer feeds 99 other people. In some countries, one farmer cannot even feed his own family. What is our solution? Should we encourage American farmers and industrial workers to kill their own pre-born children or should we stay strong, have children, and help to teach those other farmers and workers to be more productive?
How about pollution? Actually, the more developed a free nation becomes, the less it pollutes. A good contrast is the U.S. compared to the USSR's profligate destruction of, and pollution of, its natural resources.
Coercive abortion and sterilization are only short term measures of population reduction that cause untold human misery and really don't work well. Further, people resist these measures. The only measures that have worked have been to raise that group's standard of living, to reduce infant and childhood mortality, and to raise expectation of (and provide opportunity for) education. If these changes are accomplished, people will then voluntarily limit the number of their children for two reasons: (a) they want more for each child, and (b) they can reasonably expect their children to survive to adulthood and be alive to care for them in their old age.
Boston Globe, July 31, '94, p. 13 W. Montabono, "Italian Baby Boom Goes Bust," Los Angles Times June 24, '94, A1 & A6
Council for Agriculture Science & Technology, "How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature," Ames, Iowa: n.p.
Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov. 16, 1995
Forbes Mag., May 23, 1994, p. 136
J. Kasun, "China: Not Enough Food or Space," Human Concern, Spring 1996, p. 3
Nesmith,J. "New Corn Strains May Feed Millions", Des Moines Register, June 24, 1994
New York Times & Gannett, 10/24/94
U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 14, 1995, P. 9.