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There are too many people in the world

By Everald Compton - posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Politicians across the globe take up the debate on climate change every day and tear one another apart in the process. Scientists do likewise.

However, they all agree on one thing — no-one must raise the issue of the serious over-population of the world because that will scare too many voters into believing that people in powerful places are considering a serious culling of the population, causing some to worry that they may be among those who are targeted as being surplus to need.

Nevertheless, political leaders know that overpopulation is the major cause of the world’s pollution, and they are very aware that it will get worse. In addition, the governments of the world know that they have little hope of providing the food, shelter, housing and fresh water that billions of new people will need just to survive with the bare basics.

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So, they say nothing in the hope that they will have left Parliament before drastic action must be taken. They are more than happy to let the next generation fix it. In the meantime, they pretend that they are seriously facing-up to pollution by introducing carbon pricing and emissions trading. Important as those issues may be, they are only part of the answer to a massive problem.

In April, Sir David Attenborough spelt-out loudly and clearly the facts on over-population that most people want to ignore. He called for urgent action, yet every world leader ignored him in the same way that they have ignored the strong warnings of eminent population forecasters for decades.

The facts are these: The world’s population now stands at 6.5 billion, ie, a 300 per cent increase in my lifetime. It will grow to at least nine billion by 2050, if not sooner. This figure is beyond the capacity of the world to support and sustain, especially as most people, even in the poorest nations, aspire to become what we describe as middle class.

How did we reach this perilous situation?

The great religions of the world have constantly urged their flocks to go forth and multiply. They told them that it was important to have many children and grandchildren to look after them in their old age. What they didn’t say was that they wanted their particular faith to dominate the world by sheer weight of numbers. They even spread the hypocrisy that family planning was a sin against God.

Many political leaders did the same. Chairman Mao is a prime example. When he came to power in 1948, there were only half-a-billion Chinese. Now there are 1.3 billion, even though he killed 70 million for political reasons. As he wanted China to dominate the world, he encouraged large families so he could do it by sheer weight of numbers.

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Others, such as Sukarno in Indonesia, did likewise, while India irresponsibly did little by way of education on family planning. Added to all of this, the medical scientists of the world found infinite ways to keep people alive, and now we all live 20 years longer than we did a century ago. I am not complaining about that, but it means that a majority of the nine billion people in 2050 will be old. In many nations, this will cause economic devastation.

So, what do we do — get drunk or high on drugs so we can ignore it?

No. We slow down the birthrate, just as China tried to do all too late. Every nation on earth must legislate to create severe penalties for any couple who have more than one child, even here in Australia where we are under-populated. We will just have to ignore the recent plea from Lindsay Fox that we all produce another child overnight for the good of Australia. This restriction will put the world through a very painful phase where, for a generation, 75 per cent of the population are old and very few are in the workforce. Eventually, the population will gradually rebalance itself, but the one child policy will have to remain forever.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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