The Myth of Overpopulation

S. Michael Craven|The Christian Post

The myth of overpopulation first put forth by Malthus, coupled with Darwinian theories that promote propagation of the “fit” and reduction of the “unfit,” has been instrumental in legitimizing abortion, forced sterilization, government subsidized contraception, and, in the most extreme cases, eugenics as practiced by the Nazis and others.

Perhaps one of the most persistent and pervasive myths that have shaped the thinking of many people and, subsequently, public policy is the myth that the world’s population is spiraling out of control and that it will ultimately lead to catastrophic shortages of the essential resources necessary to sustain life.

This whole concept of “overpopulation” can be traced to Thomas Malthus, the British scholar and Anglican clergyman (albeit a very misguided one) who, without any specific knowledge other than his own speculations, predicted in 1789 that the planet’s rapid increase in population would soon outstrip the planet’s ability to produce food, resulting in massive worldwide starvation. Malthus’s predicted famine never materialized, of course; he could not have predicted the industrial revolution or the enormous impact subsequent technological innovations would have on our ability to produce food. Recall that today our federal government actually pays farmers not to grow crops due to the abundance of food produced on considerably less farmland than existed just a century ago.

Even the United Nations, historically a rabid advocate of population control, has conceded that the world’s current infrastructure is capable of supporting a worldwide population of more than 9 billion people. Furthermore, according to the most recent estimates, the planet’s population will most likely continue to climb from its current level until 2050, when it will peak at 9 billion; other predictions have the world’s population peaking at 7.5 billion in 2040. In either case, global population levels will begin a sharp decline sometime during the middle of the twenty-first century. Present fertility rates actually indicate a massive underpopulation crisis is coming, particularly among Western nations.

The question of overpopulation is not merely a topic for conversation; it is a burning matter of policy and action at the local, national, and international levels. Our national government is actually committed by law and by international agreement to reducing the worldwide rate of population growth.

Government officials, such as former Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs in the Clinton administration, Timothy Wirth, insist that this effort must also apply to the population of the United States. Wirth, as you may recall, was at the center of controversy when the Clinton administration decided to deport 13 Chinese women who sought asylum in the United States to avoid forced abortion under communist China’s notorious one-child policy. By offering asylum to these women, Wirth explained, “we could potentially open ourselves up to just about everybody in the world saying ‘I don’t want to plan my family, therefore I deserve political asylum.’” Apparently, Wirth believes government-forced abortions and sterilization constitutes “family planning.”

Today, there are governments that compel their citizens to undergo sterilization and abortions, often with financial help from the United Nations and U.S. government-supported private agencies such as Planned Parenthood.

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