“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
There are currently some 7.5 billion people with whom we share a planet. Think about that for a minute … 7.5. Billion. People. That’s a lot of people. The point of this post is not the over-population of earth, but we need to put this into perspective. Most, myself included, would argue that we need to control population globally, not just in the underdeveloped nations, not just in the wealthier western nations, but globally. Is there evidence that the earth is overpopulated?
The population of our earth only hit the one billion mark in the early 1800s, and it was only in the 1920s that we hit two billion. And today, less than a century later, we are at the 7.5 billion mark and counting – growing. Yay us … we learned to make babies. It is predicted that, given current growth rates, the human population of the earth will exceed 11 billion by the end of this century. Can the earth support 11+ billion people? Most scientists think it is doubtful. Most believe the maximum sustainable population for this planet is somewhere between 9-10 billion.
Harvard University sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, bases his estimate on calculations of the Earth’s available resources. As Wilson pointed out in his book “The Future of Life” (Knopf, 2002), “The constraints of the biosphere are fixed.”
Aside from the limited availability of freshwater, there are indeed constraints on the amount of food that Earth can produce, just as Malthus argued more than 200 years ago. Even in the case of maximum efficiency, in which all the grains grown are dedicated to feeding humans (instead of livestock, which is an inefficient way to convert plant energy into food energy), there’s still a limit to how far the available quantities can stretch. “If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people,” Wilson wrote. – Live Science, 11 October 2011
David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, has a slightly different take on the issue of over-population:
“It is not the number of people on the planet that is the issue – but the number of consumers and the scale and nature of their consumption.”
He posits that since most of the growth over the next two decades is predicted to be in urban centres in what are currently low and middle-income countries, and those people consume little, then perhaps overpopulation isn’t quite the dire threat that other scientists think it to be. While Satterthwaite’s reasoning may or may not be sound – I am certainly no scientist and therefore cannot say – it is, I believe, a rather inhumane argument — as long as we can keep the poor, poor, then we will have enough water, food, and energy for all. Either way, the earth is not expanding, nor is it likely to, and humans are expanding.
The United States is already overpopulated. As far back as 1972, the Presidential Commission on Population Growth and the American Future recommended population stabilization, saying that over-population is the root cause of land and resource shortages, ecological degradation and urban congestion. The current population of the United States is, as of this writing, 326,330,503 and growing by the minute. Granted, the rate of growth has slowed in recent years, but we still add about 2 million to our population each year.
The defenders of population growth are almost universally institutional, not individuals. The public is generally concerned about continued population growth. The discrepancy between citizen and institutional interests is clear. Individuals benefit from moderate population density, open spaces, and a healthy environment. Institutions benefit from increased membership and large consumer markets and labor pools.
I could easily write a couple of posts about the topic of human overpopulation alone, but again, that is not my purpose tonight, so let us move on.
At the end of May, the Trump administration drafted a proposal that would virtually remove the birth control mandate from the Affordable Care Act. Under current law, most all insurance plans are required to cover birth control. If Trump’s proposed regulation is finalized, that mandate will, for all intents and purposes, be gone. Any company, from non-profits to major publicly-held corporations, will be able to claim exemption from the rule if they simply state they have a ‘moral’ objection. ‘Moral’ is not defined in the proposal. This proposed regulation does not have to be approved by Congress, but like an executive order, becomes law upon being published.
We have just looked at the issue of over-population from a long-range, global view, and it should be obvious to anyone who can read and think that birth control is one means to slow the population growth rate. But now let us zoom in and talk about it from a national, and also an individual level. Nationwide, there are an estimated 12 million single-parent households in the U.S., half of which are below the poverty line. These are families that do not need another mouth to feed, and they are also mothers who cannot afford to shell out up to $50 each month for birth control.
Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, when asked by a reporter where low-income women would be left if the mandate was rolled back, replied, “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one. The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.” Gem of a guy, don’t you think? And now we see why Trump selected him to run “Health and HUMAN Services”. One problem is that since the administration is comprised almost exclusively of Trump’s millionaire buddies, they have no concept of how hard it can be for a family barely able to put food on the table, to scrape up $50/month for birth control pills!
The Trump administration has a similar response, claiming that women can turn to federally subsidized family planning programs. But now think about this one. They are also proposing cuts to Medicaid as well as threatening to entirely de-fund Planned Parenthood! So where are all those “federally subsidized family planning programs”???
Trump & Co. have already proven their disdain for Planet Earth by removing environmental regulations via executive order, restarting oil pipeline projects without proper environmental impact studies, and announcing his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. This proposal to roll back the birth control mandate is yet another slap in the face to our planet, but also to every woman in the United States. I understand that abortion is a thorny issue, and I understand why. I am personally pro-choice, but I understand why abortion is a deal-breaker to many. However … birth control should not be a controversial issue, and I DO NOT understand any moral objections, religious or otherwise. And, for those who are so against abortion, the reality is that if we reduce women’s access to affordable birth control, we will see an increase in abortions.
There is a reason that our Constitution calls for three branches of federal government. All presidents, bar none, have used executive orders and such to bypass Congress when action needed to be swift. Some have abused the privilege, but I know of none who have taken the level of abuse to the extent that Trump has. There is no valid justification for this latest regulation which, like so many of his other proposals, is destined to hurt the very people who supported and voted for him. Fortunately, some states are taking counter actions, including California, Nevada, Illinois, Vermont and Maryland. Hats off to them, and I hope every state jumps on this bandwagon! Oh, and one final note … though not mandated, and not covered at 100%, most insurance policies DO cover some portion of the cost of Viagra. Anybody still think it isn’t a ‘man’s world’????