It’s a new day… it’s a new scare

05 Nov

The worlds population passed the 7 billion mark a few days ago apparently. I wonder who was counting? Cue hand wringing from all and sundry. Dizzying figures quoted for much higher population numbers in the years to come. Gloom. Doom. Disaster.

The evidence suggests otherwise. There is a secret antidote. First of all though consider an unusual bit of evidence. The Broons. A large family. Families were much bigger in Scotland not too long ago. Since then the nuclear family of Mum and Dad and 2.4 kids has come and gone and the birth rate in Scotland has been dropping. Yes there are blips but those are primarily due to immigrant births. Our population has been falling but the story is the same as for the birth rate. Immigrants. And there is no problem with that.

The secret antidote to population explosions is prosperity. When people have access to jobs, good food, good health care, pensions, comfort etc. family size drops. People can make choices. They can control their own lives to a degree at least. It’s a no brainer. The Chinese experiment of one child per family has become a serious concern. The social impacts of this policy are just beginning to be felt. In the future there will not be enough younger people working to pay for the pension requirements of previous generations.

Lifting people out of poverty also reduces the use of their children as currency. Larger families are, in part, an attempt by the parents to ensure they have someone to look after them financially and socially when they get old. Prosperity and mobility requires fewer babies.

Of course population explosions have been prophesised many times in the past. A large population cannot be fed as agriculture cannot keep up with food demands never mind get ahead of it. And yet it has. Not only has it kept up it has been phenomenally successful. We have enough food production in the world to feed everyone quite happily. The real question is why we allow people to go to bed hungry when there is no good reason for them to do so. Beyond political shenanigans anyway.

We are secure on our bit of the planet and we will be for a long time to come. Unless of course our politicians make a mess of things by reducing our ability to take our place in the world and be fully able to maintain it against fair odds.

Let’s hope.

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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Politics


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