World Population and Me

Ever drive down the 24 freeway and get the feeling that there are just too many people around? I remember learning in high school that there were about 2 billion people in the world. That seemed a lot at the time. Now I hear we are sharing the planet with around 7.5 billion others. Experts say that number could be up to 24 billion by 2050.

Each night there are over 240,000 more mouths to feed than there were the night before. Should we be concerned? You’re darn right! Those of us in the upper one percent of the world’s population, income-wise (meaning you have a household income of $34,000 or more) probably will always be able to have food on our tables and water in our taps. How about the 99 percent? Right now we are hearing of wide-spread famine in many parts of Africa and some parts of Asia.

This will only get worse as the numbers grow. This earth we live on is a terrific place, but never designed to be home for unlimited numbers of humans with modern day consumption habits.

Climate change is global and even if we in affluent Walnut Creek aren’t likely to be directly affected by it (Tice Creek isn’t likely to get up to Rossmoor Parkway), boy, are those of us who will be around for a while going to feel effects of it indirectly. Our president thinks immigration is a problem now … just wait a few years. Pacific Islanders are already looking for new homes and half of Bangladesh will likely be under the sea.

A few years ago, I happened to get into a discussion with a couple of young Mormon missionaries. I shared my concerns with them regarding families in their church having large numbers of children. They assured me that there is no cause for concern … that everyone on the earth could easily fit into the state of Texas. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Most developed nations have lowered their birthrates to the replacement level. Today, 80 nations are at or below replacement level fertility. Birth control has made that possible. However, the remaining 140 or so countries are lagging behind. For the most part, these nations are part of the Third World and lack the financial means to provide their citizens with family planning services. It is estimated that for a ridiculously low $4 billion a year we could provide contraception for the 222 million women with a current unmet need. I think that is less than half the cost of one new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier or about what will be spent on the new football stadium in Las Vegas that will house the Raiders.

The current U.S. Congress can be counted on to cut funding for international population control efforts … not expand it. So, if our government isn’t about to try and save the world from the ravages of over-population, what can we do? One option would be to just lament, complain and hope that the next Congress and administration will take the problem seriously.

A better solution, I think, is for those of us who appreciate the severity of the situation to dig into our deep pockets and send a check to one of the several organizations working to provide reproductive services to the women of the Third World. Four fine groups are valiantly working on the issue. The first one is the United Nations Population Fund (www. UNFPA.org). The second is the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF.org). Number three is the Population Connection (www.popconnect.org). Last, but not least, is Engender Health (www.engenderhealth.org). I invite all of you to check out their programs on the Internet and if you are impressed, hit the donation button. They are all doing terrific work and all need our giving dollars.

I know it is always a tough decision who to support and who to say “no” to. For me, the top two priorities of giving are organizations dealing with population issues and anti-nuclear weapons groups. The success of both groups is essential if our great grandchildren are going to inherit a livable world.

This article first appeared in the May 10, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@ comcast.net.

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