LONDON, May 8, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the world’s oldest and most venerated scientific institutions has joined the chorus of the population control movement, calling for a “stabilisation” of the human population, “reduction of fertility” in Africa and reduced consumption of energy in the developed world.
Meanwhile, the report is being blasted by critics who say it is nothing more than the same population-paranoia that has been sold for decades by the radical environmentalist movement, fuelled by bad science.
Launched two years ago, the Royal Society’s review of human population issues was to be “a comprehensive and scientific review of the evidence,” by a panel of 23 academics in economics, population studies and conservation sciences.
The report says that the world is headed for a “vortex of economic, socio-political and environmental ills,” if the developed, western countries do not reduce the energy they consume, and if the human population overall is not “reduced.”
“The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment,” the report says.
“We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption … or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future.
“Reproductive health and voluntary family planning programmes urgently require political leadership and financial commitment, both nationally and internationally. This is needed to continue the downward trajectory of fertility rates, especially in countries where the unmet need for contraception is high.”
The Royal Society is one of the oldest continuously running scientific organizations in the world, having been founded at the dawn of the modern age by a royal charter in 1660 by King Charles II. British governments have been using the Society as the lead consultant on scientific issues since 1775, and today the Society serves as the country’s national science academy, funding research fellowships and scientific start-up companies. The influence of the Royal Society is without peer, and its recommendations to governments are taken up not only in Britain but around the world.
Jules Pretty, a member of the working group that developed the population report, said there is a need to “reduce fertility” in poorer nations, particularly in Africa and to reduce the production of CO2 gases in the rich countries.
“When we slow down population growth we empower women and provide more money for least developed countries to invest in education. The majority of women want fewer children,” Pretty said.
The Royal Society has not revealed the background of all the members of the working group, but at least one is associated with an extremist population reduction organization. Jonathon Porritt is the former chair of Britain’s Sustainable Development Commission and a member of the Optimum Population Trust, the notorious pressure group that campaigns for governments to adopt enforced population reduction policies like China’s One Child policy.
Tom Worstall, a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, lambasted the report as a “dismal failure,” arguing that it failed to take into account the complex relationships between population, resource availability, and economic growth.
“These sorts of errors would lead to a marking down in an undergraduate essay and to the failure of a PhD defence. The Royal Society should withdraw this report and work on fixing both the factual and logical errors before trying to tell the rest of us how to live our lives.”
The report drastically oversimplified the relationship between population and consumption of resources, he said. Far from being a simple matter of “handing out condoms to all and sundry,” the population issue is “actually a complex interaction of rising incomes, falling child mortality rates and even opportunity costs”.
He also accused the report of failing to take into account the fact that handing out condoms will not significantly slow down population growth in the most fertile countries that have not adopted the contraceptive mentality. Ninety percent of the world’s fertility, he said, is intentional. Demographers have noted that the countries that have embraced contraception as a lifestyle, those in North America, Europe and the Far East, are already experiencing negative population growth.
But it is in “the discussions of economic growth and resource consumption” that the report becomes “almost schizophrenic,” he said. The report calls for the transition to a “steady-state” economic model, but fails at the same time to understand what that means, Worstall said.
“A steady-state economy is not one in which growth stops: it is one in which resource use is limited but economic growth carries on indefinitely as we find new ways to add value to our limited resources.”
The report, in demanding the cessation of economic growth, fails also to make a distinction between “quantitative” growth, the simple increase in production of goods and services, and “qualitative growth,” what Worstall describes as “making better things out of those limited resources”.
“In fact,” he writes, “there is no environmental or resource limit to such growth at all – and that’s the same as growing GDP by increasing the value rather than the quantity produced.”
Raheem Kassam, a writer for the Wall Street Journal and an anti-extremism activist, wrote on The Commentator website, “Based on what can only be described as the irresponsible usage of population growth predictions, the Royal Society has sanctioned a report that both undermines its credibility and attempts to dupe Western consumers into remorse over our ‘lavish’ lifestyles.
“The Royal Society boasts that Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick and James Watson were life members. It is my contention that these innovators and pioneers would be embarrassed of the pessimistic approach taken by modern scientists, many of whom see themselves as activists and are indeed children of ideology rather than professionals with a commitment to the scientific method.”
Demographers maintain that the current rate of growth of the human population is set to decline rapidly over the next few decades. The experts say that the rate of growth is slowing markedly around the world and will level off at 8 to 9 billion by 2050 then start to decline. Among many governments in Europe, particularly those of former Soviet Bloc nations, there is increasing alarm at the demographic prospects. Fewer babies inevitably means fewer workers and consumers for goods and services with consequently shrinking economies.
Some countries, like Italy and France, are starting to look at ways of propping up the birth rate by creating government baby bonuses while retaining legalized abortion and widespread use of artificial contraceptives. In other countries, like Russia, where the problem of population shrinkage is already being seen, are looking at limiting abortion access.