Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

How to debunk the myth of overpopulation in three easy steps

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
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Oct. 1, 2013 (PRI) - We are contacted all the time by people asking for how they can refute the arguments of those who believe that the world is overpopulated. So we have decided to create a short primer called “How to Debunk the Myth of Overpopulation in Three Easy Steps.”

Before we start, however, let’s define overpopulation. Overpopulation describes a situation where the number of people exhausts the resources in a closed environment such that it can no longer support that population.

Let’s imagine that our PRI offices were to suddenly become a closed environment, with nothing allowed in our out. Obviously, I and my colleagues would exhaust the available resources very quickly: The water cooler would be drained dry, the refrigerator would be emptied out, and the oxygen would be all used up.  

Obviously, my office has too many people for its natural resources, but I haven’t started trying to eliminate my co-workers to ensure my own survival.  I haven’t launched a sterilization campaign against my younger colleagues or encouraged my older colleagues to jump out of the windows.  Why?

Well, of course I am constrained by Catholic moral teaching.  But aside from that, I know that my office is not a closed environment. Neither are most instances cited by overpopulation zealots, such as crowded cities or poor countries.  None of these are closed environments.

Other instances of phony overpopulation occur when humans create artificially closed environments. If someone locked me in my office, most people wouldn’t blame my resulting demise on “the overpopulation of the office” but on the cruel person who locked me in. Similarly, if government policies prevent food from being transported to where it is needed, or distributed to those who are hungry, “overpopulation” is not to blame.  It’s the policy, stupid. 

In addition, overpopulation is defined as a problem created by the numbers of people, not their behaviors.  If every person demanded his or her own continent or island, the world would seem “overpopulated” very quickly.

Let’s keep these things in mind as we consider the argument that the earth, as a closed environment, is overpopulated. Is Spaceship Earth (as they like to call it), running out of resources? Let’s evaluate:

1) “Food: there isn’t enough!” Since the time of Thomas Malthus, who lived in the early 1800s, doomsayers have gloomily predicted that mankind would outbreed its food supply, resulting in catastrophic famines.  Yet the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us. That is, with 7 billion human minds at work, we produce enough food for 10 billion human bodies.[1] Imagine how much food we can produce with 10 billion minds!

“But there are still hungry people in the world!” Yes, hunger remains a problem in some parts of the world, but it is not caused by the number of people. Commenting on the recent Somali famine, Oxfam, an international humanitarian organization, stated, “Famines are not natural phenomena, they are catastrophic political failures.” 

“Well, we got lucky with the Green Revolution, and food production shot up, but we can’t count on something like that to occur again!” Why not? There is no reason to think that we are running out of human ingenuity.  If anything, a larger population means more opportunities for the kind of scientific collaboration and increased specialization that results in such scientific leaps forward.

“Ok, but humans now eat higher up the food chain that we used to.  We can’t keep that up and still have enough for everyone!”  Sure, people in the developed nations eat more meat, which require much more energy input per calorie eaten than if we ate grains and plant proteins.  But that doesn’t mean that we will run out of food. We are eating higher energy foods because they are relatively cheaper than they used to be—and prices don’t fall when goods are scarce. The falling price of high energy foods indicates that they are becoming more plentiful, not less so.  According to the World Education Service, “world agriculture produces 17% more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago...This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day.” 

2) “We are running out of water!” The earth is awash in water.  Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface to an average depth of 6,000 feet.  That’s why the earth looks blue from space.  You cannot use up or destroy water; you can only change its state (from liquid to solid or gas) or contaminate it so that it is undrinkable.

“That’s a great theory, but if I’m thirsty, theory doesn’t mean much to me. There is not enough fresh water for everyone!”  There is! Since 1900, freshwater withdrawals (i.e. production of usable water) have increased much faster than the human population has increased. Freshwater withdrawals have increased seven-fold since 1900 while the world population has increased only four-fold.[2] This suggests our ability to access usable water increases faster than population growth.

“Tell that to the people living in the Sahel!”  You’re correct, lack of water is a serious humanitarian issue. But it is not an overpopulation issue. Water, although plentiful, can be difficult to move to those who need it, hence local water scarcity. As Karen Bakker (2003) states: "Water is one of the heaviest substances mobilized by human beings in their daily search for subsistence....Water is expensive to transport relative to value per unit volume, requiring large-scale capital investments in infrastructure networks which act as an effective barrier.”  In other words, we need more dams, canals, and pipelines, not more abortion, contraception and sterilizations.

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3) “But we’re growing exponentially!”  Um,...No. We’re not. We are growing, but definitely not at an exponential rate. In fact, our rates of growth are declining. Between 1950 and 2000, the world population grew at a rate of 1.76%. Between 2000 and 2050, it is expected to grow by 0.77 percent.[3] So yes, because 0.77 is greater than zero, it is a positive growth rate, and the world population will continue to grow.

Most of this growth will come from developing countries—their life expectancies are expected to shoot up in the next 50 years, contributing to their population growth. Africa’s growth is not something to worry about.

Europe’s decline, however, is something to worry about. A UN report titled “World Population to 2300” paints a picture of Europe’s future if European fertility rates don’t rise above current levels: “The European Union, which has recently expanded to encompass 452-455 million people (according to 2000-2005 figures) would fall by 2300 to only 59 million. About half the countries of Europe would lose 95 per cent or more of their population, and such countries as the Russian Federation and Italy would have only 1 per cent of their population left.”  In other words, the French, German, Italians and British will virtually cease to exist.  Arrivederci, Roma! 

Other fun thoughts:

- Human knowledge can be passed on through the written and spoken word in ways that evolutionary or biological advantages can’t be.

- Demographers estimate that at least 20 billion people lived on earth between the years 8000 B.C. and 0 A.D. (That’s right, the idea that half of all people who have ever lived are alive currently is a myth!)[4]

-  Plankton make up 3 times more biomass than all 7 billion humans combined.[5]

- Every man, woman, and child on earth could each have 5 acres of land.[6]

- Every man, woman, and child on earth could each have a half acre of arable land.[*7]

- If we wanted to squeeze close, everyone in the world could stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the island of Zanzibar.[8]

- About 48% of all people live in a country with below-replacement fertility.[9]

- The global total fertility rate is 2.53 children per woman.[10]

- By 2050, Nigeria is projected to have a larger population than the United States.[11]

 

Endnotes

[1] Holt-Giménez, Eric, et al. "We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People… and Still Can't End Hunger." Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 36.6 (2012): 595-598.

[2]Gleick, Peter H. "A look at twenty-first century water resources development." Water International 25.1 (2000): 127-138.

[3] "WORLD POPULATION TO 2300." The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (2004): <http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf>

[4] Wachter, Kenneth W. "Cohort Person-Years Lived." Essential Demographic Methods. Berkeley: University of California, 2012.

[5]Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, et al. "Estimates of global cyanobacterial biomass and its distribution." Algological Studies 109.1 (2003): 213-227.

[6]Calculated from numbers found on: "Central Intelligence Agency." The World Factbook. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2097.html>.

[7] Ibid.

[8] "A Tale of Three Islands." Demography. The Economist,<http://www.economist.com/node/21533364/print>.

[9]"World Population Prospects the 2012 Revision." The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (2013):<http://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/documents/news/2013/KEY%20FINDINGS%20WPP2012_FINAL-2.pdf>.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Barnes, Hannah. "Is Population Growth out of Control?" BBC News. BBC, 28 Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Oct. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24303537>.

Red alert! Last call.

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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Pope tells Girl Scouts to oppose ‘ideologies’ against God’s design for marriage

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

ROME, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis told Girl Scout and Girl Guide leaders from across the globe last week that it is essential they promote respect for marriage and family according to God’s design.

The pope’s remarks came as both the international organization, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and Girl Scouts USA face criticism over support for abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and contraception.

"It is very important today that a woman be adequately appreciated, and that she be able to take up fully the place that corresponds to her, be it in the Church, be it in society,” Pope Francis said in his address on the morning of June 26, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision imposing same-sex “marriage” on the country.

In the face of ideologies that seek to destroy the truths about marriage and family, he said, the formation of girls through Guiding "is absolutely determinant for the future."

"We are in a world in which the most contrary ideologies are spreading to the nature and design of God on the family and on marriage. Therefore, it is a question of educating girls not only to the beauty and grandeur of their vocation of women, in a just and differentiated relation between man and woman, but also to assume important responsibilities in the Church and in society," Pope Francis said.

The pope spoke during a private audience at the world meeting of the International Conference of Catholic Guides (ICCG), which took place in Rome from June 25-30.

Stressing that among educational movements Guiding has played a pivotal role in the faith formation of young women, the pope said, "Education is, in fact, the indispensable means to enable girls to become active and responsible women, proud and happy of their faith in Christ lived in every day life. Thus they will participate in the building of a world permeated by the Gospel."

“To Live the Joy of the Gospel as a Guide” was the theme for the ICCG meeting in Rome, with the stated purpose of reaffirming and strengthening the organization's 50-year-old history within the Catholic Church.

Among the participants at the ICCG meeting in Rome were Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) CEO Anna Maria Chávez and National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan.

In a statement, Chavez maintained that faith is “at the heart of Girl Scouts, and is woven into everything the organization does to inspire girls to take action to make the world a better place.”

However, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has cautioned that some aspects of the Girl Scouts pedagogy go against Catholic teaching and doctrine.

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A report by the USCCB focused on three issues:

  1. GSUSA's relationship with groups like Planned Parenthood and international affiliate World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS);
  2. GSUSA's views on issues related "to human sexuality, contraception, and abortion";
  3. and various materials and resources GSUSA has that have "inappropriate content."

With regard to WAGGGS, the report notes that while this group claims it does not formally back abortion and "reproductive rights," language on its website leaves no doubt that such support exists, as well as support for contraceptive use.

Numerous pro-life and pro-family groups have organized boycotts of Girl Guide cookies in protest of the organization's embrace of feminist politics and activism.

The pope's address to the ICCG meeting, translated into English by Zenit, is available on the Zenit website here.

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St. Peter Damian
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St. Peter Damien (1049): what Church MUST do in response to rampant homosexuality among clergy

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By Steve Jalsevac

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The rise of the power and influence of homosexual priests, bishops and cardinals, as well as influential laity, has been a major factor in the growing chaos within Catholicism over the past 60 years. This disorder within the Catholic Church has had a negative impact on the entire world because of the resulting decline in the positive influences that Catholicism has had on civilization for many centuries.

To think that what is happening now is new, however, betrays an ignorance of history. In 1049, when St. Peter Damien wrote his treatise, Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus), to Pope Leo IX, homosexuality and sexual perversion in general were far more openly rampant within the clergy than today.  This horrendous state of affairs is what the Saint addressed in his appeal to the Pope for urgently needed reforms.

We often hear from sleepy, comfortable, cowardly, timid or cultural Catholics, and especially from clergy who are directly implicated in homosexuality, that we should never criticize priests, bishops and especially the Pope. Supposedly, that is a greater sin than that of the heretics and sexual perverts facilitating great personal suffering and sending souls to Hell without anyone doing what is necessary to either convert or stop them.

St. Peter Damien was not so foolish as to listen to such nonsense denying God His justice at a time when the Church appeared to be in its death throes. He understood the grave duty to be blunt about the dangers and sinfulness, to not minimize the catastrophe that would come if strong actions were not quickly taken and to demand corrective actions. And yet, he also emphasized that all of this must be done with charity and Christian hope for the persons involved in the moral corruption. Their conversion was above all hoped and prayed for, rather than their condemnation for eternity.

An Italian translated version of the Book of Gomorrah has recently been published. An English version carefully translated by one of our LifeSite journalists will also soon become available.

On Feb. 11 of this year the Rorate Caeli website published excerpts from the introduction by Professor Roberto de Mattei to the Italian version.

Following are some paragraphs from that introduction that I hope will jar awake some of the faithful, especially considering what is going on now in the United States as a result of the mad Supreme Court decision and the moral chaos around the Synod on the Family regarding Church sexual teachings.
 

Excerpts from the Introduction:

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072) Abbot of the Fonte Avellana Monastery and subsequently Cardinal/Bishop of Ostia, was one of the most outstanding figures of Catholic reform in the XI century. His Liber Gomorrhianus, appeared around 1049, in an age when corruption was widely spread, even in the highest ranks of the ecclesiastical world.

In this writing, addressed to Pope Leo IX, Peter Damien condemns the perverted habits of his time in a language that knows no false mercy or compromises. He is convinced that of all the sins, the gravest is sodomy, a term which includes all the acts against nature and which want to satisfy sexual pleasure by separating it from procreation. “If this absolutely ignominious and abominable vice is not immediately stopped with an iron fist – he writes – the sword of Divine wrath will fall upon us, bringing ruin to many.”

There have been times in (the Church’s) history when sanctity pervades Her and others when the defection of Her members cause Her to collapse into darkness, appearing almost as if the Divinity has abandoned Her.

Peter Damien’s voice resounds today, as it did yesterday, with encouragement and comfort for those, like him, who have fought, suffered, cried and hoped, throughout the course of history.

He did not moderate his language, but kept it fiery to show his indignation. He was fearless in voicing an uncompromising hatred for sin and it was precisely this hatred that rendered his love burning for the Truth and the Good.

Today, at the beginning of the third millennium of Christ’s birth, priests, bishops and Episcopal conferences are arguing for married priests; they are placing in doubt the indissolubility of the marriage bond between man and woman and at the same time, accepting the introduction of laws for homosexual pseudo-marriage. Sodomy is not being thought of as a sin that cries to God for vengeance but is diffused in seminaries, colleges, ecclesiastical universities and even inside the Sacred Walls of the Vatican itself.

Liber Gomorrhianus reminds us that there is something worse than moral vice practiced and theorized. It is the silence that should speak, the abstention that should intervene, the bond of complicity that is established among the wicked and of those, who with the pretext of avoiding scandal are silent, and, by being silent, consent.  

Graver still, is the acceptance of homosexuality by churchmen, thought of as a “positive” tension towards the good, worthy of pastoral care and juridical protection and not as an abominable sin. In the summary Relatio post disceptationem of the first week’s work in the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, a paragraph affirmed that:   “homosexual persons have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”, with an invitation to the Bishops “…are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?”

This scandalous statement was removed from the final report, but some bishops and cardinals, inside and outside the Synod Hall, insisted on the appeal to look for the positive aspects of a union against nature, going as far as hoping for “a way to describe the rights of people living in same-sex unions.”

St. Peter Damian as a simple monk, and with greater reason as a cardinal, did not hesitate in accusing even the Popes of that time for their scandalous omissions. Will the reading of the book Liber Gomorrhianus instill the spirit of St. Peter Damien in the hearts of some prelates or laypeople, by shaking them out of their torpor and force them to speak and act?

Even if abysmally far from the holiness and prophetic spirit of St. Peter Damien, let us make his indignation against evil, ours, and with the words that conclude his treatise we turn to the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness, Pope Francis, presently reigning, so that he may intervene and bring an end to these doctrinal and moral scandals: “May the Almighty Lord assist us, Most Reverend Father, so that during the time of Your Apostolate, all of the monstrosity of this vice be destroyed and the state of the Church, presently supine, may wholly rise up again in all its vigour.”

The book can be found in Italian here. 

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Phil Lawler

So now is it ‘hate speech’ to deplore the Obergefell decision?

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

June 30, 2015 (CatholicCulture.org) - The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Father James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision.

”No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality,” Father Martin told his Facebook followers. He repeated the same message several times throughout the day, warning commenters that they must not indulge in “homophobia” and suggesting that someone who questioned whether we were all expected to sing “Kumbaya” was illustrating his point. So is sarcasm now prima facie evidence of hatred?

In my own surfing through the internet, reading scores of posts on the Obergefell decision, I can honestly say that I did not see a single message, a single comment, that struck me as hate-filled. Perhaps Father Martin’s email traffic is qualitatively different from mine. Or perhaps—far more likely, I’m afraid—he sees “hatred” where I see only vehement disagreement.

Is it possible to be angry about the Obergefell decision, to consider it a travesty of justice and a betrayal of the Constitution, without being viewed as a hater? Wait; let’s turn that question upside-down. Is it possible to see all serious disagreement with the decision as hate-speech, without celebrating the outcome of the Obergefell case?

I ask the latter question, you see, because if Father Martin was upset by the Supreme Court ruling, his dismay did not show through on his Twitter feed. He recommended three columns reacting to the decision: one by a fellow Jesuit, recounting how his grandmother could not marry her lesbian partner; another by the gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, celebrating the decision; the third by the gay activist/blogger Andrew Sullivan, also celebrating.

The recommendation for Andrew Sullivan’s piece was particularly striking because of the title: “It Is Accomplished”—an explicit reference to the words of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Father Martin, who was horrified by so much of what he read on Friday afternoon, let that blasphemous headline pass without comment. His demand for the use of temperate language, and for avoiding comments that others would find offensive, was applied to only one side of the post-Obergefell debate.

And that’s likely to be the party line for politically-correct Catholics in the wake of this momentous decision. We are allowed to disagree with the Supreme Court, politely, but not too forcefully. Any strident denunciation of the ruling or its logic might be interpreted as hate-speech, which of course is unacceptable. As the secular left clamps down on religious expression—and we’ve already been served notice that the crackdown is coming-- the Catholic left will worry aloud that, yes, some strong public expressions of religious beliefs are distasteful.

The influence of this approach, with its keen anxiety to avoid provocation, has already been evident in the statements released by some American bishops in response to the ruling. Archbishop Gregory says that he disagrees with the Court, but if you don’t know why he disagrees before you read his statement, you’re not likely to be any better informed when you’re finished. Cardinal Wuerl reminds us that we must hate the sin but love the sinner; he neglects to mention what the sin is. And Archbishop Cupich gives no indication at all that he disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling.

We have a long uphill struggle facing us as we seek to restore a proper understanding of marriage, to revive appreciation for the natural law, and to undo this wretched judicial decision. We cannot expect success if we go into the battle unarmed. If we begin the debate by saying that we must not offend our adversaries—even after our adversaries have declared our most fundamental beliefs to be offensive—we are doomed to failure.

We already know how the battle will unfold, because the campaign to crush resistance to same-sex marriage is already underway. The militant left will choose vulnerable targets—a pizza-parlor here, a baker there—and vilify them as “haters.” People who been trained to see “hatred” in any firm disagreement will nod in solemn approval as the alleged offenses are harshly punished. And so juggernaut will keep rolling, gaining momentum, until it reaches us.

There is an alternative. We can speak the truth. Yes, certainly we should avoid making unduly provocative statements. But since we are trying to provoke reactions, we cannot pull all our punches.

More to the point, if we’re going into battle—and we are—we need to know who’s on our side, and who’s working against us.

This article was originally published on CatholicCulture.org and is re-published with permission.

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