The Myth of Overpopulation

Perhaps one of the most persistent and pervasive myths that have shaped the thinking of many people and, subsequently, public policy is the myth that the world’s population is spiraling out of control and that it will ultimately lead to catastrophic shortages of the essential resources necessary to sustain life.

This whole concept of “overpopulation” can be traced to Thomas Malthus, the British scholar and Anglican clergyman (albeit a very misguided one) who, without any specific knowledge other than his own speculations, predicted in 1789 that the planet’s rapid increase in population would soon outstrip the planet’s ability to produce food, resulting in massive worldwide starvation. Malthus’s predicted famine never materialized, of course; he could not have predicted the industrial revolution or the enormous impact subsequent technological innovations would have on our ability to produce food. Recall that today our federal government actually pays farmers not to grow crops due to the abundance of food produced on considerably less farmland than existed just a century ago.

Even the United Nations, historically a rabid advocate of population control, has conceded that the world’s current infrastructure is capable of supporting a worldwide population of more than 9 billion people. Furthermore, according to the most recent estimates, the planet’s population will most likely continue to climb from its current level until 2050, when it will peak at 9 billion; other predictions have the world’s population peaking at 7.5 billion in 2040. In either case, global population levels will begin a sharp decline sometime during the middle of the twenty-first century. Present fertility rates actually indicate a massive underpopulation crisis is coming, particularly among Western nations.

The question of overpopulation is not merely a topic for conversation; it is a burning matter of policy and action at the local, national, and international levels. Our national government is actually committed by law and by international agreement to reducing the worldwide rate of population growth.

Government officials, such as former Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs in the Clinton administration, Timothy Wirth, insist that this effort must also apply to the population of the United States. Wirth, as you may recall, was at the center of controversy when the Clinton administration decided to deport 13 Chinese women who sought asylum in the United States to avoid forced abortion under communist China’s notorious one-child policy. By offering asylum to these women, Wirth explained, “we could potentially open ourselves up to just about everybody in the world saying ‘I don't want to plan my family, therefore I deserve political asylum.’” Apparently, Wirth believes government-forced abortions and sterilization constitutes “family planning.”

Today, there are governments that compel their citizens to undergo sterilization and abortions, often with financial help from the United Nations and U.S. government-supported private agencies such as Planned Parenthood.

Motivated in part by the overpopulation myth coupled with Darwinism, Margaret Sanger, who in 1934 was the founder of the American Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood), advocated contraception and abortion as means of “negative eugenics” in order to limit the population of what she termed “the lower races.” (Positive eugenics was the form employed by the Nazis in their attempt to eradicate the Jewish people.)

For this reason Sanger opposed helping the poor. Humanitarianism and philanthropy, she wrote merely “perpetuate constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents, and dependents.… These dangers are inherent in the very idea of humanitarianism and altruism, dangers which have today produced their full harvest of human waste.” This same sentiment was common to Darwin and his early advocates, who saw Christian compassion as counterproductive to “natural selection” and human evolution. Recall the original full title of Darwin’s now-famous work, On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Ironically it was Thomas Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population that had a profound impact on Charles Darwin and proved instrumental in the development of his theory of evolution. Darwin attests to this in his autobiography:

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then I had at last got a theory by which to work.

The myth of overpopulation first put forth by Malthus, coupled with Darwinian theories that promote propagation of the “fit” and reduction of the “unfit,” has been instrumental in legitimizing abortion, forced sterilization, government subsidized contraception, and, in the most extreme cases, eugenics as practiced by the Nazis and others. (The term eugenics-meaning “good births”-was coined by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. Eugenics, he believed, would encourage more children from the fit, and fewer or no children from the unfit, with the ultimate goal of engineering the evolutionary ascent of man.)

In every case these false notions further serve to undermine the intrinsic value of every human being.


afterthegoldrush said...

Good write.

Liberal Elite said...

Until humans finally decide to control their populations using techniques other than:


then there really IS an overpopulation problem. No other animal controls its population as poorly as humans do.

Giving more food to Africa doesn't help. It just makes more Africans looking for more food. Only the education and empowerment of women can break this vicious cycle.

Oh.. And it's not a myth.

And I think that abortion and sterilization is preferable to deaths by:


Two Sentz said...

What exactly is the problem? Don't you think there has been starvation,
drought, disease and war since the dawn of creation? In other words, when the world was way less populated. We now have abortion and sterilization but it hasn't gotten rid of any of those other factors.

biazzio said...

Nature creates drought man creates famine, People declare war and nature sends disease, there will always be an ebb and flow in our population. Look at China with forced abortions and sterilization and a huge population that is struggling to keep them all fed. I think people are like other creatures when it gets too crowded, and resources become scarce population decreases. But then again there is always the picture of some starving person with an emancipated baby at her breast which proves that no matter how bad it gets some will still manage to reproduce.

Liberal Elite said...

@b "Nature creates drought"

Yes, but man puts life at risk by "betting" that their will be no drought or no flood.

@b "People declare war"

That's a quaint view of war. You know, more people die from the blade than die from bullets. For wars fought over basic resources, the weapon of choice is the machete, and the target of choice is unarmed civilians. Most is done with ethnic or religious cleansing as a goal. It's a sign of overcrowding, and where overcrowding is the worst, the violence is the worst.

@b "nature sends disease"

Also a quaint view. What people do, and how they live greatly affects what diseases they get, and if they will be killed by them. Diseases just LOVE an overcrowded and weak populace.

@b "I think people are like other creatures when it gets too crowded, and resources become scarce population decreases."

No. Most animals produce fewer offspring when conditions are harsh. A dominant wolf will prevent procreation. Only humans resort to miserable deaths by the millions as the population control method of "choice".

@b "Look at China with forced abortions and sterilization"

Yes look at China and where they were 20 years ago. China has solved its primary problem and now seriously threatens our dominance. This is no joke.

One quick example: The NIH wants to get a new $9 million microscope, but doesn't have the funds, so it goes begging. This is our flagship (#1 in the world) biomedical research institution. Last month, a single university in China bought three of these microscopes. And this is just on one small area.

Multiply this over dozens of fields (green energy, nuclear power, space travel, material engineering,...), and it's a HUGE problem.

China is making a big drive for the future exactly when we are cutting back. The future belongs to them. We can only sit back and watch what they do.

The budget cutters in congress are throwing away our future.

Anonymous said...

Man LE really is a communist.

Liberal Elite said...

@4:41 "Man LE really is a communist."

Huhh?? For what? Advocating that we actually invest in our future?

Do you have ANY idea about how we became a world class superpower? It certainly was NOT done with a niggardly attitude towards science and engineering investment at a national level.

People like you probably think that our investment in sonar and radar was something that only communists would do. Where in the Constitution does it say we could spend money developing radar? Yep... Clowns like you would have just let Hitler take over the world.

The world is changing. You are being left behind and you don't have a clue. Harsh times are ahead for us. Harsh times...