- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Today marks World Population Day, a day in which anxious activists will attempt to defuse the population bomb by blathering all over it. Maybe this has worked. They've been at it for 30-plus years, and the population bomb has not exploded into catastrophic plagues and global famines as predicted. Rather, demographic trends demonstrate that there is little chance it will do so in the near (or distant) future.
In his apocalyptic 1968 best-seller "Population Bomb," Paul Ehrlich foretold, "In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon now." Undeterred, and disappointingly unstarved of everything, including ink, Mr. Ehrlich portended in his 1990 prophetic dud, "The Population Explosion," "One thing seems safe to predict: starvation and epidemic disease will raise the death rates over most of the planet."
Following his faulty divination, Thoraya A. Obaid, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, recently commemorated World Population Day by announcing that global warming, species destruction, shrinking natural resources and rapid population growth are combining to "imperil our world."
Putting aside the minor point that it is rather difficult to imperil something that has been around for an estimated 4.5 billion years, is the simple fact remains that the fuse is long gone. World population growth rates peaked at about 2 percent per year right about the time of Mr. Ehrlich's "Population Bomb," and they have dropped consistently ever since then. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that world population growth will dip below 1 percent per year around 2015 and will be less than half of 1 percent per year by 2050 at which point world population is likely to have plateaued at somewhere between 9 billion and 12 billion people.
And it seems that there will be more than enough food for everyone. Food production continues to increase faster than world population the United States now uses less than half the land for farming that it did in the 1920s, even though there are now nearly 200 million more mouths to feed. Genetically modified crops are expected to increase the yields of cereals around the world.
Indeed, most of the famines of the past century were artifacts of political phenomena tyranny and heavy-handed state controls. Sadly, Stalinist sputterings, like the incendiary jeremiads of population profiteers, are all too hard to extinguish.



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