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WETZSTEIN: Overpopulation or “demographic winter”?
Question of the Day
Children are our future. They apparently are our biggest problem, too. Do we really want more of them?
The answer from the United Nations is less is more. The answer from producers of the documentary, “Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family,” is that if we don’t continue to have children, and lots of them, we are headed for “catastrophic” changes in world economies and social structures.
On July 11, World Population Day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 1 billion people, aged 15 to 24, are entering their reproductive years. This means the world needs more family planning, he said.
At the 1994 Cairo conference on population, Mr. Ban explained, nations agreed that all people “have the basic human right to not only decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children, but also to have the information, education and means to do so.”
Mr. Ban’s remarks were a perfect match for the World Population Day theme, “Family Planning: It’s a Right; Let’s Make It Real.”
To some leaders, overpopulation is such an obvious problem — it exacerbates poverty, disease, resource consumption and global warming — that it is mind-boggling that it’s not at the top of political agendas.
The U.N. has predicted a world population of 9.2 billion people by 2050 “and I simply cannot understand why no one discusses this impending calamity,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said in an October column in the London Telegraph.
“It is time we had a grown-up discussion about the optimum quantity of human beings in this country and on this planet,” he said, listing birth control, “female emancipation” and literacy-promotion as ways to reach that “optimum quantity.”
I agree; it’s time to have a grown-up discussion about world population.
Let’s start with Mr. Johnson’s question of why aren’t we united in combating population growth. If the respected U.N. Population Division estimates the world population growing from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion, can’t we all just agree there is an overpopulation problem and get on with it?
The denial is in the details.
Look closer at the U.N. projections by age.
Between 1950 and 2050, the number of people 60 years of age and older skyrockets. Between 2020 and 2050 alone, the number of elderly practically doubles, reaching 2 billion.
The number of babies and toddlers, meanwhile, is projected to peak in 2015, with 653 million. For the next 35 years, the 0-4 age category steadily shrinks.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
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