EDITORIAL: Faint welcome for No. 7 billion

U.N. shuns human population as a trick, not a treat

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The world welcomed the 7 billionth human being Monday, but not everyone is celebrating. The United Nations believes the Earth’s population is climbing too fast, and the delivery stork is jeopardizing the coveted objective of “sustainability.”

After the world body designated Halloween as the “Day of 7 Billion,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued “a call to action to world leaders to meet the challenges that a growing population poses.” For the occasion, the U.N. placed a population counter on its website so visitors could watch mankind’s numbers tick up with each new birth, sort of a human version of the national-debt counter with the digits marching inexorably upward.

The U.N. Population Fund (UNPF) chimed in with a report titled, “State of the World Population 2011,” which includes a line graph displaying a steep human growth rate accompanied with a question meant to invoke fear: “Will my grandchildren live in a world of 10 billion?” The report advocates “empowering women and girls … to make fundamental decisions about their lives, including decisions related to the timing and spacing of pregnancies and births.” In other words, sex education is the key to bending the birth rate curve downward. The report briefly acknowledges the troubling trend of falling numbers in developed countries but the central message is the need to bring down high fertility rates in the Third World.

In 2009, the UNPF’s annual report entitled “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate,” contained a chilling perspective on human life: “Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time.” According to this view, each newborn is little more than a small carbon-dioxide emitter destined to spawn generations of polluters, all damaging the planet’s climate.

The left-wing self-loathers who populate the U.N. adhere to a secular faith that the natural world is pure and human beings are a blight. That’s at odds with the fundamental tenet of the world’s major religions, which hold that human life has inestimable value and believe there is, as Shakespeare wrote, “a divinity that shapes our ends.”

The U.N.’s apocalyptic rhetoric is a retread of the 18th century’s chicken little, Thomas Malthus, who was among the first to predict overpopulation would destroy the planet. Two hundred years later, we’re still here. As the late scholar Julian Simon explained, the availability of resources grows with the population, resulting in a steady improvement in the quality of life. The “ultimate resource,” he argued, is human ingenuity.

As the U.N. Population Fund yanks away the welcome mat for the 7 billionth member of the human family, Rep. Renee Elmers, North Carolina Republican, has introduced H.R. 2059, a bill that would defund the U.N. Population Fund, saving taxpayers $400 million. That would be something to celebrate.

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