Saturday, July 2, 2005

A report released Thursday by the Population Institute links increases in global terrorism to “unprecedented” population growth in the past 50 years.

Speaking at a press briefing, Werner Fornos, president of the Population Institute, said if population growth remains unchecked in certain regions there could be “serious security consequences” for that region and others surrounding it. Yemen, Palestinian territories and Afghanistan, breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists, have some of the highest growth rates in the world, he added.

“Particularly in Palestine, many women turn suicide bombers,” Mr. Fornos said. “[Population congestion] leaves young women convinced this is what they need to be active in.”

According to the Population Institute report, entitled “Breeding Insecurity: Global Security Implications of Rapid Population Growth,” the world’s population will increase from 6.5 billion today to 9.1 billion by 2050, with most of the increase occurring in developing countries.

Aside from the security threat, the Population Institute’s report highlighted a number of other political crises that could mushroom into global security threats.

“Revolution and other manifestations of political unrest are likely to originate within groups of youth looking to change the current political system,” Mr. Fornos said. The report says 40 percent of the world’s population is under the age of 20, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries.

The other major concern arising from population growth is the scarcity of fresh water to support it.

“Currently, about a third of the developing world’s population lives in countries with severe water stress,” the report states. “As the populations of countries sharing water grows, water shortages will become inevitable.”

Mr. Fornos added that the world’s population currently has to share 1 percent of the Earth’s water supply.

The report cites a number of government reports since the Nixon era that have linked overpopulation to potential terrorist breeding grounds. According to the Population Institute study, “Vice President George H.W. Bush’s 1976 task force on terrorism report, youth bulges and youth unemployment were recognized as demographic detriments of terrorism.” Youth bulges are caused by “the combination of high fertility rates and declining infant mortality rates,” both symptomatic of excess population growth.

The issue of population growth is not receiving the attention it merits, according to Mr. Fornos. At a poorly attended press conference, he regretted not being invited to the White House and other Washington policy institutes.

“Terrorism is not the major problem in the world today,” he said. “Terrorism and population growth are important.”

The United Nations Population Fund recommended $1.5 billion is needed to adequately tackle the problem, but last year’s contribution to the U.N. fund was only $500 million, ironically the largest single contribution to date.

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