Thursday, March 28, 2002

Stop Building that Soylent Green Factory

Today the New York Times editorial page alerted readers to a trend demographers have observed for several years, namely that the rate of global population growth is slowing dramatically and falling well below the alarming estimates made in previous decades - the most famous of which was Paul Ehrlich’s hilariously wrongheaded book The Population Bomb.

The story of the Third World population explosion that didn’t happen is an important one. For people who think modern civilization is inherently unsustainable, it is a reminder that not every trend we see today will continue at the same rate 50 years into the future. When Ehrlich was writing his breathless predictions of doom, there was some reason to be nervous if you assumed the then-current reproduction rates would continue forever. A wealthier, more urbanized, and more technologically advanced tomorrow stopped the increase, however, and solved the problem (at least into the foreseeable future).

One other thought - the NYT warns world leaders against letting this good news make them complacent:

“But further gains will be difficult. … A woman of 25 with two children needs a steady supply of contraception for the rest of her reproductive life if she is not to have another.”

Must not be very many Catholics on the NYT editorial board. Too bad, because there are a lot of them in the Third World.

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