The Myth of Overpopulation

Surely you already know that I don’t subscribe to the myth of overpopulation.  Even if I did, if faced with accusations of irresponsibility I think I would have to quote another mother: “Sir, the world NEEDS my children.”

Nonetheless, I enjoy witnessing the debunking of ridiculous theories like evolution and overpopulation.  That’s one reason I can’t resist sharing this video, found via Large Family Mothering.

The other reason?

I love God’s sense of humor and timing.  I found this video and let it load in the background while chatting online with my good friend, Mother Hen.  When it was done loading, I hit the play button.  Mother Hen sent me a link while I was watching, but I finished the video before going back to our chat.  When I clicked on her link, guess what came up?

Yup.  I wonder if she’s blogging the video this very moment?  Nah…what are the chances of that?

Comments

  1. Great lecture on the myth by RJ Rushdoony:

    http://bit.ly/dsbrBz

  2. Jess, the developed countries that you mentioned are about to enter into crisis mode because of the low population growth rate. When your society (developed or not) is not producing enough new workers in the next generation to take care of the elderly, the system colapses.

    I personally do not believe in government entitlement programs, but setting that argument aside, I just recieved a letter from the Social Security Administration today telling me that under current law, the “trust funds” (ha-ha) would be bankrupt by 2035 “because of low population growth and increased life-spans” in the United States. Our developed countries have bought into the lie that it is responsible to have fewer children, and now the next generation has the crushing responsibility of caring for an elderly generation larger than itself.

    Switching gears, you said that too many people fighting for too few resources creates an environment of violence, theft, and corruption. Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course it does!!! But are population density and population growth the CAUSE of these peoples’ fighting for too few resources leading to this environment?

    This discussion has generated a (short) list of countries with near equal population densities in developed countires and developing countries. The difference between peace and violence/theft/corruption clearly isn’t density. Now, let’s look at those lists again. What kind of government is in place?

    Countries that have (more or less) a free-market system have a much higher standard of living. Those that are entrenched in tyranical government models or anarchy do not have enough resources. The lack of resources does not come first, it is the result of long term oppression.

    The human survival instinct is a very strong force. Given the freedom, people will migrate to where resources exist. Oppressive government barriers, war ravaged regions, etc, etc, etc have prevented people the freedom of migrating to (and even creating) basic resources. We agree in our conclusion that poverty is not a sin, it is a man-made condition.

  3. You guys are ignoring the difference between population density and population growth rate. Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world but it is also has one of the lowest fertility rates. (I should also add that it has an extremely 1.2. Japan is at 1.3, Netherlands is at 1.8. Rwanda’s (was) 8.3.You are also ignoring that Japan, Netherlands, US are developed countries without food shortage nor is the GDP largely agricultural. When you economy is largely based on subsistence farming you are extremely vulnerable to crop conditions and weather. In the US a poor crop is bad news for farmers but it doesn’t mean large swaths of the population are going to go hungry.

    Look I am not saying that the government or any entity should control how many children people want to have. But what I am saying is that too many people fighting for too few resources creates an environment of violence, theft and corruption. You can call it a sin because yes it is a sin to murder or to steal. But poverty is not a sin. It is a man-made condition.

  4. Also, the Netherlands is more densely populated than Rwanda. ;)

  5. Just looked at a list of population density world wide.

    If war is all about too many people on too little land, then Congo should be one of the most peaceful nations in the world.

    Is it?

  6. Jess, it is interesting that you picked the Rwandan genocide. If you’ve ever seen documentaries and listened to the propaganda that was being spread, it was *not* about land.

    It was flat out, long-running, ethnic hatred. Might have been about power.

    But as previously mentioned, people have been doing this for thousands of years, no matter what the population density. There is never enough land or power for the evil and greedy. So if they have to kill 100 or just 1, they will do it.

    Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Are they hacking each other to death with machetes? No. In fact, the government is realizing that an essential halt in population growth is going to cause them serious problems in the near future.

    Now, Singapore is a much more technology-leaning country than Rwanda. Perhaps the money and effort spent on keeping people from having children might be better spent in teaching them how to live well in the space they have.

  7. It’s not logic, it’s an empirical argument, population size largely fluctuates based on things like resources, economic growth and education, sure if everyone choose to only have 2 kids the population would not grow, but in practice what we see is that regardless of how many kids individual families plan to have you can predict population size changes based on these other factors. We see a change from many families with 3-5 kids to many families with 1-2 kids and some with 12 . I’m not promoting having 12 kids, I’m just saying that from a scientific point of view there is no reason to harass large families about how their choices effect the environment and over population because they don’t. If anyone is concerned about population growth they should focus on reducing poverty, increasing education and better distribution of resources, these are things we can all agree are good things.

  8. So you guys don’t think violence and lawlessness are not a symptom of too many people vying for too few resources? The ethnic clensing in Rwanda was largely a result of an overpopulated country. Rwanda’s the size of vermont and in 1994 it was host to more than 8 million people with almost 70% of them under 25, a fertility rate of 8 children per women., and where 1 in 10 children died before their first birthday. People were farming on tiny postage stamps sized farms Soil erosion and poor rainfall in the years leading up to the 1994 made things worse . Ethnic rivalries were just an excuse to kill people in order to gain their land or other resources. I recommend reading Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Collapse” to read more about the societal problems that lead to Rwanda’s war.

    Leah your logic makes no sense. How does you having ten children cause 9 other couples to decide not to have kids? 1 always equals 1.

    • Jess,
      Do you expect similar acts of genocide to break out in Massachusetts, New Jersey or Rhode Island? All are more crowded than Rwanda. What about the District of Columbia, which is 10 times as crowded as Rwanda?
      As Margaret pointed out, violence, war and lawlessness have been around almost since the beginning of recorded history. They have nothing to do with overpopulation and everything to do with sin.
      BTW, the population density for Rwanda was and is roughly equivalent to many, many nations and territories now: France, Belgium, Virgin Islands, Guam, Japan, The Netherlands, etc. You can see a complete list here: List of Sovereign States and Nations by Population Density. I don’t think you can blame Rwanda’s poverty or genocide on overpopulation. In fact, several of our own states have a greater population density than Rwanda.

  9. Interesting discussion. I am a population biologist and wanted to point out that from a scientific perspective large families don’t cause population increases – oddly enough we know from the research on population sizes that individual choices about family size do not regulate the total sizes of populations, so if I have 10 kids, those aren’t ten extra kids, but rather 10 kids who would have been distributed differently. I hope this makes sense! I can’t help you with the evolution thing though!

  10. I should add, I *have* travelled outside America, and my husband is a native of a developing country who also disbelieves the myth of overpopulation.

    One of the biggest problems many of these countries face is well-meaning but ill-advised aid from the Western world. Aid-grain that gets through the beurocracy and makes it to local markets temporarily relieves hunger but contributes to a cycle that depresses local agriculture. People cannot farm and sell it for a competetive price, so they quit growing and come to rely on aid.

    They would be much, much better served with aid that helps build infrastructure. Because disease filled water has nothing to do with population. It has to do with the lack of infrastructure and the use of water sources for drinking, animal watering hole, washing, and sewage combined.

  11. Kim, your response in the comment section is bang on.

    Whether it’s food, or education or something else, the reason there is “not enough” is…war, poor government policies, prejudice, the list goes on…
    “Overpopulation” is an excuse, nothing more.

    What, for instance, is causing the mass rapes in the Congo? Overpopulation? No. Criminal, vile excuses for men are using rape as a weapon of war. They are “at war” for no discernible reason except maybe ethnic issues and a lust for power. Cut the population of Congo in half, and cut the population of the vile criminals in half, and they’d still be vile criminals raping the Congolese. And when they hold the thread of this horrible violence over the heads of communities, they limit the ability of people to engage in free commerce, to go out into the fields and farm, to walk to school, to transport goods, to perform services, and…voila! Famine and economic depression, having nothing to do with how many babies each family has.

    I don’t know if it’s occured to anybody but war and famine and oppression are an unchanging part of the human experience. As far back as we have recorded history, we have records of all of these things. Long, long before human population reached 6 billion, people were killing each other, oppressing each other, and generally making a mess of things. Famines happened, epidemics happened, wars happened…all when everybody had a whole lot more space to move around in.

  12. What a great video! We don’t subscribe to the theory of overpopulation either…though with only 4 kids, we’re not populating it quite as quickly as you are. ;)

  13. I think that’s extremely valid, Kim. Thanks!

  14. I have to agree with Jess. If you’ve never traveled outside of America, where the country itself is vast, there is plenty of food and assistance to go around (those living on or below the poverty line here are rich compared to some of the Asian countries I’ve visited) and everything is much cheaper and more readily available than in, say, Europe, it is easy to think that overpopulation and lack of/availability of resources are myths. It is also easy to believe that America is not dependent on, or affected by what happens in other countries.

    While I am not denying that large families (and particularly yours, Kim) are often good stewards and very resourceful, not every family (or organization) in the US appreciates what we have and takes care of it so well. It is erroneous to believe that because we have the ability, the freedom and the means to make things work that others in the world have the same opportunities and equipment at their disposal. Try farming a dustbowl with no means of irrigation or fertilizer, feeding your family from a disease-ridden garbage dump (I’ve seen people trying), or “make” clean water for your children from a parasite-filled river with no filters, chemicals – or even clean containers. Even those of us in the US who are on low budgets and low incomes are incredibly fortunate, and it is very easy to lose sight of that.

    • Hilary and Jess,
      I don’t deny that real poverty and hardship exist, but I think the problem has very little to do with overpopulation. There are many causes, including socialism, communism, and other government intervention that destroys economies; failure to use available resources; distribution problems; and sin (absent fathers, laziness, poor stewardship) to name a few.
      In some cases, shrinking population is a part of the problem, not the solution. A shrinking population has an ever-smaller group that must care for the needs of the [larger] preceding generation.

  15. It is easy for you to deny overpopulation when you live in America and have enough money and resources to take care of your family.

    The food-only argument is very reductive. People need more than food to eat in order to survive they need clothing, shelter, income to pay for these resources, and education to learn some kind of skill set.. There are definitely parts of the world where there isn’t enough to go around. In many parts of the world it’s impossible to get clean water even.

    While food is generally a renewable resource, oil, minerals are not. We’re already drilling several miles into the earth to obtain these resources and our children will have to dig further or learn to live without.

    I don’t think enforcing how many people have children is a good solution at all but there is no denying that some countries have too many people vying for too few resources.

  16. *whom* you quoted…pardon me!

  17. That video is awesome. Thanks for posting! I’m curious, too, who you quoted…

  18. I’ve been stewing about this for days after a friend went on a rant about “only selfish people have more than two children (and eat meat),” because we are all destroying the planet and blah, blah, blah. I knew she was wrong but I never have the words when I need them.

    I only have 3 kids but when I mention wanting more I get everyones opinions shoved down my throat. I cant imagine how you stay nice about it.

    Anyway thanks alot for posting that :)

  19. I have to say, I clicked on Mother Hen’s blog just to see if she HAD posted this video. :D

    While I was there I scrolled down the page a few entries, and now that I’m back to comment, I have to ask: are y’all still doing the baking soda/ ACV thing, and is it just you or the girls and Perry the youngest too? You haven’t posted an update in a while so I’m curious.

    • Jennifer,
      Most of our older girls choose to buy their own special shampoo. My chemistry seemed to change about a month ago and I switched to using an egg with some vinegar stirred in. Right now it works much better for me.
      I use body wash or shampoo on the little ones, but it’s usually “free,” thanks to the house rule about personal possessions in the shower: if you leave your own special personal bottle of shampoo, it’s because you want to share it. Think that’s unfair? YOU try keeping the bathroom neat when there are 6 or 8 bottles each of shampoo, conditioner, body wash…

  20. love that clip :-)

  21. Love it! Thanks for sharing!

Don't just think it: say it!

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