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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Global Depopulation
File this under “Another Very Important Issue that the Left Made Specific Predictions About, and Were Totally Wrong”. I know; the file is getting very thick, but you really should know about this one. (Disclosure: I haven't read any of the books I'm about to mention, just a lot of stuff written about the books. Writing about books I haven't read gives me inexhaustible material.)

In the 1970s Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, the book for which he is best known. It predicted that human population would climb exponentially, reaching upward of 11 billion. This would be way too many humans competing for way too few resources. A catastrophic energy and food shortage would ensue, and there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. He has become the prophet of the liberal overpopulation crowd, and has gone on to write much more, such as The race bomb: Skin color, prejudice, and intelligence (in 1997, not exactly the first on the scene in race consciousness) and Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future (also in 1997, clearly a productive year for him). By the titles, I'd guess that he didn't vote for Bush.

The only problem with The Population Bomb is that none of it came true. Birth rates worldwide have been falling, most dramatically in the developed world, but in the third world too. The disastrous world energy crunch has yet to appear, and the only recent reason for famines has been totalitarian dictatorships, not runaway food demand. Last year, Ben Wattenberg wrote Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future in which he reviews the recent population trends and assumes his place in a growing crowd pointing out that Ehrlich is all wet. (This book, I may actually read!) Here are highlights from Newt Gingrich's review of Fewer.
The biggest news is that in sheer numbers the human race is now likely to peak at 8.5 billion people instead of the United Nations projection of 11.5 billion. Even the U.N. demographers now agree that the population explosion will never reach the numbers they had once projected.

The biggest reason for this dramatic decline was captured in an earlier book by Mr. Wattenberg, "The Birth Dearth." Women are simply having fewer children and the result is that in some countries population is already starting to go down.

Mr. Wattenberg highlights the unique role of the United States as the one industrial country that will keep growing. American population growth is a combination of the highest birthrate of any industrial country (2.01 children per female) and our willingness to accept immigration. Mr. Wattenberg projects that the United States will continue to grow in economic and other forms of power, while Europe and Japan decline dramatically. Indeed, in the Wattenberg vision of the future, there are only three large nations by 2050: China, India and the United States.
The entire review is fairly short. You may enjoy reading the rest of it.

I await any liberal to admit that (1) there is no overpopulation problem, (2) there is not now no will there ever be a catastrophic energy shortage, because the free market makes scarce things expensive and thereby stimulates innovative production, and (3) for the same reason, there will never be a catastrophic food shortage. The world can support billions more provided that they live in societies with free markets. A command economy can not sustain a population no matter how small.
Ordered by Nomad's Mom.
Very interesting Bean....I might add a small statistic which I caught on Fox News yesterday, and that is that the highest birth on the planet belongs to the Palestinians.
I thought it was India... I guess I was wrong!
Nomad’s mom: You touched on an interesting tangent. That’s been widely reported. Turns out it’s not true. Arab ‘demographic bomb’ revealed as dud. Carolyn Glick writes for the Jerusalem Post. I like her articles. Take a look.

Irina: You may be right. I really don't know.
In fact, I think it's really difficult for anyone to know precisely, because many governments tend to distort their censuses (is that the correct word?!) for political reasons - or not everyone reports!
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