A Growing Population: Problem or Excuse?
The current worldwide population is around 6.9 billion and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 (Baird). This projected population number is down from the once predicted 16 billion (Baird) and while some are not concerned others are worried by any increase in population. Population growth is discussed in the articles “Too Many People?” by Vanessa Baird; “Population Control: How Can There Possibly Be Too Many of Us?” by Frank Furedi; and “The Population Bomb Revisited,” by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. Baird and Furedi concur that the concern over population growth has been around since mathematician Thomas Malthus, in 1798, warned that overpopulation could lead to “the collapse of society”(Furedi). Furedi claims that too much human life is being used as an excuse, by population control supporters, for the world’s current and future problems while Baird tries to discover if the panic over population is reasonable. For Ehrlich and Ehrlich the concern over population growth is very real, and they reinforce and support their book “calling attention to the demographic element in the human predicament” (Ehrlich and Ehrlich). While taking different approaches to their articles, the authors offer their perspectives on population growth, population control and the environmental impacts of a growing population.
The authors have differing perspectives on population growth. Ehrlich and Ehrlich believe
that “ignored population growth” since writing their book, in 1968, is one reason “collapse now seem[s] ever more likely” and avoiding collapse is related to reducing our population to an “optimal number” (63). They reinforce and support the message of their book, earth has a finite capacity and a growing population can lead to dire consequences (63). Furedi contends “too much human life around…killing the planet” is an “increasingly popular idea” encouraged by population control groups. While Furedi and Ehrlich and Ehrlich take different sides on the concern for population growth Baird provides information from UN projections. Baird comments that the world population will continue to grow and that it will begin to “decline and stabilize.” She believes that this should add “perspective” to the worry over population growth and points out that one factor in our population growth being “temporary” is a declining fertility rate (Baird). Ehrlich and Ehrlich also acknowledge a relationship between birth rates and population growth and offer finding ways to reduce the birthrate as one solution to “the population problem” (68).
When discussing population growth the authors offer their perspectives on population control programs (family planning). Ehrlich and Ehrlich stay true to the message of their book when acknowledging the positive role of “government-sponsored programs in education”, education for women, and programs making contraceptives more accessible (65), in reducing the...