Too Many People? By Vanessa Baird

1693 words - 7 pages

The worldwide population is approaching 7 billion and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 (Baird). This projected population number is down from a once predicted 16 billion (Baird) and while some are not concerned, others are worried about 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 a concern for 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. Baird tries to discover if “the current panic over population growth 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 63). 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

“ignored population growth,” since writing their book in 1968, is one reason “collapse now seem[s] ever more likely” (63). They suggest we can avoid collapse if we reduce our population to an “optimal number” and they reinforce the message of their book, earth has a finite capacity and a growing population can lead to dire consequences (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 63). As well, Ehrlich and Ehrlich believe the view they portray in their book has become a “consensus” in the scientific community as the 1993 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity stated, “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” (qtd. in Ehrlich and Ehrlich 69). Furedi in contrast, believes “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 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). Additionally, Ehrlich and Ehrlich 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 perspective on...

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