Science in Christian Perspective
"Fewer People for a Better Work!'
NEGATIVE POPULATION GROWTH: A PROPOSAL FOR ACTION*
From: JASA 26
(March 1974): 13-15
*A reprint from the February 1973 Emko Newsletter, , Editor, of the Negative Population Growth, Inc. Statement of Purpose and Program, NPG, 103 Park Ace., N.Y. 10007.
I. The Population Must Be Reduced to Not More Than One Half Present Levels
The best scientific opinion today tells us that this country, and every country in the world, is already seriously overpopulated. Given two basic assumptions, which the vast majority of people everywhere in the world will agree with, the ease is overwhelming for the absolute necessity of reducing the population drastically. These two assumptions are as follows:
1. That it is desirable for an industrial society, with all its benefits, to continue to exist for more than just a few decades into the future.
2. That every child barn into this world should have the opportunity to have enough to eat, and to enjoy a decent standard of living.
In order for the above goals to be reached, it is clear that total demand on the earth's resources must be reduced. Otherwise, either environmental pollution will continue to bring about a drastic deterioration in the quality of life, and may eventually destroy the earth's capacity to support life, or, on the other hand, depletion of nonrenewable resources will reduce industrial production to a tiny fraction of its present volume.
Zero population growth, even if it were realized immediately, is not enough. Present levels of industrial production are too high to be sustained for long. Moreover, zero population growth would not halt industrial growth, since per capita consumption is growing worldwide at an annual rate of around 4%. (Doubling about every 18 years.)
BILL OF RIGHTS Negative Population Growth We oppose every effort to
In January 1972, thirty-three of Great Britain's most distinguished scientists endorsed the basic principles of a study called "A Blueprint for Survival", which warned that demand for natural resources is becoming so great that it will exhaust reserves and inevitably cause "the breakdown of society and the irreversible destruction of the life-support systems on this planet, possibly by the end of the century, certainly within the lifetimes of our children." They urged Britain to stop building roads, to tax the use of power and raw materials, and to cut her population in half. Negative Population Growth, Inc. is the first American population control organization to endorse this position.
Still another survival study came to the same basic conclusions. The study is called "The Limits To Growth", and was produced by a team of scientists from MIT, and sponsored by the "Club of Rome". This study showed the folly of any policies-whether population or-economic-which would result in an increase in total demand on limited, and fast disappearing world resources.
Even more recently, a scientific panel, drawn from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, has urged that the U.S. begin limiting its population and its consumption of resources. The panel said, "It is clear that the difficulties imposed by growing U.S. and world populations pervade all other resource issues". The U.S. scientific panel also stated that, "The numbers of humans occupying that habitat, moreover, must be limited to numbers it can comfortably sustain and their individual consumptions of materials must be kept within supportable limits".
II. The Promise of a Better Life for All
As distinct from total demand, per capita demand must continue to increase, so that all can share in a higher standard of living. The only possible way to reconcile these two seemingly contradictory imperatives-reduction of total demand on the one hand, and the increase of per capita consumption on the other-is to reduce the total population. There is no other way, either theoretical or practical. A reduction in the population is not only essential to the well-being of future generations, it is to the economic advantage of everyone now alive.
III. The One Child Family
The desirability and necessity of a substantial reduction in population is beyond dispute, once goals are set with a time horizon of more than just a few short years in the future. How could such a reduction be accomplished?
By reducing the birth rate to below the death rate. This could be realized by the one child maximum family, until such time as the population is reduced to a suitable level, at which time the two child family would stabilize it. We therefore urge the one child family as the maximum family size, together with childfree families for many couples. Even with the one child maximum family, the population would not begin to decline for twenty to thirty more years, because of the disproportionate number of young people in the total population at the present time. Once the population began declining, it would take another sixty or seventy years to achieve a reduction to a level not more than one half present levels.
Also, it is obvious that immigration, which accounts for about 20% of population growth in the U.S., must he severely limited.
IV. National Governments Must Create Major Agencies to Deal Solely with Reducing the Population
The development of atomic energy and the reaching of the moon took place only because major agencies were created solely for those purposes, told to achieve those objectives as soon as humanly possible, and given the money and manpower needed for the task. Action at least as bold and massive will be required to reduce the population, a task which presents problems more complex than those of the atom or of space.
National legislative bodies must also create special committees on population reduction. The responsibility for specific legislation to set up major agencies and to accomplish the necessary reduction in population lies with the Congress.
V. Individual Rights Versus the Common Good
Is the right to decide family size, irrespective of the vital needs of society as a whole, a basic human right and a fundamental freedom? It is clear that there is a sharp conflict in the matter of family size between the desires of individuals and the needs of society as a whole. It is also clear that this conflict must be resolved in favor of the common good, just as all conflicts are resolved, without a single exception, where the vital interests of society as a whole are at stake, e.g., military service, taxes, laws against crime, etc.
Moreover, in addition to conflicting with the vital needs of society as a whole, the individual right to decide family size conflicts with every other basic human right and freedom, and, if left unchecked, will eventually destroy them, including the right to privacy, to political liberty, the right to eat, and the right to breathe.
It is obvious that controls will be necessary in order to effect the necessary reduction in population. The form and extent of the controls must be decided by Congress. They could vary from minimum and voluntary controls such as government guidelines to family size, at one end of the spectrum, to compulsory birth control at the other end, with compulsory sterilization after one child.
The middle ground between the two extremes would be tax and financial incentives making it to the financial advantage of couples not to have more than one child, together with, for example, laws raising the minimum age of marriage considerably, and making free abortion and sterilization available to all.
However, whatever Congress decides as to the form of the necessary controls, it is essential that they be immediately effective in getting the fob done, and the population reduced.
VI. Our Program and Purpose
Population control is the conscious regulation by society of total population size. Several years ago the National Academy of Sciences established a Committee on Resources and Man. After two years of inquiry and study this prestigious Committee stated that, "Population control is the absolute primary essential without which all other efforts are nullified."
Our purpose, broadly stated, is, through public education, to encourage the United States, and then every country in the entire world, to put into effect national programs of population control, with the specific goal of a reduction in population to not more than one half present numbers. We shall strive to have this national goal adopted by the United States in 1976, the bicentennial of the founding of our nation.
Furthermore, we intend to prove that a substantial reduction in population is not only essential for the survival of a livable world, and the well-being of future generations, but that it is in the economic self interest of every person now living. Accordingly, one of our principal tasks is to sponsor research in order to develop a comprehensive economic theory covering a substantial decline in population.
VII. A Desperate Urgency
Overpopulation is without question the most crucial problem facing mankind today. It is extremely urgent that bold and massive programs to reduce the population be put into effect immediately. In the U.S., in spite of a decline in the birth rate, which may be only temporary, our present population of 208,000,000 is still growing by roughly 2,000,000 each year, and is doubling every 50 to 70 years.
The world population is now increasing at the rate of one billion every ten years, (2% a year) and is doubling every 35 years. Now 3.8 billion, it is expected to reach 7 billion by the end of the century.
Even today the vast numbers of people on this planet are pushing against the outer limits of the earth's ability to even feed them, much less to give the vast majority of mankind any hope of attaining a decent standard of living. Even now over 50% of the earth's population lives on the ragged edge of starvation, enduring what Gandhi called "The Eternal Famine".
If present trends are not reversed, and quickly, the result can only be human misery and suffering on a scale never yet seen or imagined. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it is worse than irresponsible, it is sheer insanity to delay any longer in taking decisive action. National programs of population control must be put into effect now!