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News

Population Growth – Global Issues

Nature

Source: United Nations.
  • Notice by Joseph Chamie (Portland, United States)
  • Inter Press Service

Certain addictions, such as illicit drug use, smoking, alcohol abuse, gun violence, and junk food consumption, contribute to chronic illness, injury, and premature death of millions of men, women and children. The sustained growth of human populations, however, is far more worrying in that it compromises the well-being of humanity.

Contributing to the climate crisis, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, natural resource depletion and pollution, global population growth poses a serious threat to the sustainability of humanity on the planet . Concerned about its serious and far-reaching consequences, climate scientists, environmentalists, scientists, celebrities and others have repeatedly called for stabilization of the human population, with some advocating a gradual reduction in the size of the world’s population .

Despite these calls and warnings that life on the planet is under siege, proponents of continued population growth, including many government officials, business leaders, investors and economic advisors, have largely ignored the evidence. available on the consequences of population growth. , particularly on climate change and the environment. Both in their policies and in their actions, they have rejected warnings and recommendations calling for the stabilization of the world population and its gradual reduction.

Proponents of growth falsely claim that the many cited consequences of population growth on the climate, environment, biodiversity, natural resources and human well-being are greatly exaggerated and constitute simple fake news. Some have even called climate change a hoax and are ignoring warnings that time for action is running out as the world enters uncharted territory and humanity makes minimal progress in the fight against climate change.

Additionally, some proponents of population growth argue that the consequences of climate change, including higher average temperatures, severe droughts and hurricanes, excessive heat waves, flooding, sea level rise, and tides high altitudes, melting Antarctic ice shelves, degraded environments, record wildfires, disappearing threats. wildlife, exploited natural resources and increased pollution must be calmly and resolutely put aside.

Less than a hundred years ago, that is to say in 1927, the world population reached 2,000,000,000 inhabitants. Less than fifty years later, in 1974, the human population of the planet doubled to reach 4,000,000,000 inhabitants. And almost fifty years later, in 2022, the world population has doubled again to reach 8,000,000,000 inhabitants (Figure 1).

Despite calls for human populations to stabilize, any slowdown in population growth is generally viewed with worry, worry, panic and fear. Economic growth, advocates say, requires sustained population growth. In short, they see a growing population vital to the production of more goods and services, leading to higher economic growth.

In addition to being considered fundamental to economic growth, growth proponents view population growth as essential to profits, taxes, labor, politics, cultural leadership, and power.

Any slowdown in a country’s population growth, such as that experienced by some countries over the past decade and predicted for even more countries in the decades to come, is responded to by political, economic leaders and economic leaders who sound the alarm and warn of economic calamities and national problems. decline.

Calls to limit immigration in order to achieve demographic stabilization also face strong resistance, particularly from businesses and special interest groups. Reducing immigration levels, they often argue, is incompatible with labor needs, the promotion of innovation and sustained economic growth.

Some have even argued that population decline due to low birth rates poses a far greater risk to civilization than climate change. Furthermore, as others have pointed out, labor shortages associated with population aging have social and economic implications, particularly with regard to the financial solvency of national pension systems.

Growth advocates warn of a looming demographic crisis due to low fertility rates, many of which are below replacement level. Their solution to low fertility levels is to encourage the public, particularly women, to have more children.

Since 1976, the proportion of countries with government policies aimed at increasing fertility levels has tripled, from 9 to 28 percent. Europe has the highest proportion of countries seeking to increase fertility rates, at 66 percent, followed by Asia at 38 percent.

Many governments have introduced various pro-natalist policy measures to increase fertility levels. These measures include tax incentives, family allowances, baby bonuses, cash incentives, government loans, maternity and paternity leave, state-subsidized childcare, working hours flexible arrangements, parental leave and campaigns to change public attitudes.

Of the 55 countries with policies to increase fertility, almost three-quarters have low fertility and a third have a total fertility rate below 1.5 births per woman. The population of these 55 countries ranges from more than 1.4 billion to less than 10 million. The diverse group of countries seeking to increase their fertility levels includes Armenia, Chile, China, Cuba, France, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine (Figure 2).

In addition to policies aimed at increasing fertility levels, nearly 40 percent of countries have relied on immigration to increase their population growth rates. Without immigration, the populations of some of these countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States, would also decline in size due to below-replacement fertility levels.

Many of those who claim an ever-increasing population are only promoting Ponzi demographics, a pyramid scheme that makes sustainability impossible. In general, economists do not talk about this project and governments will not face it. Furthermore, the underlying strategy of the demographic Ponzi scheme is to privatize profits and socialize the economic, social and environmental costs borne by ever-growing populations.

Many provinces, cities and local communities are also seeking population growth and are lamenting slowdowns and declines in population growth. Overall, population stabilization is considered “population stagnation”, which they say not only suppresses economic growth for businesses but also reduces employment opportunities for workers. At the same time, however, it is claimed that the demographic slowdown is contributing to the labor shortage.

Contrary to dire warnings of population stagnation or collapse, others say lower fertility and a smaller population should be celebrated rather than feared. In addition to the positive consequences on climate change and the environment, lower birth rates are often linked to increased education for women, greater gender equality, better health and higher standards of living.

Despite calls for population stabilization, the global reliance on population growth will likely persist for some time. The world’s population is expected to continue growing throughout the 21st century, likely reaching 10,000,000,000 people by 2058.

Furthermore, more than half of the world’s population growth between now and mid-century is expected to occur in Africa. The population of many sub-Saharan African countries is likely to double in the coming decades.

In summary, repeated warnings from scientists, commissions, and others about the serious consequences of increasing human population on climate change, the environment, pollution, and sustainability appear insufficient to change in the future. close dependence on population growth. As a result, future policies and programs to address these consequences are likely to be too little and too late to mitigate the profound effects of population growth on the planet and on humanity.

Joseph Chamié is a consulting demographer, former director of the United Nations Population Division and author of numerous publications on demographic issues, including his recent book, “Population levels, trends and differentials”.

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Nature
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