Welcome. This is James Corbett of corbettreport.com with the last word on overpopulation.
As human beings, we are hard wired to be constantly on the lookout for potential dangers. This is to be expected. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to be ever-vigilant to the threat of natural predators, contagious disease and inclement weather, or suffer the consequences. Today we have largely overcome many of the natural dangers which plagued our forebears, but the same instincts compel us to guard against threats both real and imagined, and heed the call of those who raise the alarm of potential new threats.
This concept has been well understood for thousands of years by those who have sought to control populations.
Before the modern understanding of our solar system had been articulated, the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun itself was a god named Ra who was devoured every evening by an evil snake god named Apep. It was by no means assured that Ra would be able to escape Apep to return in the morning, and the priest class manipulated this basic fear by developing elaborate rites for warding off the snake god. These rites, of course, could only be properly administered by the priests themselves, thus assuring them a central role in ancient Egyptian society.
We may laugh at the gullibility of the ancient Egyptians, but for them the existence of Apep and the importance of the rituals were instilled from an early age and reinforced by the pronouncements of the priestly class. To question the reality of the sun god myth would have been akin to questioning the fabric of Egyptian society itself.
To think that we are not capable of being similarly manipulated in our modern “enlightened” era would be the grossest form of historical naivete.
In the 20th century, fears over the red menace of the Soviet Union and its supposed military juggernaut were used to steer the course of American society. Jack Kennedy himself became president campaigning on the notion that the Eisenhower administration had allowed a dangerous missile gap to build up between the Soviets and the Americans. According to this scare story, fed to the Kennedy campaign by RAND Corporation analysts, the Soviet Union had 500 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles ready to fire at America at a moment’s notice. In reality, the Soviets only had 4 such missiles at that time, but that did not stop the military-industrial propaganda machine from convincing Americans that they had to pump ever more of their resources into arms purchases from defense contractors in order to counter the Soviet threat.
Incredibly, in some cases the same threat has been touted for centuries, always coming with the same dire warnings that the end of the world is nigh unless the public is willing to give up money, sovereignty, or even their lives in order to avert it.
In the late 18th century an Anglican priest named Thomas Malthus demonstrated with “mathematical certainty” that the world was heading toward demographic disaster. After all, human population increases exponentially while food supply increases arithmetically. From this it logically follows that it is only a matter of time before the world population outstrips our ability to feed ourselves.
Of course, just as a parent might look at his infant son’s first year of growth and extrapolate that he will be 20 feet tall by the time he’s 30, over 200 years of the expected population crisis failing to arrive has demonstrated that there are fundamental flaws in Malthus’ reasoning. The earth is not a zero-sum game and human ingenuity has always and in every generation manged to bake a bigger pie even as they take a bigger and bigger slice of it. Now even the United Nations’ most alarmist predictions admit that global population will level off and begin declining in 2050, and Malthus is now understood to have been a third-rate scholar spreading Chicken Little sky-is-falling fantasies for the benefit of the British East India Company that employed him.
Amazingly, though, despite every one of the doomsday predictions of Malthus and his Malthusian acolytes proving to be false decade after decade for two centuries on end, Malthus’ ideas are still being taken seriously and still being hyped and promoted by the moneyed oligarchs who benefit from the idea that there are too many useless eaters using up the world’s resources.
Malthus himself, an Anglican minister, wrote that “We are bound in justice and honour formally to disdain the Right of the poor to support,” arguing for a law making it illegal for the Anglican church to give any food, clothing or support to any children. Not content with consigning thousands of children to death for the misfortune of being born poor, however, Malthus also advocated actively contributing to the deaths of more of the poor through social engineering:
“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlement in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they are doing a service to mankind by protecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders.“
The horrific nature of this idea is made all the more preposterous by the fact that Malthus was encouraging the spread of disease and plague in order to “save” humanity from the diseases and plagues that overpopulation fosters. But this self-contradiction is completely lost on those whose bloodlust drives them to support such drastic population reduction schemes to kill of the poor and downtrodden of society.
As repulsive as Malthus’ ideas are to our sensibilities, they have provided an ideological framework for those with a psychopathic urge to dominate others for the past two hundred years.
In his infamous 1968 book, The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne wrote: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people…We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.” He felt the cancer of newborn babies was so potentially devastating to humanity that in 1969 he actually advocated adding sterilants to the food and water supply. Lest there were any doubt about his remarks, he further elaborated on them in Ecoscience, a 1977 book that he co-authored with Obama’s current science czar, John Holdren, where they once again advocated adding sterilants to the water supply.
In 1972, ex-World Bank advisor and UN functionary Maurice Strong advocated government licencing for women’s right to have children.
In 1988, Prince Philip uttered his deplorable comment “In the event I am reborn, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.”
In the 1990s, Ted Turner told Audubon magazine that “A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95 percent decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
Of course, the overpopulation myth itself crumbles under the slightest scrutiny. No one, not even the UN, is projecting limitless growth of the human population. Even the most alarmist projections show the world population leveling off within 40 years. What’s more, the birth rate in every major industrialized nation in the world is now below the replacement level of 2.1, meaning that they are in fact dying nations of aging populations that require an ever-increasing influx of immigrants just to maintain their population level. In addition to the well-known phenomenon of industrialization reducing the sizes of families, there are now indications that chemicals called endocrine disruptors which are mysteriously ending up in our foods, plastics and drinking water are limiting our biological ability to reproduce, with sperm rates among Western men declining a staggering 50% in the last 50 years with 85% of the remaining sperm being abnormal.
But still, even if we were to take the hysteria over population size at face value, the “solutions” suggested by the Malthusians—forced sterilization programs, de-industrialization, and even genocide—represent the biggest fraud of all: the idea that merely reducing the size of a population will somehow reduce the inequalities and iniquities within that society.
But therein lies the secret. The people who fret over the overpopulation non-problem cannot be reasoned with because their concern for humanity is only a pretense. The way they approach the problem itself displays their bias. Most people see an increase in the number of people on the planet not as a scourge, but as an opportunity to increase our understanding of the human species and its capabilities. In the twisted vision of the overpopulation fearmongers, however, newborn babies are not a joy to behold, not a gift, not the living, breathing potential of the future of the human race, but a cancer that must be killed.
The Malthusians are not interested in increasing food production, lifting the poor out of poverty or developing technology to increase our ability to share in the abundant wealth of the world. Instead they wish for the forcible sterilization of the poor, the consignment of billions around the world to grinding poverty and the elimination of vast swathes of the population. They do not wish to reduce the pain and suffering in the world, but to increase it. In short, the overpopulation hysteria is a convenient lie for the Chicken Littles who stand to benefit from the panic they themselves cause.
For the rest of us, it comes down to a simple question: After 200 years of the sky failing to fall, isn’t it time to stop listening to Chicken Little?
For The Corbett Report in western Japan, I am James Corbett.