Showing posts with label overpopulation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label overpopulation. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2019

Religions And Birth Rates: Not What You Think? | Hans Rosling

It seems that I discovered Swedish born statistician Hans Rosling a little too late. He died February 7th, 2017 of cancer, just before I stumbled upon his many inspiring talks on the changing facts of world data.

A point Rosling made over and over again is that many of us are operating with 20 or 30 year old statistics in our heads in terms of how we think the world is. We tend to think, for example, that many third world countries today are statistically where they were in the 1980s and 90s in terms of birth rates and poverty rates. This makes us mistakenly think that in countries like India and Bangladesh, women are still on average having 6 or 7 kids. In the last 30 years, birth rates have dropped in almost the entire world, and it is always directly correlated with reductions of poverty and rising standards of living.

This brings me to the topic of religion and birth rates. It is commonly believed that religions like Islam encourage high birth rates and that this will ensure that the population of Muslims around the world will outpace and outnumber all other religions and those without religion. While it is true that Muslim majority countries have on average more children per woman than non-Muslim countries, when the standard of living is raised, the birth rate drops, just as it does in the rest of the Western world.

In India in 2018 the birth rate is 2.2 per woman, in Bangladesh it is 2.0, Indonesia, 2.3, Iran, 1.6, Bahrain, 1.9, Qatar, 1.8, Turkey, 2.0, and Saudi Arabia, 2.4. These countries have dramatically increased their standard of living since the 1980s, when they had birth rates 2 or 3 times higher. To put this in perspective, the US birth rate in 2018 was 1.9, roughly on par with many of these countries.

Muslim majority countries that haven't increased their standard of living, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Mauritania, still have high birth rates of 4.3, 4.2, 6.0, and 4.5 respectively.

What this all means is 2 things: (1) the Islamic world is not immune to lower, Western-level birth rates. That is to say, there is nothing necessarily intrinsic about Islam that prevents countries from lowering their birth rate as they economically advance, and (2) to lower birth rates one must tackle poverty. This means it is not necessarily the case that Islam will come to dominate the future population with its higher birth rates as organizations like PEW have predicted (to which I think they made several mistakes).

Watch Rosling explain in his eccentric way in more detail in his 2012 Ted talk. (Also check out his site to see the data for yourself).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010

The last time I smoked out in public was recently on a warm April day, and rather than litter the floor with my cigarette butts I chose to put them all back into my cartridge, and encouraged my friend to do so also. As I get older and more mature I realize my role and responsibility that I play with nature and society. I want to make the world a better place, not worse. I want future generations to live in a better world. The old selfish mindset I had is evidently destructive and I have matured to the point where I am past that. I am aware of what I do to the planet now. Let's make Earth a better place.

I've always been an advocate for human population control or stabilization. I don't think anyone on anyplace on Earth should have more than two children. How can we sustain an ever increasing population when we know that the Earth contains a limited amount of resources? There is a threshold somewhere when the human population and its required resources will exceed that which the Earth can provide. I don't know when that moment is coming, or what that population amount will have to be, but I know that it is an inevitable moment given the rapid and seemingly unstoppable growth of the human species.

There are many things we can do to help slow it down including urban skyscraper farms, locally produced foods, worldwide recycling, and changes in lifestyle. But all we can do is slow it down, the threshold is inevitable. Slowing it down is worth the try, but what else can we do? We need a sustainable population growth of about 2.1 percent. We can't reduce our popualtion because that would send the economy spiraling downward. Who would invest when you'll have a declining population and thus a declining market? Unless each individual starts making and spending more money than the previous generation that is not going to happen. I feel we are trapped in a never ending growth cycle of our population and that any effort to reduce it is futile.

There is another aspect of our population growth that I am scared of. That is the secret race war that exists. Everyone knows that the larger your population of your ethnic or racial or religious group, the more power your people will have in general. The U.S. can't fuck with China because their population is so enormous but a small population like Granada or Iraq with just over 20 million people are more easily conquerable. In a representative democracy the larger your population the larger your voices will be heard. That is one of the reasons why I think Latinos have so many children, besides their Catholic tradition: to increase their ranks so that they will no longer be a silent population. When Latinos were a tiny minority no one cared about them, now that they are 15% of the U.S. population, the largest minority, people take notice.

I think on the world stage there is a race to have a larger population. Bigger populations are harder to control and smaller ones are easy to exploit and at times "ethnically cleanse." I don't want to see a population war among all the people in the world because in the end the Earth, and nature, and ultimately us, will be the ones who suffer. We are better than that, but we still hold onto fears of war and genocide and the forced submission of people unto other people.


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