Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Population Alarmism.

David Attenborough is climbing aboard the population alarmist bandwagon:

Sir David Attenborough has warned British couples to limit the number of children they have to help quell the 'frightening' growth in the world's population.

The veteran broadcaster said the planet is under 'mounting pressure' from an 'explosion in human numbers'.
Britain's fertility rate is between 1.6 and 1.9 depending on how it is measured, in other words it is below two and once the demographic momentum of previous years plays out the population will fall. So there is no need for Britain to do anything about our population.

There are some countries where the population is growing too fast but they are not in the West. Almost invariably population alarmism goes hand in hand with an admiration for totalitarian government:

Sir David, 82, said families in the UK need to control their number of offspring - a policy already adopted by China where parents are allowed just one child.

If my younger brother was Richard Attenborough then I might also support a one child policy but how successful is China's policy? Well there are 5 countries or territories with a majority Chinese population- China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau and Taiwan. Only one adopts a one child policy- China- and guess which one has by far the highest birth rate? China.

With the exception of a few Middle Eastern countries where women aren't allowed to do much else beyond breed, the factors that correlates most strongly with low birth rates are increasing prosperity and a reduction in infant mortality not a totalitarian government.

17 comments:

dafthat said...

Then why has the worlds population continued to climb alarmingly? The planet cannot support an ever increasing population. I read somewhere that without fossil fuels the planet could only support something like 1 billion, relying on just the energy from the sun. We are currently relying on banked energy(fossil fuels) and the world population is something like 6 billion. Clearly we are like a cancer on the planet and if the current trend, which is a constantly rising population continues, WE ARE DOOMED!

dafthat said...

PS

Don't even get me started on the UK population rise, what a can of worms that is.

Chalcedon said...

It's not our population that's the problem. It's that of the third world. Our population is only rising owing to unfettered immigration and the birth rate amongst the immigrant population living here. I expect a big war or pestilence to sort things out.

Ross said...

"Then why has the worlds population continued to climb alarmingly? "The time lag between a declining birth rate and a falling population and immigration from poor countries with very high birth rates.

"Our population is only rising owing to unfettered immigration and the birth rate amongst the immigrant population living here. I expect a big war or pestilence to sort things out."Famine will be feeling left out if the other three horsemen get to embark on the apocalypse without him.

Stan said...

It's funny how liberals like Attenborough and Porritt think our little island can absorb limitless numbers of immigrants, but the world can't cope with the population increase.

Look, don't worry - the earth has a mechanism for dealing with too many people. It's called an "Ice Age" and will, eventually, come along and slash the population of the planet to a few hundred million.

Just for context, the population at the start of the 20th century was around 1 billion. A hundred years later and it was six times that number - despite two global conflicts and hundreds of millions dead thanks to communism. We didn't think we could cope with a billion in 1900 - but we did.

Ross said...

Actually I think Jonathan Porritt has argued for a zero net immigration policy, whereby the total who leave is how many can come in. The Green Party to which he belongs though pretty much has an open borders policy.

Infidel753 said...

Oh, not this again. Global population is 20 times what it was before the Renaissance and yet almost everyone has more food and a higher standard of living than they did then. In the developed world, the environment is in better shape than it was 100 years ago. Plainly, Malthus was wrong. "How many people the planet can support" is a moving target -- it depends on the technological level at a given time.

Birth rates are plummeting everywhere except in a few Muslim and African countries. Most of the Third World is following the same demographic pattern as the developed world did a generation or two ago. Menawhile, techological progress continues to speed up. There are problems that need attention, but population growth is no longer among them.

Ross said...

"Malthus was wrong"His supporters would argue that he was merely wrong about when it would occur. Technically he was correct in saying that if population continued to grow geometrically then resources would be stretched but his supports ignore the evidence that population hasn't continued to grow unabated.

G Orwell said...

"It's funny how liberals like Attenborough and Porritt think our little island can absorb limitless numbers of immigrants, but the world can't cope with the population increase."
Actually Attenborough isn't like that.
The greens are.

asquith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
asquith said...

Actually I am led to believe that a lot of population growth, especially in the developed world, is among the elderly. A big demographic challenge is to get them working, which half of them could, & encourage people to have their own pension schemes rather than reliance on the state in old age.

asquith said...

The Green Party is pro-immigration but a lot of environmentalists aren't, for what I should think are obvious reasons.

The problem is that the Green Party is full of trendy fucking luvvies & pseuds rather than people like Attenborough, Porritt etc. Half of them don't give a toss about the environment, they just view the Green Party as the best way to advance luvvie causes, but that hardly discredits conservationism as they aren't conservationists at all.

I myself agree with reducing immigration, & I think fertility rates in the Third World (& among various "communities" here) will sooner or later start to fall with access to education, contraception etc.

Of course you need to free up access to these. Once they are available, people will naturally start exercising self-restraint. Because you can say "it's their culture to have massive families" but culture changes. Our culture used to be like that 100 years ago, but it's totally changed now.

Accordingly I am not too much of an alarmist & do not support draconian schemes. If the population went on rising it would be cause for concern, but trends don't go on for eternity.

You just need to, for example, remove barriers to contraception & education. Our main problem in my view is that they are still being imposed, by Islamists, right-wing Catholics, & other types along those lines.

Ross said...

"Our main problem in my view is that they are still being imposed, by Islamists, right-wing Catholics, & other types along those lines.".


One interesting exception to that is Iran where an Islamist overnment actually spearheaded a population control drive in the 1990s, and I don't mean in the sense of executing thousands of prisoners. Which is why Iran has a relatively low fertility rate compared to other countries of a similar income level.

asquith said...

Yes, I heard about that. Iran is quite an interesting country which would reward further study, because I don't think they are by any means pure Islamists, more a sort of barking nationalists & so on.

Perhaps their decision to control their population came from a realisation that masses of youngsters, many of whom poor & underemployed, would turn against the regime. This would be a classic pragmatic move from them.

Have you ever read "Freakonomics"? It covers fairly similar ground & has a discussion of the Romanian experience after the communist dictatorship "successfully" increased birthrates, but then regretted it when these kids grew up.

Alan Peakall said...

Sorry to spoil a nice line at Dickie's expense, but a check against wikipedia confirmed my belief that David Attenborough (b 1926) is Richard(b 1923)'s younger brother, not vice versa.

Ross said...

"Perhaps their decision to control their population came from a realisation that masses of youngsters, many of whom poor & underemployed, would turn against the regime. This would be a classic pragmatic move from them."That makes a lot of sense, I hadn't thought about like that before. If the rationale is correct then the Arab countries might follow suit in the near future.

Ross said...

Alan: You're right but I like the line too much to edit it.