|Igor Beloborodov, Ph.D in Sociology; editor-in-chief of Demographia.ru; director of Demographic Research Institute (Moscow); head of Charity Fund for Protection of Family, Motherhood and Childhood (the first Russian crisis pregnancy center); vice chairman of the All-Russian public organization “For life and protection of family values”; international coordinator of global pro-life campaign in defense of life and natural family “From Ocean to Ocean”
Based on the speech for
The Demographic Winter session
at the VI-th World Congress of Families
“Marriage and Family, Future of Society”
(May 25—27, 2012, Madrid)
My speech, which is based on scientific facts, deals with a number of myths on so called overpopulation. Many international organizations, such as the United Nations, global corporations and influential opinion formers, continue to spread hysteria on this subject.
But current demographic statistics show us that for the last half century there has been a continuous decline in population growth.
This epidemic of fertility decline has affected all countries and continents. Throughout the last four decades, fertility rates have been declining disastrously—in both developed and developing countries.
The number of countries with fertility rates below replacement level has grown from 13 in 1970 to 92 today. This accounts for over 40 percent of all humanity.
This graphic demonstrates the change in fertility over the past 20 years (1990–2010) in the ten most populous countries. It clearly illustrates the onrushing demographic disaster.
It should be noted that these “Top Ten” countries cover almost all continents and include followers of all major religions. The total population of the Top-10 is about 4 billion, which is the majority of the world’s population.
Unfortunately, this demographic winter is just beginning. Most forecasts promise a continuing rapid decline in fertility and in the replacement of generations.
Advocates of birth-control argue that there is a lack of space for new people. However, the current world population is only 7 billion.
By using simple mathematical calculations it can be easily proven that the present world population could comfortably fit into the space of this beautiful country—Spain.
In addition to shortage of space, the advocates of birth-control polices claim that the threat of famine, depletion of resources and global warming are due to a “demographic explosion,” resulting from high fertility levels.
However, the issue of famine should be viewed against the background of there being a rapidly increasing number of overweight people—now estimated at 1.5 billion world wide.
Of course, there are many factors that contribute to people becoming over weight or obese. In addition to the abundance of food and over eating, there are also the issues of the modern diet, of metabolic disorders, of sedentary life styles and lack of exercise.
However, the unprecedented world wide growth of this problem does not confirm a picture of a generalized shortage of food and world hunger. On the contrary, it demonstrates the success of misinformation.
Every year on our planet we waste or throw out nearly 1.3 billion tons of food. That is 1.4 tons for each person who is now hungry.
In Germany alone, up to 20 million tons of food a year are destroyed. This amounts to half of the total German consumption. In fact each day Germans throw out 4.4 million apples, 660,000 eggs and 1.2 million sausages.
It is particularly significant that the largest amount of food is not wasted by large families, but by single people. The responsibility for this profligate waste does not lie with large families. Anti-family life styles and irresponsibility are the true causes of excessive consumption.
Another example: in one tank full of bioethanol a sports car will consume the equivalent of about one ton of corn. This ton of corn could feed one African for a year. One quarter of the grain grown in the world is now used in the production of biofuels. This could feed 350 million people.
Clearly the challenge we face is not starvation, but rather it is badly distributed cultivation, and poor global food security.
I have carried out an analysis of a number of health indicators. The conclusions are interesting. Between 1990 and 2009 the world population increased by more than two billion.
Over this period, the incidence of low birth weight fell significantly. In addition, there was a significant reduction of stunting and being underweight in children under 5 years old. These positive and encouraging changes occur in almost all regions of the world.
Even in the least developed countries, the number of babies who are underweight declined from 22% percent to 16 percent, as did a similar proportion of children under five.
As you can see, despite the increase in world population, millions of children have improved health outcomes. Could this be possible in a situation of a lack of food and imminent famine?
A few words about the so-called threat of the shortage of strategical resources and raw materials.
In 1972 a group of experts invited by the Club of Rome wrote a report entitled “The Limits to Growth.” This stated that at that time there was a world wide crisis with regard to supplies of strategical resources.
This publication which gained mass circulation was used as a scientific justification for population reduction.
The authors made these predictions about resources:
Now, some forty years later mankind continues to use these resources.
But most importantly, estimates of the reserves of all of them have been significantly increased.
Recent data dealing only with the known supplies of these resources are as follows.
I believe that these optimistic estimates of supplies of resources will soon be revised quite substantially upwards. Besides, over time, there will be the development of new technologies and alternative sources of power such as solar and wind energy.
The facts clearly show that with increasing population growth that there has been an increase in living standards.
With population growth we have new and unique opportunities. Each new generation brings new geniuses and new discoveries in all fields.
People are not the problem, people are the solution.