The World at Seven Billion: Lessons Not to Learn
Here is an excerpt from my recent contribution to the ‘On Faith’ section of the Washington Post:
Perhaps we should focus instead on our consumerist use of resources and a growing inability to provide environmentally-safe energy. Indeed we should, but these practices are largely unique to the oil-soaked lifestyles of the middle- and upper-classes in the developed world. And in such cultures the problem is that there are not enough people. Virtually no European country is able to replace its population, and some are beginning to panic. The BBC recently reported that a German government minister suggested that it would be time to “turn the lights out” if something isn’t done to raise its population. Russia, in a desperate attempt to repopulate itself, has instituted Give Birth to a Patriot day where workers in various areas are given time off of work to go home, have sex and (hopefully) procreate. Given UN predictions that the world population will top out at 9 billion and then begin to decline, the next population crisis might ask the human race to repopulate ourselves.
No, the lesson to learn from this milestone, especially for those who have a religious motivation to aid the poor and care for the earth, is not that we should impose a secular, Western understanding of reproductive control on poor people of color in the global south. This is a new kind of colonialism. Instead, we should take a hard look at the everyday choices we make and how they affect the earth. This benchmark offers us a chance to honestly examine our lifestyles and see if they can be offered to a God who demands good stewardship of the Earth and its resources.
Read the whole thing here.