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.
Thanks for the post, this topic has been running through my mind the last month. What concerns me is how the UN’s predictions of a population cap will be achieved. Traditionally, when the human population has undergone a corrective in its upward growth, it has been through war, famine, or disease. Only until recently has more coercive tactics like forced population control been tried in places like China.
So it begs the question – how will this leveling off be achieved? Since none of the above answers is palatable to me, I must ask if a more sane answer is to be found. I don’t want out-of-control human growth to bring on war, famine, or disease. And I don’t want a political solution like forced population control. I guess it leaves voluntary population control. But how does that happen in a moral way?
The only other answer is one that was alluded to in your post, and that is that the wealthy nations of the earth have no fear of population over-run. Their populations naturally (or unnaturally) limit their growth. So perhaps that is the answer to my question – to bring prosperity to the nations of the earth… And perhaps the Church is poised to bring both blessing and ethics to the peoples of the “global south” so that humanity’s ills can be curbed in a moral way.