Advances in science and medicine, adequate nutrition, and a period of relative freedom from major conflicts have combined to produce a backdrop for increased fertility. As a result, the world’s human population has increased by a third in only 20 years.
It must be obvious to those that care to look that the Earth is overcrowded. Although efforts have been made to try to stem the tide, they have met with only partial success, and the population is still a long way from stabilising.
In view of the problems besetting the world at the moment, it would be pertinent to take a fresh look at the situation, evaluate what needs to be done, and implement a course of action as quickly as possible.
Our requirement, in fact, is not just to stop further population increase, but to reduce it to the point where it can still be sustained with our planet in its present condition, or rather the condition that it will be in very shortly.
There are several hindrances to this endeavour, and it would be useful to examine them in more detail.
1. Nationalism. Where a nation is seen to be reducing in number, the government usually takes steps to encourage higher fertility, as the national identity should be preserved. This, however, goes directly against the global requirement to reduce.
2. Religion. The Roman Catholic Church still prohibits the use of artificial contraception, with the possible exception of AIDS patients. Even though this prohibition is not universally strictly followed, the result is still more children than would normally be desirable.
3. Age of Consent. The modern trend is for the age of consent to be reduced, leading to earlier marriage, and shorter periods between generations. This has a significant effect on population increase.
4. Requirement for Growth. The unfortunate fact is that modern economies can only continue to survive with a constant expansion of their labour force to fund the ever-increasing cost of welfare for an ageing population. This runs directly counter to the need to reduce the population.
5. Extended Family. In countries where welfare is limited, or not available at all, most men want to ensure that children can be produced with the chosen partner. Consequently, the majority of women are pregnant before marriage, with the corresponding reduction of generation gap. Furthermore, families tend to be large, with 10 or even 12 children not being uncommon.
6. Sexuality. The power of the sex drive is probably well understood by adults. They are unfortunately unable to communicate this knowledge to their children in most cases, with the result that the children learn by experimentation, and early unwanted pregnancy results.
7. Lifespan. In general, people are living longer. Although there are signs that problems with lifestyle and obesity will sooner or later begin to take their toll, this will not happen in the near future, and consequently the numbers of elderly people are increasing.
8. Drugs/Alcohol. Sexual activity under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely to result in pregnancy, as precautions that would normally have been taken will probably be ignored.
9. Rape. Where rape is used as a method of suppression and subjugation, it is intended to result in pregnancy.
10. Irresponsibility. There are those men among us who simply disregard the probable consequences of their actions. This seems to be predominant with servicemen on overseas duty, and may also be relevant to tourism.
11. Superstition. In some parts of Africa, it is believed that sex with a virgin is a cure for AIDS.
12. Blackmail. Sex in return for good grades at school is common practice in some areas.
13. Global mobility. Where it is possible for people to work abroad for better pay, it could lead to a larger family than would otherwise have been possible.
14. Lifestyle. Sex is a constantly recurring theme in modern cultures, being used extensively in advertising, often present in films, and always available in the form of pornography. It would come as no surprise at all to learn that this results in increased sexual activity on the part of the population.
The list is long enough to demonstrate the enormous complexity of the problem, although it is not complete.
The time for population reduction is long past, and it is unlikely that anything we can undertake now will take effect quickly enough. This should not deter us from implementing those measures that are considered helpful.
The following are offered as suggestions:-
a) A global information campaign on the inadvisability of bringing children into a world that is about to undergo traumatic change. This is already a factor that people are considering, see
World troubles affect parenthood
b) Eliminate all financial inducements to procreation. It is time to think globally, not nationally.
c) Consider applying a global one-child policy. It may seem a harsh solution, but in view of the problems we will be facing, it is realistic. And instead of cheating, as some Chinese are doing, by inducing multiple births, adopt a child from somewhere else, and help solve another problem in the process.
d) Where possible, eliminate reliance on the extended family, and provide welfare from the state, or the local community.
e) Provide effective sex education to youngsters before they start to experiment, and ensure that they are aware of the power behind this instinctive urge, and know how to cope with it.
f) Raise the age of consent to increase the time between generations.
g) Increase the penalties for rape that is intended to impregnate.
h) Consider making irresponsible sex that results in pregnancy an offence.
i) Ban sex from advertising completely, and purge it from our lifestyle as effectively as possible, with a heavy crackdown on paedophilia, pornography, and prostitution. This would have the added benefit of cleaning up large areas of human trafficking.