Acton Institute Powerblog

A Plea for Population Control

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What a perfectly optimistic way to begin the new year, via Hampton Univeristy Professor Cuker in

Jesus shared the earth with no more than 400 million other souls, Thomas Jefferson with about 1 billion contemporaries, and at projected population growth rates, our children will live with 9 billion others by mid-century. Such rapid population growth can not go on endlessly. Humans, like all other species, can only populate up to the carrying capacity of the environment. Carrying capacity is set by availability of resources (food, water, places to live) and sometimes by the build-up of toxic metabolic wastes. However, as populations approach their carrying capacity, growth often slows as a consequence of increased mortality and lower birth rates due to disease, competition and malnutrition. And for humans we can add the scourge of wars fought for controlling limited resources.

Our children will live in a much better world if human population growth is checked by the rational decision to reduce family size, rather than by famine, epidemics and war. [snip]

When contemplating ways to reduce your carbon footprint, be sure to include contraception on the list along with fluorescent light bulbs and a hybrid car.

Support candidates for public office who embrace family planning and the environment. Regulate the number of your own children. To leave a better world for those you create, vote wisely, conserve and love thoughtfully.

Lots of interesting comments below the article. My two cents:

$0.01 = Those advocating population control are never the first to volunteer to leave the planet.

$0.01 = Since 2004, US per-capita growth is neutral (2.0 kids). All our growth, as in much of the industrialized world, is by immigration. US population is a small fraction of world population growth.

Oh, and "Love thoughtfully" in the same commentary as a plea for population control? That’s just fascinating. At least he admits there was a Jesus.

[Don’s other habitat is]

Don Bosch


  • Dan VandeBunte

    “$0.01 = Those advocating population control are never the first to volunteer to leave the planet.”

    That’s because the people who argue for population control do so because they don’t want to have to compete for the resources that may be in greater demand. Presumably because they know that they won’t be able to because they lack the intellectual capacity to formulate effective strategies for obtaining such resources. Either that or they don’t like to share.

    “When contemplating ways to reduce your carbon footprint, be sure to include contraception on the list along with fluorescent light bulbs and a hybrid car.”

    “Support candidates for public office who embrace family planning and the environment. Regulate the number of your own children.”

    But seriously, the idea that a woman should abort a pregnancy because of the carbon footprint that the new baby would create is, in my opinion, vile. What is more vile is that doing so would qualify a woman for sainthood in the church of liberalism.

  • Mike S

    Juxtapose this with Mark Steyn’s “America Alone” book and his ‘demographics is destiny’ theme. The Muslims and the Third World will continue to reproduce while educated liberals and those they’ve brainwashed with this devilish doctrine slough into obscurity.

  • Brittany Brady

    In response to Don Bosch’s article on population control:

    The thought process of this artice is very selfish. It makes me very angry. It talks about limiting famiy size like children are dogs or something! The idea that limiting the amount of people on this earth will solve poverty, epidemics and war is false. Until society is more generous, there will always be poverty because no matter how well we economically plan unexpected things happen. Sickness and suffering are natural parts of life. Our Lord was subject to them. We need suffering. It is only through suffering that our souls will receive eternal life. Limiting the amount of people on this earth will not bring peace to the peoples that are left. This idea is very naive. We must work out the problems and differences in philosophies between nations. War is always the last option, but it is an option.

    The state of life a person is born into doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are born. Living is always better than not living. Can you imagine all the ideas and potential we have killed in this nation alone through abortion and birth control. We have killed many great presidents, teachers, officers, mothers and fathers. We have killed people who could have been great doctors and found the cure to many diseases. We have killed persons who could have been world leaders. They could have resolved many world issues. No, we should not be stopping the birth of more children. If anything, that’s what this world needs. More persons! We obviously aren’t doing the greatest job. Why not give other people a chance to solve life’s many difficult problems.

    Most importantly, we should not ignore God’s gifts. Bringing more lives into this world is how God helps it. We must keep in mind that God governs the world and those in it (that means us). We keep trying to think that we’re in charge. No matter how much we ignore God and his gifts (children), it doesn’t change the fact that God is God. He is in charge.

  • What an issue. Maybe its true that limiting births when (arguably) the world can still support it might rob us of great thinkers who might be able to solve this problem, but don’t we all have a responsibility to live in a manner gives a chance to generations that follow? There must be a way to help with population control without abortions and infanticide, while still not playing God. We ran an issue-of-the-day about this, and might be worth checking out for more discussion. Tough issue, almost impossible to talk about! but necessary.
    Cheers, Nick
    The Issue

  • Not to speak unkindly to the ulta zillion eggs and sperms out there. We mere mortal humans are able to make a choice not to be checked or thumped on the head by so-called invisible gods who want to turn this planet into their favorite play pen for raising humans like insects in smaller and smaller quarters in bigger and bigger cities, under the guise of familiar brood caring church priests.

    I see no wrong morally or ethically or whatever, at curbing the human population at the 10 billion mark. In terms of selfishness(whatever this is?) we as humans owe it to ourselves and to our children, and their children to evolve – become highly evolved beings. That is the first requirement of existence – evolve. Now, there are going to be those jerks who will continually knock the human pop. down by wars. Bad seeds can be handled through DNA examination – many months prior to birth (think of the peaceful walks we would all have).
    I believe that Mother Earth has a standard = specific number she will dance with. Anymore, like 14 billion, she will spill her beer. And then everyone is off- think Vesuvius 24/7.
    I have no shame in saying that all religion is just a method of cattle control. The question is are we going to all be immortal happy billionaires or quaint little subjects of some decadent nefarious empire of parasitical hoods, who want to fatten their war chests with more human cannon fodder – misery?

  • Nathaniel Ragatz

    Population Control DOES NOT protect the Environment

    The huge hole in the calling for population control is the idea that it will somehow protect the Earth. This has been show wrong by the current situation. Most of the nations with low or negative population growth have been more of the world resources and putting out more of the worldwide pollution than nations with high population growth.

    This is because pollution and resource use is directly related to economic activity. Not everyone in the world makes use of coal power plants (for electric power). In China, known around the world for its population control policy, 1 new coal power plant is completed per week. This is because the number of coal power plants built are not done so in relation to population but to changing economic (industrial and consumption) habits

    China is noted for NOT growing its population growing as it industrializes, yet there is an “explosion” in the levels of pollution it puts into the world.

    Some economists even argue for lowering population growth so that the resources put towards educating and caring for new members of society could be put towards economic growth-notice that this not done out of respect for the environment (which is often harmed by this very economic growth).

  • Nathaniel Ragatz

    I noticed I had a few typos. Sorry about that, but I think my point can still be understood.

  • M Hombre

    Most of the worlds problems problems are caused by overpopulation. Anyone who thinks otherwise has there head buried deeply in the sand.
    Have you never been to a grossly overpopulated poor country before?
    Do you enjoy visiting the few remaining unspoilt wilderness areas of the world?
    A lot of the starvation in the world is caused directly by the fact that there is not enough land to grow enough food to support the population density.
    China is often used as an example of how population control has failed,the reality is that if they didn’t have it poverty,starvation,suffering and polution would one hell of a lot greater than it is now.
    Hey I’m not advocation genocide or compulsory abortion. Just contraception!
    Teaching people to limit the number of children to a sensible no based whether they (and the planet) can feed is hardly selfish, it is helping to make the world a much better place to live for future generations!

  • Bill

    “Hey I’m not advocation genocide or compulsory abortion. Just contraception!
    Teaching people to limit the number of children to a sensible no based whether they (and the planet) can feed is hardly selfish, it is helping to make the world a much better place to live for future generations!”

    People who think advocates of population control will be content with promoting birth control and not promote (or enforce) abortion have their head buried deeply in the sand. The whole reason Margaret Sanger started Planned Parenthood was to reduce the number of black babies through abortion.


    If you think population control is a good thing, feel free to leave the gene pool anytime.

  • susan

    (a lot of this is in responce to brittany 1/5/08)population control. not population decline, or ending’s finding balance.two kids instead of six. you tell me that suffering is needed (to recieve eternal life) when you look into the eyes of truly helpless suffering people and children. yeah, that’s what god was going for, good job. yes sickness and suffering are natural occurances, but it should not be, under normal circumstances, so overwhelming. god gave us the gift of life;and free will(which brings up another point, he did leave us in charge. he has the ultimate athority and power, but he lets us make our own choices and mistakes. we are supossed to do the best we can.) and our incredible brains;and our planet, among many other things. and you know what, people sure do have the tendancy to take advantage, not appreciate, and abuse gifts and freedoms and privillages. i don’t believe that god loves the family of ten more than the family of three.(and you were so bias when you mentioned people who,had they been born, could have been great doctors, or great world leaders,etc. and i’m not saying you were wrong, or right, but you left out the potential psycopaths and rapists and corrupt people, etc. and thats not to mention the ratio, and i’m pretty sure that the higher the population, at a certian point, the more that ratio weighs out of favor.)we wouldn’t miss anyone either. the one who will cure cancer will be born if and when he’s supposed to, if he hasn’t been born already. we will face challenges, and problems, and suffering no matter what. no one is saying that population control is the solution to all problems, but it is a good idea and it would help. society needing to be more generous is an irrelevant and distracting argument from the fact that the earth only has so much to offer-it can only take so much! we are demanding too much from the earth all at once. i don’t think any freedoms should be taken away(everyone, smart or stupid, should be,in context, equal and free), but i think population control should be greatly and widely encouraged and promoted. the idea of population control is simple and, i think, natural; although there might be unnatural things or ideas associated, stemming from, or related to population control, but that’s an entirely different disscusion. please excuse any spelling, grammatical, and/or punctuation errors.

  • Ben

    Why is abortion always the first thing mentioned when it comes to population control and why do we constantly think that ending life or resorting to temporary fixes for birth control is the wisest course?

    It is simple, the world is overpopulated, don’t end life, preserve that which exists through prevention. Every infant that is born should have his or her father sought out. If the father cannot be found the mother should be stripped of her ability to reproduce through tubal ligation (if she can’t tell you who got her pregnant, of course not in the case of her being raped or something horrendous, simply her being so promiscuous that you cannot track down a father after several attempts). A man should be allowed to have 1 child before having to have a Vasectomy. This procedure is relatively simple, safe, and effective as a means of preventing childbirth. Am I the only one who sees this? If every man is only allowed one child then inevetiably the world population will decrease. Further this operation is reversible and a man can save or preserve samples of his semen in case of the event that his child passes away unexpectedly before reaching maturity, in this way we would assure the justice that every man would be able to have one child. But this would confine personal freedom too much…

    These conservative ground rules would need adjustment to ensure that civil liberties were not trespasserd against. So instead, we should simply make this procedure available to all populations across the world, and would only be truly fair and effective if many social issues were addressed such as many in the third world whic live in abhorrent conditions. However, it is time that we as a planet and as one very much intertwined population started acting together. It is a preventative means which would have unequaled benefits. For many in third world nations they do not want the expense of many children they simply have no means of preventing these unwanted childbirths. Perhaps the poverty stricken would have a better chance were they not to be held down by unwanted mouths to feed.

    I believe that if this procedure was openly availble free of charge to any man who wanted it then we would see a trend of decreasing population growth over time. Perhaps there would be other issues such as increased STI transmission; however, this issue could too be addressed and I believe it is the lesser of the two problems.

    Just my thoughts on population control. Suffering is not the answer, foresight and freedom is.