Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is the World Overcrowded?

Nita Bhalla asserts this is so. In an article published by Reuters, she reports that the "Crowded, stretched world awaits the 7 billionth baby." Bhalla documents the two sides of the explosion/implosion debate quite nicely:

To some demographers the milestone foreshadows turbulent times ahead: nations grappling with rapid urbanization, environmental degradation and skyrocketing demand for healthcare, education, resources and jobs.

To others, a shrinking population, not overpopulation, could be the longer-term challenge as fertility rates drop and a shrinking workforce is pushed to support social safety for an aging populace.

As the article reveals, the world is not over populated or even stretched, but certain locales are. The solution to any poverty problems exacerbated by localized population growth is to allow people in densely populated regions to integrate into the global division of labor. As that happens, people are more productive and standards of living rise. There is a reason that global calorie consumption per person has been increasing since the mid-1960s. More and more regions are embracing markets, even while we seemingly embrace economic fascism here in the U.S.A.

The pessimistic view of population flies in the face, but the way, of the Biblical perspective. From the early chapters of Genesis, we find that God favors being fruitful and multiplying, with the command to be fruitful always given in the context of blessing. Population growth was a promise for those who keep the covenant, while population decline was a promised curse for the people of Israel if they disobeyed God. Individual children are portrayed as a blessing to specific parents. This is spelled out very nicely in an essay by E. Calvin Beisner called "Population Growth as Blessing or Blight?"

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