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« Flashpoint: Iran | WILLisms.com | Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Nine -- Taking Longer To Get Our Money Back. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 291 -- Overpopulation.


Every now and again I get drawn into a "debate" with a liberal (or, sometimes, a conservative or "other") on the subject of global population. Often the discussion stems from an awareness that more than 42 million abortions have been performed in the United States since Roe v. Wade. Often it stems from a discussion of some tragic event in the developing world.

Whatever the reason for discussion, it often turns to how many individuals the world can support. Liberals tend to express to me that we're either fast approaching the limit, or that we've already passed it.

Mother Earth is stressed and strained by humans plundering her resources. Once that limit is crossed (soon), there will not be enough food. Or land. Or fresh air. Or water. Or energy. Or anything. Thus, circling back to the 42 million abortions tidbit, abortion is a good thing.

What strikes me as the most interesting thing about this line of thinking has little or nothing to do with abortion or population. Instead, I am struck by the parallel between how liberals view the economy and how they view the world's resources.

In both cases, liberals tend to express a certain zero sum sensibility about the world. Tax cuts don't grow the economy, thus boosting tax revenues. Tax cuts just take money away from the government.

The parallel, to me, is informative.

I tend to view the world a little differently. I don't believe a growing population will cause the world to run out of food or other resources. And if it does, we'll just innovate our way out of problem, something we've done as a species for millenia. But I also disagree with the premise-- that the world's population is growing with no end in sight.

Take a look at the growth in the developed world compared to the developing world over the past few decades.

1960 (.pdf):


2003 (.pdf):


The population growth in the world in recent years has been concentrated outside the developed world. There's something about wealth and modernity that makes people have less children. As those developing countries become developed countries, we will see the world's population stabilize, then almost certainly retract.

In the meantime, we'll find ways to feed, clothe, and shelter those extra billions of people. Because that's what humans do.

Ken adds: Paul Ehrlich scared the pants off an entire generation with his dire malthusian predictions of overpopulation in his 1968 book 'The Population Bomb'. Among his predictions was that by the 1980's, the world would begin running out of scarce resources. Needless to say, he has been proven ineffably wrong, as have most such predictions.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Again, The Concentrated "Big Money" In Politics Belongs To The Democrats.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 March 2006 07:36 PM


42 million abortions in the USA since 1973... That is really sad.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at March 9, 2006 07:44 PM

I have no clue what "developed" means. If the dollar can be adjusted for inflation, then certainly the definition of "developed" can be adjusted for ideology. If a nation meets the criteria for "developed" if it celebrates abortion is a good thing, then thank GOD for the latest trend!

Posted by: CCC at March 10, 2006 09:30 AM

Developed is an economic term.

Posted by: Will Franklin at March 10, 2006 09:32 AM


Considering that despite "Global Warming" and "Bird Flus" and "AIDS" and every other harbringer of the end of civilization, our population still continues to increase. Despite "scare resources" such as water, food, minerals, etc., most of the world now has access to cell phones and modern medical treatments like antibiotics and with Bush's $15B to Africa to fight AIDS, the world is better feeding and treating more people every day.

We are much like rabbits or deer, in the sense that as long as there is a still a surplus of food, the developing world will continue having children. And there is a huge surplus of food and other essentials in the world. But unlike deer or rabbits, we are smart enough to create our own food or increase the food supply rather than endure famines.

But the good news for all the Progressive Abortion proponents who think overpopulation is the problem--forget abortion as the answer. We have the Religion of Peace that teaches that simply killing all the non-Muslims who don't convert is the right answer. Islamists are well on their way to stopping that overpopulation problem.

Posted by: Justin B at March 14, 2006 05:57 PM