Monday, May 14, 2007

Is Population Control Really Necessary?

A growing population means increasing pressures on essential resources, tightening environmental constraints and widespread poverty. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is creating extreme inequalities in access to, and control of, resources, including knowledge and opportunity.

Population is the only non-depleting resource and a parameter of a country's development. In counties where the factors contributing to population growth far outweigh the factors for development, population is no longer a resource but a burden to society. A growing population is a serious impediment to development efforts.

A couple of centuries ago, large families were the fashion. Mothers wanted to bear as many children -- preferably sons – as possible. The reason was an economic one. Many hands were needed to work on the farms. The more hands one has, the more profitable the farm. There was also another reason for the desirability of large families. The infant mortality rate was rather high and also, not many people lived to ripe old ages as they do today. In many countries the maximum life expectancy was less than thirty years.

In present times, both the above reasons for large families have been removed. Modern medicine ensures, at least in the more developed countries, that the infant mortality rate is low. Fewer children die and most of them live to become adults. For the adults too the life expectancy is high. With better living conditions and health care, many men and women today live well past sixty years. All this simply implies that the population of the world keeps increasing rapidly whereas the resources keep decreasing all the time.

The incentives that are directly and indirectly relevant to parents wanting to have or not to have children are examined along with effective techniques for persuading parents to limit family size. It is essential to determine parent attitudes toward having too many children and to find practical ways of changing these attitudes in the direction of population control.

Scientists warn us repeatedly that there is a time of severe food shortage on the horizon. Food production is increasing very slowly compared to the rapid increase in population. It is feared that there will come a time when there may not be enough food for the survival of the masses.

The question may be asked if it would be possible to have more food production. Unfortunately, this releases another serious problem. To increase food production, farming land has to be increased. This means the destruction of precious forests. This is an extreme sacrifice as it causes terrible harm like the greenhouse effect and the El Nino affect, which is already creating a huge havoc with the world’s weather.

To prevent grave environmental problems, we have to stop destroying nature. If we do not create more food, then the market forces will cause food prices to rise – perhaps to really unrealistic heights. This would result in less food being available to more and more people. This will unleash another series of health problems. Countries which have food shortage problems will have to adopt all sorts of means to feed the people. This may include war and a return to the cave-dweller days of the survival of the fittest.

Surely all the problems must be prevented from ever rising. In any country, rapid population growth places a strain on the available resources. Clearly it would be almost impossible to solve them once they begin to make their effect felt. The most practical way of preventing the problems from ever rising seems to be population control. Hence population control is essential for the continued survival of the human race.

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