"Overpopulation"

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Concept.png "Overpopulation"
(polarising perspective,  victim blaming)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Interest of• Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
• Chris Elias
• Bill Gates
• Boris Johnson
• Philip Mountbatten
• Population Council
• The Good Club
• Ted Turner
Predecessor(s)eugenics
A less obviously racist replacement for eugenics, designed to shift focus away from over consumption.

"Overpopulation" is a word used to suggest that there are too many people. It is typically used by those in countries with relatively low populations that are high consumers of material goods. The term is also a replacement for the word "eugenics", which was discredited after the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

Victim blaming

The word "overpopulation", and a lot of the associated dogma and language conjures a simple frame of scarcity by sharing a fixed amount of things between too many people. To the extent that this overlooks a history and/or present of plunder by colonial powers (i.e. "developed" nation states) it is a form of victim blaming: people here are poor because there are too many of them, not because the country has been looted by foreigners determined to get more resources which they themselves deplete at an unjustifiable high rate.

Significance in Geopolitics

"People are the only vital raw material for building human societies. Without people, the most elegant architectures and the most advanced infrastructures are nothing but archeological marvels waiting to be recognized. With people, a handful of sands in desolate landscapes could turn into a flourishing civilization. This simple most essential fact did not escape the attention of, nor was it dismissed so callously by any people of any generation bar those of our modern era. Historically, if a society wished to thrive and prosper on social, cultural, economic, and scientific grounds, or any other human concerns, its most rudimentary first step was to grow its population. A population that does not physically grow, stagnates and withers away. Along the same lines, if a society was deemed as an impediment to expansionists who coveted its lands and resources, the mechanism for the aggressor was rather simple: reduce that society’s population by killing as many of its people as possible if you are interested in a cross-sectional plunder. Kill or capture as many of its women of child-bearing age as possible to stop it from growing if you are determined to make your loot absolute."[1]

Advocates

Macfarlane Burnet

The Nobel prize winner Frank Macfarlane Burnet, in 1947, secretly urged the Australian government to develop biological weapons for use against Indonesia and other overpopulated countries of South-East Asia by targeting food crops and spreading infectious diseases.[2][3]

Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk, an American virologist and medical researcher, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines argues in his 1973 book: "Survival of the Wisest", that as much as population growth has been a factor for survival of the human species in the past, now population control becomes a factor for survival.

National Security Study Memorandum 200

NSSM 200 from December 10, 1974, also called 'The Kissinger report', concluded that: "a far larger, high-level effort is needed [...] to bring population growth under control" and "although world population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures, it does not rank high on the agendas of conversations with leaders of other nations".[4]

Under Policy Recommendations it says:

  • 28. World policy and programs in the population field should incorporate two major objectives:
    • (a) actions to accommodate continued population growth up to 6 billions by the mid-21st century without massive starvation or total frustration of developmental hopes; and
    • (b) actions to keep the ultimate level as close as possible to 8 billions rather than permitting it to reach 10 billions, 13 billions, or more.

Denise Horn of the Northeastern University in a 2012 paper analyses:

"[...] the original intent of ‘population control’ was to protect US access to raw resources and maintain US global supremacy. US family policies did not first identify woman as the object to be controlled, but policies have changed such that women's bodies have become a symbolic representation of – and site of resistance to – the power relationships between the US and developing states. The change in the rhetoric – from population control to family planning, women's empowerment, environmental sustainability and human rights – does not mean the ‘rules’ enforced by the hegemon have changed so much as it indicates a process of identity formation occurring through the implementation of these rules.

The history of US family planning policies is a story of national security issues played out on women’s bodies, in the developing world and within the shifting discourses of women’s empowerment, environmental protection and resource control. US funding for family planning programs continues to inflame passions on both sides of the debate: family planning either represents an imperative of a woman’s right to reproductive choice or is in conflict with conservative values and the right to life. US domestic debates over abortion rights are played out on the international stage as successive administrations defend or weaken international family planning programs. These political and rhetorical positions, however, belie American foreign policy goals that have been in place since the 1960s and 1970s, when policy makers identified overpopulation as a serious threat to the world’s resources and American security concerns.[5]

Global 2000

The 'Global 2000 Report to the President' from August 1, 1980 predicted: "The environment will have lost important life-supporting capabilities. By 2000, 40 percent of the forests still remaining in the LDC's in 1978 will have been razed. The atomspheric concentration of carbon dioxide will be nearly one-third higher than preindustrial levels. Soil erosion will have removed, on the average, several inches of soil from croplands allover the world. Desertification (including salinization) may have claimed a significant fraction of the world's rangeland and cropland. Over little more than two decades, 15-20 percent of the earth's total species of plants and animals will have become extinct -- a loss of at least 500,000 species" concluding "thus anyone with a present life expectancy of an additional 50 years could expect to see the world population reach 10 billion. The same rate of growth would produce a population of nearly 30 billion before the end of the twenty-first century. Here it must be emphasized that, unlike most of the Global 2000 Study projections, the population projections assume extensive policy changes and developments to reduce fertility rates".[6]

Georgia Guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones, a monument in Georgia whose financially wealthy erectors wanted to remain anonymous, propose a limit of 500,000,000 humans on the planet.


 

An example

Page nameDescription
Chagos Archipelago/Depopulation

 

Related Quotations

PageQuoteAuthorDate
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation“my full-time work at the foundation is mostly about vaccines and seedsBill Gates18 February 2010
Bill Gates“First, we've got population. The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent.”Bill Gates
Innovating to zero TED talk
18 February 2010
Boris Johnson“As for motherhood – the fertility of the human race – we are getting to the point where you simply can’t discuss it, and we are thereby refusing to say anything sensible about the biggest single challenge facing the Earth”Boris JohnsonOctober 2007
Boris Johnson“How the hell can we witter on about tackling global warming, and reducing consumption, when we are continuing to add so relentlessly to the number of consumers? The answer is politics, and political cowardice.”Boris JohnsonOctober 2007
Philip Mountbatten“Human population growth is probably the single most serious long-term threat to survival. We’re in for a major disaster if it isn’t curbed—not just for the natural world, but for the human world. The more people there are, the more resources they’ll consume, the more pollution they’ll create, the more fighting they’ll do. We have no option. If it isn’t controlled voluntarily, it will be controlled involuntarily by an increase in disease, starvation and war.

Can you give me an example?

I was in Sri Lanka recently, where a United Nations project set out in the late 1940s to eradicate malaria. It’s an island and it was therefore possible to destroy the mosquito carrying the disease. What people didn’t realize was that malaria was actually controlling the growth of the population. The consequence was that within about 20 years the population doubled. Now they’ve got to find something for all those people to do and some way to feed them.”

Philip Mountbatten21 December 1981
Philip Mountbatten“I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist… I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.”Philip Mountbatten1987


References