Book Review: Facing the Population Challenge: Wisdom of the Elders by Marilyn Hempel
Dr. Malcolm Potts said, "World population has tripled in my lifetime, not because women are having more babies but because more children are surviving to reproduce in the next generation. Tragically, the extraordinarily successful global effort to reduce infant mortality was not matched by similar efforts to make family planning universally available." Dr. Potts studied at Cambridge, England to become an obstetrician and biologist. He holds the Bixby Chair of Population and Family Planning at the University of California at Berkley. He authored 11 books on various aspects of population, wars for resources and sexuality.
(Humanity adds 80 million, net gain, annually without let up. That equates to 1 billion more people on planet Earth every 12 years. No matter how much human misery and environmental degradation, humanity won't let up. At some point, Mother Nature won't let up in her onslaught to kill as many life forms as she can.) Photography by Business Insider
Dr. Potts laments the "roads not taken", a famous line by the American Poet Robert Frost. If humanity understood its population predicament 50 or even 100 years ago via Malthus, and later, by Paul Ehrlich, it stood a chance to survive into the 21st century.
It didn't. It isn't. And, perhaps, if current world leaders continue their avoidance of the population equation, humanity may never stand a chance to save itself. Tragically, all other life on Earth faces a fate not created by its own hand.
"When the World Health Organization was put together after World War II, the first Director General, the Canadian gynecologist Brock Chisholm, assumed that the work of the organization would include birth control as well as death control," said Potts. "But St. Augustine's dark teaching, [original sin transferred down through the generations], persisted and Belgium, Lebanon and Greece asserted that to introduce contraceptive methods to underdeveloped peoples was tantamount to giving them weapons to commit suicide."
(This beach represents humanity's lack of making intelligent birth control choices. With another three billion humans projected to inhabit the 7.1 billion already here, humanity's choices and freedoms diminish on a road too traveled by too many.) Photography by Business Insider
The Vatican contentiously fought any form of birth control. The Pope maintains that rigorous denial of reality in 2014. Islam maintains it. Buddhism sustains it. Hinduism clutches to it. No matter how much poverty, human misery and degradation of the planet's ecological systems—ancient religions refuse to deal with reality and/or any actions to bring humanity forward into a sustainable future.
Such religions make birth control a "sin" that cannot be transgressed. Thus, 10,000,000 (million) children continue starving to death annually and several billion people live in the realm of the "human misery index".
Ironically, the rest of the world pays little heed to their predicament other than organizations like "Feed the Children", which causes even greater death, misery and starvation down the line. Why? No attachment to birth control!
In his essay, Dr. Potts illustrated the battle with the Vatican. He spoke about forward thinkers like Rei Ravenholt, but backward thinkers with power like U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, himself an extreme "innumerate", who blocked any funds for family planning. John Rock tried to educate Pope Paul, but again, like Galileo before him, the Vatican's enormous power scraped any birth control.
Result, the human race kept its "exponential growth" curve growing at 80 million net gain annually. From 3.5 billion in the 1960s to its current galloping 7.2 billion and on to 10.1 billion within 36 years by 2050.
"Howard Flory received the 1945 Nobel Prize for his work on penicillin," said Potts. "An open-minded Australian, he understood both the threat of burgeoning population growth and the power of family planning. As president of the Royal Society, he created a working group, which he hoped would make evidence-based statements on population and family planning. Tragically, he died in 1968, which squashed the conversation."
(Is there any point to this kind of living? Do we banish the natural world from our lives only to live in steel, glass and concrete cages?) Photography by Business Insider
Because of the power of the Catholic Church, Dr. Potts makes a profound statement on what the Vatican's power wrought on humanity.
"If it was possible to track human misery on the surface of the Earth with the accuracy we can measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere above, then a reasonable case can be made that the bishops, popes, patriarchal legislators, and all who closed the roads to ready access to family planning almost certainly brought more suffering to the world than Genghis Kahn, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Chairman Mao."
If we humans chose the "right road" toward life, population stability and environmental responsibility—birth control needed to be standard operating procedure. Its use would have created a more peaceful, better fed, more educated, biologically balanced and sustainable world.
Instead, we humans find ourselves on the edge of our own demise with gargantuan human die-off from starvation, disease and climatic chaos. When oil runs out, and it will run out, and no, we don't have anything capable of replacing it (even if we did, we face unsolvable water shortages and overheating the entire biosphere)—this human overpopulation party ends with unpleasant circumstances. We see it graphically today in every news report, but like the "Galileo's"; "Ehrlich's"; "Malthus'"; "Bartlett's" and "Alpert's" of the world, we glibly ignore them on our merry way to planetary self-destruction.
Book: Facing the Population Challenge: Wisdom from the Elders by Marilyn Hempel
Publisher: Blue Planet United, Redlands, CA
ISBN # 9780692212271
Cost: $14.95 paperback
If you would like to make a difference, please join these organizations for the most effective collective action you can take: www.populationpress.org www.CapsWeb.org ; www.NumbersUSA.org ; www.TheSocialContract.com ; www.Fairus.org