“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical concept.” – Edward O. Wilson, in The Diversity of Life.
“Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology” – UNICEF Annual Report, 1992.
While attention has been gripped by distressing images of vast numbers of migrants fleeing to Europe from failing African and Middle Eastern states, and with thousands dying en route, few amongst us have paused to consider a key root cause behind this unfolding, on-going, crisis.
Sky-rocketing growth in human numbers resulting in overpopulation, with associated resource depletion, arable land and food shortages, poverty, bad governance, sectarian violence; all have led to rising levels of desperation and, finally, to mass displacement and an exodus of millions.
Countries most represented in this flood of refugees and migrants include Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Since 1950, Syria has grown from 3.5 to 22 million (a 6+ fold increase); Eritrea from 1.4 to 6.5 million (a 4.6-fold increase); Afghanistan from 8.1 to 32.5 million (a 4-fold increase); and Somalia from 2.4 to 10.8 million (a 4.5 fold increase). Fertility rates in all, except the first, are exceptionally high (Syria = 3.0, Eritrea = 6.5, Somalia = 6.6; Afghanistan = 5.0 children per woman), equalling population doubling times of approx. 23, 11, 11 & 14 years, respectively.
Population growth is not the sole factor contributing to environmental and societal breakdown and conflict. But it has been a significant, in some cases the major, driver of instability in the above countries and others world-wide. Increasingly governments are unable adequately to meet the needs, to say nothing of the aspirations, of domestic populations as they grow beyond the limits of their country’s physical and social resources.
Globally, human numbers are increasing by approximately 10,000 an hour, 83 million a year, driven largely by growth in sub-Saharan Africa and several other countries where fertility rates are either not falling or falling very slowly. Given current growth rates, the planet’s 7.2 billion people will increase by one billion every 12 -13 years, with Africa’s population projected to soar from 1.1 billion to 2 billion by 2050, then double to 4 billion by 2100. Such explosive growth is bound to exacerbate instability and conflict… to say nothing of its impact on climate change.
Failure to address overpopulation as the central underlying cause of the current refugee and migration crisis will result in increased social and political instability leading to poverty and ever increasing migration pressures.
PIC therefore urges all of Canada’s political parties and leaders to develop policies that address the root causes of the global migrant crisis and to promote the funding of programs that will help to solve the underlying problems.
Canada can and should respond intelligently and with compassion both to alleviate the current crisis and to helping to prevent further such occurrences. To do so, PIC urges the following:
- Canada should commit to allocating 0.7% of its GNP to development assistance as agreed at the UN in 1970. Britain has adopted this via: The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill. Family planning education, the benefits of small families, and information on the full range of contraceptive methods, should be an integral and significant part of Canada’s development aid; so too should be taking steps to ensure contraception is accessible to all, including the poorest.
The challenge is great, since both a lack of accurate information about contraception and misinformation about its
perceived dangers, coupled with a persistent desire for large families, notably in Africa, prevents many women
from using contraception, even where it is available.
- Canada should fund a Maternal and Infant Health Agency, possibly based in Ottawa, to promote the best practices found in domestic and international public and private sector organizations so as to improve maternal/infant health globally, including the provision of readily available access to contraception information and methods.
- Canada should continue, and expand, support for women’s education particularly in developing countries where birth rates are inordinately high.
- Canada should establish a commission to rethink the delivery of development assistance and selective backing of successful NGO’s given the loss of much development aid due to inefficiency and corruption.
- Canada should provide further tax credits for charitable donations to accredited charities and remove prohibitions on NGO’s promoting family planning, at home and abroad.
Canadians must recognize and respond to the issues surrounding overpopulation. If we fail, what one sees unfolding in Europe will inevitably worsen and spread.
PIC urges Canadians to contact their Member of Parliament asking him/her to push the government, of whatever political stripe, to implement policies such as those above aimed at alleviating the ever increasing crisis of global migration.
Dr. Madeline Weld, President, Population Institute Canada
Tel. 1-613-833-3668 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PIC is the voice of Canadians concerned with overpopulation and its negative human and environmental impact. Founded in 1992, it campaigns to increase support for reproductive health and education and for universal, voluntary access to family planning, which the UN notes “…could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology available to the human race.”
Fact: Continued global population growth, together with overconsumption, is incompatible with a healthy, sustainable future for humanity and our planet.
Patrons: Sir David Attenborough; Robert Bateman; Margaret Catley-Carlson; Drs. Paul & Anne Ehrlich; Robert Fowler; Dr. William Rees; Dr. David Schindler; Ronald Wright. See patron bios.
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