Feb. 10, 2009 (www.mountainsentinel.com) -- I have been asked to write about overpopulation as part of an effort to focus awareness on this problem.
Overpopulation is a very serious problem. Studies suggest that without fossil fuels the Earth can only sustain one third of its current human population. The United States could sustain two-thirds of its current population. Humans have cooped the majority of the planet's photosynthetic capability, including all the prime agricultural real estate. The rest of the biosphere must make do with what is left.
We need to change attitudes toward procreation. Certainly, every baby born is a miracle, but then so is everything living. This does not justify popping out babies irresponsibly. Currently every baby born is stealing the necessities of existence from other living things, increasing the portion of the planet's carrying capacity that is shifted to humans. We are coming on a time, as resources go into decline and humanity's share of the carrying capacity can no longer be expanded, when every child born must compete for food and livelihood with other human beings.
We can say that attitudes must change, but horny teens and newly delivered mothers are not rational beings, not when it comes to sex and childbirth. Nor can we expect society to change its image of procreation.
Consumer capitalism reveres the family, because parenthood is the surest way to make people into obedient consumers. Any normal young parent wants to do the responsible thing and provide for his or her children. And who can deny their child the latest consumer geegaws so long as they are within the parent's means? Young parents are quickly swept into the system, working wherever they can find a job, going into debt to pay for their child's needs, or becoming a recipient of federal aid.
Our media certainly does not discourage parenthood. On the one hand we are bombarded with sexual imagery that pushes our libidos into overdrive. Meanwhile the media presents us with an image of wholesome family life as the norm. And the media has become the major sensory input from which we derive our view of reality.
Religions, particularly Christianity, also encourage overpopulation with their view of the sanctity of childbirth. Be fruitful and multiply, they say. In their credo, a woman's worth is a function of her ability to procreate.
Continued at www.mountainsentinel.com