Monday, July 11, 2011

World Population Day

In 1966 the author Harry Harrison wrote a science fiction novel called ‘Make Room! Make Room!’which explored the consequences of unchecked population growth on society. The book was based in the then-future 1999 and illustrated the challenges our world would face in terms of resource depletion, overcrowding and the strain on infrastructure if the population grew to 7 billion.

Well now that future world is set to become a reality as the population of the world is expected to hit the 7 billion mark any day now (almost a year ahead of earlier predictions). Today is World Population Day and this has sparked some debate on radio and news channels worldwide about what action should be taken to dampen down this massive rate of population growth before we end up tipping over the brink of our own sustainability.

One ‘solution’ would be to follow the lead of the Peoples Republic Of China and introduce a one-child policy however this has been extremely controversial and has been implicated in an increase in forced abortions, female infanticide, and under-reporting of female births, and has been suggested as a possible cause behind China's gender imbalance. Such a policy wouldn’t fare well in a democratic society such as the UK anyway, however the intention behind the policy could still hold some weight.

Take the Beckhams for example. They’ve just announced the birth of their fourth child (first girl), Harper Seven to the world. Now the Beckham’s are in a very good position to be able to afford to raise their four children very well, so that’s not an issue at all because they’re no drain on government funds and can give their children a fantastic life. However, given this population epidemic is it not slightly careless and selfish for them to be having such a big family? Their extravagant lifestyle, large power-hungry homes and cars and no doubt expensive to maintain diet all contribute to the depletion of resources on our starving planet.

Mind you, there are far bigger problems in the world than how many sprogs the Beckham’s want to pop out. The severe droughts in the Horn of Africa at present are a harsh reminder of the inequality experienced throughout the world and reports of sick newborn babies being left at roadsides because they’re too much of a burden for already burgeoning families is enough to crumble even the hardest of hearts.

But what’s the solution? One-child policies? Enforced birth control? Better education? Or is there just no viable solution to this problem? Is it a problem which will continue to worsen or will we reach a point where it ‘naturally’ rights itself? Is it because science is playing God and tampering too much with what Darwin considered the process of natural selection or is it just because we’re genetically pre-determined to procreate at this exponential rate?

What do you think?

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