Saturday, April 21, 2007

Declining Birthrates Equal “Loss of Hope”?

According to Pope Benedict, Europe’s "declining birthrate is an indication of humanity’s loss of hope in its future, and is a form of dangerous individualism."

But, is this is true?

One of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the dawn of the 21st century is overpopulation.

The realities of overpopulation and the pressing need to curb procreation, however, is a touchy subject for many.

Especially since the concept of population control often butts heads with the doctrines of the religious right. In their view, the propagation of the human race is an "essential component" of human existence.

True, if people stopped making babies, the human race would cease to exist in another hundred years.

However, the Earth’s resources are finite and these finite resources, such as clean water, are essential for humanity’s survival.

If we keep expanding at a rate of approximately "1.7 per cent per annum," there could be some serious problems and resource shortages in the near future.

Some people even go so far as to say that if we don’t curb population growth now, humanity faces certain "extinction."

This begs the question: Is continuous population growth sustainable?

Not if we consider that the Earth has a carrying capacity: The maximum population size of a given species that an area can support without reducing its ability to support the same species in the future.

In other words, there’s a limit to how many people the Earth can support without humans resorting to drastic measures, like growing protein in a Petri dish for human consumption.

There are many reasons why people choose to have fewer children: cost, lifestyle choices, level of education, etc.

And, increasingly, people are choosing to have fewer children to reduce humanity’s impact on the world. Rightly so, considering it’s the only world we’ve got.

Maybe having fewer children isn’t indicative of "humanity’s loss of hope in its future." Maybe the decline in Europe’s birthrate is a sign of humanity’s plan to have a future worth looking forward to.

No comments: