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The Age of Underpopulation is Here – Population is now rapidly declining in most of the world

The Age of Underpopulation is Here

By Steve Goreham

Originally published in WND.

The age of overpopulation is over. The age of underpopulation is here. After decades of warnings and fear about an overpopulation crisis, population is now rapidly declining in most of the world. The overpopulation disaster predicted by world elites did not occur.

Total fertility rate is the average number of children born per woman. Demographers tell us that a country’s fertility rate must be at least 2.1 children per woman to sustain the current level of population.

According to data from the United Nations, total world population still continues to rise, but population is declining in all major nations, where fertility rates have fallen below the minimum population replacement rate. Africa is the only continent where the population continues to grow. According to birth rates and without counting immigration flows, population is now falling in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, and all European nations except Monaco and the Faroe Islands.

For the last four decades of the 20th century, world leaders warned of a coming catastrophe from an uncontrolled rise in global population. In 1950, the average woman was birthing about five children during her lifetime. Global population was growing at a rate of about two percent per year by 1955.

“The Population Bomb,” written by Paul Ehrlich in 1968, became a worldwide best seller. The prologue of the book stated, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” The author warned of coming famines and resource shortages and advocated for compulsory population control.

The fear of overpopulation produced a population control movement by the early 1970s. A consistent theme of the movement was that population growth was unplanned. Ehrlich stated: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people.”

The United Nations indicated that people were not intelligent enough to plan their own families. James Grant, Undersecretary General for the UN, wrote in 1992: “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology available to the human race.”

Convinced by the overpopulation elites, governments of the world endorsed tragic population control measures. By the 1970s, it became U.S. government policy to grant foreign aid only if population control measures were implemented. The World Bank and the U.N. also established policies requiring population control in exchange for loans or aid.

During the last decades of the 20th century, population programs proposed by Western intellectuals and the U.N. were implemented in the form of anti-human policies by the governments of China, India and dozens of other nations. The government of India established sterilization and intrauterine device insertion quotas in 1966. Over 40 million people were sterilized between 1965 and 1985, most coercively.

The People’s Republic of China implemented population policies in 1970 and adopted a one-child policy for all families in 1979. By March 2013, the China government reported that 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations had been carried out since 1971. Sex-selection abortion became common and even the killing of girl babies was practiced in both China and India.

Population control policies typically disproportionally impacted disadvantaged races or social classes. In India, coercive policies often targeted people of lower castes. In 1966, sterilization programs were set up at federally funded Indian Health Service hospitals in the U.S. Thousands of Native American women were sterilized between 1966 and 1976, often without informed consent. In Peru, sterilizations targeted rural natives of Incan descent.

But the overpopulation intellectuals were wrong. Famine did not kill hundreds of millions of people as the Ehrlichs predicted. Instead, an agricultural revolution increased global output of corn, rice and wheat by a factor of five from 1960 to 2023. The malnourished portion of world population declined from 30 percent in 1950 to 10 percent today and continues to fall.

The world fertility rate dropped from about five children per woman in 1950 to 2.3 children per woman in 2021 and continues to fall. The population growth rate dropped to 0.82 percent per year by 2021 and is declining rapidly.

Nations moved from agricultural, to industrial, to technological societies, achieving the elimination of infectious disease, improved sanitation, improved food supply, a decline in infant mortality, and rising levels of education. Women entered the work force in larger numbers and family sizes declined.

But despite tragic implementation of population control policies in several nations, today’s families are having fewer children, the world population is stabilizing, and the predicted overpopulation disaster did not happen. Governments now pursue programs to boost family size in China, Japan, South Korea, and many nations of Europe.

But didn’t population control programs cause the drop in fertility rates? The answer is “no.” Fertility rates dropped faster in South Korea than in China, driven by economic development, rising incomes, and increased levels of education and workforce participation for women, without forced population control measures. Fertility rates dropped faster in Brazil and Mexico due to demographic changes, than in India where forced population control was employed.

What is the lesson from the overpopulation crisis that did not occur? The United Nations, the intellectuals, and strident political leaders were dead wrong about overpopulation. People do not multiply like cancer cells. Rather than being a species “out of control,” humans plan their own families and react to changing societal conditions. The lesson from the overpopulation debacle is that people adapt to their environment.

But the United Nations and world elites now warn of a coming climate catastrophe. They demand a costly energy transition to Net Zero emissions. They demand that we change our transportation and our home appliances, that we stop eating meat, and that we adopt hundreds of other proposed climate-saving remedies. Will we have a climate disaster, or will the global elites be wrong again?

Steve Goreham is a speaker on energy, the environment, and public policy and the author of the new bestselling book “Green Breakdown: The Coming Renewable Energy Failure.”