A Solution to the Population Problem:

Topics: Overpopulation, Demography, Population Pages: 5 (1724 words) Published: November 1, 2008
Increasing importance has been placed upon population and population growth over the course of the past few centuries. Scientists are frenetically searching for the solution to this issue, and their outcomes are bleak. They are telling the world that if population growth does not slow, the earth will swell to a capacity too large to sustain itself and the conclusion will be apocalyptic. Explanations are numerous, however viable solutions are difficult to find. Adherents to the Malthusian theory, such as Garrett Hardin, author of the article There Is No Global Population Problem, believe that this extreme growth in population will hinder economic development, therefore the industrialized nations must fight to control the population boom. Others, including those supporting the demographic transition theory, such as Gerard Piel, author of Worldwide Development or Population Explosion: Our Choice, claim that the opposite is happening; economic development is limiting population growth and if every country is raised up to a level of economic stability population rates will decrease. Although both articles raise good points and offer up possible solutions, the demographic transition theory’s solution, as characterized by Piel’s article, is a more effective way to slow population growth. Piel’s article outlines the population problem and solution, yet it neglects to analyze the real cause. The consumption rates of a few countries are creating poverty, hunger, and overpopulation in many countries throughout the world. If this issue continues to be ignored, even if Piel’s solution strategies are implemented, the world will reach carrying capacity and our worst prognostics will come true. In 1798 the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus published his Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he deduced, “Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometric ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetic ratio.” (Piel 1995 Pg. 44) His claim was that there would be a point in time where the world’s resources would no longer be able to support the population and the world would be reduced to “wars of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague.” (Malthus 1798 Pg. 49) Hardin’s article supports the Malthusian point of view. He believes that there is indeed a population problem, and there are three basic things which can be done to solve the problem; deglobalize the issue, bring immigration to a halt and use “mutual coercion” to reduce birth rates. Hardin’s most important claim is that the population problem is not truly a “global” problem; instead it is a widespread problem that is mistaken for something global. Instead of uniting to solve the problem, each individual government should work separately to find the best solution for themselves, taking into account their own customs and ideals. To illustrate this point Hardin makes an example of China, stating that their production groups are a good example of a government tailoring a population reduction program to their own culture. “Chinese traditions and cultural ideals make it easier to put the good of the group ahead of individual desires.” (Hardin 1989 Pg. 48) The government, realizing that this cultural fact could be used to “shame” families into aborting children when it was not their turn to bear them, capitalized on this and successfully found their own solution to population growth. Hardin commends this action, and suggests that the United States do something similar, focusing on monetary rewards for avoiding pregnancy, because this is the solution that would work in our culture. By implementing this method of “mutual coercion” he feels that birthrates could be brought down to a manageable level. Beyond mutual coercion and deglobalizing the population issue, Hardin asserts we must eliminate immigration. Immigration has increased exponentially from the birth of our country, with legal immigration into the US tripling from 1970 to...
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