Is 7B too many, just right, or not enough?

One way to tell the difference between a liberal and a conservative is by their attitude toward popu

One way to tell the difference between a liberal and a conservative is by their attitude toward population growth. Liberals think it’s bad, conservatives think it’s good.

Seven billion people now in the world, per the United Nations Population Fund? Al Gore and the Sierra Club think this is a major problem. Researchers at the U.S. National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition say we’re already overpopulated, and we need to reduce our numbers by a third.

Conservatives say the more the merrier.

“Let us join together in celebrating the birth of Baby Seven Billion,” quoth the anti-abortion Population Research Institute. “He or she is a sign of our future, our hope and our prosperity.”

The reference was to the “symbolic” 7 billionth human, born in the Philippines the other day, named Danica Camacho, and pictured on the front page of this newspaper. Nobody knew for sure if she was really the 7 billionth, of course, what with people being born and dying all the time and demographics being an undeveloped science in much of the world, but we all like hooks to hang our hats on, so little Danica was it.

The U.S. Census Bureau uses a different calculator and says No. 7,000,000,000 won’t arrive for a few more months, but what the hey. Close enough. What do you think, that Plymouth Rock is actually the rock the pilgrims stepped on?

I incline toward the Doomsday predictors myself, though I acknowledge they have had a hard time of it ever since the Rev. Malthus declared 200 years ago, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man,” which I still find convincing.

When the celebrated Paul Ehrlich declared in the late 1960s, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate,” my faith was only renewed.

But yes, it’s been tough sledding for the doomsayers. And pretty easy sledding for the population boosters.

According to, “People generate wealth; they produce food; they make or find or acquire resources, when they are allowed by government to do so. When they are not allowed to do so, they simply consume all these things. A population problem is only a real population problem when the people are not free to act in their own interest,” which sounds to me like so much ideological drivel, even if it largely checks out.

By almost every measure — longevity, income, nutrition — we are better off now in our multitudes than we were 200 years ago in our relative scarcity. Just turn us loose to pursue our self-interest — the conservative dream — and we prosper like nobody’s business. And the more of us there are, the more we prosper.

The question, alas, is how long this can continue. Liberals like Al Gore keep predicting imminent catastrophe and keep being wrong.

Conservatives, if you press them, say not to worry, population will level off by itself in another 50 years or so.

I don’t know what’s supposed to happen then, since their argument is predicated on the idea of constant growth and has nothing but ridicule for stability and sustainability. But 50 years is pretty far down the road, so why worry?

Malthus was wrong and Ehrlich was wrong, but that doesn’t mean growth can continue forever. Earth is a rock with no stretch in it.

The author of Thinking-Catholic-Strategic-Center calls the danger of overpopulation “a typical scientistic myth,” which I like very much and which leads me to …


It has been three weeks now since Charles Krauthammer, the right-wing ideologue whose ravings appear on the editorial page of this newspaper, declared that “The world as we know it is on the brink of disintegration, on the verge of dissolution,” and I have been holding my breath since then, just as I held my breath when the Rev. Harold Camping predicted the end of the world on May 21.

So far nothing seems to have happened. No new physics on the horizon. No new cosmology. No new understandings of past and future, or cause and effect, as he had predicted. And no new theologies that I’m aware of, though theologies can come and go pretty quickly.

He was talking about a scientific experiment that he declared in his ideological fervor to be “far more important” than “the collapse of international finance … of the American dream … of Europe as an idea,” and which, therefore — because it was so desperately important — “only made the back pages of your newspaper, if it made it at all.”

(Despite being a media celebrity, Krauthammer keeps up the conceit of the media being a liberal, truth-suppressing cartel.)

The experiment that this miserable excuse for a journalist was so exultant about was one that showed subatomic particles called neutrinos traveling slightly faster than the speed of light, which, if accurate, would undermine Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Imagine, an Obama-hating hack excited about something so arcane as that.

Why would he care? He would care only if he views science as part of the same liberal conspiracy as the mainstream media, that’s all.

If a conservative doesn’t like something on ideological grounds — global warming, for example, or population explosion — it’s not really science, it’s a “typical scientistic myth.”

Well, three weeks later, rather than the world turned upside down, the most interesting thing we have is other scientists suggesting that the first fellows simply failed to tune their GPS devices properly when they tracked the speeding neutrinos.

The first scientists, in Italy, didn’t wait to submit their work to the time-consuming review by their peers that is customary but rushed out with a press release, thereby putting their tentative findings into the hands of jackals like Krauthammer.

Though it will take a long time for a final consensus to be reached — so patient and painstaking is the scientific process — it looks like the Theory of Relativity is safe after all.

It has no connection to the moral relativism that conservatives hate anyway, though they don’t seem to understand that.

Let us just be grateful the experiment in Italy didn’t appear to undermine evolution. Then we really would have had some fireworks. We would have had Krauthammer columns and Fox Propaganda panel discussions and Rick Perry perorations to set the world on fire.

Categories: Opinion

Leave a Reply