Debunking “Overpopulation is a Myth”

Population Research Institute has produced a series of videos attempting to prove that there are not more of us than Earth can sustain.

Episode One: “The Making of a Myth”
Episode Two: “2.1 TFR = Stable Population”
Episode Three: “Food: There’s Lots of It”
Episode Four: “Poverty: Where We All Started”
Episode Five: “7 Billion People: Will Everyone Please Relax?”

Each episode includes:
Overpopulation is a myth. This myth has caused human rights abuses around the world, forced population control, denied medicines to the poor, and targeted attacks on ethnic minorities and women.

Taking these five accusations one at a time:

“Human rights abuses.” History includes a few examples of governments realizing that their nation would benefit from lower birth rates. If the government is authoritarian, human rights are not always respected, as India’s heavy-handed efforts in the early 1970s infamously demonstrated. Iran was able to achieve improved birth rates without coercion, but their current authoritarian administration has reversed this rare policy. It remains to be seen if human rights are respected in their efforts to increase birth rates.

“Forced population control” likely refers to denying couples the freedom to breed as much as they like. Presently, China is the only place where restrictions on the right to breed exist, and there are so many exceptions to their one-child policy that their TFR, 1.5 in 2011, has never achieved 1.0.

On the other hand, “forced population control” exists everywhere that couples are denied their basic human right to not breed. Denying couples their right to not produce another dependent, especially when they can’t care for the ones they have, is far worse than denying them the freedom to create more offspring.

“Denied medicines to the poor.” Medicine is definitely denied to those who can’t pay for it, but greedy pharmaceutical companies aren’t motivated by belief nor disbelief in human overpopulation. Contraceptives, including condoms, have been denied to the poor because of religious beliefs, including the myth that overpopulation is a myth. Spread of HIV could have been greatly reduced if Christian and Muslim extremists hadn’t restricted charities from distributing condoms, particularly in Africa. Although the Pope recently said condoms might be okay to prevent disease but not conception, it will take a while to ease entrenched prohibitions.

“Targeted attacks on ethnic minorities...”

Attacks on ethnic minorities increase when a region overpopulates, as Rwanda tragically demonstrates. Population pressures have caused neighboring countries to invade each other since pre-historic times. Assuming the attacks on minorities referred to are on reproductive rights, China’s one-child policy includes exemptions for ethnic minorities.

Many genocidal attacks have been and continue to be carried out around the planet, but they are rarely motivated by a belief in human overpopulation—just a belief in overpopulation of a certain ethnicity.

“...and women.”

Oppression of women takes on many forms and denial of reproductive freedom is arguably the most prominent, historically and currently. Attacks on women’s right to control their own fertility are most often perpetrated by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

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Episode One: “The Making of a Myth”
Return to Demography

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