Sean Ollech

Overpopulation? Just the opposite

Voices Nov. 29, 2018

As a result of 40 years of its one-child policy, China is slated to have a net loss of population within the next 5 to 10 years, writes Sean Ollech. (CNS photo)

Many people perceive the overpopulation issue as a simple one. We see the pictures from Ethiopia and it becomes obvious – we can't feed those who are already here, therefore we need to reduce the population, or at least control the population to ensure we aren't overwhelmed.

What we don't take the time to consider is where these ideas come from.

The first person to write about the subject was Rev. Thomas Malthus, an Anglican clergyman. In 1932, the Anglican church became the first Christian denomination to support birth control. This isn't a coincidence. Malthus’ ideas percolated for many years and did not come to force until the 20th century, expressed in its fullness with Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood and, with it, the whole abortion industry. Overpopulation has become the standard western orthodoxy even among many Catholics.

The problem is, it's wrong. If I told you Africa has one of the world’s lower population densities, you'd probably look at me oddly. “Why then are people starving there if the problem is that they have too few people?”

The answer has nothing to do with the number of people, but with how food is distributed. A prime example is Venezuela. Since the election of the late-President Hugo Chavez, most of the population has been starving. Prior to Chavez’ election it was one of the wealthiest countries in South America.

Many people see the immigration issue with a similar lens – that there are overpopulated countries, while Canada has too few people and needs to take in people from other countries. The strange reality is not that Canada is going to have an immigration problem, but the fact that there won’t be any immigrants after 2040.

Why won’t Canada be able to attract after 2040? It has to do with a fact not being widely reported: the potential immigrants will have been aborted or contracepted away.

Most people are aware of the Western “birth dearth.” The largest western cohort – the group of children born in any one year – was 1955. Your children, and their children, will have smaller classes than you did. What isn't widely reported is the same is true of other countries.

The largest Chinese cohort of children came about 40 years ago. Today the average Chinese citizen is older than the Canadian average, and China is slated to have a net loss of population within the next 5 to 10 years.

How is this possible? It’s a direct consequence of 40 years of the one-child policy. As China now attempts to raise birthrates, it can’t reverse 40 years of bad policy. Meanwhile, once a culture becomes warped to such a degree, people question whether they even want to bother with children.

The same thing in Indonesia, where the average number of children has dropped from five to about 2.5 The same thing in India. Over the last 50 years most non-Western countries have reduced their birthrates by about half. It is one of the largest and quietest revolutions and we've seen very little news coverage about it. What are the effects of halving the number of people in my generation from previous generations? We don't know.

The biggest surprise for me was the largest cohort of children, worldwide, was in 1988. For the last 30 years we haven't had any “overpopulation” by any measure. Why? No countries have increased their birthrate since 1950, and all the curves are approximately the same. The birth dearth that the west is experiencing is only about 20 years away for the rest of the world.

Sean Ollech is a Prince George writer and B.C. Catholic contributor.