Population, Poverty and Conflict

1 January 2008

“Population problems are of extreme importance…they have a vital bearing on world peace.” So wrote Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini, then Secretary of State at the Vatican, later Pope Paul VI, in 1953, in a letter to the Twenty-Sixth Italian Catholic Social Week.

Most of the world agreed with this. Europe, Japan, China, most other countries in the Far East, and belatedly, most countries in Latin America have all acted to control their population growth. Slowly but surely, as populations stabilise, prosperity and peace are spreading, first in Europe, now in the Far East, soon in Latin America.

In one region of the world population problems remain and world peace is threatened. This region is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan.

In 1950, according to the United Nations, the population of Africa plus the Middle East to Pakistan, leaving out Turkey, was 306 million. By 2000 the population was 1151 million. And by 2050, it is expected to be 2330 million. This unprecedented increase of 1000 million since 1950, with an estimated further 1000 million before 2050, inevitably causes widespread poverty and conflict, and world peace is threatened.

Here are the 1950 and 2000 populations, and the predicted 2050 populations, of some conflict zones:

Afghanistan DR Congo Ethiopia Iraq Kenya Pakistan
1950 8 million 12 million 18 million 5 million 6 million 36 million
2000 20 million 50 million 69 million 25 million 31 million 144 million
2050 70 million 164 million 159 million 52 million 72 million 249 million
Palestine Rwanda Somalia Sudan Uganda
1950 1 million 2 million 2 million 9 million 5 million
2000 3 million 8 million 7 million 33 million 24 million
2050 8 million 19 million 18 million 62 million 80 million

Unfortunately for these countries and for the world, this extremely important population problem is virtually never discussed. The reasons for this semi-taboo can be found at my website www.gerrydanaher.com under The Consensus on Population.

Cardinal Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, writing in The Tablet of 8 April 2006 called upon us “to pay closer attention to the objective data given by the UN World Population Prospect.” Anyone concerned to bring prosperity and peace to Africa and the Middle East will become more effective if they look up this data. It can be found at http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm

Gerry Danaher (Retired NHS GP)

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