David Attenborough is right to worry about population growth

Catholic Herald
(Heading by Catholic Herald)

3 October 2013

SIR – When considering most of the world, there is much to be said for Mary Kenny’s view that we worry too much about population growth. (Comment, September 20) Demographically most of the world is relatively stable and becoming prosperous. There is, however, one region of the world where our concern about its population growth cannot be too great, that region is Africa plus the Middle East from Palestine to Pakistan.

Three thousand million and rising is the number to keep in mind when thinking about this region. This is the estimated population of the region in 2050. (The number comes from the United Nations 2012 revision, their medium variant.) Three thousand million – three billion – is the same as the population of the whole world in 1960, and is ten times the population of the region in 1950. This increase is one of the greatest demographic dramas in history. No wonder Sir David Attenborough is concerned about it and sometimes uses emotional language. (Mary Kenny September 20)

Even now when, since 1950, just over one billion has been added to the population of this region, we learn of their sufferings every day in the news and in aid agencies adverts. As the second billion is rapidly added, we will see so much poverty, hunger, water shortage and conflict in the region that we will begin to regret our lack of concern about population growth.

In 1967 and 1968, Pope Paul VI expressed his concern about the rate of population growth in his encyclicals Populorum Progressio (paragraph 37) and Humanae Vitae (Paragraph 2). He saw trouble coming, though not how terrible it would be. To put it as gently as possible, it is unfortunate that in recent decades this insight has been lost.

Gerald Danaher

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