Two thousand people were drowned or lost in the Mediterranean last year (2018) and seven hundred this year already. We all know why this happens: huge numbers of poor Africans seek prosperity and some are lost on the way. Why are Africans so poor and Europeans relatively prosperous? The main reason is illustrated by figures recently published by the United Nations: Africa will almost double its population in the next 30 years whilst Europe’s population will remain stable.
(The UN figures estimate the population of Africa as 1,340m in 2020 and 2,489m in 2050 whilst the population of Europe including Russia is 747m in 2020 and 710m in 2050. The figures for Russia are 145m falling to 135m.)
Those Africans who wish to bring prosperity to the continent ought to persuade their fellow countrymen to follow Europe’s example and have fewer children and we – both government and individuals – should encourage them in that endeavour so that no more Africans drown in the Mediterranean.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Four Asian Tigers – South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong – found the path to prosperity and peace: control population growth and use the market economy, capitalism, the world economic system. Their success was so great that soon China and most other countries in the Far East followed their example and prosperity and peace are spreading across the whole region.
Catholic leaders who also search for prosperity and peace, have taken the opposite view. By his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae banning the use of artificial contraception Pope Paul VI made it impossible to control population growth, whilst in Latin America and elsewhere Liberation Theologians, including Oscar Romero, denounced capitalism and the world economic system. Consequently, in those developing countries in which Catholicism is influential poverty continues and conflict is common.
Those heart warming tributes to our new saints in your edition of 13 October make it clear how Pope Paul and Archbishop Romero longed to bring prosperity and peace. It is a tragedy for the Church and the poor that they didn’t know how to do it.
Those of us who are in our nineties will remember that period from the late 1940s to the early 1970s when population increase was, in the words of Pope Paul VI, “A problem which everyone talks about”.(The Times 24 June 1964)
In 1967 Pope Paul expressed his own view about this in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio paragraph 37: “There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development where the size of the population grows more rapidly than the quantity of available resources…” “There is no doubt public authorities can intervene in this matter, within the bounds of their competence. They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures”…. “Finally, it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong…”
(Pope Paul adds various provisos, which we all know about, to this summary, but the need to control population growth remains the most important message.)
Unfortunately, this insight has been lost and in the Middle East and Africa dozens of countries double their populations every 25 -30 years. Using United Nations 2015 revision figures and projections we find that the approximate increase in a sample of these countries is as follows:
Iraq 1952 6 million; 1976 12 million; 2001 24 million; 2025 48 million.
Yemen 1950 4 million; 1980 8 million; 1996 16 million; 2023 32 million.
DR Congo 1950 12 million; 1977 24 million; 2000 48 million; 2023 96 million.
Nigeria 1953 40 million; 1983 80 million; 2010 160 million; 2039 320 million.
Malawi 1951 3 million; 1979 6 million; 2003 12 million; 2028 24 million.
Uganda 1950 5 million; 1972 10 million; 1994 20 million; 2016 40 million.
Zambia 1959 3 million; 1980 6 million; 2005 12 million; 2029 24 million.
This population growth will bring such extreme poverty, hunger, water shortage, and conflict that reports will come to us from Africa and the Middle East that will make us wish that Pope Paul’s teaching in Populorum Progressio had been publicised more effectively across the world.
(Headline by The Times. The letter below is as published. It has a few minor changes from my letter submitted.)
Your leader “Yemen’s Forgotten War” (Sep 22) and the letters about Yemen’s war from Stephen Twigg MP (Sep 28) and from James Firebrace and Francis Guy (Sep 29) do not mention the main reason why the war – and the poverty and hunger – will continue: Yemen’s rapid population growth. According to the 2015 revision by the United Nations (to the nearest million), the population of Yemen was 4 million in 1950, 8 million in 1980, 16 million in 1996, and is projected to be 32 million in 2023 – and onwards from there until it is controlled by war, famine, and disease. Some gallant efforts to provide family planning were, I fear, too little and too late.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Many readers will agree with James A Hutchinson that our overseas aid would be better spent at home (Mailbox, January 6). And yet, if only this aid and other countries aid had been spent on family planning, the benefits to these countries and to Europe would have been enormous.
The five countries noted by Mr Hutchinson which receive huge amounts of aid need the aid because they all have high fertility rates and the resultant huge population growth causes poverty, hunger, occasionally conflict and migration of millions.
World Bank figures for the fertility rates are Somalia 6.6 (second highest in the world after Niger); South Sudan 5.1; Afghanistan 5.1; Zimbabwe 4; Syria 3. Europe has a low fertility rate- UK 1.9; Germany 1.4 – and is doing well.
Political correctness prevents any national figure or aid agency from campaigning for the provision of family planning for these countries, so poverty, hunger, and migration continue. The politically correct have a lot to answer for.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Recent letters on Iraq and Syria and the First Person article by Suresh Chauhan on December 2 have been interesting and informative. There is however an element in the situation which needs to be reiterated and that is the huge population growth in these countries.
The United Nations Population Division’s 2015 revision estimates that in 1950 the combined population of Iraq and Syria was only 9.1 million. (That is less than the population of The Netherlands.) At present, 2015, the combined population is 54.9 million. (That is much more than the population of Spain.) Furthermore, UNPD estimates that in 2030 the combined population will be 82.7 million. (That is more than the population of Germany.) And UNDP also estimates that in 2055 the combined population will be 127.7 million. (That is more than the population of Russia.)
This great increase in population needs to be taken into account when deciding what best to do about the situation. Dealing with these countries when their combined population is greater than that of Spain, or Germany, or Russia is much more difficult than dealing with them when their combined population is less than that of The Netherlands. It’s a great problem.
(Headline by The Tablet)
The First Leader in The Times of 19 September 2014, commenting on research that indicated that population increase, particularly in Africa, is likely to be much greater than once thought, states “A sea change in attitudes from the slums of Juba to the gilded corridors of the Vatican would make possible a virtuous circle of smaller families and economic growth.”
The articles “David Blair in Juba” by David Blair and “Hear the cry of the earth” by Paul Hyper in your edition of 10 October make it clear that there is unlikely to be a sea change in attitudes either in the slums of Juba or the gilded corridors of the Vatican. Population growth control in Africa, as far as the Sudanese and the Vatican are concerned, is going to be left to war, famine, and disease, eased only by emigration. The future is grim.
(The Tablet changed the start to “In a leader commenting on research that indicated… The Times opined: ‘A sea change…'”)
(Headline by The Tablet)
“Big families are best” was the only advice my father, one of fifteen, gave me when I married for the first time at the age of forty-eight. It’s quite true, they are best. (“Big is beautiful” – 18 July.) In the event we had only four.
The catch is that if we all had four this would cause repeated doubling of the population resulting in episodes of poverty, hunger, water shortage, conflict, and the migration of huge numbers of desperate people, as we can see in Africa where the fertility rate is just over four children per woman. Only by most couples having small families can a few have four or more without suffering these troubles. Especially honoured should be those who have chosen to remain childless. As the saying goes: “The child you have is a gift to you, the child you do not have is a gift to the community.”
(The Tablet altered the start to “Your article brought to mind the only advice my father…”)
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
SIR – Dennis Sewell’s distress at those episodes of forced sterilisation, which we have seen in India, Peru, and perhaps up to a dozen of the world’s 196 countries, will be shared by us all. (“The plot to sterilise the world’s poor” 19 June.) Happily, this forced sterilisation is condemned by the World Health Organization, by UNICEF, and by many other world organizations dealing with health and population and there is good reason to believe that we will see no more of it.
Nevertheless, those countries that can see that repeated doubling of their populations will ultimately bring disaster need to know how to control population growth voluntarily. The best example of how to do it is seen in Iran, where the fertility rate fell from 5.62 children per woman in 1985-1990 to 1.89 in 2005-2010. This was done by the provision of virtually free family planning, with health workers and clinics in most localities, encouragement from the government and from religious leaders, teaching about population matters in schools, and lessons on family planning for both men and women before marriage.
(Headline by Coalville Times)
Bryan J Marvin is understandably critical of our efforts to help Afghanistan. I do believe that we have done quite a bit of good. Unfortunately, this good will be temporary only as the rapid population increase in Afghanistan will nullify all the good done. If the aid had been used to provide effective family planning and our government had been able to persuade the Afghan government to put in place an effective family planning service, such as they have in the neighbouring country of Iran, we would have done immeasurable good to Afghanistan, and that good would have greatly reduced the number of Afghans trying to get into Europe.
(In Iran, the fertility rate fell from 5.62 children per woman in 1985-1990 to 1.89 in 2005-2010. This was done by the provision of virtually free family planning, with pro-active health workers and clinics in most localities, encouragement from the government and from religious leaders, teaching about population matters in schools, and lessons on family planning for both men and women before marriage.)
Unfortunately, our governments, whether Conservative or Labour, have little interest in promoting this type of effective family planning either in Afghanistan or in other countries in Africa and the Middle East. The result of this is that, according to the United Nations Population Division, the population of Africa plus the Middle East from Palestine to Pakistan which was 300 million in 1950 will be over 3000 million in 2050.
Few people find these figures interesting so we will do nothing about them until it is too late. Perhaps, just now, at the very least, we could provide more money “to finance and improve immigration policy together with more immigration officers” as Mr Marvin advises.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Sylvia Reid’s concern for the thousands of migrants risking their lives to reach Europe is shared by many. (First person, May 26) Nevertheless, we should try to understand the difficulties in dealing with this tragedy.
A billion people are being added to the population of Africa and the wider Middle East every 25 to 30 years. How many of these billions of people should the politicians allow into Europe? A hundred million? Ten million? One million? How many can come over here without serious conflict breaking out in European cities? Politicians have to decide these matters. It isn’t easy and we should hesitate before blaming them.
Sylvia Reid notes the migrations from Syria and Iraq, two countries which have been doubling their populations every 25 years since 1950. She also mentions the Irish famines of the 19th century. In the fifty years before the great famine of the 1840s Ireland had doubled its population, from 4 million to 8 million, the fastest growing population in Europe and a major cause of the famine. These causes of migration from Syria and Iraq recently, and from Ireland in the 19th century are virtually never mentioned. Commentators should start mentioning them now.
(Headline by Catholic Herald – ‘Comment of the Week’)
One thousand million people have been added to the population of Africa and the wider Middle East since 1950. The addition of a second one thousand million people is now well under way and is expected to be reached before 2040. (Two thousand million is a lot of people. It was the population of the whole world in 1930.) After 2040, the United Nations Population Division expects the population increase to be at least another one thousand million every 25 years.
This huge population increase will cause poverty, hunger, water shortage, conflict, the persecution of minorities, the migration of millions of desperate people, the drowning of thousands in the Mediterranean, and many other terrible events.
It is unfortunate that for the last thirty years no religious of political leader, no news channel, or aid agency has dared alert us to this world changing demographic drama. There is an urgent need for them to start informing us about it now, and Catholics should lead this effort as they have a reputation for being dismissive of the importance of population growth control.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Elizabeth Allison is one those rare campaigners who pull their punches. She tells us (Mailbox January 8) that “Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the total – more than all the emissions from transport” The respected scientist James Lovelock in his book ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia’ puts it more forcefully when he asks “Did you know the exhalations of breath and other gaseous emissions by the nearly seven billion people on Earth, their pets and livestock are responsible for 23% of all greenhouse gas emissions? If you add on the fossil fuel burnt in the total activity of growing, gathering, selling and serving food, all this adds up to about half of all carbon dioxide emission… Merely by existing, people and their dependent animals are responsible for more than 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions of all the airline travel in the world.”
Elizabeth Allison’s gallant effort to prevent us destroying our earthly home will not get far: ideology and religion will block it. The dominant ideology in the west – political correctness – has established a taboo against the public discussion of population increase in the national media, and religions are dismissive of the need to control population growth so that, wherever religion is powerful, populations – and livestock numbers? – rocket upwards, as we see in Africa and the wider Middle East.
The Royal Society summarized its report People and the Planet 2012 like this: “Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled with unprecedented levels of consumption present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment. This report gives an overview of how global population and consumption are linked, and the implications for a finite planet.”
It’s worth a read. In the meantime why not try vegetarianism?
(The Mercury left out the first sentence and the words “respected” and “in the national media”)
(In reply to a letter from six religious leaders urging us to attempt to attain the millennium goals in 2015.)
In countries which have been doubling their populations every 25 years since 1950 it is virtually impossible to attain the millennium goals. Examples are Iraq, Syria, Uganda and Zambia, all countries where religion is influential. To put it as gently as possible, religious leaders have not been helpful in moderating this huge and damaging population increase. Religious leaders call for a year of action, but is there any hope that they themselves will act in countries where action by religious leaders is needed?
(For further information on the world changing population increase in Africa and the Middle East see www.gerrydanaher.com)
SIR – Bishop William Kenney’s concern for the refugees crossing the Mediterranean is shared by us all, and we all hope they will be rescued. Nevertheless, we should try to understand the difficulties faced by the politicians.
More than one billion people have been added to the population of Africa and the Greater Middle East since 1950, consequently there is much poverty and conflict in this region. Another one billion is expected to be added in the next 25-30 years ensuring that many more people will want to leave an overpopulated and poverty stricken region where conflicts keep on breaking out.
How many of this second 1000 million should the politicians allow into Europe? A hundred million? Ten million? One million? How many can come over here without serious conflict breaking out in European cities? Politicians have to decide these matters. It isn’t easy and we should hesitate before blaming them.
NSSM 200 was the definitive interagency study of world population growth and its implications for United States and global security, requested by President Nixon in 1974. The study was undertaken by the National Security Council, the CIA, the Defence, Agricultural and State Departments, and the Agency for International Development. Among its conclusions:
“World population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures… There is a major risk of severe damage (from continued rapid population growth) to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values.”
The United Sates at that time aimed to provide all developing countries with family planning by 1980 and to have all countries with fertility rates of 2 by 2000.
My comment: Most of the world worked this out for themselves and acted effectively, though rather slowly in India. The only big region of the world to fail to act is Africa and the Greater Middle East. All the severe damage to systems feared by the NSSM 200 contributors can now be seen in this region, and it has left Europe with an insoluble migrant problem.
The Vatican’s greatest success in preventing the poor from obtaining family planning was its blocking of NSSM 200 by threatening to use the Catholic vote against the government if it introduced it. If Nixon had completed his second term I believe he would have made NSSM 200 law, but Presidents Ford and Carter needed the Catholic vote and so NSSM 200 never saw the light of day.
In Iran, the fertility rate fell from 5.62 children per woman in 1985-1990 to 1.89 in 2005-2010. This was done by the provision of virtually free family planning, with pro-active health workers and clinics in most localities, encouragement from the government and from religious leaders, teaching about population matters in schools, and lessons on family planning for both men and women before marriage.
About 40 years ago, I asked a distinguished and knowledgeable mathematician “Who invented the computer?” He looked at me and replied, “Many people, but if you want a name – Alan Turing.” Much the same answer can be given in answer to the question “Who is responsible for the overpopulation, poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, “Many people, but if you want a name – Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.”
In 1960, the future Archbishop Wojtyla wrote a book about sex, marriage, and family planning called “Love and Responsibility”. It is described by his friend Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka as being like “an essay on the phenomenology of colour by a colour blind physiologist”.
How wonderful he was when dealing with communism, so knowledgeable, so widely connected with all involved, so sure-footed in all his actions, his friendship with Gorbachev, his fame and power in Poland, no one else could have done it so well, getting the world out of communism without conflict. No wonder he is popular.
Unfortunately, he also believed he was a great expert on sex. He believed he knew it all and that he was the world’s greatest authority on the subject, and he went on and on and on about it, especially about the damage done by contraception. This unshakeable belief was all about a subject he didn’t really understand – who does? – although he was undoubtedly loaded with a vast amount of information.
Pope Paul VI found talking about this subject embarrassing, Karol Wojtyla did not, quite the opposite, and he was a very forceful character not at all hesitant as many people thought Pope Paul to be. As against Cardinal Wojtyla, Pope Paul hadn’t a chance.
A Polish editor believed that 60% of Humanae Vitae came from Cardinal Wojtyla. Perhaps an exaggeration, but there’s something in it. (See John Cornwell’s The Pope in Winter p 43/44. Cornwell notes on page 46 that Wojtyla was in Rome in 1967 to receive his Cardinal’s hat and that he and Pope Paul “became ever closer”.) Of course, many other factors affected Pope Paul’s decision: his own natural conservatism, pressure from Cardinal Ottaviani and Bishop Colombo – the pope’s theologian – and also the group of ‘no change’ theologians who Ottaviani gathered together when all the prelates and theologians who had voted for a change had left thinking they had done their work. But, besides all this, it’s difficult to doubt that Cardinal Wojtyla with his utter certainty and forcefulness had a great effect.
This absolute certainty Pope John Paul II had about sex continued throughout his papacy. He thought it extremely important to get his views across and he spoke about it very frequently. Those attempting to provide family planning to the poor were astonished by the extraordinary reach and persistence of the Vatican’s opposition to all actions aimed at enabling poor women and couples in the less developed world to limit their childbearing to the number truly desired.
Non-Catholics who are concerned about relieving extreme poverty do not always pull their punches when criticising the Church’s views on the use of artificial contraception. Dieter Ehrhardt, a retired German civil servant and former UNFPA Representative, who helped to manage Germany’s efforts to provide family planning in developing countries, has just produced a book at his own expense called “The Family Planning Fiasco – How the Vatican subverted family planning in the developing world.” A retired USAID expert reviewed it and ended with “But in the less developed countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Vatican induced opposition to effective birth control practices still imposes excessive fertility, grinding poverty and killing fields unending.”
This criticism is from good men wanting to do good, wanting to ease the sufferings of the very poor. It is an important and widely held point of view and we need to take note of it.
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
SIR – Of all the questions in the Vatican Questionnaire, the most startling to me is Question 7f, “How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?”
The Royal Society, in its People and the Planet Report 2012, tells us that “Developing countries will be building the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days from now until 2050.”
This has serious effects, as a recent World Fact Book explains: “The addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe is exacerbating the problems of underemployment, pollution, waste-disposal, epidemics, water-shortages, famine, over-fishing of oceans, deforestation, desertification, and the depletion of non-renewable resources.”
It may be useful for developed countries with low fertility rates to consider question 7f, but to extend this query to the whole world makes it seem that the Church is ignorant of the huge and continuing population increase threatening the well-being of developing countries.
Is there any way in which the Church and the Royal Society can resolve their differences about this most serious subject?
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
“Aid works” writes Dr Simon Bennett (First person September 27). It certainly does. But the benefit will be temporary only unless population growth is controlled as well. All the troubled countries Mr Bennett mentions – Somalia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Syria – are part of that large region – Africa plus the Middle East from Palestine to Pakistan – where, in most countries, there is little attempt to control population growth.
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. A world changing demographic drama.
There is one beacon of light, and that is Iran, where the fertility rate fell from 5.62 children per woman in 1985-1990 to 1.89 in 2005-2010. This was done by the provision of virtually free family planning, with pro-active health workers and clinics in most localities, encouragement from the government and from religious leaders, teaching about population matters in schools, and lessons on family planning for both men and women before marriage.
If all the countries of the region followed Iran’s example, there would be no failed states and the region would be on its way to prosperity and peace. In the meantime, while we urge governments to follow Iran’s example, we need to continue our aid: even the temporary relief of hunger is wonderful.
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
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.
(This letter was NOT published, but I have included it because its non-publication helps to answer the question in the last paragraph: an article dismissing Malthusianism was published, but no letter defending Malthus was published.)
“Malthusianism is a fallacy” writes Clifford Longley (17 Aug). Hardly! On almost every major point Malthus has been proved exactly right.
Malthus believed that populations double every 25 years unless controlled by checks. In the Essay Chapter 5, he writes, “All these checks can be fairly resolved into misery and vice.” He was too delicate to mention contraception, but who can doubt that he counted this as a vice.
In most of the world the check of artificial contraception is no longer thought of as a vice and it is being effectively used to save us from Malthusian misery, but in Africa and the Middle East there is little of this type of ‘vice’, so populations continue to double.
In Uganda the population is expected to increase from 5 million to over 80 million in the century 1950-2050, that is doubling every 25 years as Malthus predicted.
In Africa as a whole the population of 228 million in 1950 doubled twice between 1950 and 2005, almost exactly as Malthus predicted.
Excluding Turkey, the countries of the Middle East from Palestine to Pakistan have also doubled their populations twice between 1950 and 2000, exactly as Malthus predicted.
In these regions, even after the populations have doubled only twice, reports of Malthusian misery in the form of war, poverty, and hunger, are in the news almost every day. The expected third doubling will convert most sceptics.
On one point Malthus can be faulted. He did not foresee the huge improvement in agriculture. But this provides only temporary protection from misery. Norman Borlaug, the ‘father’ of the green revolution put it like this in his speech on receiving the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize:
‘The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only. Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the “Population Monster.”‘ It’s just the same today. I wonder why this is?
(Letters Extra is an online section of The Tablet in which letters not interesting enough to go into the print edition are published.)
An enormous, world changing, demographic drama is unfolding in Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, where the population of 300 million in 1950 has already doubled twice and is expected to double a third time to 2,400 million before 2050.
This “population explosion” will be a major cause of extreme poverty, hunger, water shortage, civil unrest, conflict, the migration of huge populations of desperate people, and serious environmental damage. Even after only two doublings, we can read about its effects in our newspapers every day. Unless it is controlled, all our efforts to feed the hungry will bring temporary relief only. (‘Catholics call for action on hunger’. In brief. 8 June)
In 1953, the future Pope Paul VI wrote to the Twenty Sixth Italian Catholic Social Week about population. Two of the points he made were that population problems were of extreme importance, and that they have a vital bearing on world peace. And, in 1967, in his encyclical Populorum Progressio (paragraph 37) he urged us to do something about it.
I wonder why it is that over the last thirty five years or so the hierarchy and its advisers, and organizations such as Justice and Peace, Vocation for Justice, Progressio (CIIR), Pax Christi, and others involved with world affairs have been dismissive of this huge population increase, at least until very recently. Why have we taken such a different view to that taken by Pope Paul in the 1950’s and 1960’s? Pope Paul’s approach seems to me to be by far the most beneficial for the Church, as well as for the the poor and the environment. Can we go back to it?
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
“If I did not believe in what the Catholic Church teaches, I would not call myself a Catholic” writes Francisca Martinez. (Secularism part of birth rate fall, Mailbox April 6) This is an extreme view and would mean that more than half the Catholics in England should stop calling themselves Catholic.
(The Catholic publication The Tablet summarises its 2008 survey on the response of Catholics to the Church’s teaching on birth control as follows: “Today most practising Catholics ignore its teaching on birth control and more than half think it should be revised.”)
Happily, with the new pope, we can hope that a change is coming and that the teachings of scholastic theology with its ideas on sex will get less emphasis, and the teachings of Jesus will be given more prominence. Pope Francis talking to journalists expresses this hope like this, “Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor”.
When Pope Francis sees the terrible distress in those countries where populations repeatedly double – mainly the countries of Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan – the change will surely come, and I hope then that Ms Martinez and I will be on the same side.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
“The truth is fertility rates globally are in free-fall” writes Francisca Martinez. (‘Population problem does not even exist’ Mailbox March 6th). I wonder. In 1965-1970 the world fertility rate, expressed as children per woman, was 4.85, and in 2005-2010 it was 2.52. Can this be called free-fall?
Much of this fall is due to China where, over the same 40 years, the rate really has been in free-fall from 5.94 to 1.64. And some is due to Brazil – the world’s most populous Catholic country – where the rate fell from 5.38 to 1.9. That also might be called free-fall, and prosperity is on its way.
On the other hand, in those 40 years, the fertility rate fall in Africa and in several countries in the Middle East and elsewhere has been small: in Africa it fell from 6.68 to 4.64 children per woman; in Pakistan from 6.6 to 3.65; and in Afghanistan from 7.7 to 6.62; and consequently, unless they obtain effective family planning, populations will double, and the great distress we see in these areas will continue.
Ms Martinez also notes that “contraception and the Catholic Church’s position on this” has come into the correspondence. The billions of words expended on this subject come down to this: The Vatican maintains that the use of artificial contraception is a grave sin, while the majority of Catholics – such as myself – believe it is not a sin at all.
This last statement is supported not only by the dramatic fertility rate fall in Brazil, where contraceptive use is similar to that in the UK, but also by the fact that Catholic countries such as Poland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Austria have fertility rates well below that of the United Kingdom.
On population, the most authoritative teaching for Catholics comes in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical ‘The Progress of Peoples’ where, after warning us of the dangers of the accelerated rate of population growth, he writes: “it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong”
It could hardly be put better.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Explanation: A correspondent had written “we had no family planning before the 1960s! Mr Danaher links, without any evidence, hunger and civil unrest in the developing world to the increase in population. Does he really mean to say these problems did not exist before the glorious advent of contraception?” The letter below was my attempt to clarify the matter.
Francisca Martinez writes “we had no family planning before the 1960s” (“It’s always ‘blame poor'” Mailbox 19 Feb). The term ‘family planning’ did indeed only become popular in about 1960, before that it was usually called birth control. This started to be used widely after 1877, when the sensational trial of Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant for publishing a pamphlet on birth control informed people about it.
In 1877, the birth rate in England and Wales was 35 births per 1000 population. This rate fell in every decade from then until the 1930s, when it was below 15 births per 1000 population. The United Kingdom’s birth rate is now 12 births per 1000 population.
Before this fall in the birth rate the condition of the poor in England was horrendous and can be read about in the works of Charles Dickens and Karl Marx. It was rather like the conditions in parts of Africa today.
Note: I felt that I had to keep the statistics down to a minimum, but here are a few taken from the United Nations Population Division and from The Oxford History of England
(For note on ‘it’s always “blame poor” ‘ see ‘A prolonged tragedy‘ December 2011)
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
When we read that “overpopulation isn’t the cause of hunger” (Sir David is wrong about population, Mailbox February 2) we should keep in mind the fact that in countries which have controlled their population growth there is little hunger, while in countries that have not controlled their population growth there is widespread hunger.
We should also keep in mind the region with the fastest growing population in the world; that is, Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan. The population of this region was about 300 million in 1950. Since then the population has increased by 1000 million (one thousand million) and we can see in many countries in this region not only hunger, malnutrition, and water shortage, but extreme poverty, civil unrest, conflict, and the migration of huge numbers of desperate people.
And worse is to come: The population of this region is expected to increase by a second 1000 million (one thousand million) in the next 30-40 years, after which the numbers will increase rapidly and their troubles, serious as they are now, will increase.
It need not have been like this: If the people of this region had had the same family planning that we have had, most of them would now be on their way to prosperity and peace.
The editor made a few changes, mainly substituting ‘1 billion’ for ‘1000 million (one thousand million)’ and ‘a second billion’ for ‘a second 1000 million (one thousand million)’.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Andrew Mitchell has gone. He was one of my heroes. He was by far the best Secretary of State for International Development we have ever had.
He was one of the few to grasp that the underlying cause of poverty in Africa and in other developing countries was repeated doubling of their populations, and he did his best to provide poor women, who wanted to limit their families, access to family planning.
In July, with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he organized the London Summit on Family Planning at which the Prime Minister made an excellent speech starting: “We’re here for a very simple reason: women should be able to decide freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have….. It’s absolutely fundamental to any hope of tackling poverty in our world.”
There are no votes in advocating family planning for poor people in developing countries. In fact, because it offends against political correctness, advocating it means a loss of votes and support and esteem so that virtually no politician, or aid agency, or religious leader will campaign for it. The consequence is that extreme poverty will continue in Africa for the foreseeable future. Many national leaders know this: only Andrew Mitchell has campaigned about it. I hope he comes back soon.
(The lead letter which hoped that Melinda Gates would support teaching in Africa had the heading. This letter followed.)
SIR – Obianuju Ekeocha makes a persuasive and heartfelt plea for Melinda Gates to use a £3 billion fund on six social help schemes such as a good health care system and a food programme for young children, rather than on providing family planning for poor women who wish to control their fertility. (Features, August 24) Unfortunately, there is a difficulty in providing even the first of these six schemes: the cost. Ten times £3 billion would not solve the problem. If I may illustrate the difficulty by looking at Ms Ekeocha’s homeland of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s population – 37 million in 1950 – is now158 million, which is greater than that of Russia. In 18 years time, the population is expected to be 257 million, twice that of Russia; and by 2050 the population is expected to be 389 million – rapidly approaching the population of the United States of America. Mrs Gates’ £3 billion is a trivial sum when compared to the sum needed to implement just the first of Ms Ekeocha’s hopes – a good health care system. Even now, when Nigeria has a vibrant economy, and its oil revenues bring in more than ten times £3 billion, its health care system is grossly inadequate. It will be far worse when Nigeria’s population has doubled once again.
On population, Mrs Gates’ views are close to those of Pope Paul VI, who gave the Church’s most authoritative teaching on population in Populorum Progressio, paragraph 37. Pope Paul and Mrs Gates differ only in choice of method, a subject on which Catholics are divided.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
The reason why orthodox Catholic teaching bans artificial contraception is well explained by Mark W. Jacques. (Get the story straight on the Church and contraception. Mailbox April 3)
However, most Catholics, such as myself, believe that the teaching should be changed. In fact, it would not surprise me if, in the future, theologians reclassified the use of artificial contraception as a virtue.
Consider Uganda, where there is little family planning. It is the same size as the UK and is 40% Catholic.
Since 1950, Uganda has experienced an accelerating growth in population.
In every ten years since 1950-60 until the foreseeable future the growth has increased or is expected to increase by a greater amount.
In 1950-60 the increase was 1.6 million. In 2000-2010 it was 9.2 million. In 2040-2050 the increase is expected to be 17.8 million.
The population has gone up from 5 million in 1950, to 35 million now, and an expected 94 million by 2050.
Uganda already suffers extreme poverty and it needs effective family planning urgently if disaster is to be prevented.
The ban is one of the reasons why it does not have family planning already. Theologians, even authoritative ones, do sometimes make mistakes.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Francisca Martinez records Unesco’s opinion that “If ‘too many people’ cause hunger, we would expect to find more hungry people in countries with more people per agricultural hectare. Yet we can find no such correlation” (Mailbox March 15).
This lack of correlation is because industry and trade have made many highly populated countries prosperous and they can abolish hunger by importing food. (In another part of their article, Unesco gives Singapore as one of the examples of a densely population country where there is no hunger. But Singapore imports 90% of its food.) On the other hand, countries with the highest number of malnourished people are all dependent on agriculture. They have a lot of agricultural land, but not enough to cope with the repeated doubling of their populations. They cannot afford to import food, so they go hungry.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
“It is generally recognised that overpopulation is one of the causes of poverty and suffering in Third World countries and that the Roman Catholic Church is opposed to artificial contraception,” writes Mrs Elizabeth Allison. (Mailbox, March 7). How true! Unfortunately, over the last 40 years fear of criticism by the politically correct has prevented aid agencies and religious and political leaders – non-Catholic as well as Catholic – from emphasising the need for population control if extreme poverty is to be avoided. It was not always so:
In 1967, Pope Paul VI in his important encyclical Populorum Progressio, paragraph 37, wrote of the need for population control. As I am a Catholic, who does not believe that the use of artificial contraception is a sin – I wish it could be reclassified as a virtue – perhaps I may quote some of that 1967 encyclical with the theological provisos omitted:
“There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development…There is no doubt public authorities can intervene in this matter… They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures…it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong ”
It could hardly be put better. If African governments and Catholics and non-Catholic aid agencies had taken Pope Paul’s advice 45 years ago African children would no longer be hungry.
So far so very good, but in 1968, Pope Paul, persuaded that abstinence and natural family planning could control population, confirmed the ban on the use of artificial contraception. This has been a tragedy for the poor, because the Church provides much of the education and much of the medical and health care in very poor countries.
(Published virtually word for word. Heading by Catholic Herald.)
SIR – On 23 June 1964, Pope Paul VI expressed one of his greatest concerns like this: “A problem which everyone talks about is that of birth control, as it is called, namely of population increase on the one hand and family morality on the other. It is an extremely grave problem.” (The Times 24 June 1964)
The letter from the officials of the Association of Catholic Women deals effectively with the family morality side of this extremely grave problem. (February 3) However, the population increase side of this problem is just as important and I hope the Association will investigate it.
Ethiopia, DR Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Somalia, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are some of the countries that have doubled their populations twice since 1950. They all have major problems of poverty and civil unrest. Only by controlling their populations can they hope to achieve prosperity and peace. I feel sure that the Association of Catholic Women does not want to deny them this chance.
SIR – In his forthright criticism of the climate change agenda, Mr Graziano Freschi writes that climate change is being used as a veil for the promotion of “contraception, sterilization, and abortion” (Letter December 9).
Catholic moralists often link contraception and abortion in this way as though they were equally sinful. Few people believe this. Most Catholics approve of contraception and use it, with a good conscience, when it is needed. Most Catholics do not approve of abortion.
Annually, tens of millions of abortions take place worldwide. (42 million is a recent estimate) But these numbers are falling as access to family planning education and contraceptive services have increased. In China and Russia many millions of abortions have been avoided since family planning has become available. Catholics campaigning against abortion will be much more effective if they campaign for the universal provision of family planning, as this is by far the most effective way of reducing the number of abortions.
Family planning also makes it possible to space pregnancies. This reduces not only infant mortality, but maternal mortality as well, which is a substantial benefit for poor families.
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
SIR – Mrs Ann Farmer writes “the Malthusian response to poverty was to blame the victim and lecture them for having too many children”. (Letter, November 25) This is true for the nineteenth century, but we must remember that that is almost all they could do in those days about overpopulation. Nowadays, we know what to do and our lecturing, or preferably our advising, is aimed at very rich people – the governments of developing countries, their international advisers, and others – who, for various reasons, fail to provide the poor with effective family planning. This failure is a prolonged tragedy for Africa. David Coleman, the Professor of Demography at Oxford University makes the point in The Times of 3 October 2005, “Reducing population growth will not of itself solve Africa’s problems, but without it they will become insoluble”.
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
In writing about the increase in world population to seven billion, Mr Stewart Sexton tells us “there are plenty of optimists who say that we can readily cope, and plenty of pessimists who say we can’t.” (Letter October 14) He is quite right. We can be optimistic about most of the world, which has taken Thomas Malthus’ warnings to heart and has controlled its population, and pessimistic about those countries – now almost confined to Africa and the Greater Middle East and a few Catholic countries – which are allowing their populations to continue doubling every few decades.
David Coleman, Professor of Demography, University of Oxford, put it like this (The Times 11 Oct 2011): “We are (almost) all Malthusians now. Well over half the world’s population practices “prudential restraint” in the modern guise of family planning, protecting family and society from the poverty and want that follows from excess growth and numbers. Those that are slow to do so suffer the consequences.”
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
SIR – Mrs Ann Farmer and I have disagreed in your columns for many years about the need for family planning and population control. I always wait with interest and even a little trepidation for her spirited response to any letter of mine you publish. (Letters July 22 and 29) Although we may never agree, a great world experiment will decide it for most Catholics over the next few decades.
Most countries now have effective family planning and are prosperous or beginning to become prosperous. Lack of family planning and population control is now almost confined to Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, a region that includes such countries as DR Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Somalia, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even now, when that troubled region has added only 1000 million to its 1950 population of 300 million we can see wide spread extreme poverty, shortages of food, water, sanitation, and medical care, and sometimes civil disorder and conflict. When another 1000 million is added to the population in the next thirty to forty years, the suffering and turmoil will be so great and so wide spread and will involve such huge numbers that most Catholics will conclude that it was unfortunate that this region has not had the same family planning and population control that we ourselves have had over the last fifty years or more.
Uganda is the same size as the UK and is 40% Catholic and 40% Protestant: the population was 5 million in 1950; 10 million in 1975; 20 million in 1995; an estimated 40 million in 2016; and an estimated 80 million in 2042, when the population is expected to be increasing by almost two million every year. (United Nations 2010)
Uganda is a country with great advantages, but all these advantages have come to almost nothing, because the country has been uninterested in population control or family planning. The future looks bleak when it should look promising.
Most countries of the world now have effective family planning and are prosperous or beginning to become prosperous. Lack of family planning and population control is now almost confined to Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, a region that includes such countries as DR Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Somalia, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even now, when that troubled region has added only 1000 million to its 1950 population of 300 million we can see wide spread extreme poverty, shortages of food, water, sanitation, and medical care, and sometimes civil disorder and conflict. When another 1000 million is added to the population in the next thirty to forty years, the suffering and turmoil will be so great and so wide spread and will involve such huge numbers that most people will conclude that it was unfortunate that this region has not had the same family planning and population control that we ourselves have had over the last fifty years or more.
The World Fact Book 2011 puts first on its list of the long-standing challenges that the world faces, “the addition of 80 million people each year to an already overcrowded globe” which is “exacerbating the problems of underemployment, pollution, waste-disposal, epidemics, water-shortages, famine, over-fishing of oceans, deforestation, desertification, and depletion of non-renewable resources”.
These dramatic population increases interest almost no one, mainly because of political correctness, but partly because of religious opinions.
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
SIR – In your editorial ‘African food crisis is a test of our integrity as Catholics’ (July 8) you name five countries, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Kenya. The population of these five countries was 32 million in 1950, it is now 167 million, and by 2050 it is expected to be over 321 million, that is to say a much greater population than the 230 million of the whole of Africa in 1950.
Famines and droughts in Africa have been recorded since Biblical times, and we can presume that they will go on for the foreseeable future. We seem not to have been fully prepared to deal with this present famine, so when the next one comes we should be more advanced, as the numbers involved will obviously be far, far greater.
Catholics especially ought to prepare for these great hungers of the future as we have often led the efforts to deny Africans effective family planning, and I see no sign that we will change our attitude in the future.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
23 July 2011
In choosing Unicef as a partner in its efforts to alleviate hunger in the Horn of Africa, the Mercury has chosen an organization that not only knows how best to alleviating hunger, but how best to prevent future famines. (Mercury July 18) I hope the response to your appeal will be generous.
Famines and droughts in Africa have been recorded since Biblical times, and we can presume that they will go on for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, because of the population explosion in Africa, the next famine is likely to involve such huge numbers that it will be beyond our ability to feed them. The countries involved in the present hunger have already increased their populations five times since 1950 and by 2050 their numbers are likely to be ten times as great as in 1950.
The ‘Planning births’ section of Unicef’s report The State of the World’s Children 1992 opened with the famous statement “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single ‘technology’ now available to the human race”. These benefits include the ending of malnutrition, hunger, and famine.
The section ends with Unicef’s proposal “to put the knowledge and the means of family planning at the disposal of every couple of child-bearing age before the end of this present century.” This proposal was acted on successfully in most of the world, but not in Africa, so, when Unicef has helped to alleviate the present famine, I hope they will pursue their efforts to make family planning available to all with greater vigour and persistence: then we will have no more unmanageable hunger and famine in Africa.
12 January 1998
Frontpage headline: The world won’t be crowded after all.
Article page 12 with excellent map correcting the over-optimistic headline.
GREEN – LOW FERTILITY RATE – PROSPERITY ARRIVED OR ARRIVING
BROWN – HIGH FERTILITY RATE – TROUBLE ARRIVED OR ARRIVING
WHEN TROUBLE ARRIVES NOTE THAT POPULATION INCREASE IS MENTIONED BUT NEVER BLAMED AS A MAJOR CAUSE BY POLITICIANS OR THE MEDIA
The general picture remains as accurate now as in the 1998 estimates, but note: (1) all countries are now more densely populated, some substantially (eg Haiti, Rwanda, Pakistan, Philippines) some hardly at all (eg Japan, Germany) (2) Fertility rates in Morocco, Egypt, and especially India have not fallen as fast as predicted; those in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Iran, Thailand, and Mongolia have fallen faster. Statistics come from UN Population division. Projections to 2050 are from medium variant. See http://esa.un.org/unpp.
The front page headline is justified when it refers to the three-quarters of the world coloured green. But the headline is wildly misleading when Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan is included. In most countries in this region, family planning is not easily available and fertility rates remain high. The population has doubled twice since 1950 and is expected to double again before 2050. Even now, after only two doubling (from 300 million to 1,200 million) we can see extreme poverty, hunger, civil turmoil, and conflict in this region, with the migration of many millions of desperate people. After the next doubling to 2,400 million the distress will be so great that people will at last see that as well as saving lives we should have provided developing countries with family planning – the same family planning upon which our own prosperity depends.
The Leicester Mercury published a leading article on the need to continue with overseas aid. They published my comment on this virtually unchanged and gave it a good heading.
“Why UK is right to give overseas aid” (Opinion March 2) Excellent. Thank you. But you did not mention the absolute necessity of including family planning in that aid. Without family planning the aid will give only temporary ease and that temporary ease will be followed by even worse distress. No politician has dared advocate the provision of family planning to the poor however much the poor desire it, because the politically correct, and other groups, will denounce it. Politicians should resist this criticism.
Fortunately, today, family planning has become an almost universal right, and the majority of couples use it – over 60% worldwide, 70% in Europe and Latin America, and 90% in China. (UN World contraceptive use 2009)
There is, however, one region of the world where – for religious, political and cultural reasons – contraception is not easily available: this is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, where the population has doubled twice since 1950 and is expected to double again before 2050. Even now, after only two doubling (from 300 million to 1,200 million) we can see extreme poverty, hunger, civil turmoil, and conflict in this region. After the next doubling to 2,400 million the distress will be so great that people will at last see that as well as saving lives we should have provided developing countries with family planning – the same family planning upon which our own prosperity depends.
SIR- ‘Malthus: the prophet who keeps failing’ is the headline to Quentin de la Bedoyere’s review of Fred Pearce’s new book, Peoplequake. (Art & Books February 4) Certainly, Malthus did not foresee that the widespread use of contraception would save most of the world from the catastrophes he prophesied. He was opposed to contraception and considered it a vice. Today, contraception has become an almost universal right, and the majority of couples use it – over 60% worldwide, 70% in Europe and Latin America, and 90% in China. (UN World contraceptive use 2009)
Nevertheless, it was the realisation that Malthus was right and that without contraception Malthusian power would overwhelm all efforts to prevent famine and deprivation that has caused governments to allow, promote, and provide effective family planning.
There is, however, one region of the world where – for religious, political and cultural reasons – contraception is not easily available and where Malthusian power can still be seen: this is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, where the population has doubled twice since 1950 and is expect to double again before 2050. Even now, after only two doubling (from 300 million to 1,200 million) we can see the deprivations Malthus foresaw. After the next doubling to 2,400 million the distress will be so great that most people will be convinced that Malthus was right. Fred Pearce himself can see the point: in an article in The Times magazine Eureka of February 2011 he writes: “I agree that Africa faces big problems if its women don’t follow the rest of the world. But most likely they will, given the chance. Contraception should be a right not an obligation.”
The following week, the Catholic Herald published a riposte from a reader. They gave this letter the headline: The principle asserted by Malthus no longer holds true today. The Catholic Herald printed a second letter from me, which I print below.
11 March 2011
SIR – Patrick Carroll is quite right: The difficulties experienced in Europe and Japan “are a far cry from…Malthusian-style famine”. (Letter March 4) This is because they have controlled Malthusian power – the repeated doubling of their populations – by family planning. As Mr Carroll points out, this will cause difficulties with pension provision, finding staff for basic services, and other problems.
There is however one large region where there is little family planning and populations double repeatedly; this is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan. Here, unless family planning becomes available soon, we will see extreme poverty, hunger, water shortage, disease, civil disorder, conflict, and huge migrations. These troubles are of an entirely different order to those in Europe and Japan.
Published in Bulletin No. 85 Third Quarter 2010, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, Lusaka, Zambia
I have been reading JCTR Bulletin for over ten years and find myself enjoying the articles more and more. The editorial and the first five articles in the First Quarter 2010 are just the most recent examples. The quotable statistics in the article by Dominic Liche, and the article by Trevor Simumba with the extract of the speech by Martin Luther King reminding us of the power of eloquence, I found especially memorable.
There is, however, one subject that does not get space in the Bulletin, which is of extreme importance not only for Zambia and Malawi, but also for Africa, and the world in general: I refer to the rapid redoubling of populations. In the last ten years I can remember only one article that dealt with this. This was by Fr Roland Lesseps in 2006. It was in this article, I believe, that Fr Lesseps inserted a quote from UNESCO: “An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems.”
This population increase is one of the most important non-religious, undoubtedly man made events in recorded human history. The figures are staggering. In the century 1950-2050, Zambia and Malawi are each expected to increase their populations ten times, and sub-Saharan Africa nine times. Indeed, Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, the one large region of the world where family planning is – in most countries – not easily available, is expected to increase its population eight times, from 300 million in 1950, to 600 million 1976, to 1,200 million in 2002, to an estimated 2,400 million in 2050.
The United Nations latest (2008) low, medium, and high estimates for the 2050 population of this region are 2413 million, 2760 million, and 3132 million respectively. The more exact figure for 1950 is 308 million. The numbers do not include Turkey. (World Population Prospects. The 2008 Revision. United Nations Population Division)
Most of the world outside this large region has realised that family planning is necessary in order to become prosperous and in most countries of the Far East and, belatedly, in Latin America effective family planning is used by most couples. In China family planning is used by 90% of couples; in Latin America by almost 70% of couples; but in sub-Saharan Africa by only 21% of couples. (UN World Contraceptive Use 2009) Where effective family planning is controlling population, prosperity is arriving. Where there is little family planning, poverty remains.
If we measure wealth as GDP per head we find that in 1960 Zambia had $222 per head, Brazil $208, South Korea $155. China $92. (Internet: Economic Statistics GDP per capita by country 1960) These dry figures can be put more graphically. Fr Aloysius Schwartz a Maryknoll missionary, describes the horrendous slums in South Korea in the early 1960’s, where “on the rubbish dumps women and children with blackened and scarred hands scraped in the refuse for morsels of food.” (The Starved and the Silent. Fr Aloysius Schwartz. Published in 1966.)
Fr Schwartz was worried that “Korea’s rapid population growth (three per cent per year) will have all but cancelled out its economic advance”. Happily, the South Koreans saw the danger and governmental enthusiasm for family planning soon controlled the population and they became prosperous.
One reason why some countries with plenty of space did not follow South Korea’s example was that the “green revolution “ appeared to give promise of endless improvements in food production. This is what Norman Borlaug, the “father” of the green revolution had to say about that in his speech on accepting the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize:
“The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only.”
How we can get governments to comprehend the magnitude of these population changes so that they develop enthusiasm for family planning I do not know, but it can be done. Iran is the best modern example. With the availability of clinics in every village and teaching in schools, the birth rate in Iran has dropped from 45.5 per 1000 in 1980-85 to 18 per 1000 in 2005-2010. In the same period Zambia’s birth rate has hardly changed: 45.1 per 1000 in 1980-85 to 43.2 per 1000 in 2005-2010. (1)
Population is going to be controlled either by family planning, or by the age-old methods of disease, famine, and war. I hope that Zambia will choose family planning. In 1967, Pope PaulVI, in his encyclical Populorum Progressio (paragraph 37), both noted the problem and advised solutions, and pointed the way forward.
Retired Medical Practitioner
(The letter was published as written, except for some minor changes such as “human-made” for “man made”.)
Abbé Ambrose Tina’s absorbing article (‘More aid, better spent’ 18 September) is full of excellent statistics. However, the demographics, by far the most important statistics, have been left out. In Senegal, Abbé Tina’s own country, the population has increased fivefold since 1950, and by 2050 it is likely to have increased tenfold. (2.4 million in 1950; 12.8 million now; 26 million in 2050) Most other extremely poor countries follow the same pattern.
Abbé Tina fears that Senegal may not attain the Millennium Development Goals. He is right to be anxious. While those countries that have controlled population growth are likely to reach these Goals, those that have made little attempt to control population growth will not. Hunger and deprivation will continue and there will be little reduction in maternal and child mortality.
Over the last forty years, no one has dared to campaign for the provision of family planning in developing countries, but in March this year “Save the Children” broke the taboo and published a six page ‘Policy brief’ on population, in which they state:
“Given its detrimental impact on poverty reduction, it is surprising that the issue of population growth has received so little attention over the last decade from development donors, agencies and developing country governments alike. For example, the Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2001, made no reference to population growth, while the influential Commission for Africa report, published in 2005, had almost nothing to say on the subject. Yet there is overwhelming evidence of the damaging impact that rapid population growth has on poverty reduction efforts.”
Is it too late to give some hope to mothers overburdened with so many children that high infant and maternal death rates and extreme poverty are virtually inevitable? I hope not. Catholics at least should try to help, as over the decades we have earned a reputation for being indifferent to this cause of suffering.
Note: The decades long silence about the need for family planning is illustrated not only by a Catholic (Abbé Tina) but also by others. (Millennium Development Goals and Commission for Africa authors). Before the arrival of Political Correctness in the 1970’s many Catholics voiced their concern about the dangers of population growth.
I hope these two letters explain themselves. They were published virtually unchanged.
Archbishop Nichols believes that “If we solve the poverty then consistently we know that the birth rate comes down”, and Chris Bain, Director of Cafod says “Cafod believes that poverty is the key issue to be addressed before contraception is considered.” (Nichols questoned about artificial birth control. 10 April) For decades, this has been the Catholic approach. The governments of many poor countries have taken a different approach.
In the Far East, country after country, while still as poor as African countries, started to control their population growth. They are becoming prosperous. In sub-Saharan Africa, where, I understand, nearly half of the health care, education and social services is provided by Catholics, rapid population growth continues, and extreme poverty remains.
If we wait until prosperity is established before tackling population growth, we will wait forever, and population control will once again be left to disease, famine, and war. A reduction in the birth rate in poor countries needs strong governmental or organizational enthusiasm for family planning, or it will never happen. Populorum Progressio, paragraph 37, points the way.
(Paragraph 37 of Populorum Progressio can be found towards the end of “Demography for Catholics.” This famous Encyclical of Pope Paul VI was dated 26th March 1967. It is still quoted with approval in many Catholic publications, though paragraph 37 is usually not mentioned. There is a division of opinion in the Catholic Church as to what methods of family planning are allowable. The Vatican takes one view and the majority of Catholics take another.)
29th April 2010 / Leicester Mercury
The Conservative Party’s Green Paper, One World Conservatism states: “With the exception of a few oil-rich states, no country has risen from poverty without lowering their birth rates.” That is true. Even oil-rich states will eventually become poor if they do not lower their birth rate.
Unfortunately, over the last forty years, fear of accusations of veiled racism has prevented politicians, religious leaders, and aid agencies from advocating the provision of family planning for the poor in Africa and elsewhere. Consequently, Africans and others have been denied the effective family planning upon which our own prosperity depends, and their poverty has continued or worsened. It is consoling to find a political party publishing a truth that brings no votes.
May 2009 | The Newman
Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD, gave the 2009 London Newman Lecture with the title ‘Mind the gap: globalisation, poverty and faith’. He talked about the gap between rich countries and poor countries and the effect of globalisation. He noted that “it is estimated that nearly half of sub-Saharan Africa’s health care, education and social services and nearly a third of all care to those living with HIV and AIDS worldwide are provided by the Catholic Church, through dioceses, religious orders, and lay organisations.” I can well believe it. This is heroic and saintly work by “doers not talkers” as The Economist described a group of nuns caring for AIDS sufferers.
However, the fact that Catholics provide half of all sub-Saharan Africa’s health care, education and social services may help to explain why family planning is so difficult to obtain in sub-Saharan Africa. Here is the response to Chris Bain’s speech. It was published word for word.
January 2010 | The Newman
In choosing Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD to give the 2009 Newman Lecture, an edited version of which appeared in your May 2009 edition, you have given us as good a review of the Catholic approach to globalisation and poverty as you could get.
Mr Bain opens up with a description of the two attitudes to globalisation: one group believing that it will abolish poverty, the other believing that it has increased poverty and widened the gap between rich and poor.
Why do opinions differ so fundamentally? The answer is simple. The first group looks at regions of the world where effective family planning is used by most couples, where populations have stabilised, and where prosperity has developed faster than at any time in human history. The second group looks at regions where family planning is available to few, where populations rocket upwards, and extreme poverty continues.
Because there is a taboo, or semi-taboo, or consensus that prevents population increase being considered as a cause of poverty, another cause has to be found and many alight upon the prevailing economic system. If we can leave aside the taboo, it can be said that no economic system can prevent extreme poverty developing in a country where the population is doubling repeatedly. (1)
There are signs that the taboo is breaking down.(2) Indeed, in his speech, Mr Bain includes population growth amongst the reasons why the Millennium Development Goals are unlikely to achieve their 2015 targets for education, health and environmental sustainability, and he notes, “the world population has doubled since the inauguration of President Kennedy.” This is a rare acknowledgement from an aid agency and it is a consolation to me that it comes from CAFOD.
The regions of the world noted by Mr Bain as prospering under globalisation are ‘the Western world, and increasingly in parts of Asia and Latin America.’
In the Western world, family planning is available to almost all, and, excluding immigration, populations are stable, or stabilising. In Europe (excluding Russia) the population was 485 million in 1960 and 586 million in 2005. In Eastern Asia populations are also stabilising, with contraceptive use by couples at over 80%, so that the 2005 population is only twice that of 1960. And, belatedly, in parts of Latin America, populations are slowly stabilising with contraceptive use by couples at over 70%, and populations increasing only 2.5 times in the 45 years.(3) In many countries in these regions globalisation has been stunningly successful.
On the other hand, almost all the distressed countries and regions that Mr Bain mentions have increased their populations more than three times in the forty-five years1960-2005. This includes Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, DR Congo, sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, the Philippines and Honduras. And one (Uganda) has increased its population more than four times.(4) Contraceptive use by couples varies between under 10% in Ethiopia and Sudan, and just over 60% in Honduras.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, “everyone” knew that repeated doubling of populations would cause poverty. Aid agencies such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, and War on Want produced magazines or adverts supporting family planning. (I still have them.) Pope Paul VI made statements about it (5) and Catholics wrote about it,(6) and so did many others.(7)
And then, from the 1970’s, the taboo – enforced mainly by the ideology known as ‘political correctness’ – stopped all serious discussion of the demographic explosion, and the effort to provide the poor in developing countries with effective family planning faded. No one campaigned for it. It brought no kudos or votes and, I suspect, aid agencies came to believe it would reduce their income. So, in many developing countries, population control is being left to those age-old methods, disease, famine, and war. It is a great tragedy.
Mr Bain quotes Populorum Progressio at the end of his speech. In this encyclical Pope Paul also notes the difficulties caused by the accelerated rate of population growth and he taught that “public authorities can intervene in this matter” and that “They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures”.(8) In some parts of the world the Church is virtually the public authority. I do hope that CAFOD will take up the task of instructing us on this subject and also that they will adopt appropriate measures in the numerous medical centres they support in the developing world.
(1) Population doubling in Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, the only large region of the world where – in most countries – family planning is not easily available: 300 million in 1950, 600 million in 1976, 1,200 million in 2002, 2,400 million in 2050. And onwards from there. The United Nations latest (2008) low, medium, and high estimates for the 2050 population are 2413 million, 2760 million, and 3132 million respectively. (The more exact figure for 1950 is 308 million)
(2) “Population control and family planning are rising up the development agenda after decades in which they were taboo.” Bronwen Maddox, Chief Foreign Commentator, The Times, January 27, 2009
(3) Internet: UN World Contraceptive Use 2005
(4) Internet: World Population Prospects. The 2008 Revision. United Nations Population Division
(5) (a)“Population problems are of extreme importance….they have a vital bearing on world peace”. Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) writing to the Twenty-sixth Italian Catholic Social Week in 1953. (The Encyclical That Never Was p244. Sheed&Ward)
(b)“A problem which everyone talks about, is that of birth control, as it is called, namely, of population increase on the one hand and family morality on the other. It is an extremely grave problem.” Pope Paul VI 23 June 1964 (Report in The Times 24 June 1964)
(c)See Populorum Progressio below.
(6)(a)”Korea’s rapid population growth (three per cent per year) will have all but cancelled out its economic advance”, (even if General Park’s Five Year Plan were to succeed) The Starved and the Silent by Fr Aloysius Schwartz 1966 p110 Fr Schwartz was a Maryknoll missionary in South Korea. He describes the horrendous slums there where “on the rubbish dumps women and children with blackened and scared hands scraped in the refuse for morsels of food.” Happily, the South Koreans, by using family planning and the world economic system, prospered, and they do not have such slums any more.
(6)(b) There is one major cause of poverty and lack of development which until recently has not been given its full importance. Even now, in some Catholic and Marxist circles, the subject is deliberately avoided or treated superficially with ideological bias rather than attention to the facts. I refer to the population explosion…..Fr Edmund Flood OSB Ealing Abbey Pamphlet 1969 “World Poverty – the Future.” For a fuller excerpt from this pamphlet see ‘A Benedictine Assessment’ at gerrydanaher.com
(7)(a) “Quite as important as the Four Freedoms… is a Fifth Freedom – from excessive numbers of children. Far more than much of the world realizes, even the partial achievement of the first four is dependent upon this last.” Road to Survival by William Vogt 1948 (The Four Freedoms were freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear. These freedoms are absent in many of the countries making up the region referred to in note (1) above)
(7)(b) This “action helps to promote war and render poverty inevitable.”
The reaction of 2600 US scientists to the 1968 confirmation of the ban on artificial contraception by Pope Paul VI (The Encyclical That Never Was p244. Sheed&Ward)
(8) Populorum Progressio Paragraph 37 “There is no denying that the accelerated rate of population growth brings many added difficulties to the problems of development where the size of the population grows more rapidly than the quantity of available resources to such a degree that things seem to have reached an impasse. In such circumstances people are inclined to apply drastic remedies to reduce the birth rate. There is no doubt public authorities can intervene in this matter, within the bounds of their competence. They can instruct citizens on this subject and adopt appropriate measures, so long as these are in conformity with the dictates of the moral law and the rightful freedom of married couples is preserved completely intact. When the inalienable right of marriage and of procreation is taken away, so is human dignity. Finally, it is for parents to take a thorough look at the matter and decide upon the number of their children. This is an obligation they take upon themselves, before their children already born, and before the community to which they belong – following the dictates of their own consciences informed by God’s law authentically interpreted, and bolstered by their trust in him.”
The response in The Newman ended there, but here are the views of Norman Borlaug, the “father” of the green revolution in his long, but very good, speech on receiving the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo:
“The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only..Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the “Population Monster”.
(Almost unbelieveably, despite these strong words, the green revolution has been used to support the claim that “Malthus has been proved wrong.”)
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
‘Population key to climate change’ was your headline for FJ Abraham’s important letter. (Mailbox August 28) Population is, indeed, the key to climate change, and also to extreme poverty, hunger, and water shortage, and to most of the conflicts in developing countries, and to many other problems.
The UK government does provide some family planning to developing countries, but it keeps quiet about it, because politicians believe it is a vote loser. Aid agencies – if they do provide family planning – also keep quiet about it, because they think it will reduce their income.
Considering the huge advantages that family planning would bring to developing countries and to the world as a whole, we need to reassure politicians and aid agencies that they would not lose but would gain if they publicised its great importance.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Dr Francisca Martinez quotes UNESCO’s Education website’s comments on one of ten ‘Population myths’. Their comments on these ‘myths’ imply that population increase is not a problem, at least as far as hunger is concerned.
On the other hand, Prof. Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO’s chief of sustainable water resources development, speaking in Canberra on July 22, 2008 said, “Climate change is one of a number of stresses we’re facing, but it’s overshadowed by global population growth and the amount of water, land and energy needed to grow food to meet the projected increase in population. We are facing a world population crisis.”
Many countries in the Far East and in Africa over the last fifty years have worked hard to escape from great poverty. In the Far East most countries provided family planning for their people and now have stabilising populations and increasing prosperity. In Africa most countries dismissed family planning and now have rocketing populations and poverty. For the sake of the very poor, I hope that Prof. Khan wins the argument.
(Headline by Leicester Mercury)
Congratulations on publishing a full-page article on population. The decades long taboo on discussing the subject has done great damage, so it is good to see the Mercury forthrightly breaking that taboo. Val Stevens puts the case for controlling population in the UK very well. (Article April 22)
There is just one remark in the interview that needs clarifying. Mrs Stevens says that population is not a problem in Africa. The rocketing population in Africa may not damage the environment as much as we do, which may be the point Mrs Stevens is making, but it does terrible damage to Africans. The economies improve and huge amounts of aid flow in, but the extreme poverty and hunger remain, because the population increase has outstripped the benefits.
In the 1960’s, we all knew this and aid agencies such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, and War on Want produced magazines or adverts supporting family planning. I still have them. But for many reasons, mainly the fear of being thought a racist, this great effort stopped sometime in the seventies. Since then we have been too frightened to provide the poor in Africa and elsewhere with the effective family planning which we have for ourselves and upon which our own prosperity and peace depends. It is a great tragedy.
“…in all the discussions during the past year on how to lift Africa out of poverty, the question of population has been conspicuous for its absence. It is no longer fashionable or politically correct.”
John Blacker. Demographer.
Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Letter to The Independent. 23rd January 2006
The Horn of Africa. “Tony Blair’s report on Africa last year hardly mentioned population growth. ‘It’s the unmentionable,’ says a well-placed ambassador in Nairobi. ‘It’s the elephant in the corner of the room,’ says another. It is time to start talking about it now.”
The Economist. August 10th 2006
“No one is willing to address the accelerating growth in the world’s population. (The figures for world population increase are staggering)…..it is incredible that there is not even a debate about limiting and maybe one day reversing growth. The biggest obstacle to debate is the matter of possible solutions…birth control is objectionable to many on moral, religious and libertarian grounds. It is not surprising that green groups and politicians, worried about offending supporters, stay silent…It is understandable then that people are worried about discussing population, but fear of misrepresentation, offence or failure are not good enough reasons to ignore one half of the world’s biggest problem: the population effect on climate change.”
Juliette Jowit. Sunday March 18, 2007. The Observer
“There is still a lot of taboo around population, and I think one indication of that is that none of the mainstream development agencies nor the environment agencies, while invited to submit evidence, has done so.”
Catherine Budgett-Meakin, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population Development and Reproductive Health 2006, questioning a DFID spokesperson.
“According to its most vociferous proponents… population is ‘our number one environmental problem’. But most greens will not discuss it… Is this sensitivity or is it cowardice? Perhaps a bit of both.”
George Monbiot, January 29, 2008. The Guardian. Full text at monbiot.com
“‘overpopulation’ has become racially, religiously and ethnically sticky, and thus totally uncool. For decades no one in the population field has touched the word ‘overpopulation’ with a bargepole.”
Lionel Shriver. Sunday Times May 18, 2008
“Several readers have pointed out that the BMJ’s recent coverage of climate change has ignored a key issue—the need for population control. John Guillebaud and Pip Hayes give the same rebuke in their editorial this week. They may be right that ‘population’ and ‘family planning’ are taboo words.”
Editorial British Medical. Journal 31st July 2008
“Population control and family planning are rising up the development agenda, after decades in which they were taboo.”
Bronwen Maddox Chief Foreign Commentator, The Times, January 27, 2009
“Why this strange silence? I meet no one who privately disagrees that population growth is a problem…. So why does hardly anyone say so publicly? There seems to be some bizarre taboo around the subject. ‘It’s not quite nice, not PC, possibly even racist to mention it.'”
Sir David Attenborough speaking with HRH Duke of Edinburgh in the chair
RSA President’s Lecture 2011: People and Planet 10th March 2011
Because of this taboo, or semi-taboo, or consensus; because of this political correctness, this sensitivity or cowardice, or cold feet; because “no one” will touch overpopulation with a bargepole; because it is unmentionable; because birth control is objectionable to many on moral, religious, and libertarian grounds; because it is not quite nice; because it is possibly even racist to mention it, we are not only allowing the poor in developing countries to suffer extreme poverty, food and water shortages, social unrest and conflict, and the migration of millions of desperate people from their homeland, but we are also causing the biggest loss of species for millions of years, perhaps since the dinosaurs, and may be seriously damaging our earthly home. Political correctness and the other ideologies have a lot to answer for.
Elizabeth Allison’s excellent letter (Mercury, July 31) tells us that more hungry people would have food if we all ate less meat. Quite right.
However, even with this measure, hunger and starvation is set to continue in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because effective family planning is not available in most countries in this region, and populations double repeatedly.
(In Sub-Saharan Africa, the population was 200 million in 1955, 400 million in 1981, 800 million in 2006, and is expected to rise to 1,600 million in 2050. And onwards from there. United Nations figures)
Millions across the world want to save lives; few are interested in providing effective family planning. Consequently, unless this can be changed, there will be extreme poverty, hunger, starvation, and water shortage in sub-Saharan Africa for the foreseeable future. Perhaps one of the aid agencies could take an interest?
Dr Gerald Danaher
Elizabeth Allison’s plea for us to eat less meat is re-enforced by this main front-page headline:
OBSERVER 7 SEPTEMBER 2008
UN SAYS EAT LESS MEAT TO CURB GLOBAL WARMING
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
So, it seems that both those interested in global warming and those interested in alleviating poverty ought to aim at being vegetarians.
Sir, I fear that Archbishop John Sentamu’s heartfelt cry for the poor (Opinion, July 24) will have no more effect than the campaign to make poverty history, at least in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because most of sub-Saharan Africa lacks effective family planning, and its population keeps on doubling, leading inevitably to extreme poverty and hunger. In Ethiopia alone, where distress is greatest at present, the population has increased from 20 million in 1955 to 40 million in 1982, to 80 million in 2006, and is expected to rise to 160 million by 2050 (United Nations figures).
However anguished the cry for the poor, however huge the marches and campaigns, if effective family planning is not available, populations will double repeatedly, and population control will be by the age-old methods of disease, famine and war. It seems that in sub-Saharan Africa this is going to be allowed to happen.
Dr Gerald Danaher
The opportunity for this letter came from an article by Archbishop John Sentamu, who comes from Uganda and who knows Africa well. The letter was published almost unchanged, except that it was shortened by taking out the figures for all sub-Saharan Africa. I took the opportunity to get these figures published by writing to the Leicester Mercury a few days later.
“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:
|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|
|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)
CHARTERED INSTITUTION OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: CIWEM BUSINESS BRIEFING. October 2007
POPULATION IS AN ISSUE THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED
In a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of CIWEM members agreed that there needs to be a population policy as part of a strategy for action on climate change. Human population growth is acknowledged widely as one of the main causes of climate change, with rising consumption levels outstripping the biological capacity of the Earth by 25 percent each year. If all countries achieved UK levels of wealth, the global population would need the natural resources of four or five more planets. This is not the model of a sustainable world that will achieve social justice and harmony.
With the global population projected to rise from six billion to 9.2 billion in 2050, CIWEM believes that politicians and environmentalists must confront the real challenge of climate change.
CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves, says: ‘Scratch the surface of any environmental problem and it is not hard to see that population is a root cause. Politicians see big populations as an indicator of economic strength, but large populations contribute to an environmental footprint which is unsustainable, making them ever more reliant on techno-fix solutions that can barely keep pace with the problems they are meant to solve. It is time they recognised that unfettered population growth leads to environmental disaster.’
‘There are many solutions to our environmental problems, and the gradual planned and sensitive reduction in population is surely one of them. If governments around the world are really committed to sustainability, it is time for a grown-up debate on an issue politicians avoid and on a problem that is unlikely to go away. How much longer can we continue with this rate of human growth, without something really scary happening?’
REPRODUCED FROM THE REPORT OF THE ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON POPULATION DEVELOPMENT AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH JANUARY 2007
Letter to the Editor, The Independent, 23rd January 2006
Sir: In your articles on the current drought in Kenya (13 and 17 January), blame is laid on deforestation. People cut down trees primarily for firewood and the more people there are, the greater is the need for firewood, and the more cattle they will own to overgraze the land.
I am a demographer and I have worked on all the censuses of Kenya in the last 50 years. I have watched the population of that country grow from 8.6 million in 1962 to 11 million in 1969, 15.3 million in 1979, 21.4 million in 1989, and 28.7 million in 1999, now in 2006 it is estimated to be in excess of 34 million. It has therefore quadrupled during my working lifetime.
Clearly such rates of growth cannot be sustained indefinitely. And only two things can stop it: either the birth rate comes down or the death rate goes up.
In Kenya in the 1970’s a woman who lived to the age of 50 had an average of eight live-born children, by the late 1990’s it was down to less than five births per woman and it was predicted that the downward trend would continue.
But in 2003 a survey showed that the decline had stalled at five births per woman: the government’s hitherto vigorous family planning programme had run out of steam. Unless the fall in fertility can be resumed in the near future, a further doubling of the population to about 70 million* by the middle of this century will be almost inevitable, despite rising mortality.
This situation is not peculiar to Kenya. In neighbouring Uganda, the population has grown from 6.5 million shown by the 1959 census to 24.7 million according to that of 2002.
Yet in all the discussions during the past year on how to lift Africa out of poverty, the question of population has been conspicuous for its absence. It is no longer fashionable or politically correct. In some circumstances population growth can be a stimulus to economic development, but in others the reverse is true. I have not the slightest doubt that in the case of Kenya it has been a grievous handicap, and instrumental in keeping the majority of the people in that country locked in poverty.
Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
*The previous projection of the UN in 2002 for the year 2050 was 44 million
(Headline by Catholic Herald)
Sir, Edward Petin writes, “In 1995 and 1999 the Holy See and Iran worked closely to successfully battle against the push for abortion and population control at two UN conferences, respectively held in Beijing and Cairo.” (Interview August 3)
Islamists and the Holy See were indeed influential at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, and at other conferences. Their success is one of the reasons why the unprecedented population increase in Africa and the Middle East is now little talked about.
Nevertheless, it is worthwhile noting the size of this increase. Using the lowest of the three estimates given by the United Nations, we see that Africa had a population of 224 million in 1950, 820 million in 2000, and an estimated 1717 million in 2050. Pakistan had 37 million in 1950, 144 million in 2000, and an estimated 250 million in 2050. Nigeria had 34 million in 1950, 125 million in 2000, and an estimated 249 million in 2050.
The population of the region as a whole – Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan – has increased by 1000 million since 1950, and will increase by a further 1000 million by 2050. This regional population increase is one of the most amazing events in human history. It inevitably causes areas of extreme poverty and conflict, and yet it interests almost no one in the national media, or in politics, or in the groups who campaign about poverty and conflict in this region.
Dr Gerald Danaher
The opportunity for this letter came from FJ Abraham’s letter to the Mercury concerning the absence of discussion of population changes in the “green debate”. His letter and my letter were given prominence at the top of the letter page.
The Mercury published the letter word for word, highlighted the first sentence, and gave it the title, “Population must be discussed”. In fact, no discussion followed.
The taboo, or semi-taboo, or consensus which prevents the population “explosion’ being debated in the national press is one of the most extraordinary examples of self-censorship in modern times.
We are fortunate that the Leicester Mercury felt able to give prominence to FJ Abraham’s excellent letter with the heading, ‘Population ignored in green debate’. (Mailbox, April 2) Population is ignored not only in the green debate but also in the debates on the causes of extreme poverty, of conflict, and of the migration of huge populations. Here are some figures from the United Nations Population Division 2006 revision:
Africa had a population of 224 million in 1950; this has now increased to 922 million, and is likely to be 1,717 million in 2050. Pakistan had a population of 37 million in 1950, 158 million now, and an estimated 250 million in 2050.
The 1950 figures and the estimated 2050 figures for some countries in the news are as follows: Afghanistan 8 million increasing to 70 million. Iraq 5 million increasing to 53 million. Saudi Arabia 3 million to 38 million. Palestinian Territory one million to nine million. Somalia 2 million to 18 million. For the region as a whole, Africa plus the Middle East to Pakistan, the figures are 306 million in 1950 and an estimated 2330 million in 2050.
This regional population increase is one of the most amazing events in human history. It inevitably causes areas of extreme poverty and conflict and yet it interests almost no one in the national media, or in politics, or in the groups who campaign about poverty and conflict in this region. A time is coming when this lack of interest will be recognised as a major mistake.
Dr Gerald Danaher
Opportunities to get a letter on demography into the press are rare, but four opportunities arose in the last two months. There was one in the Leicester Mercury, one in The Newman, the Journal of the Newman Association (at 910 words the longest letter published so far), and two in the Catholic Herald. The Newman letter was printed word for word. The other three letters were abbreviated – the parts the Editors left out are in italics.
(1) The opportunity for the Leicester Mercury letter came because Iqbal Ghodiwala had written critical of Israel for holding onto Palestinian territory and had also responded to a claim that Israel had owned the land in ancient times. Mr Ghodiwala thought we should not go into this “long history”.
(2) The opportunity for my letter to the Catholic Herald of January 26 is made clear in the opening paragraph. Mrs Ann Farmer replied to this letter and put forward the most frequently used argument of those who believe artificial contraception is not needed to control population. She wrote that prosperity leads to smaller families – implying that contraception is not needed. I have heard this view many times. It is sometimes summarised as “prosperity is the best contraceptive”. My letter of February 9 explains that there is an important middle step between prosperity and low birth rates. (The statistics left out by the Editor are from the United Nations site at www.unpopulation.org. Click on World Contraception use 2005, and download wall chart data. Excel)
(3) The opportunity for the letter to The Newman came from the publication of a talk by Christine Allen of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR).
Mrs Ann Farmer (letters February 2) is right; prosperity does lead to smaller families, and does reduce the birth rate. As prosperity develops people are able to obtain effective methods of family planning and this causes the birth rate to fall. In developed countries, this process started long before the Second World War. In developing countries, the process started much later, but Eastern Asia and South America have now caught up with us.
(The UN gives the following percentage of women ‘in marriage or union’ who use contraception: Western Europe, North America, and South America over 70%. Eastern Asia over 80%)
However, in Africa (and in several countries in the Middle East) contraceptive use is below 30% and populations are rapidly redoubling. For instance, Ethiopia had 18 million people in 1950, and will have an estimated 147 million in 2050. Nigeria had 32 million in 1950, and will have an estimated 222 million in 2050. These rates of population increase make extreme poverty certain, and conflict almost certain.
Fortunately, whilst we work and wait for that elusive prosperity that enables people to obtain family planning for themselves, we can do something more directly. Catholics provide more health care in sub-Saharan Africa than anyone else. We are also more interested in Natural Family Planning than anyone else. If we saw to it that every Catholic medical facility in Africa had an effective NFP clinic we would be making a start.
Dr Gerald Danaher
(Issue No.70. Printed word for word.)
The excellent review of the economic causes of extreme poverty by Christine Allen of CIIR in your January 2006 edition prompts me to write in the hope that some of your readers may be interested in a non-economic cause of extreme poverty – rapid and repeated redoubling of huge populations.
This population increase in the last sixty years is mainly due to western medical expertise sweeping across the developing world causing death rates to fall dramatically. In sheer numbers this must be by far the greatest humanitarian effort in history. In Latin America, due to their young populations, all countries have death rates below that of the United Kingdom, many of them far below the UK rate. The same is true of most countries in Asia. And even in Africa, until the arrival of AIDS, death rates had fallen substantially.
Because they realised that a dramatic fall in death rates unaccompanied by a fall in birth rates must end in catastrophe, most Asian countries have made serious efforts to control their birth rates, and, belatedly, so have most countries in South America. However, in many countries in Africa and the Middle East, whilst death rates have fallen, birth rates have remained high, and this has inevitably caused a huge population increase. The resulting extreme poverty will soon be on such a scale that in many areas alleviation will be far beyond the capabilities of western aid. Here are just a few examples:
The population of Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan is increasing by a billion – 1000 million – every 50 to 60 years. (United Nations figures for this area are 308 million in 1950; 1,151 million in 2000; and an estimated 2320 million in 2050).
Uganda, which is the same size as the United Kingdom, is doubling its population every 25 years or less (UN figures: 1950 5 million; 1975 10 million; 1995 20 million; 2015 40 million; 2035 80 million and continuing).
In the Horn of Africa, the population has doubled twice sine 1950, and is expected to double a third time by 2050. The Economist, in its August 12 2006 edition, describes the horrific situation in the Horn, due in art to this population increase, and ends: “Tony Blair’s report on Africa last year hardly mentioned population growth. “It’s the unmentionable,” says a well-placed ambassador in Nairobi. “It’s the elephant in the corner of the room,” says another. It is time to start talking about it now.”
IN 1948, when the impending huge and rapid increase in population became obvious, William Vogt, in his book Road to Survival – his attempt to persuade America always to provide family planning help when it sent any aid – headed his sections on the medical profession, “Dangerous Doctors” and “The Menace of Medicine”. He believed that doctors were ecologically ignorant and were utterly unconcerned about the future of countries in which the population repeatedly doubled due to the spread of medical expertises. If he were alive today he may well have included in his criticism the many NGO’s working in developing countries, most of whom are oblivious to the fact that if death rates fall and birth rates stay high extreme poverty is certain.
At providing practical help to the extremely poor the Church is the most effective large-scale organization in the world. The work is heroic and the support we give to those working close to the very poor, inadequate though we may sometimes feel it is, may stand us in good stead one of these days. But we have not been good at providing effective family planning to the very poor, the lack of which is a major cause of the extreme poverty our practical help attempts to alleviate.
In 1953, Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) wrote, “Population problems are of extreme importance” and added “they have a vital bearing on world peace”. In 1969, Fr Edmund Flood OSB of Ealing Abbey wrote in a pamphlet with an Imprimatur and a Nihil Obstat, “So we see that rapid population growth causes very grave problems. It endangers the food supply. It slows down economic progress. And it poses other serious problems with regard to education, employment opportunities, housing, the quality of family life and the quality of human life itself.” In The Times 3 October 2005 David Coleman, Professor of Demography, Oxford University wrote, “Reducing population growth will not of itself solve Africa’s problems, but without it they will become insoluble.”
No Catholic organization that I know of is interested in this “extremely important” problem, which “endangers the food supply” and “slows down economic progress” and which, if not dealt with, will make Africa’s problems “insoluble”. In fact, this lack of interest – as the Economist discovered – extends to most non-Catholic campaigners as well. The reasons for this are numerous – I have a list of fifteen – but it seems only right that our Church should take some interest in this problem, even if it is only so as to prevent the wrong people being blamed for the distress of the poor, and I am grateful to you for publishing this letter.
Kind regards. Gerald Danaher
References: Mgr Montini. The Encyclical That Never Was. The Story of the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth 1964-1966 p43
Robert Blair Kaiser
Fr Edmund Flood – Poverty and Population
Pamphlet – World Poverty: the future 1/- 1969
SIR – You write (Editorial Jan 19) that the population control movement of the 1960’s, which had the backing of eminent scientists, has been “completely discredited”. A more accurate description would be “totally vindicated” – vindicated both by the prosperity of the countries which controlled their population, and the poverty of the countries which did not.
All the capitalist countries that took population control seriously from 1950 or before are now prosperous. (eg. Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, EU, Canada and USA).
And almost all countries that, a generation later, followed the example of this first group, and started to control their populations, are now coming out of poverty.
(eg China, Malaysia, Thailand, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, and many others).
On the other hand, all countries – with the exception of oil-rich Saudi Arabia – that did little to control their populations are now poor or extremely poor. Most cluster in that crescent of high human fertility stretching from Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan.
The population of this region was 306 million in 1950, 1,151 million in 2000, and is expected to be 2,320 million in 2050. (The figures are from the United Nations at http://esa.un.org/unpp).
This population increase in Africa and the Middle East of a billion (1000 million) every 50 to 60 years has ensured the continuation of great poverty, coupled with high unemployment, area wide frustration, conflict, and the unstoppable migration of huge populations. All these misfortunes will become worse in the decades to come.
In 1948, William Vogt in his book, Road to Survival, warned us that the Four Freedoms (freedom from want and fear, and freedom of speech and religion) depended on a Fifth Freedom – freedom from excessive numbers of children. In Europe, we took this warning seriously for ourselves. It is unfortunate that – despite several Vatican documents encouraging responsible parenting – we failed to hand on this warning to the poor in Africa and the Middle East.
Dr Gerald Danaher
This is the letter as sent, except that I have added two words – ‘human’ in paragraph four, and ‘conflict’ in paragraph six. The Editor deleted the words in italics, otherwise it was published word for word.
Iqbal Ghodiwala, in his thought provoking letter about the fuelling of terrorism in the Middle East, advises against going back to the long history. (Mailbox December 26) That is good advice, especially as that interesting long history has been well covered.
There is, however, a factor in the tragedy of Palestine and the Middle East which is seldom discussed: that is the huge increase in the population of Palestine, and the Middle East in general, due to the dramatic fall in death rates as western medical expertise spread across the region after 1950. Here are just a few statistics:
The Gaza Strip, a little smaller than Rutland, has a population of over a million. That population has one of the lowest death rates in the world at under 4 deaths per thousand population per year. (European Union 10 per thousand) and one of the highest birth rates at over 30 births per thousand per year. (EU again 10 per thousand.) This means that, if it were not for emigration, the population of the Gaza Strip would double every 25 years.
Many countries in Africa and the Middle East also have populations rocketing upwards for the same reason; namely, the fall in death rates unaccompanied by a fall in birth rates. The population of Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan was 306 million in 1950; 1,151 million in 2000; and is estimated to become 2,320 million by 2050. (The figures can be seen at the United Nations site at http://esa.un.org/unpp).
This population increase is so huge and unmanageable that great poverty, high unemployment figures, and area wide frustration will be with us for the foreseeable future. And this would be so even if Israel had never existed, and even if there had not been a war in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that everyone prefers saving lives to providing family planning and so “the west” – wanting to help Africa and the Middle East – has put a huge effort into saving lives and little effort into providing family planning. The consequences we see every day in our newspapers.
In 1948, William Vogt in his book Road to Survival warned us that the Four Freedoms (freedom from want and fear, and freedom of speech and religion) depended on a Fifth Freedom – freedom from excessive numbers of children. We should have heeded that warning.
Dr Gerald Danaher
One sunny morning, forty or fifty years ago, I was having breakfast on the roof garden restaurant of the Royal Danieli in Venice. Several of the tables next to the parapet overlooking the Grand Canal had been taken, but I found one for myself. The rest of the restaurant was empty.
The Grand Canal was blue, and the church on the other side – Is it called San Giorgio? – looked splendidly magnificent. But, as I turned away from the view to butter a slice of toast, I noticed the headwaiter had turned the large glossy menu into an imagined machine gun and was imitating, under his breath, the stutter of the gun as he sprayed the breakfasters with imitation bullets.
I caught his eye and wanted to say, “I agree, but would it be wise, it might make things worse.” But he put the “gun” down.
I put this in to make the point that not everyone looks upon the comfortably off with grateful affection. I’d put the numbers living on the other side of the Mediterranean, who could easily be made to feel like the headwaiter, at about one billion.
Happily, Italy did not go for revolution and the class war, but went for population control and capitalism, and is now so prosperous everyone wants to get into it. The headwaiter may even own a hotel of his own.
Unhappily, Zambia and many other countries across the world did not follow Italy’s example. They did not go for population control and capitalism, so poverty, conflict, and turmoil have been their lot, and – when possible – flight from their homeland their only hope.
(Note 1. Of course, Italy – like Germany and Japan – despite the devastation of a terrible war, had a head start over many nations in skills and education. This contributed greatly to their success, but population control and avoiding the class war was essential also.
Note 2. Though capitalism – as can be seen in the Far East – can produce food, make clothes, build houses, provide effective medicines and make many other improvements to the human condition better than any other economic system in history, it does have faults. It only works well and reasonably fairly when accompanied by population control, which enables scarce labour to bargain effectively. Also, if uncontrolled, it may make the earth uninhabitable, which is a serious flaw in an economic system.)
There is a consensus across the western world that rapid and repeated redoubling of huge populations should not be mentioned as a cause of extreme poverty, conflict, and migration, even though it is a major cause, perhaps the major cause. Below are listed the causes of this consensus. If anyone knows of other causes, I should be very pleased to hear about them.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND ITS ANTECEDENTS
We must not blame the victims. Oppression by rich white males is the cause of poverty
THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS RIGHT
The money for family planning might be used for abortion
Artificial contraception is a mortal sin
Population brings power
MARXISTS AND LIBERATION THEOLOGIANS
The cause of poverty is capitalism and capitalists not population increase
THE GREEN REVOLUTION
“ Malthus has been proved wrong.” (Oh, no he hasn’t!)
AN INTERPRETATION OF THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION MODEL
With improved living standards population will automatically stabilise
OXFAM, CAFOD, CHRISTIAN AID, AND OTHER NGOs
Nowadays, they never mention the need for family planning in their publicity
FALL IN BIRTH RATES IN CHINA AND FAR EAST AND DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
China’s ‘one child’ policy distorted world figures making them appear less worrying
AFRICANS LOOK ON CHILDREN AS HELPERS AND AS AN OLD AGE PENSION
South Africa solved this decades ago by providing old age pensions
WIDE OPEN SPACES, LOW POPULATION DENSITY. PLENTY OF ROOM
Bar oil rich Saudi Arabia, all low density countries with high fertility are extremely poor
AFRICAN ANTI-COLONIAL AGITATORS
Family planning is an imperialist western tool to depopulate Africa
EVERYONE PREFERS SAVING LIVES TO PROVIDING FAMILY PLANNING
Almost no one would give money for family planning rather than to save a child’s life
For these reasons the rapid population increase in Africa and the Middle East will continue for the forseeable future, inevitably causing extreme poverty, conflict and the migration of vast populations.
In April 2006, a letter in The Tablet from Cardinal Trujillo dismissed anxieties about the “population explosion” and gave several figures about Europe to make his argument. He advised us “to pay closer attention to the objective data given by the UN World Population Prospect”. As I have been doing this for many years I thought this was a cue for a letter. I e-mailed The Tablet but the letter was not published. Here it is:
HE Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family (Letters, 8 April) makes some telling points about the demographic changes in Europe. He calls upon us “to pay closer attention to the objective data given by the UN World Population Prospect.” For those interested in improving the conditions of our life on earth this is excellent advice.
Cardinal Trujillo has dealt effectively with Europe’s demography. Some may quibble at one or two statements, and at a few of the minor statistics, but about the general picture there is no argument: we can expect that Europe’s population will soon be declining. The UN World Population Prospect (the medium variant used by Cardinal Trujillo) gives the following figures for Europe, including Russia: 547 million in 1950; 728 million in 2000; and 653 million in 2050. Europe has a stable or declining population mostly enjoying prosperity and peace most of the time.
However, when the Pontifical Council for the Family denounces “the falsehood of the overpopulation myth”, there is a possibility that people will be misled unless the Council explains clearly which parts of the world they are considering: in Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan the demographic situation is utterly different to the situation in Europe.
South and east of the Mediterranean, due mainly to the rapid spread of western medical expertise, a dramatic population explosion is underway, frustrating all efforts to improve standards of living for many hundreds of millions. Using the UN medium variant, here are a few examples:
Nigeria had 32 million people in 1950; 117 million in 2000; and an estimated 258 million in 2050, when the population will be – in sheer numbers – increasing rapidly.
Uganda’s 5 million in 1950 had doubled twice to 20 million by 1995, and is expected to double twice again to 80 million well before 2050, when the population will be increasing very rapidly. (Uganda is the same size as the United Kingdom, and Catholics make up a third of the population.)
East of the Mediterranean the picture is much the same. For example, Iraq had a population of 5 million in 1950; 25 million in 2000; and an estimated 63 million in 2050. Afghanistan 8 million in 1950; 23 million in 2050; and 97 million in 2050. Pakistan 36 million in 1950; 142 million in 2000; and 304 million in 2050. After 2050, all these populations – in sheer numbers – will be increasing rapidly.
For the area as a whole, in rough figures, Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan had a population of 300 million in 1950. This has doubled twice since then to 1,200 million and the UN estimates it will double again to 2,400 million by 2050. That is to say, the 300 million people have increased by almost one billion (1000 million) since 1950, and will increase by more than another billion by 2050. When 300 million people increase by two billion in a century it is fair to call it a population explosion.
Few people find this demographic drama interesting, but no one who reads the figures will disagree with Cardinal Trujillo when he writes “migration towards countries offering better working opportunities will inevitably provoke cultural shock in the countries receiving these people”. This will indeed be a Krakatoa of a cultural shock.
In the meantime, whilst Europe awaits developments, anyone concerned to ease poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East will find it helpful to take the Cardinal’s advice and to read all about it in the United Nations World Population Prospects.
(Source: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2003 Revision, http://esa.un.org/unpp)
Fr Edmund Flood – Poverty and Population Pamphlet – World Poverty: the future 1/-
Inside front page: “Nihil Obstat MW Ashdowne.
Imprimatur + Patrick Casey Vic Gen Westminster 6 x 69”
There is one major cause of poverty and lack of development which until recently has not been given its full importance. Even now, in some Catholic and Marxist circles, the subject is deliberately avoided or treated superficially with ideological bias rather than attention to the facts. I refer to the population explosion…..
…..During this century one of the most important facts for the future of mankind has been man’s increasing ability to control famine and disease, the two things that limit population increase……This worldwide reduction in mortality took place first in the developed countries and has been matched in them by very considerable declines in the birth rate, mainly by artificial means, since the 1920’s…..
…. The cause of the present population explosion is that, since 1940, in most of the developing countries (over half the world population) two things have happened. First, death rates have been lowered. And, second, birth rates remain as high as they were when high mortality rates prevented a considerable population increase……
…..Goran Ohlin in his book Population Control and Economic Development, sums up the opinions of most experts on the question of economic growth and development when he says that excessive population growth will make futile the efforts to wipe out the growing inequality between rich and poor countries, and make any substantial improvement impossible.
So we see that rapid population growth causes very grave problems. It endangers the food supply. It slows down economic progress. And it poses other serious problems with regard to education, employment opportunities, housing, the quality of family life and the quality of human life itself.
Above edited by Gerry Danaher, who is responsible for the rest of this page. More at www.gerrydanaher.com
(Source of statistics: United Nations Secretariat, at http://esa.un.org/unpp)
This has now increased by almost one billion (1000 million) to 1,200 million, and it is expected to increase by more than another billion to about 2,400 million in 2050.
Because of this rapid population increase extreme poverty is certain and conflict almost certain, both in Uganda and in many other parts of Africa and the Middle East. (And this will happen even if all debt is forgiven and all trade is fair.) Catholic attempts to deal with rapid population increase have not been spectacular. From now on, to prevent extreme poverty, we should try to persuade all agencies working in developing countries to provide effective family planning to all who need it.
In 1950, the population in that arc of high human fertility made up of Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan (excluding Turkey) amounted to 310 million. It now stands at 1200 million, and is estimated to be over 2,400 million by 2050.
(Figures from United Nations World Population Prospects 2004 Revision)
This population increase of over two billion people in a century is in great part due to the spread of western medical expertise. It has been a great feat, and last week’s BMJ with four articles dealing with the developing world shows that we hope – now with the help of many others – to sustain the effort.
The scale of this success in saving lives can be illustrated by a few examples of population increase in the decade 1990-2000. In those ten years, Iraq increased by over 6 million to bring the number of Iraqi’s to 25 million; Afghanistan increased by 9 million to reach 24 million; Pakistan increased by 31 million taking the total to 142 million; and Nigeria increased by 27 million to total 117 million.
(In 1950, the population of these four countries was 5 million, 8 million, 37 million, and 33 million respectively. In 2050, the population of these four countries – as estimated by the UN – will become 63 million, 97 million, 304 million, and 258 million, respectively.)
In the 1950’s and 1960’s it was generally accepted that this rate of population increase, if left unchecked, would make the eradication of poverty impossible. In recent decades this insight has been almost completely lost. Nevertheless, even coming fifty years too late, family planning remains by far the most effective – and cost effective – means of relieving poverty and improving health in developing countries.
Retired NHS GP
Competing interests: None declared
Sir, In southern Africa, AIDS is a prime obstacle to the amelioration of poverty. But in western and eastern Africa, where AIDS is much less prevalent, the prospect of the doubling of populations every 30 years or less will frustrate all efforts unless it can be moderated.
United Nations projections suggest that the population of Niger will grow from about 11 million today to 53 million in 2050; that of Somalia from 9 to 40 million; that of Ethiopia from 66 to 171 million. The Congo, whose horrors have seldom been out of the news, is expected to grow from 49 to 152 million.
Much of that growth arises from the poor access to family planning knowledge and services, which is seriously underfunded and neglected. In Niger today the birthrate is equivalent to an average family of 7.5 children, in Ethiopia 6, in Uganda 7.
Many women wish to limit their families but cannot: others, as in Niger, have not even made that step and still want the numerous children whose fate we see with depressing frequency on our televisions. A small fraction of the resources promised to Africa directed to promoting awareness and the means of family limitation would greatly help to moderate the continent’s future problems, including that of Aids.
The pressure-group ideology that prevailed over science at the influential Cairo Conference on Population and Development of 1994, and subsequently, has managed to exclude population considerations almost completely from all the recent reports.
Reducing population growth will not of itself solve Africa’s problems, but without it they will become insoluble.
(Professor of Demography)
Courtesy of The Times 3rd October 2005
Pressure group ideology had effectively prevailed over science long before 1994. Rapid redoubling of populations, which caused anxiety in the 1950’s and 1960’s, was rarely mentioned as a major cause of extreme poverty from the 1970’s onwards. This triumph of ideology over science was helped perhaps by the fact that, by 1970, effective contraception was available to everyone in the developed countries so that our own prosperity was secure and the effects of rapid population increase were felt only in poor countries far away. GD.
You note (BMJ 2005;331:422 20 August) the words of the World Food Programme’s public information officer, Stephanie Savariaud: The problems of Niger are structural: 82% of the population depend on agriculture to survive, and only 15% of the land is suitable for cultivation.
Rapid redoubling of its population is another cause of Niger’s problems. Niger’s population doubled twice between 1950 and 2000, and it is likely to double twice again between 2000 and 2050. (The figures from UN World Population Prospects, the 2004 revision, are 2.6 million in 1950; 11.7 million in 2000; and an estimated 50.1 million in 2050, the high variant for 2050 being 56.4 million and the low variant 44.9 million.)
Niger – with only 15% of its land suitable for cultivation – has found it difficult to feed a population of eleven million people; it will find it more difficult to feed a population of fifty million.
The article on Niger also notes, “Some aid agencies have put the blame for the extent of the crisis on the international community”. It seems fair to point out – in the gentlest possible way – that if these agencies, which include Oxfam, had spent as much energy on providing effective family planning as they have on saving lives, eliminating extreme poverty and preventing recurrent famines, in Niger and similar countries, would no longer be the difficult problem it is now.
Retired NHS GP
My letter published in The Tablet on 11 June 05 about population and poverty in Africa was given the unfortunate headline “Aid for Africa Won’t Work”. As this was as far away from what I meant as it is possible to get I wanted to clarify the letter and I asked the editor to publish the above explanation. Well-managed aid helps a lot (e.g. If you are penniless and hungry and someone gives you a fiver or even a loaf of bread). The catch is that government-to-government aid – involving much larger sums – is very often very badly managed and often does as much harm as good. I’m not sure if the letter will be published. Population statistics upset Catholics, and lots of other people.
In 1950, according to the US Bureau of the Census, the population of Europe and Russia was 546 million and the population of Africa plus the Middle Eastern countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan was 310 million. In 2050, according to the Bureau’s estimates, the population of Europe and Russia will be 658 million, and the population of Africa and the Middle East will be 2,514 million.
(All calculations exclude Turkey. A useful approximation for Africa and the Middle East is 300 million in 1950, doubling twice to 1200 million now, and doubling again to 2,400 million by 2050.)
Population changes are slow moving, rather like global warming, but in sheer numbers this is the biggest demographic drama in human history and it seems sensible to take note of it. How the mostly prosperous and relatively elderly 658 million Europeans and Russians will interact with the mostly very poor and relatively young 2,514 million Africans and Middle Easterners I do not know, but I hope we will still be giving the very poor well managed aid. Even though this will have only a marginal effect on the population as a whole, to those who receive it, the aid will be a Godsend.
Catholics especially should continue providing this aid, not only because the gospel demands it of us; not only because one of the causes of this great poverty has been our attempts, with others, to deny to the very poor effective family planning; but also because we have the organization to make the aid effective.
Person-to-person aid, parish-to-parish aid, and even diocese-to-diocese aid is nearly always well managed, and so is the aid from many non-political NGO’s. Of course, this generous Catholic aid would have been far more effective if some of it had been used to provide family planning advice in developing countries over the last fifty years.
In the first of Isabel de Bertodano’s two informative articles (The Tablet, 4 June) we learn that Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras has been in London to lobby for more aid for Africa. Aid is a great help to development if it is well managed. But even well-managed aid – whether in Africa or in Honduras – will reduce poverty only marginally whilst the populations of Africa and Honduras continue to double every few decades.
Catholics do not like to ascribe poverty to rapid population increase and they will feel – quite rightly – that there is a lot of space in Africa and in Honduras and that, anyway, prosperity will bring a fall in fertility rates. Nevertheless, the progression 2,4,8,16,32…becomes a very big number very quickly, especially if you start in millions as in Honduras, or in tens of millions as in the countries of the Middle East, or in hundreds of millions as in Africa.
Honduras, with its wide-open spaces, has progressed roughly as follows: 1.5 million in 1950, 3 million in 1975, 6 million in 2000, and an estimated 12 million in 2050.
The comparable figures for the countries of the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan are 80 million, 160 million, 320 million, and 640 million. For Africa the figures are 200 million, 400 million, 800 million and 1,600 million.
With this rate of population increase continuing poverty is certain, whatever is done about debt, aid, and trade. We have passionate and misleading campaigns about debt, which is an extremely complex subject, and no campaigns for effective family planning without which poverty in Honduras, the Middle East, and Africa will be permanent.
Many countries in the Far East can see this. They are controlling the rate of their population growth and are becoming prosperous. I wish Catholics, Muslims in the Middle East, and Africans could see this as well. But that, unfortunately, is still a long way off.
(Population figures are approximations of the US Bureau of the Census figures. The Bureau’s estimates for 2050 are all a little higher than the 2050 approximations in the three examples above.)
Many believe that rapid population increase will not bring poverty to countries with few people per sqk. My letter in The Times elicited an e-mail along this line. Here is part of my reply.
|Population per SqK||Total Fertility Rate||GDP per capita (ppp$)|
|Somalia||13||6.84||Poverty and violence||500|
|DR Congo||26||6.54||Poverty and war||600|
|Iran||41||1.82||Prosperity on its way||7,000|
|Sierra Leone||84||5.72||Poverty (and violence)||500|
|Uganda||116||6.74||Poverty and violence||1,400|
|Nigeria||139||5.53||Poverty despite $billions from oil||800|
|Burundi||229||5.81||Poverty and violence||600|
|Rwanda||320||5.49||Poverty and violence||1,300|
|Vietnam||253||1.94||Coming out of poverty rapidly||2,500|
|Comoros||309||5.09||Poverty (Islands off Africa)||700|
|Mauritius||603||1.96||Prosperity (Island off Africa)||11,400|
|Gaza Strip||3823||5.91||Poverty despite huge aid inflows||600|
(TFR = Children born per woman)
Figures courtesy of CIA (World Fact Book 2004) – and US Bureau of the Census
Prof Young writes about my letter on the need for population control in Africa:
“After 45 years research into developing countries, centred not upon population but on land resources, I came to the same conclusion. I have published this recently in Geographical Journal (March 2005). It is summarized on my web site, www.land-resources.com select “Poverty…”, and there is a press release on www.rgs.org select Press Room.”
Here is his note to The Times:
18 November 2002
Birth control is vital
AFRICAN countries will never be able to survive the recurrent bad years of drought, flood, or other natural disasters — unless greater efforts are made to check population increase. A study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation 25 years ago forecast those countries which would be at high risk of being unable to support their populations in 2000. The list bears striking resemblance to countries with current famine emergency measures.
Better governance, land reform and agricultural improvement are of course needed, but any such advances are inevitably nullified by pressure of population. As said by the world’s scientific academies, meeting in 1993: “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.”
Professor Anthony Young (retired),
University of East Anglia
FROM DR GERALD DANAHER
Sir, Religious leaders campaigning for the cancellation of the international debt of poor countries (letter, May 16) use improvements in Tanzania and Uganda as examples of the benefits. Better government is probably a more important cause of this improvement.
Arguments about debt and aid are important, but they are relatively minor problems and deflect us from dealing with the underlying cause of poverty in Uganda and Tanzania: dramatic demographic change. For Uganda the population figures are roughly: 6 million in 1950, 12 million in 1975, 24 million in 2000, and 48 million well before 2050. For Tanzania the comparable figures are 8 million, 16 million, 32 million, and 64 million. This rate of population increase makes poverty certain.
Unfortunately, as Professor John Guillebaud pointed out when writing about his boyhood country, Rwanda (letter, March 17), population changes are so often a taboo issue. We have emotional campaigns about international debt, which may or may not be a cause of poverty in poor countries, depending on the debt/aid ratio, and no campaigns about the urgent need for effective family planning.
My own religious group (Roman Catholic) supports large numbers of medical centres across many of the poorest countries in the world, as do many of the other groups whose representatives signed the letter about debt. If effective family planning and reproductive health advice were provided at each one of these centres, extreme poverty in these countries would no longer be the certainty it is now.
In the 1950s and 1960s, in Europe and North America, it was generally acknowledged that there was a connection between population, poverty and violence.
However, for the last thirty years, ever since the peoples of Europe and North America solved their own population problem and become prosperous, there has been a taboo on mentioning population changes when discussing poverty or violence.
From my own experience in following Justice and Peace, CAFOD, CIIR, and Vocation for Justice I can see this taboo operating. But this taboo operates in non-Catholic organizations as well. When poverty and violence in the Middle East or Africa is in the news, articles and letters in British newspapers seldom if ever mention this major cause of poverty and violence. A major book on the countries of the Middle East published in the 1990s does not mention population – one of the two most important events in the Middle East in the last fifty years. The various reasons for the taboo, or for the lack of interest, will come in a future newsletter.
The taboo is almost absolute, but not quite. Here is a letter to The Times in March 2005 by a Professor whose boyhood was spent in Rwanda:
From Professor Emeritus John Guillebaud
Sir, I was born in what was then called Ruanda-Urundi. In 1941 there were around two million inhabitants. Fifty-three years later, when my boyhood friend Husi and his Belgian wife were slaughtered along with 800,000 others in the Rwanda genocide, there were nearly eight million people in that landlocked and resource-poor country. Population, poverty and violence are connected. While the GDP of Rwanda, like other African countries, had actually increased somewhat, the enormous increase in population meant that per-person share of land, their only real source of wealth, had declined dramatically.
Given also the long-term enmity between two racial groups, escalating violence was inevitable, as Belgian scientists predicted.
If the Commission for Africa truly wants to “make poverty history”, the words “sustainable development” are an oxymoron unless the so-often taboo issue of population is prioritised — wisely, compassionately and democratically, based always on women’s reproductive rights and choices.
(Emeritus Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health, University College London).
Margaret Pyke Memorial Trust,
73 Charlotte Street, W1T 4PL.
March 11. (2005)
Comment: Rapid doubling and redoubling – which has happened – and re-redoubling – which is happening – of populations, (as seen in many African and Middle Eastern countries) makes poverty certain: a certainty completely ignored by those campaigning to make poverty history. Gerry.
I’ve found the phrase to describe the attitude of CAFOD and J&P and Christian Aid, and many others to Zambia’s debt: publicising the debt repayments to creditors without mentioning the aid from creditors.
It’s in Alan Clark’s “Last Diaries”. He was Minister of Trade. An engineering firm had sold equipment to Iraq, which could be used for peaceful purposes, or for armaments. The equipment was exported for peaceful purposes, and the use for munitions was not mentioned, the firm having been given the nod by Alan Clark. The firm was in the dock. Alan Clark gave evidence and was asked about this:
AC: Well, it’s our old friend being economical, isn’t it?
BARRISTER: With the truth?
AC: With the actualité. There was nothing misleading or dishonest to make a formal or introductory comment that the Iraqis would be using the current orders for general engineering purposes. All I didn’t say was ‘and for making munitions’.
In the Zambian debt debate being economical with the actualité is “Zambia pays creditors $350,000,000 in debt servicing” without adding “and the creditors pay Zambia $500,000,000 in aid.” Or “Zambia pays more in debt repayments to creditors than on health and schooling combined” without adding “Zambia receives much more from creditors than it spends on health and schools combined.”
Large numbers of Christians either believe, with Alan Clark, that there is “nothing misleading or dishonest” in being economical with the actualité, or they don’t know all the facts. Mainly the latter, I think.
St Francis Leprosy Guild Annual Review 2004 shows photographs and gives a description of this thriving mission in the Copperbelt. It was founded in the 1960’s by Catholic business men for children of workers in the copper mines.
Since 1975 it has been run by the Franciscan Sisters of Assisi for people with leprosy. They took on the responsibility for almost a hundred families. It now has several homes and clinics, treats leprosy at Liteta Hospital, and helps leprosy patients at Chibote Rehabilitation Centre. There is a school and nursery, and nutrition centres feeding 2000 orphans, and 145 resident children of people with AIDS.
On their 300 hectares of land, they grow corn and vegetables, and they have 3000 chickens, 200 pigs, and 24 cows. The conditions are so good that it is sometimes difficult to get the relatives to leave.
Catholics provide thousands upon thousands of centres like this in poor parts of the world. They provide water, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, organisation, medical and nursing care, kindness, understanding, and much more to people in great need.
Catholics provide the drive and organisation, and sometimes, when the centre begins to grow, others come in to help. (At St Theresa’s, the British High Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome co-financed a chicken project.)
The good in Catholicism is so well camouflaged by argument, politics, campaigning, conflict, and the relentless denunciation of the faults of others, that many believe that this goodness does not exist.
I put in this small example to show that underneath the camouflage a hidden Church goes quietly on, bringing help to the very poor. And this hidden Church provides more help to the very poor than any other world-wide organisation.
This Newsletter is critical of the Church’s views on population, family planning, and politics, but it has profound admiration and gratitude for the goodness of the hidden Church, which quietly organises and provides help for those in the greatest need, not only in Zambia, but across the world.
PRESIDENT: CARDINAL OTTAVIANI
VICE-PRESIDENTS: CARDINAL DOEPFNER AND CARDINAL HEENAN
Only Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops voted.
THOSE VOTING FOR A CHANGE IN THE RULING ON CONTRACEPTION*
JULIUS DOEPFNER, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF MUNICH
JOSEPH LEFEBVRE, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES
LAWRENCE SHEHAN, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF BALTIMORE
LEO JOSEF SUENENS, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF MALINES-BRUSSELS
JOHN DEARDEN, ARCHBISHOP (LATER CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP) OF DETROIT
CLAUDE DUPUY, ARCHBISHOP OF ALBI, FRANCE
JOSE RAFAEL PULIDO-MENDEZ, BISHOP OF MERIDA, VENEZUALA
JOSEPH REUSS, AUXILIARY BISHOP OF MAINZ, GERMANY
JEAN BAPTISTE ZOA, ARCHBISHOP OF YAOUNDE, CAMEROON
JOHN CARMEL HEENAN, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER**
VALERIAN GRACIAS, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY
LEO BINZ, ARCHBISHOP OF ST PAUL, MINNESOTA
THOSE VOTING AGAINST CHANGE
CARDINAL ALFREDO OTTAVIANI, SECRETARY OF THE SACRED CONGREGATION OF
THE HOLY OFFICE
THOMAS MORRIS, BISHOP OF CASHEL, IRELAND
CARLO COLOMBO, BISHOP, THEOLOGIAN TO POPE PAUL VI
ONE MEMBER WHO DID NOT ATTEND THE LAST MEETING AND MAY NOT HAVE ATTENDED ANY MEETING
KAROL WOJTYLA, ARCHBISHOP OF KRAKOW
*Lists from ‘The Encyclical That Never Was’ by Robert Blair Kaiser. Foreword by Dr John Marshall, who was on the Commission from the beginning.
**Cardinal Heenan, according to Gerard Noel in the Catholic Herald 12Jan96, privately disagreed with Humanae Vitae “but in public was, quite rightly, scrupulously circumspect.” (The ‘quite rightly’ is Gerard Noel’s view. He may be right. I’m not sure.)
The front page of the Universe on 12 November effectively expresses Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue’s strongly held view that coalition troops should leave Iraq. More quietly you note that Louis Sako, the Archbishop of Kirkuk, in Northern Iraq, takes a different view. Arguments about this war will go on for a generation, but when the case against it is put, it seems only right to put the case for it at the same time.
The good case for the war was simple enough: to get rid of a tyrant who had terrorised and impoverished his own people, who had invaded two neighbouring countries, and who – rightly or wrongly – was believed to be ready to do it again if he could get away with it.
There was a hope that by getting rid of this tyrant prosperity and freedom from fear could be brought to Iraq. This is difficult and may prove impossible. Blame for this lies not with the coalition troops, but with terrorist groups, many of them foreign, who do not want prosperity and freedom to come to Iraq.
It is worth emphasising these good intentions of the coalition forces because, for reasons of demography, our relationship with the Islamic world is going to be Europe’s most important political problem for the rest of this century. (Roughly, leaving aside Turkey, the Muslim population from Morocco to Pakistan was 130 million in 1950, and will be about 800 million and increasing in 2050. The population of Europe plus Russia was 550 million in 1950 and will be about 650 million and decreasing in 2050.)
There is now nothing we can do to prevent the increasing influence of Islam in Europe. Despite some Middle Eastern countries having developed effective family planning schemes, populations will continue to increase rapidly in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, throughout this century. The resultant poverty and turmoil will force Muslims to emigrate in large numbers.
In the Europe of the future, peace loving Muslims and non-Muslims may be able to withstand those who seek power by terror, but it will be difficult. It will be a little less difficult, if we can help Iraq to become prosperous and free from fear.
Dervla Murphy, an eccentric Irish lady of late middle age, enjoyed cycling through the African bush. Her book, ‘The Ukimwi Road’ (1993), records conversations she had on the way. (Ukimwi – the slimming disease – is the KiSwahili name for AIDS.)
THE GRAND MOTEL AT MBEYA NEAR THE TANZANIA-MALAWI BORDER
Clean and comfortable – “in contrast to my usual lodgings it seemed Hiltonian.”
DM writes: After supper, as I wrote in my room, Max appeared in the doorway – a cheerful, good-looking young man who worked with his wife in the hotel kitchen. Without preamble he asked, ‘What medicine do you have for this ukimwi disease?
DM. There is no medicine for ukimwi. The only solution is to avoid the virus – one man, one woman, no bar-girls!
Max: That is impossible. Very impossible for my age – I am twenty-eight, young and fit, one woman cannot satisfy me. Always I must test myself with others.
DM: Then in five years you will probably be dead – certainly in ten years…….Do you test yourself with prostitutes or friends?
Max: Of course with both……but I love only my wife because she is the mother of my children.
DM: How many children?
Max: (proudly) Five and soon another.
DM: How old is your wife?
Max: Twenty-five or twenty-six – I am not sure, maybe twenty-four, she was from school when we married. My father paid very much because she is educated like me….
DM: So now you have enough children?
Max: (giggling) No, No! We must take all God sends, it is a sin to stop children coming – the Pope, our Holy Father, says this.
DM: What does the Holy Father say about men testing themselves with many women?
Max evaded my stern gaze and asked how much (my bicycle) had cost.
THE TIMES 12 OCTOBER 2004 reports that Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales of the Philippines has said that the Roman Catholic Church has not done enough to promote responsible family planning.
(Archbishop Rosales, 31st Archbishop of Manila, took over from Cardinal Sin last year. I jump at hope, perhaps too easily, but from what I have read about him he does not appear to be a liberation theology revolutionary. He is glad to quote the story of Dives and Lazarus in his pronouncements. He talks about crumbs – implying that many small acts of kindness will build a better Philippines. The gospels plus The Little Way: it’s heady stuff for me.)
|The Philippines||South Korea
and going up fast
Over the last few days we have had an American staying in B&B. A John Kerry supporter. He says the Bush camp – the American right – complain, “Kerry is not being Catholic enough.” (i.e. Not strong enough on divorce, abortion, homosexuality, stem cell research etc.) This is a major change from Kennedy’s days when the anxiety was that he was controlled by the Vatican.
We now have three major influential groups which have hesitations about family planning – not just Catholics and Muslims, but the American Right, who have got religion in a big way and in huge numbers. The catch is that this last group have the cash and they are withdrawing it from family planning schemes across the world. They do not want the cash to be used for abortion, but inevitably it will affect the availability of contraception. The outlook for the world gets gloomier. We will soon be the only species left on the planet at this rate of knots.
But there is good news about Zambia. The American left behind a World Report on Zambia. It is amazingly upbeat. I’ll try to get copies and send them on.
In your summer issue, Jenny Humphries, World Mission Advisor to the Diocese of Bath and Wells, asks if my opinion about the help given to Zambia by the IMF is changed by the recent World Development Report: “Zambia: Condemned to Debt – How the IMF and World Bank have undermined development.” The brief answer is, “Not much.”
The report is sixty-eight pages long so this is a compressed reply. The report attempts to show that Zambia’s poverty is due to interference by the IMF and World Bank. Considering that the IMF and World Bank, with others, provide 35% – 43% of Zambia’s budget, it seems odd to me that they should be accused of increasing Zambia’s poverty and undermining Zambia’s development.
One example given is the loss of Zambia’s textile industry due to the removal of tariffs allowing in cheap imports. The same loss occurred in the UK many years ago. A tragedy for textile workers, and more of a tragedy in Zambia than in Britain, but most people in Britain and in Zambia prefer the cheap imports.
A second example is the harm done to farming by the removal of subsides for fertilisers. Maybe so, but Xinhua, the Chinese News Agency, reports that in the 2002/2003 season Zambia had a bumper crop of 1.2 million tons of maize, and Zambia was able to export maize to DRC, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Angola. According to the Zambian Agriculture Minister, the 2004 season is likely to be just as good.
Then, it is implied that poverty caused by IMF policies contributes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We read, “It is no coincidence that the HIV crisis has gone hand in hand with the debt crisis.” This, despite numerous investigations showing professional classes being more prone to HIV/AIDS than the poor, and Botswana, far wealthier per capita than Zambia, having a worse HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Finally, using the pamphlet’s figures for Real GDP, we see that between 1960 and 2000 national Real GDP has gone up 2.25 times. But population has gone up 3 times. This huge population change, a major cause of poverty, is hardly mentioned in the pamphlet.
When it is not misleading, there is much to be said for the debt campaign. The IMF and World Bank, and Gordon Brown, the Chair of the IMF Finance Committee, all applaud it. They are just as keen as campaigners to cancel “unrepayable debt”, but being more knowledgeable they see the difficulties. It is a complex problem and best left to these experts.
Amongst many things Zambia needs lots and lots of well-managed cash. Whilst the IMF experts try their best to provide the government with cash in hundred of millions of dollars, individuals can help by joining the Zambia Society Trust, which sees to it that our tens of pounds are well spent in helping the needy in Zambia.
Almost everyone believes that “unrepayable debt” should be forgiven. I understand that the Japanese and the Germans governments, both generous suppliers of aid, believe that cancellation may do more harm than good, but others believe that careful cancellation is best. These latter include:
Those in favour of blanket debt forgiveness include a huge number of campaigning organizations, which may be called the “liberal left” or “International Left”. Their failure to point out the dangers of blanket forgiveness, or to mention the figure for aid, seriously damages their argument.
|All Africa and
Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
|Europe and Russia|
|1950||300 million||546 million|
|1975||600 million||674 million|
|2000||1,200 million||729 million|
|2050||2,400 million||658 million|
These are the rough figures for Africa, together with the Islamic countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, excluding Turkey, and for Europe including Russia, but excluding Turkey.
|All Africa and
Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
|Europe and Russia|
|1950||300 million||546 million|
|1975||600 million||674 million|
|2000||1,200 million||729 million|
|2050||2,400 million||658 million|
After 2050, the population of Europe (bar immigration) will probably be going down.
After 2050, the population of Africa and the Islamic countries (bar a cataclysm) will be going up fast.
AFRICA AND THESE ISLAMIC COUNTRIES ARE IN THE GRIP OF A HUGE POPULATION EXPLOSION, WHICH HAS CAUSED AND IS CAUSING AND WILL CAUSE GREAT POVERTY.
Population statistics are approximations of figures given by US Bureau of the Census.
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of the countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan is:
83 million in 1950, 328 million in 2000, and 722 million in 2050
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of Africa is:
227 million in 1950, 804 million in 2000, and 1,792 million in 2050
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of Africa plus Saudi Arabia to Pakistan is:
310 million in 1950, 1,132 million in 2000, and 2,514 million in 2050
Any comment on these figures, and especially any correction, will be gratefully received.
These are the rough figures for Africa, for the Islamic countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, excluding Turkey, and for Europe, excluding Turkey.
|All Africa||Saudi Arabia to Pakistan||All Africa and
Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
|Europe and Russia|
|1950||200 million||80 million||300 million||546 million|
|1975||400 million||160 million||600 million||674 million|
|2000||800 million||320 million||1,200 million||729 million|
|2050||1,600 million||640 million||2,400 million||658 million|
After 2050, the population of Europe (bar immigration) will probably be going down.
After 2050, the population of the Islamic countries and Africa (bar a cataclysm) will be going up fast.
THESE ISLAMIC COUNTRIES AND AFRICA ARE IN THE GRIP OF A HUGE POPULATION EXPLOSION, WHICH HAS CAUSED AND IS CAUSING AND WILL CAUSE GREAT POVERTY.
Population statistics are approximations of figures given by US Bureau of the Census.
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of the countries from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan is:
83 million in 1950, 328 million in 2000, and 722 million in 2050
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of Africa is:
227 million in 1950, 804 million in 2000, and 1,792 million in 2050
The Bureau’s estimation of the population of Africa plus Saudi Arabia to Pakistan is:
310 million in 1950, 1,132 million in 2000, and 2,514 million in 2050
Any comment on these figures, and especially any correction, will be gratefully received.
“The spark that distinguished Zimbabwe from the rest of Africa has gone.”
John Mufakare, the director of the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe
* Zimbabwe, as Southern Rhodesia, was, of course, independent for many years before this, but under Ian Smith, instead of under Robert Mugabe. Not everyone believes that the change has been for the better. GD
** Can this last figure possibly be true? This is much more than the population of Liverpool. Where in the UK are all these Zimbabweans? GD
I will attach the full article: two sides of A4. It’s worth a read, if only for the approach of the authorities in Botswana to illegal immigrants. It is far simpler than the much-criticised approach of the UK government.
Almost full here until the end of August, then a week in St David’s.
A life-size statue of David Livingstone, sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick in the 1930’s, stands on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls.
Siloka Mukuni, chief of the Leya people, who live around Livingstone, believes that the statue was taken from Zambia, and he would like it back. The recovered statue would be placed in the centre of the town in time for next year’s 100th anniversary of the founding of the town of Livingstone, and the 150th anniversary of David Livingstone first seeing the falls; viewing it in 1855 from the Zambian side.
Chief Mukuni says, “The Zambians have a great deal of affection for Livingstone’s memory…we have changed a great many of our colonial place names since independence, but we have kept the name of Livingstone.”
The tourist trade is said to be booming in Livingstone with many more people coming to the new hotels, which have been built there. On the other hand, hotel occupancy in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe has fallen from 70% to below 30% in recent years.
(The history of the statue is not entirely clear. There are those who say that there were two statues, and that the Zambian one just got lost. The Foreign Office in London has been asked to help get to the bottom of the mystery.)
The above courtesy of last week’s Sunday Telegraph.
Foreign aid accounts for 38% of Malawi’s annual budget. (The Times, 23 July 2004)
Foreign aid accounts for 43% of Zambia’s annual budget. (The Economist)
Foreign aid mainly comes from wealthy capitalist countries and their institutions.
Some of the aid comes as grants and some in highly concessional loans (say, 1% or 2% interest, repayable over 30 to 40 years: in reality probably never repaid). Some of it is used for debt servicing. We should give much more, but we are giving quite a lot.
By the selective reporting of some of these facts the anti-capitalist International Left has persuaded many – including some Catholic organizations – that extreme poverty in Africa is due to rich, greedy, uncaring capitalists taking money from starving Africans.
This is a formidable feat of propaganda and misinformation.
Maggie Currey, Editor of Spotlight, has been to see Hilary Benn. Liked him a lot. Her interview was in the recent Spotlight. Hilary Benn’s views on Zambia are pretty close to mine.
The Newsletter view is that Zambia needs:
Hilary Benn seems to believe the same. In the interview it comes out as:
It has been borne in on me that a news, comment, and opinion letter taking up both sides of an A4 page is more than modern man (or woman) can cope with. I have known this for decades, but the advice of a friend, who has had several double-sided newsletters from me, has made me determined to act on the advice.
My difficulty is due to seeing the objections to my opinion, and wanting to answer the objection before it comes. And then to answer the objection to the answer. For instance:
Opinion: Abolishing Zambia’s debt is worthwhile, but it is unlikely to improve the lot of the poor in Zambia, as aid already covers the debt servicing.
Objection: But Uganda has been much improved since some debt relief was given.
Answer: Uganda is improved because its government has improved. Good government brings more aid and more debt relief, and this improves life even more.
And so on ad infinitum…
I will find keeping it short difficult, but I am determined to do my best. You should receive a note every week for next few weeks.
“Population problems are of extreme importance….they have a vital bearing on world peace”.
Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) writing to the Twenty-sixth Italian Catholic Social Week in 1953
I first became interested in population when a really good priest, Fr Arthur McCormack, wrote a book in 1960, or there about, criticising the 1948 book by William Vogt, who thought that the coming “population explosion” in the developing world should be dealt with by persuading the developing country to accept birth control. Vogt’s plea that birth control should accompany death control went unheeded, and in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East we see the effects of this population explosion: dire poverty and angry frustration. In 1960, Fr McCormack did not see the need for birth control, but changed his mind when he realised that rapid population increase would cause extreme poverty. Unfortunately, in the 1960’s, he was not able to persuade his friend, Pope Paul VI, who had had second thoughts about the dangers of over-population.
The Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth in 1964-1966,included those who voiced similar anxieties. In “The Encyclical That Never Was” we read:
“Most demographers on the Commission were alarmed by predictions that world population would double by the year 2000, an outcome that would have an effect on world hunger and, therefore on world peace.”
(The prediction was not far short of the mark, on hunger, peace, or population. World pop. Mid-1960’s 3.4bn. 2000 6.0bn.)
Then came 1968, the year of disaster for the Church and the very poor, with Humanae Vitae, the opening to Marxism, and the launch of liberation theology. From now on extreme poverty was to be blamed on capitalism, the world economic system and “the west”, and population increase was to be ignored.
Here is the reaction of 2600 US scientists to Humanae Vitae: In an open letter they wrote: “the appeals for world peace and pity for the poor made by a man whose action helps to promote war and render poverty inevitable do not impress us any more.”
Here is what historians thought when reviewing the twentieth century: Eric Hobsbawm in the Age of Extremes The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 p 346 writes, “It is important to begin any account of the Third World with some consideration of its demography, since the population explosion is the central fact of its existence.” J.A.S. Grenville in The Collins History of the World in the Twentieth Century p927 writes, “Population control, by means other than mass famine and disease, was the most urgent need of the Third World.”
This “most urgent need of the Third World” does not interest the Catholic Hierarchy, or CAFOD, or Justice and Peace Groups (bar one, perhaps), or CIIR, or any of the other Catholic organizations dealing with the Church’s response to extreme poverty. There is little to be done, but future generations of Catholics will wonder how we could complain unceasingly about the economic opinions and activities of others, when our demographic opinions and activities have been, and still are, a major cause of extreme poverty.
Some groups who think that population control is the most important way of taking countries out of poverty:
Groups tending to be dismissive of population as a cause of poverty:
And pretty well no one else.
I believe I understand why these three groups are dismissive of rapid population redoubling as a cause of poverty, but any views would be gratefully received.
LEON-JOSEPH SUENENS (1904-1996) was one of the most influential Cardinals present at Vatican II. He called for the church to re-examine its condemnation of contraception and at the Council he warned that the church must “not have another Galileo case.” If his views had prevailed the Church and the very poor would have been saved a lot of trouble.
Thirty years ago, he came to explain Vatican II to us in London. The large hall was full. For 30 minutes, we heard about the theological developments. Then questions. One had an electric effect. I forget the words, but it was about the great divide between the rich and very poor. The packed audience fell completely silent. A pause, then: “That is a mortal sin.” As this emotional language registered – and this subject is dealt with in very emotional language in the gospels – the profound silence become expectant. Then: “But, I’m not an economist, I don’t know what to do about it.”
At the time, the disappointment in the audience was intense or, at least, it seemed so to me. Nowadays I can see the value of his attitude. When religious people with little or no economic expertise “speak out” about international finance, misleading a generation of Catholics in the process, then the good sense of “I’m not an economist, I don’t know what to do about it” becomes evident to me. It may not do much good, but it doesn’t do any harm.
ALBINO LUCIANI, (1912-1978) Pope John Paul I (the 33 days Pope) at the 1971 Synod, when he was Patriarch of Venice, proposed that the rich churches of the West should systematically give one per cent of their income to the poorer churches of the third world. This never caught on. Giving away someone else’s money – as in the debt campaign – is much more popular and this approach has won the day: money flows from government to government and often enough does as much harm as good. The one per cent from parish to parish would have been much better. (One per cent is about ten times too little, but the then Patriarch of Venice knew a lot about human nature.)
All in all, it is a consolation for me to find a Pope and a Cardinal expressing the views of the Zambia Group Newsletter all those many years ago: views which, in part at least, have already been put into action by the Nottingham Diocese’s connection with Zambia.
I’ve been reading “The Year of Three Popes” by Peter Hebblethwaite. Well worth a read. I was surprised to find that Peter Hebblethwaite was 5 years younger than me. He was a great admirer of Karl Rahner. When he introduced Fr Rahner at a meeting his admiration shone through. After that, I tried to read Fr Rahner’s books, but they were beyond me.
Just over 30 years ago I met him – Peter Hebblethwaite – a few times when he came to give talks at Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, and at Westminster Cathedral. He it was who, at the bar in the club in Wimbledon, having heard much of what you all have heard so many times from me, namely that the Church should take the plight of the extremely poor more seriously, gave me a long searching look (an occasional hazard for me in my search for “what went wrong at” at Vatican II) and started to write with a ballpoint pen on a serviette. The word he wrote was “deus”. “Turn that upside down and see what it says,” he said. To save you the trouble of swivelling the page, it says, “snap”.
I put this in because it has often come into my mind when I see that in Southern Africa AIDS has started to overtake rapid population increase as a major cause of poverty in southern Africa. It may – if life expectancy drops below 30 years – remove population increase from the list of the three main causes of poverty in southern Africa altogether, at least for a time. Relentless doubling of population remains the main underlying cause of poverty in the Third World, but in southern Africa it has fallen to second place or lower.
This note in The Times was in response to an article by Matthew Parris in the Times describing the likely despair amongst Arabs following the war. Two respondents thought that I meant that Palestinians were in the wrong and that they should emigrate. This was far from my point, so I have added the explanations below.
The original note
The Times (London)
26th March 2003
War, or no war, Israel, or no Israel, rapid and continuing redoubling of populations in the Middle East makes poverty inevitable. Despair follows, and emigration is the only hope. Palestinians, for instance, have almost the highest birth rate in the world and almost the lowest death rate. Consequently, their population increase is rapid and unmanageable, bringing poverty and despair. Israel is an important factor in these troubles, but rapid population increase is important too. Curiously, it is almost never mentioned in debates.
War, or no war, (Even if there had been no war in Iraq) Israel, or no Israel, (and even if Israel did not exist) rapid and continuing redoubling of populations in the Middle East (in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq – and Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, for that matter) makes poverty (in these countries) inevitable. Despair follows, and emigration is the only hope.
Palestinians, for instance, have almost the highest birth rate in the world and almost the lowest death rate. Consequently, their population increase is rapid and unmanageable, bringing poverty and despair. Israel is an important factor in these troubles, but rapid population increase is important too. Curiously, it is almost never mentioned in debates.
A fuller letter
Even if there had been no war in Iraq, and even if Israel did not exist, rapid and continuing redoubling of populations in the Middle East (that is to say, in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq – and in non-Arab Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, for that matter) makes poverty in these countries inevitable. Not just likely, but certain. Despair and frustration follow, and emigration is the only hope.
Palestinians, for instance, have almost the highest birth rate in the world and almost the lowest death rate. The consequent rapid population increase is unmanageable, bringing poverty, despair and frustration. Israel is an important factor in these troubles, but rapid population increase is important too. Curiously, it is almost never mentioned in debates.
No praise is too great for the efforts by large numbers of people to ease the episodes of famine, or prolonged hunger, which from time to time afflict the peoples living in the Horn of Africa. Suffering is relieved by these repeated efforts and, in religious terms, this active care for the hungry may be all that matters. Catholics are particularly good at helping in this way, both by their presence on the ground, and by their financial support.
Nevertheless, in worldly terms, there is much to be said for the often-disregarded idea: “Prevention is better than cure”. One of the two major causes of famine is particularly open to prevention. This cause is the relentless and unprecedented population increase in the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately, so far, little has been done about this.
Over the last sixty years or more, right across the Third World, including the Horn of Africa, death rates have “dropped like a stone” to quote the historian, Eric Hobsbawm. Birth rates have gone down much less, and in the Horn of Africa, very little. In consequence, the population has increased rapidly. If death rates fall, and birth rates remain high, and if large scale emigration is impossible, then famine, or war, or disease is certain. Not probable, but certain. In the Horn of Africa these tragedies will continue to happen until an effective attempt to stabilize the population is put in place.
In 1950, the population of four countries in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti) was about 24 million. It is now 75 million. By 2050, bar AIDS, or some other epidemic, being worse than anticipated, it will be over 150 million, and going up fast. (Statistics from US Bureau of the Census.)
The few people interested enough to consider this situation divide into three groups: the Catholics who believe that the population will stabilise if living standards are improved; the feminists who believe the empowerment of women will do the trick; and the family planners who believe that modern methods of family planning are needed. At conferences to discuss this problem the first two tend to be more organized and seem to win the day.
The view of the Third World Group is that all three methods are needed, and needed now, and that it is wrong for Catholics to criticise or obstruct the efforts of family planners when they attempt to provide the poor in the Horn of Africa with the various methods of family limitation used by devoted Catholics in Europe.
(Any correction of fact will be most gratefully received.)
I was intrigued by the relaxed way in which Dwight Longenecker seemed to be accepting the possible takeover of Europe by Islam, consoling us with the knowledge that in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the number of Christians will rise at a great rate (The Universe, February 2).
Islam is a religion of peace. Nevertheless, if it takes over Europe, it is fair to say there will be a good deal of turmoil. May I give you a few figures about the Middle East?
In 1950, the Islamic countries stretching from Syria and Egypt to Pakistan had a population of about 108 million, much the same as the combined population of Germany and France at that time. At present, this Islamic population stands at 400 million, which is roughly the present population of Western Europe as a whole.
In 2050, these Islamic countries will have a population of 800 million, larger than the combined populations of Europe and all Russia. (I exclude Turkey because classification is uncertain.)
This uncontrolled population explosion in the Middle East means that most of these nations can never be prosperous, and many of their inhabitants will realise that emigration is their only hope. This movement of peoples in search of prosperity will soon be a major concern to Europeans.
In 1953, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), writing to the twenty-sixth Catholic Social Week, put it like this: “Population problems are of extreme importance – they have a vital bearing on world peace”. How right he was!
In 1848, Europe was swept by many revolutions. Marx attributed the revolution to capitalism. AJP Taylor, on page 24, after noting that two countries, Great Britain and Belgium, in which industrialisation were most advanced, escaped serious revolutionary disturbance, puts forward another idea. See over:
The fundamental cause of the 1848 revolutions was the increase in population, which had become general since the beginning of the century. Historians do not agree why this increase took place. Perhaps it was due to improved medical services; perhaps to cultivation of the humdrum potato. At any rate, the inhabitants of the countryside crowded into the towns, and there found few factories to employ them. Revolution occurred in almost every European city with more that 50,000 inhabitants. The occasion for the revolutions was hunger: failure of the potato crop in 1846 and subsequent years, failure of the wheat harvest in 1847. Soup kitchens were the prelude to revolution. The revolutionaries might talk about socialism. Those who actually revolted wanted “the right to work” – more capitalism, not its abolition.
From: “Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – the Communist Manifesto”
With an introduction by AJP Taylor
(The Irish famine was due to the same causes: potato blight in a country with the fastest population rise in Europe, from 4 million to 8 million in 50 years. This is only half the speed of increase seen in developing countries since 1950, but bad enough – coupled with the potato blight – to cause a catastrophe. GD)
Friends who ride to hounds noticed in a recent Horse and Hounds magazine an article on the Glaisdale Hunt. Whenever I’ve seen this hunt it always appears to be completely lost, and I note that the huntsman puts as their main challenge the difficulties of finding a fox. I don’t think there are any in the area. The magazine also contained an article on the Cheshire Hunt. The Cheshire is a most interesting hunt to me because of one of its old, now long dead members, Friedrich Engels.
Engels was the Manchester industrialist who – as the Americans would say – bankrolled Karl Marx. Between them, they wrote the Communist Manifesto, the “bible” of communists the world over, no doubt influencing KK in his non-capitalism, and, through liberation theology, a major influence on Catholicism. Engels’ factories were successful and profitable and he retired prosperously at fifty. He used to hunt twice a week with the Cheshire and he saw off any criticism by contending that this was valuable training for a future general of revolutionary armies.
(He lived with an Irish factory girl called Mary Burns. The only time he nearly fell out with Marx was when Mary died. Marx didn’t realise how much Mary meant to Engels, and did not commiserate with him. Engels was very upset by this. Anyway, when Engels took up with Mary’s sister, Lizzie, Marx always asked after her in his letters. No doubt Mary and Lizzie were two good Catholic girls, but life could be tough in those days. In the end, Lizzie married Friedrich.)
It is from the thoughts of this successful industrialist and rider to hounds and his friend, Karl Marx, that we have the Communist Manifesto, the inspiration for ruthless dictatorships in Russia, China, Vietnam and elsewhere, resulting in huge man-made famines – in Russia in the 1930’s, in China in the 1960’s – the greatest man-made famine in history with 40 million dead, and in North Korea today. Through liberation theology these ideas have put a brake on prosperity in Latin America and Africa, and they underpinned the kind-hearted “Marxist humanism” of KK, which brought destitution to Zambia. The ideas remain very popular all over the world with many of those protesting, marching, and campaigning for peace and the poor.
Earlier this year I found myself saying to a retired Professor of Arithmetic, “You know how 1,2,4,8 becomes a very big number, very quickly, especially if you start in millions?” I could tell by his body language that he already knew this fact and had known it for some time. (As my reward, he kindly explained Fermat’s Last Theorem to me in two minutes flat.)
It is this dramatic increase that enables a tiny cell to develop into a young foal or calf galloping around a field within a year, or makes the tiny emission of energy released when an atom is “split” into a world changing bomb in a few seconds. One, two, four, eight is important in demography as well. Here are two examples:
In Zambia, this started in 1900 when the population was 1 million. Three doublings brought it to 8 millions around 1990. A fourth doubling would have brought it to 16 millions in 2015, but AIDS supervened. Without AIDS it would probably have reached 32 millions by 2050. The only people to suffer from this repeated doubling are Zambians.
In the countries around the Middle East, this started (for those who of us who need to keep our arithmetic simple) in 1950. At that time the population of the Islamic countries from Syria and Egypt to Pakistan was just over 100 million, a little less than the population of Germany and France. There have been two doubling since then and the population is now 400 million, rather more than the population of Western Europe. By 2050 a third doubling will have occurred bringing the population to 800 million, substantially greater than the population of all Europe plus all Russia. Because of this huge increase, deprivations of all sorts are inevitable and this will affect not only these countries, but the rest of us as well.
Islam is a religion of peace but – human nature being what it is – when a mainly young population of 800 million people live in poverty, short of good food, water, housing and medical care, and over the border they see a large land mass with a smaller population of rather elderly people loaded with fertile land, plenty of water, good housing, and luxuries of every type, Islamic teaching may not have enough influence to prevent them coming across to share these good things, even though this may endanger peace.
Few people connect these demographic changes with the poverty and frustration we see in the areas involved. Over the next few days I will send two failed attempts to interest people in demography, one dealing with Africa the other with the Middle East.
In 1970, I was helping out in a practice in Wimbledon where the assistant was a young Indian woman doctor from Calcutta. This Indian doctor was a friend of the then Archbishop of Calcutta – I think he had a name like Petachy. The Archbishop had come to visit the doctor in south London. Thinking of my heroine at the time, I said, “Does he look after Mother Teresa?” Turning to me with a engaging smile, she replied, “Oh no; she looks after him.” I put this in just to show that it’s easy to get things wrong.
This doctor had lived in Calcutta in the 1950s and 1960s, when the very poor lay, just like Lazarus, almost directly outside the church door. I’d always been puzzled by the fact that in the many hundreds of sermons I had heard, all of them to congregations made up of the rich or very rich, I’d never had the feeling that the congregation was being told that their moral situation was poor, about as poor as a moral situation could be, and that there were troubles ahead if they did not watch out.
I thought this was partly due to the fact that in England the really poor are several thousand miles away. However, this young Indian doctor told me that the situation as regards sermons was just the same in Calcutta as in England, even though the very poor were almost at the door of the church where the well-to-do went to Mass. I asked why this was and she indicated that she thought that if the teaching were put across as in the gospels, there would be no congregation left. I suspect the same applies to England. Sermons are not much good if there is no congregation.
It was probably much the same in our Lord’s time, and that when he talked about the rich/poor divide, using the vivid and emotional language which we all know, his audience would be nearly always made up of the very poor.
Indeed, when the listeners were not all poor – for instance, when the story of the camel and the needles eye came up – the disciples were shaken, and remonstrated, and managed to get the outlook for the rich modified by the remark, “with God all things are possible”.
Many years ago I had a nice letter from an abbess – I think the only letter I have ever had from an abbess. She had read a letter of mine that indicated, perhaps too colourfully, that I was puzzle by the lack of interest of some bishops in the rich/poor divide. In a very winning way she gave me a most useful tip, which went something like this: “Judge not and you will not be judged.”
I’ve often thought to hand on this useful bit of information to the Justice and Peace Commission, or to the readers of Vocation for Justice, to re-enforce the story of the mote and beam, and the story of the tax collectors and sinners, but I’ve always thought it would do more harm than good.
And that is the catch with all these quotations given directly. No one takes any notice of them. If we all clubbed together to provide every theologian with a plaque for his or her desk inscribed with that heartfelt sentence: “I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to mere babes” would it have any effect? I doubt it.
And for moral theologians going on and on about contraception “You put on the backs of the poor burdens too heavy to bear.” They will feel that this does not apply.
And for those theologians who think the pill is a grave moral problem, whilst having untroubled consciences about living like Dives, whilst Lazarus and his millions of brethren lie outside the gate: “You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” Now, now, they will say, “a pill that prevents ovulation is not a gnat, it’s a grave moral problem. Why it is we do not know, but it is”.
This has hardly touched the series of misfortunes that theologians have brought upon the Church, and the poor, and more especially God’s own beloved people the Jews, but keeping the abbess in mind I’d better say this about theologians: they have done more good than harm, we can’t do without them, we’d love to meet them more often, but as Mr Churchill said about scientists: “We want them on tap and not on top”.
In the 1950s it was possible to believe that the Church would be a major contributor to solving the great rich/poverty divide with the Church’s deep roots both in the rich northern world and in the poor southern world. Practical help from many missionaries supported by individual contributions from individuals has in fact done a very great deal, so that in Zambia, for instance, a knowledgeable non-catholic doctor 30 years in Zambia could say, “without the Church the country would collapse – the medical side of it anyway”.
Unfortunately, this great good has been nullified, or worse than nullified, by the theories of theologians derived from who knows where, probably the Greeks and Karl Marx, certainly not the gospels, so that non-Catholics have come to believe that far from helping the poor the Church is always an obstructive force – obstructing any attempt to control population, and putting the blame for poverty onto an economic system which – in the Far East, at least – has improved the lot of the poor more rapidly than any other system in history.
Again, Zambia, in its first 30 years of independence, is a good example. Zambia did what the theologians believed in – it did not bother with population, and it avoided capitalism. Now, despite borrowing huge amounts of money to keep going, it has become so deeply poverty stricken that generations will pass before it is back on its feet.
Are theologians and their followers impressed by all this? Not in the least. But when historians review this drama, some theologian – they are not all hopeless – will produce a book which will give less prominence to the teachings of the Greeks and the Marxists, and more to the teaching we can read about in the works of St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and, with a few reservations, St John.
The whole article entitled “Zambian Women Religious Take to the Highways and Byways” should be read. This is a short extract.
Today: For so many people around us life has become a daily struggle to survive. At the end of the day their bodies are filled with pain, they are upset and troubled. One of the reasons for this misery is the unacceptable burden of international debt carried by Zambia – a debt we have already paid back many times over. With nearly 8 million of our people unable to meet their basic needs, this debt of about $750 for every woman, man and child is a burden too heavy to carry. Should we starve our children to pay our debts?
Newsletter view. This type of comment on debt is to be found in numerous publications. At the time of the first Zambia Group Newsletter, CAFOD produced an even more slanted, unfair, and misleading account of debt in Zambia. I find this upsetting. Does anyone else?
Over the page is the Financial Times report on what creditors are up to. It’s different from the Catholic view and I suspect much nearer the truth and much less misleading. Why the two sides do not get together and publish an agreed statement on the ins and outs of Zambia’s finance, I do not know. If anyone can explain why this is not done I’d be glad to hear.
There seem to me to be at least three reasons why the input from creditors should always be noted at the same time as the output. Firstly, it would be more truthful. Secondly, it would give some hope that help was at hand. Thirdly, the real causes of Zambia’s poverty could be addressed.
Zambia to get $1.3 billion under Paris Club arrangement July 12, 2002
Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) – Creditor nations and multi-lateral institutions have agreed to disburse a total of 1.3 billion US dollars to Zambia over two years for development projects and balance of payments support.
Creditor nations and multi-lateral institutions made the pledge at the end of three days of discussions in Zambia’s southern city of Livingstone among representatives of the G8, the World Bank, the European Union and the IMF under the Paris Club arrangement.
The US promised to give Zambia a total of 44,652,000 dollars to help the country successfully continue the transition from autocracy to a multi-party society.
Allan Reed, mission director for USAID in Zambia, said his the US government will continue to support efforts that will broaden people’s participation in political life and economic growth through enhanced food security and improved health care and education programmes.
Reed explained that the grant will include 7,910,000 dollars for economic growth activities among rural producer groups, while 4,700,000 dollars will go to basic education, and 30,830,000 is earmarked for integrated health activities in support of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. A sum of 1,212,000 dollars is specifically reserved for support of democratic governance, Reed said.
Zambia is also expected to benefit 300,000 dollars through the centre for disease control and prevention from the US government, while 10,109,454 dollars is given Lusaka for emergency food relief to mitigate the current food crisis in the country, Reed added.
EU members agree to contribute 351 million euros through the Cotonou agreement for programmes and projects outlined under Zambia’s Poverty Reduction and Strategy Paper already adopted by the IMF and World Bank.
The initial allocation of 240 million euros will cover macro- economic programmes, including balance of payments support. About 111 million euros will go towards projects of focal and non-focal nature as well as emergency needs that will include effects of drought and flooding, the EU agreed at the meeting. About 90 million euro of the pledged amount will go towards interventions in the transport sector over the next five years.
Speaking at the end of the talks between government and its creditors, World Bank country director for Zambia and Zimbabwe, Yaw Ansu said cooperating partners were very happy to support government adding that the support is conditional to the fact that government maintains its fight against corruption and strives to achieve good governance.
Part of report courtesy of Financial Times. Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved. Financial Times Information Limited – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire.
Food not the only problem
WHEN visiting a hospital in northern Malawi full of malnourished patients for my husband’s voluntary surgical work, we went to the nearby Roman Catholic seminary for a frugal lunch of maize porridge, dried fish and beans. The appropriate words of grace were: “Lord, as we enjoy this food let us be mindful of the thousands of families around us who will not eat a meal today.” We had already seen the illnesses of adults and children who were reduced to daily foraging for grass, leaves, and roots in this overcrowded country. As the land is thus stripped, so famine will become permanent.
During my 25 years in Malawi I have long since become disillusioned with the United Nations agencies. Their vast funds are largely blown on continual international conferences and on local “workshops” in luxury hotels which fatten both UN staff and African bureaucrats with wine, dinner and per diem payments. To whom are UN agencies answerable for their operations at taxpayers’ expense? Sadly, this Rome Food and Agriculture Organisation conference is unlikely to discuss the real cause of the famine in Malawi — namely the high birthrate of seven children per woman.
A policy of only one wife and only two children will certainly have to be achieved to avoid more famines.
4 July 2005 (Note taken from The Times by GD):
THE TIMES today notes that 40% to 70% of funding never gets to the poor, it goes to consultants and others. Last May the World Bank admitted that consultants were taking $20 billion from global aid budgets – 40% of the total amount given by the industrial world for overseas development. “In 1989, Graham Hancock, a British author, termed these beneficiaries the ‘lords of poverty’. Since then”, he told The Times, “matters had got ‘much, much worse.’”
AIDS in Southern Africa.
Edited version of a long article on AIDS in Botswana,
Mozambique and South Africa in The Economist
BOTSWANA IS AT WAR WITH AIDS
May 9th 2002
From The Economist print edition
In Botswana, the prime minister himself, Festus Mogae, presides over every meeting of the National AIDS Council and expects all other members to be in attendance without fail. Every minister starts every speech with a message about AIDS. A National AIDS Co-ordinating Agency mobilises activity on all fronts. Posters proclaim the virtues of condoms or, better, abstinence. A radio drama in the local language, Setswana, spreads information about the affliction. And so on. The aim is an AIDS-free generation by 2016 and meanwhile, says Mrs Phumaphi, “we will fight the virus with a passion that is relentless.”
The commitment is admirable, and it has already paid off, in at least one sense. Botswana has been chosen as a partner by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Merck Company Foundation in what is said to be the biggest public-private partnership in the world; the two foundations are each contributing $50m over five years and Merck is also donating anti-retroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV-infected patients. The American government’s Centres for Disease Control have sent four professionals to help fight the epidemic. Harvard University is providing assistance with the government’s HIV reference laboratory, and other universities and hospitals in Europe and the United States have also pitched in.
What draws these foreign partners to Botswana? They like the strength of the political leadership, they say. They also consider Botswana to be politically stable—it is a multi-party democracy with no history of coups, military rule or war—and it is notably uncorrupt. Oh, yes, one other reason: it has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.
Why has such an exemplary country as Botswana come to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the world?
Such paradoxes seem to beset every aspect of the AIDS pandemic in southern Africa. Why should such an exemplary country have an adult prevalence rate of 38.5%? One answer, apparently, lies in the pattern of life in Botswana, where many people have three or four homes—in a town, in a village, at their cattle post and at their farming lands. With handsome revenues from mining, the government has built good roads, which the Batswana use to travel between their holdings, spreading the deadly HI virus as they go.
Michael Soko, UNDP assistant resident representative in Zambia held a seminar on “Some reflections on Human Development” at Nkhruma Teachers’ Training College on 9 March 2001 in Kabwe.
Malaysia and Zambia were approximately at the same level of development 35 years ago but now they differ considerably. Here are some socio-economic indicators for 1999:
|Country||Under 5 mortality||Life expectancy||Below poverty line||GNP US$||Annual growth||Inflation|
|Malaysia||0.9%||72 years||4% of population||3400||4.2%||5%|
|Zambia||20.2%||37 years||73% of population||320||-0.9%||64%|
Cf. UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2001
Why is nowadays Malaysia much more developed and still developing much faster than Zambia?
Why do we go on telling the whole world that we are poor and need some more money?
The problem is not that we lack talent, knowledge, natural resources or money. The problem is with our mind-set.
*JCTR is the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia. The above was published in their Bulletin No.48, Second Quarter 2001
27 June 2002
There has been no comment on this interesting comparison in JCTR bulletins since it was published. The low life expectancy rate in Zambia is mainly due to AIDS. Without AIDS Zambia’s life expectancy would be over 60 years.
In June 2005, the BBC compared Malaysia with Ghana. According to the BBC, when they became independent in 1957 they were about equal in wealth. Now the difference is quite dramatic – Kuala Lumpur with the world’s highest building, a monorail service, world-class hospitals etc, etc The only explanation offered was that Ghana had had frequent coups whilst Malaysia had been well governed. (A second possible explanation is that Ghana had many years of socialism under Nkrumah, whilst Malaysia has been capitalist once the communist insurgence was defeated.)
Gerry Danaher would be glad to receive any views as to why Zambia and Malaysia have such different rates of development.
(Population Reference Bureau – Internet under “World Population” November 2001)
|With AIDS||Without AIDS|
COMMENT BY GD: The most remarkable figure here is the fall in life expectancy in Botswana. Botswana is one of the better off countries in the region, much wealthier than Zambia, yet its AIDS epidemic is severe.
This seems to confirm the findings of many researchers which show that AIDS affects the well-to-do even more than the poor. Medical staff, teachers, civil servants, business managers and others from this section of society have all been shown to have a high rate of infection.
AIDS is a preventable disease. The Catholic method of prevention (one man, one woman) is free; the Family Planning method is almost free.
Leicester’s population had grown rapidly in the 19th century, from 17,000 in 1801 to 120,000 in 1881. The sewage produced by these people had overwhelmed the capacity of Wickstead’s Patent Solid Sewage Manufacturing Company, which had opened a plant in 1856. As a result, unacceptable levels of sewage were entering the river Soar.
|Infant mortality rates in Leicester
|In Zambia before AIDS
Leicester’s rapid population increase in the 19th century, which overwhelmed the sewage system, is slow when compared with the huge population increase in all the towns of Zambia in the last 50 years. Lusaka has gone up from about 30,000 to about 1,000,000. Livingstone from about 8000 to 120,000. How is their sewage system working?
“A problem which everyone talks about, is that of birth control, as it is called, namely, of population increase on the one hand and family morality on the other. It is an extremely grave problem.”
Pope Paul VI 23 June 1964 (My favourite pope, despite all this.)
A non-Catholic view.
Michael Frayn in The Observer, 17 May 1964
(Reprinted in “The Pill” a book produced in 1964 to document the Catholic debate on birth regulation, mostly reproducing documents from The Pope, various Cardinals, theologians, and national hierarchies. This contribution was put in to give us a rest at half-time.)
It is with a close and warmly sympathetic interest that all men of good will, whatever their creed, are following the vigorous debate now going on within the Carthaginian Monolithic Church on the vexed question of rear-view mirrors.
It has long been the teaching of the Church that looking backwards while travelling forwards is categorically and explicitly forbidden by God, since it was for doing this that He visited instant fossilization upon Lot’s wife.
In this context ‘looking back’ has always been interpreted as frustrating the natural forward gaze of the traveller, whether by turning the head, or by the interposition of a mechanical device such as a mirror.
Carthaginian Monolithic theologians claim that looking back is not only divinely prohibited, but can also be seen by the light of reason to be contrary to natural law, since it is patently interfering with nature to inhibit the inherent tendency of fast moving objects to collide, and it is frustrating the natural consequences of the act of driving – the possibility that an heir may succeed to the driver’s estate.
Moreover, they argue, there is a strong aesthetic objection to looking back, since it must plainly detract from the spontaneity of the driving act, and they point out how much more insipid life becomes if the spice of the unexpected is removed altogether. It must in all fairness be pointed out that the keen interest of the Monolithic clergy in preserving spontaneity and avoiding insipidity is entirely altruistic, since they do not themselves drive.
These arguments notwithstanding, the Church has long recognised the need to prevent cars crashing into the back of one another indiscriminately, and Monolithics are permitted to avoid it by abstaining from driving altogether, or by driving only during the so-called ‘safe period’, between midnight and six a.m., when the chances of being crashed into are greatly reduced.
Nevertheless, there is a sympathetic – indeed, anguished – realization among many Monolithic leaders today that self-restraint alone may be inadequate to meet the situation. The question was less crucial in the days when the main effect of the doctrine was to prohibit monolithics from sitting with their backs to the engine in railway carriages. But the increasing popularity of the motor-car is putting an intolerable burden upon the accident wards of the world’s hospitals.
There is great sympathy, too, for the great strain undergone by Monolithic drivers who have been run into from behind perhaps 13 or 14 times already, and who now scarcely dare to drive home to see their wives if it involves turning right, or pulling out to pass a parked car.
It is to this agonizing problem that ‘the box’ may provide an answer. ‘The box’ is a rearward radar scanning device which scientists are still testing. ‘Liberal’ Monoliths believe that a scanning aerial cannot be said to ‘look’ back in the natural sense of looking, and that the radar screen does not deflect the natural forward gaze of the driver, like a mirror, but is a natural part of his natural forward view.
It is emphasized that even if ‘the box’ were to be accepted, it could never be used for merely selfish purposes, to avoid a crash simply because a crash was not desired, but only where a driver had already had three or more crashes, and there were genuine grounds for believing that another one might have a serious effect upon his health.
(Despite all the above, there is much to be said for Pope Paul VI’s views on marriage. Also, there is undoubtedly a place for natural family planning. It is just not effective enough in many situations and for many people. I wish that the Popes had kept to gospel views on all this, and not added ideas gleaned, I presume, from Greek philosophy. Ed.)
I often claim that the politics and economics of Zambia shed light on most of the problems of the world. Recent events – that it to say, the events following our last meeting on 10th September – are no exception, and I will use this contact letter to explain.
Leaving aside the problem of Israel, the influence of oil, and the beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists (admittedly rather big problems to leave aside), the main cause of trouble in the Middle East is the same as the main cause of trouble in Zambia: population pressure. I will put on the back of this contact letter the population statistics for the Middle East and nearby countries: they are dramatic and world changing.
Who is to blame?
Christians and Muslims are both pretty good at shifting the blame from themselves onto others; but, at fanning the flames of discontent, once they have chosen the wrong people to blame, Islamic fundamentalists are in an utterly different league. When populations have doubled again, I doubt if peaceful, reasonable Muslims will be able to contain them. Even Europe may find it hard to cope.
Once again leaving aside the problem of Israel, almost the only blame the secular peoples of Europe and the USA should bear for the frustration and poverty in the Islamic countries of the Middle East is that they provided the knowledge which caused the dramatic fall in death rates right across the Middle East and beyond, without pointing out that death control without birth control must end in poverty and trouble.
If Islamic leaders had warned the populace about this certainty, and the warning had been heeded, these countries would now have been prosperous and, just possibly, a little more peaceful.
After World War II there was a rapid decline in mortality in much of the developing world. In part this resulted from wartime efforts to maintain the health of armed forces from industrialized countries fighting in tropical areas. Since all people and governments welcome proven techniques to reduce the incidence of disease and death, these efforts were readily accepted in much of the developing world, but they were not accompanied by the kinds of social and cultural changes that had occurred earlier and had led to fertility declines in industrialized countries.
The reduction in mortality, unaccompanied by a reduction in fertility, had a simple and predictable outcome: accelerating population growth. By 1960 many developing countries had rates of increase as high as 3 percent a year, exceeding by two or threefold the highest rates ever experienced by European populations. Since a population increasing at this rate will double in only 23 years, the populations of such countries expanded dramatically. In the 25 years between 1950 and 1975, the population of Mexico increased from 27,000,000 to 60,000,000; Iran from 14,000,000 to 33,000,000; Brazil from 53,000,000 to 108,000,000; and China from 554,000,000 to 933,000,000.
The greatest population growth rates were reached in Latin America and in Asia during the mid- to late 1960s. Since then, these regions have experienced variable but sometimes substantial fertility declines along with continuing mortality declines, resulting in usually moderate and occasionally large declines in population growth. The most dramatic declines have been those of the People’s Republic of China, where the growth rate was estimated to have declined from well over 2 percent per year in the 1960s to about half that in the 1980s, following official adoption of a concerted policy to delay marriage and limit childbearing within marriage. The predominance of the Chinese population in East Asia means that this region has experienced the most dramatic declines in population growth of any of the developing regions.
Over the same period population growth rates have declined only modestly – and in some cases have actually risen–in other developing regions. In South Asia the rate has declined only from 2.4 to 2.0 percent; in Latin America, from about 2.7 to about 2.3 percent. Meanwhile, in Africa population growth has accelerated from 2.6 percent to more than 3 percent over the same period, following belated significant declines in mortality not accompanied by similar reductions in fertility.
This week’s Economist devotes three pages to a sympathetic review of the present state of The Catholic Church – giving its worldwide readership the regularly expressed views of the Newsletter, but in a much better and more readable form.
After introducing the reason for the church’s existence (“grace and salvation” “This is all that matters.”) it goes on to describe the church’s impact on the world, especially the third world. It praises the efforts at practical help, whilst taking a minor swipe at the anti-capitalists, and a major swipe at the birth control ruling. Here are two short quotes to show what The Economist thinks about Catholics and their approach to worldly problems.
“It inspires much charity and social action (if also, sometimes, a blinkered anti-capitalism.)”
“In the sphere of international policy, the birth-control ruling still marks out the church as an irresponsible and obstructionist voice in any debate on over-population, poverty or, especially, the containment of AIDS. This is a tragedy, since in parts of the developing world, the church is often the prime provider of health, education and social services. (In Nigeria alone, it runs almost 300 clinics and hospitals.) The essential work of Catholic doctors and teachers is now undermined by the perception, often untrue, that they will put ideology first.”
These are the views of the Newsletter as well: they apply to Zambia, as much as to any other third world country. What we can do about the blinkered anti-capitalism and the birth-control ruling, I do not know. Wait for someone to write a blockbuster of a book with facts piled high on facts, I expect.
In the meantime, although Catholic theological views may be minor or major causes of poverty, we can be consoled by the fact that, at providing the very poor with practical help, Catholics are the best in the world: in my view, by a very long way.
Page 2 is taken up with a review of world population, taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. You may have had it before, but it is a good overview and it’s worth a second read.
From 1960 to 1990, Fr Arthur McCormack was the best Catholic expert on the problem of population increase. At first, as described in his book “PEOPLE SPACE FOOD”, in answering anxieties about the “population explosion”, he relied on improvements in agriculture and on the large empty spaces in various parts of the world, to support his view that population increase was not such a great problem.
Later his views changed and he championed the need for family planning and the need to moderate population growth. The Times obituary on January 2 1993 records this change and also his involvement with the early days of the Commission for Justice and Peace:
“At the third session of the Vatican Council in 1964, McCormack organized a meeting in Rome which had far-reaching consequences. He brought together a group that included Barbara Ward, Mgr Gremillion (an American writer on world poverty) and Mgr Liguti (Vatican observer to the Food and Agriculture Organization). The result was to canalise the wish of the council for a World Poverty Secretariat into a specific recommendation, drafted by McCormack, calling on the church to set up an organization to promote progress in the world’s poorer areas and to foster social justice between the nations.
Following the report, Pope Paul VI published his apostolic letter Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam on January 7, 1967. He then decided to establish the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. Mgr Gremillion was named secretary and McCormack joined him as his assistant the following April. He remained there for six years until it became clear that his views on the problems of world population were an embarrassment to the Holy See.”
EDITOR – In his news item Lamar reports Médecins Sans Frontières as saying that developing countries spend twice as much a year on debt repayments as on health and education combined. Over the past decade I have read similar comparisons for many countries and regions of the developing world. Occasionally the comparison is combined with the figure – sometimes grossly inaccurate – for debt servicing. Not once have I seen the figures for education or health expenditure, nor the figure for aid.
My own interest is in Zambia. From various sources I have learnt that in the mid- 1990s Zambia’s debt servicing was about US$350m (interest US$200m, repayments US$150m). Annual aid in these years was about US$500m. It may be true to say that debt service payments made by Zambia in the mid-1990s came to more than the country spent on education and health combined, but, if it is true, then it is also true to say that aid pays for all Zambia’s education and health care. I have never seen this last truth mentioned.
Zambia, and much of southern Africa, is going through one of the great tragedies of history. The causes are many and include rapid population growth, AIDS, and incompetent government. This tragedy is not a result of rich countries taking cash out of Zambia. On the contrary, rich donors and creditors (the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, etc) are putting money into Zambia and most other sub-Saharan African countries as well.
Zambia and much of sub-Saharan Africa needs ten times as much aid as it is getting. If organisations that previously have given us incomplete and misleading figures could give us accurate and agreed figures on debt servicing, aid, and health and education expenditure country by country, we would be better able to assess each country’s needs and help more effectively and generously.
Retired general practitioner
(Anyone interested in Zambia will enjoy a book Zion in Africa. The Jews of Zambia. By Hugh Macmillan and Frank Shapiro. In association with The Council for Zambia Jewry, I.B.Taurus Publishers £39. The local library would get it, perhaps. Early European Jewish life in Livingstone, and also the Copperbelt and Lusaka.)
A Jewish doctor mentioned in the book runs a medical clinic in Lusaka. He has worked in Zambia for over thirty years and he visits the Chilanga Hospice run by the Sisters of Mercy of Charles Borremeo. Most cases in the hospice are seriously ill with AIDS. Greatly impressed by the staff, he indicates that “without Catholic help, particularly in the field of health” this country would be in a sorry state.
This opinion from a knowledgeable Jewish doctor, who helps out in a Catholic run hospice, reinforces what we have known for decades; namely that Catholics throughout Africa and Latin America and many other parts of the world provide much of the health care, and much other care as well, for the poor and for the very poor. And they do it better than anyone else.
For over 40 years I have noticed that when some drama happens in a poverty stricken area, the TV crews home in on a Catholic priest or, more often, a Catholic nun, who has been working there for years, to get the low down. Non-gospel based Catholic theology – Humanae Vitae and the opening to Marxism – may be a major contributory cause of much of the extreme poverty in the world, but gospel based practical help for the very poor is provided by Catholics more effectively and more widely than by any other group – by a very long way.
March 2006. Dr Mike Bush, the doctor noted above, has recently been awarded an OBE for the time he has spent as voluntary consultant and clinician at the Chilanga Hospice, which was started by the energetic and dedicated Sister Leonia. (Information courtesy of Zambia Society 4 Ashurst Way, East Preston, Littlehampton BN16 1AG. www.zambiasocietytrust.org.uk There are few more effective ways of helping the very poor in Zambia, or in Africa generally, than by supporting the Zambia Society Trust)
One of the problems with life is that from time to time it presents us with puzzles. One of the puzzles I’ve come across is how to deal with Justice and Peace.
The higher reaches of J&P are quite different from the parish groups. Although, they are all good kind people, rather like Pope Francis, to me their aim seemed to be to propagate political correctness and liberation theology under the misguided impression that this was Christianity. After 40 years of trying, I have been quite unable to change their minds and, as far as I can tell those in charge at national and diocesan level are just the same today. And this despite the fact that one of the people who persuaded Pope Paul to found J&P was my great hero Fr Arthur McCormack MHM. Modern J&P dismisses out of hand their co-founder’s urging that population growth must be controlled: they thus make it almost impossible to achieve justice and peace, as we can see in Africa and the Middle East.
Sometime in the 1990s I wrote a page to ease my exasperation. It did not seem right for me to publish it or send it to anyone whilst I was treasurer or soon after retiring, but now that decades have passed perhaps it is OK to state my opinion. My difficulty is that whilst the upper echelons are pushing political correctness and liberation theology and doing harm, the parish J&P groups are mostly doing great good even though on a small scale: supporting financially and in other ways various schemes in poor countries. This is what, in the 1950s and 1960s, I had hoped would be the Church’s response to poverty, but on a very much greater scale.
My difficulty is that my criticism of the politically correct, anti-capitalist ideologues may be thought to apply to parish groups which in fact are mostly marvellous. So please bear this in mind when reading my page on J&P.
JUSTICE AND PEACE
Written before 2000 just for myself to help me calm down
When we put on our Justice and Peace hats, or the hats we wear for Vocation for Justice, the Catholic Institute for International Relations, or even CAFOD in its campaigning mode – when, indeed, we are in that happy state of being always right and always in the right – we do suffer from one difficulty, and that is, we are unable to take the advice to look occasionally for any minor fault of our own. That is to say, to put it picturesquely, to look for any mote or speck in our own eyes, which could be blurring our vision.
The principal reason for this is, of course, that, as is well known, when we are wearing any one of these hats, we do not have a speck or mote in either of our eyes. There is also an important secondary reason; namely, the fact that, even if there were such a speck, any time spent looking for it, would be time which could have been better spent in the much more important task of trying to dig out the great logs, beams, and planks stuck – irremovably as far as I can tell – in the eyes of everyone else.
Is there anyway in which we can get the feeling of having a bit of grit in the eye so as to get some insight into why everyone else is so blind? No, there isn’t. Freedom from any blurring of our vision whilst we wear these hats is absolute, serene and life long.
But, when wearing our other hats, at least for myself, the situation is not so serene. We may need to be ready for a surprise when we see family planners and capitalists, sinners and profiteers all, ahead of us in the only queue that matters. We all want to be in that queue, but I wonder if our relentless criticism of almost everyone else will turn out to be a plus point in securing a place, however far down the list.
Can anything be said to prepare for any surprise when these things come to be assessed? Yes there is.
If the use of contraception turns out not to be a mortal sin, and if rapid population increase turns out to be a major, even the major cause, of extreme poverty, it is possible that our silence on this matter may turn out to be less praiseworthy than the activities of the family planners.
And further. If capitalist economic systems turn out to be better systems for providing food, drinkable water, sanitation, shelter, education and medical care for the poor than communist economic systems, or than other systems smiled upon by our organisations, (and when we look at the astonishing improvement in living conditions in the Far East, this seems to be so) then we are not in such a strong position as we might have thought.
So, just in case, just to be on the safe side, perhaps when we hurl necessary criticism at these capitalists and profiteers, we should do so not so much from our present stance of “everyone’s wrong except us”, but rather from a position which could best be described as “sackcloth and ashes”.
May I put in a word for Sir Rocco Forte who is criticised quite forceably in the Herald (letters, 9 May).
In my day – I was born in 1925 – the most passionate, self-sacrificing, heroic – sometimes to the point of martyrdom – hard-working people, dedicated to the cause of bringing justice to the poor, were the communists.
When they gained power they got rid of a powerful human drive much disapproved of by Sir Rocco’s critics: self-help.
When 5,000,000 died of starvation in Russia and 40,000,000 in China, they brought back self-help. Even today “self-help” America is planning to ease the famine in “working for others” North Korea.
I know Sir Rocco’s critics are anti-capitalist not communist, nevertheless, if they ever came to power, the result would be the same. Human nature being what it is we need the engine of self-help to produce the goods; without it we starve.
And what about our world now?
The rapid and dramatic reduction in mortality in all countries of the “third world” this century, with the subsequent huge and unprecedented increase in population, has presented us with an unmanageable problem in the way of providing food, water, sanitation and medical care in these countries.
Whoever is in charge will have angry critics.
Catholic critics, as angry as any, will remain serenely oblivious to the fact that their anti-capitalism and their views on contraception have been part of the cause and not the cure.
Suffice it to say that those countries of the Far East which approach this matter by vigorous population control and by a self-help capitalism softened and bridled by family values and taxation may prove to have got it more nearly right than the countries of Latin America and Africa where there is no consensus on these matters.
Time will tell.
In the meantime, for the sake of the over-poor, please give us more of Sir Rocco and less of his critics.
Turmoil and distress in central Africa is in the news again. Once cause of this – unprecedented population increase – gets little coverage in the Catholic press. I wonder if it is time to give it an airing.
The rapid fall in mortality rates and increase in life expectancy which we have seen in all “third world” countries throughout this century must be – because of its effect on population – one of the most important events in social history.
Latin American countries are doubling their populations every 40 years or so and their capital cities every 20 years or so.
Even in those few countries (e.g. Zambia) where there has been a reversal of the previous improvement in mortality rates and life expectancy, population increase is likely to remain substantial.
Just two examples: since 1950, El Salvador, the most densely populated country on the American mainland, has almost trebled its population, while Rwanda, the most densely populated country on the African mainland, has more than trebled its population.
From Catholic sources, over the last 20 years or more, I have read a lot about troubles in El Salvador and, more recently, a good deal about Rwanda. I have never heard population increase mentioned as a problem. I wonder why this is?
The future Pope Paul VI, in 1953, in a letter to the Twenty Sixth Italian Social Week, wrote “Population problems are of extreme importance”. If the Catholic Church had taken these words to heart 40 years ago we would have saved the poor of Latin America and Africa a lot of misery and conflict.
In the 1970s when Malcolm Muggeridge remarked that “Catholics are taking to Communism just as everyone else is giving it up”, it was possible to think he was joking. He wasn’t. Nowadays it shows in the way the extreme poverty we see in the developing world is blamed on the world economic system – the world capitalist economic system. And this despite the fact that in the Far East this system – capitalism plus population control – has brought more people out of poverty more quickly than any other system in history. In the 1970s and 1980s Catholics were more forthright. Here is an example:
WHY WE NEED A “THIRD WORLD THEOLOGY”
Ecumenical association of Third World Theologians
Dar es Salaam 12 August 1976
Published by CIIR (Catholic Institute for International Relations)
22 Coleman Fields, London N1 7AF 1984
Para 9. The People’s Republic of China has entered a path of self-reliant growth based on socialism and the people’s participation in the direction of agriculture and industry. By cutting themselves off from the capitalist system they have been able to reverse the trend of continuing underdevelopment that characterised the colonise and the newly independent “free enterprise” countries. North Korea, North Vietnam and Cuba took similar lines with appreciable results. In recent months South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in Asia, and Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Angola in Africa, have opted for self-reliant socialist development. Tanzania is attempting a socialist approach without going the whole way of eliminating free enterprise. Other countries in the Third World have varying degrees of socialist experimentation: egg Burma, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia.
Para 10. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, considered the Second World, often render assistance to oppressed peoples of other countries in their struggles for liberation – as in Cuba, Vietnam, and Angola. Along with China and the non-aligned powers of the Third World they are a valuable counter-balance against imperialist domination by the North Atlantic powers.
Para 11. However, socialism too has its own problems to resolve – especially in relation to the safe-guarding of human freedom, and the very price of the revolutionary process in terms of human lives ……Further, our information concerning socialist countries is rather limited owing to the barriers of communication.
How could theologians write this in 1976? How could CIIR publish it in 1984 (of all years) and reprint it in 1987?
The Church remains the most important organization providing practical help to the poor, but its views on politics and family planning are a disaster for the very poor, and there is no sign that these views are changing.
Fernando Saenz Lacalle, the newly appointed archbishop of San Salvador (Catholic Herald, 5 May) and President Fidel Castro (see “Age of Extremes” by Eric Hobsbawn, page 451) have both gained the impression that liberation theology is pro-Marxist. I don’t blame them. I’ve gained the same impression myself and so have many others.
It will always be something of a mystery as to why fine, good, courageous theologians failed to see that giving people the impression that they were pro-Marxist was not a good way of helping the poor.
The “human rights” record of communism falls somewhere between “terrible” and “the worst in history” and that frightens a lot of people.
In two fertile countries (Russia and China), Marxist agriculture was capable of engineering two of the greatest man-made famines ever known, and that must put more people off.
And most people, when they compare, for instance, Japan with China, conclude that capitalism, despite its great faults, is better for the poor than communism.
But not liberation theologians: they think differently, and nothing can change their minds.
The main difficulty facing El Salvador is the same difficulty which, though hidden by the civil war, has face the country for decades; namely, that the rapid fall in infant mortality and the great increase in life expectancy over the last 50 years has produced a dramatic increase in population, both in the region of the Archdiocese and in the country as a whole.
El Salvador, the most densely populated country on the American mainland, has almost trebled its population since 1950 and the population around San Salvador had increased five times or more. No wonder they have been fighting each other, it’s a miracle that they ever stopped.
I do not know the new Archbishop’s views on population but he is said to come from Spain which – with Italy – has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
If he can persuade Salvadorians to imitate his own home country in this matter he will do so much good to the poor that even liberation theologians will find it difficult to be angry any more. And that really would be a blessing all round.
Steady on there in the headline writing and editorial departments! I look at my Catholic Herald (October 18) and see the headline: “Pope makes option for the poor”. Then in the editorial you imply that the radical clergy are helping the poor whilst “the coterie of ex Holy See officials who live in their palaces in the wealthy quarters of Brazil’s cities” are not.
“Option for the poor” like “Workers of the world unite” is a phrase which seems unexceptional but which has become a slogan or badge for a particular political view point – liberation theology and communism respectively. Holders of both these political views claim to be fighting for the rights of the poor.
Most ordinary folk who think about these things have come to the conclusion that communism at least has made the lot of the poor worse rather than better. It will be well into the next century before we know whether liberation theology is equally harmful to the poor. In the meantime it seems best not to associate the Pope with a political movement which might harm rather than help the poor.
And what about living in palaces? There must be few people left who believe that the poor in Russia who would not have fared much better under the Tsar in his palace than under the communists living – originally at least – amongst the poor.
I believe the same thing can be said about the freedom fighters in South and Central America and, if liberation theology gives moral support to those freedom fighters – as it seems to do – it would have been better for the poor if the liberation theologians had stayed at home as well.
The Pope is quite right to be critical. Christianity is the religion of the poor. It is also a religion which is critical of the rich and not uncritical of the learned. It’s reassuring to find the Pope warning the rich to change their ways and the learned to have another think.
Fr Michael Campbell-Johnson is reported as saying (Charterhouse Chronicle, July 19) “I will vote for any government that reduces the gap between the poor and the wealthy in this country”. He was cheered loudly.
Of course, politics needs emotions and slogans, and perhaps its not fair to nit-pick a phrase like that. However, the Jesuits are getting a name for being radical politicians and in my lifetime – I’m 65 – radical politicians have caused a good deal of trouble throughout the world, particularly to the poor, so perhaps we should stop and think about radical statements. I hope it’s not too unfair.
About the gap. If the wealthy have an income of, say £1,000 a week and the poor £100 a week, then, if I was poor, I would vote for a party which gave a hope of increasing these figures to £1,200 and £120 respectively rather than a party which I thought might reduce these figures to £800 and £80.
(I certainly wouldn’t vote for a radical political party which might reduce the gap dramatically, say to the difference between £500 and £50. But, of course, with radical political parties you don’t know what catastrophe will strike until afterwards. That’s the catch, and that’s why they will always have enthusiastic followers.)
The point being that, as a poor man, I would vote for a party which increased the gap between rich and poor. At least I would if I had my head screwed on, but these radical politicians are persuasive speakers and perhaps I might get carried away.
By the way, the joke (noted in another part of the Chronicle) about the social security money and the inspector on the cathedral roof – “don’t jump, the giro’s in the post” – could just as easily have been made whatever government was in power and even – with minor alterations as to method of payment – before the giro was invented.
(John Major will, perhaps, know personally more about the initial difficulties of getting into the system than most politicians.)
It’s a bureaucratic rather than a political problem and the difficulties of bureaucracy will always be with us. I hope many good Christians will take on this thankless job so as to moderate these frustrations as much as possible. It’s also a worldwide problem.
I see in last Sunday’s Observer that five Chinese veterans of the long march are reported to have publicly burnt their party cards and then thrown themselves off a cliff because their pension payments were lost in the system. Perhaps they were more generally disillusioned as well.
Dr Gerald Danaher
Telling people what’s right and what’s wrong is a thankless vocation, and yet it has a curious attraction, so that most of us feel we are called to it from time to time. That we have our critics was brought to my mind by your leading article of July 28 in which you use the phrase “pie in the sky when you die”.
I have seen the full quotation only once and that many years ago; but, from memory, and to show the effect that moralists can have, I quote the whole passage, with apologies for mistakes to Joe Hill the reputed author.
When preachers come out at night
To tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And you ask them for something to eat
They reply with voices so sweet:
There’ll be food bye and bye
In the glorious land beyond the sky
Work and pray. Live on hay.
There’ll be pie in the sky, when you die
It’s a lie.
This is not the reaction which Christian moralists aim to produce in their audience. And yet we now do on a world scale that which this verse describes happening on a small scale.
We preach on the evils of contraception and abortion, apartheid and racism, but we fail to feed the hungry. Perhaps the hungry – and they now number almost half the world – will react to our preaching by concluding that we are untrustworthy.
Can we avoid this reaction? Perhaps not. But it would help if we turned not to the scholastics, or the liberals, or even to Joe Hill, when we wanted to know what was wrong and what was right, but to the Gospels.
(Dr) Gerald Danaher