Ignoring one of the great events of history

10 August 2007 | Catholic Herald

(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