Population: A taboo is broken

25 April 2009 | Leicester Mercury

(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.