Quotations – 1948 to 2013

1948  “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.)

1953  “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

1964  “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)

1967  “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…”
Pope Paul VI – Encyclical Populorum Progressio, Paragraph 37

1967 “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…”
Pope Paul VI – Encyclical Populorum Progressio, Paragraph 37

1967  “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 VI – Encyclical Populorum Progressio, Paragraph 37

1968  “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.”
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)

1970  “the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only…”
Norman Borlaug, the ‘father’ of the green revolution, in his speech on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

1970  “Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the ‘Population Monster’.”
Norman Borlaug, the ‘father’ of the green revolution, in his speech on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

1987  “…the prime fact of modern history, the demographic revolution…”
Paul Johnson – A History of the Jews, p356

1993  “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.”
Director General of UNICEF, quoted in A Joint Statement by 57 of the World’s Scientific Academies in 1993 before the Cairo Conference

(Before 1994)  “The chief characteristic of the twentieth century is the terrible multiplication of the world’s population. It is a catastrophe, a disaster. We don’t know what to do about it.”
Ernst Gombrich OM, Art historian. (Quoted by Hobsbawm in 1994 – The Age of Extremes 1914-1991, p1)

1994  “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.”
Eric Hobsbawm – 1994, The Age of Extremes 1914-1991, p346

1994  “Population control, by means other than mass famine and disease, was the most urgent need of the Third World.”
J.A.S. Grenville – The Collins History of the World in the Twentieth Century, p927

2000  “if European Catholics do want to help African families, they could do no better than try to change their Church’s official policy on contraception.”
The Great Rift by Michael King OBE, FRCS Chief Government Surgeon in Malawi 1976-1994 and Elspeth King, Ph.D Lecturer in University of Malawi

2005  “Reducing population growth will not of itself solve Africa’s problems, but without it they will become insoluble.”
David Coleman, Professor of Demography, Oxford University. The Times, 3 October 2005

2007  “How much longer can we continue with this rate of human growth, without something really scary happening?”
Nick Reeves, Executive Director, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. CIWEM Business Briefing, October 2007

2008  “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.”
Prof. Shahbaz Khan, UNESCO’s Chief of Sustainable Water Resources Development. Speaking in Canberra – 22 July 2008

2009  “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 – 27 January 2009

2010  “Given its detrimental impacts 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.”
Save the Children Policy Brief – March 2010

2011  “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 depletion of non-renewable resources.”
The World Fact Book 2011

2012  “Developing countries will be building the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days from now until 2050”
Royal Society – ‘People and the Planet’ report

2012  “women should be able to decide freely….how many children they have….It’s absolutely fundamental to any hope of tackling poverty in our world.”
David Cameron, Prime Minister UK. London Family Planning Summit, July 2012

2013  “The climate debate, with all its uncertainties and the hype on both sides, has turned so many people away from taking environmental issues seriously and distracted attention from other, more pressing, problems: the increasing shortage of fresh water needed to grow food; the destruction of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity; the exhaustion of non-renewable natural resources; and the pollution of soil, groundwater, surface water and air with man-made substances and waste. All of these problems are symptoms of the serious disease affecting our planet — overpopulation combined with overconsumption.”
Prof Jane Plant, Imperial College, London. The Times – 23 May 2013

2014 “After all, the biggest problem on the planet – the problem that dare not speak its name – is the ever expanding human population.”
Simon Barnes. The Times – 28th July 2014

Why then – population increase being such an important and certain cause of extreme poverty – is it seldom mentioned in debates? Prof Jane Plant gives one explanation and Prof David Coleman gives another:

“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.”
David Coleman, Professor of Demography, Oxford University. The Times – 3 October 2005

(Pressure groups included religious groups, feminists, educationalists, the politically correct, and others. All these pushed the provision of family planning into the background.)