Socialist Worker

Is seven billion too many? The racist myth of ‘overpopulation’

Issue No. 2275

The TV news report opens with a close-up of a malnourished African child. As the world’s population reaches seven billion, we are told that overpopulation is the cause of poverty.

The largely racist myth of overpopulation is based on a series of half-truths. Yes, many people in Africa are hungry—but there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone. People starve because they cannot afford food, not because it isn’t there.

And the rate of population increase has dramatically slowed.

In the second half of the 20th century, world population increased by 140 percent. But experts predict it will only rise by

50 percent by 2050 and 11 percent in the half century after that.

Consistently, as income and living conditions improve, the size of families goes down. In the West, governments are worried about falling birth rates.

Countries have high populations because they are poor, not the other way around. In fact, more people can do more work and create more wealth.

Some resources are limited—but again, those that are in crisis, such as oil, could be replaced.

The relentless greed of companies such as the oil multinationals is the main reason for environmental degradation.

We already have sustainable technologies that could replace oil—they’re just not seen as profitable enough.

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What We Think
Tue 25 Oct 2011, 17:45 BST
Issue No. 2275
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