I had lunch with one of my co-workers on the secular left recently. I asked him what his biggest concern with the world. After telling me that he was a “libertarian”, he said that he was alarmed that people were having too many babies. I asked him what he wanted to do about it. He said keep abortion legal, and use the government to stop people from reproducing. Some libertarian!
Anyway, he was just factually wrong about the overpopulation, and I had to launch into a long, detailed explanation of replacement rates, birth rates across the world, and how the prosperity created by capitalism has caused birth rates to decline in even poorer countries. I also explained to him that once a country dips below the replacement fertility rate (2.1 births per woman), it never returns. I concluded my refutation of his assertion by stating that he should be more worried about underpopulation than overpopulation.
Anyway, I had to repeat the same explanation again with another secular leftist that same week. So when I saw this recent Daily Caller article about a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control, I figured I might as well equip you guys to respond to other people with the same wrong view.
The United States birth rate hit a record low in 2018 with numbers reflecting the lowest birthrates in the past 30 years, reports say.
A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that almost every age group of women under 35 showed birth rate declines in 2018. The provisional number of births in the U.S. in 2018 was 3,788,235, down 2% since 2017. For every 1,000 women, the fertility rate declined 2% from 2017 to 1,728.0 births.
Birth rates had reached a record low in 2017 as well, marking a continuing trend of declining birth rates over the past four years, according to CNN.
[…]These 2018 birth rate numbers are below the necessary threshold needed for population replacement, which is 2,100 births per 1,000 women, CNN reports.
So we’re down to 1.73 births in the USA, which is below the 2.1 rate needed to maintain current population levels.
This new report isn’t an outlier. It confirms what we knew about from previous reports.
A report issued last month by the Pew Research Center found that immigrant births fell from 102 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 87.8 per 1,000 in 2012. That helped bring the overall U.S. birthrate to a mere 64 per 1,000 women—not enough to sustain our current population.
Moreover, the poor, highly fertile countries that once churned out immigrants by the boatload are now experiencing birthrate declines of their own. From 1960 to 2009, Mexico’s fertility rate tumbled from 7.3 live births per woman to 2.4, India’s dropped from six to 2.5, and Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average birthrate remains a relatively blistering 4.66, fertility is projected to fall below replacement level by the 2070s. This change in developing countries will affect not only the U.S. population, of course, but eventually the world’s.
Now I have a couple tools for you to share to those people who might have irrational views of this issue.
This video explains what’s wrong with overpopulation fears:
And this one explains what the replacement rate number is:
You can share those for people who don’t have time to read. It at least makes the point, even if it doesn’t link to a reputable report.
A useful podcast
This podcast featuring famous economist Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse will be useful for you to understand why the overpopulation myth is something you should be concerned about.
I’m sure everyone has heard about the mainstream media’s embrace of North Korea’s charming smiles at the Olympics. I like to listen to the Ben Shapiro podcast, the Andrew Klavan podcast, and the Daily Signal podcast and they ALL talked about it. But I wanted to tell people the truth, and remind people that this isn’t the first time that mainstream media types have covered up atrocities in order to make their heroes look good.
The Daily Signal posted celebratory tweets from seven different mainstream media sources: CNN, ThinkProgress, The New York Times, Politico, Reuters, and a bureau chief of the Washington Post.
The New York Times tweeted: “Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un’s sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy” and Reuters tweeted: “North Korea judged winner of diplomatic gold at Olympics”.
Before we go any further, let’s learn a bit about starvation in North Korea from a radically leftist source: Newsweek.
Roughly 18 million people in North Korea are not getting enough food, a United Nations report released this week found. That means 70 percent of the isolated nation’s population relies on food assistance to get by, including 1.3 million children under the age of five.
“Amidst political tensions, an estimated 18 million people across DPRK [North Korea] continue to suffer from food insecurity and undernutrition, as well as a lack of access to basic services,” the U.N. report said. “Furthermore, 10.5 million people, or 41 percent of the total population, are undernourished.”
North Koreans also need basic healthcare and sanitation, the U.N. report determined. Without safe water or better sanitation and hygiene, diarrhea and pneumonia have become the leading cause of death for children under five, the report said.
The radically-leftist NBC News reports on the concentration camps:
Atrocities committed by North Korea against its own people are “strikingly similar” to those perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II, the head of a United Nations panel said Monday after publishing an unprecedented report.
The year-long investigation called for urgent action by the international community to stop allleged crimes against humanity committed by Kim Jong Un and his regime.
[…]But the report also shed new light on the country’s darkest side – its labor camps.
As many as 120,000 North Koreans are thought to be imprisoned across the country, many of them in four large camps. This number may have shrunk in recent years, according to the report, but only because many of the inmates have been murdered or starved to death.
People and their families are held for arbitrary crimes such as “gossiping” about the state.
[…]The U.N. report contains more of this harrowing testimony, which it says is tantamount to “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence.” It compared conditions to camps run by the Nazis during World War II and gulags set up in Soviet Russia.
This is what the mainstream media declined to mention while they were praising a woman smiling and Mike Pence frowning as some great evidence of moral equivalence between North Korea and the United States of America.
This is not the first time that the mainstream media has covered up for forced starvation, imprisonment and mass murders.
AT LONG LAST a Pulitzer Prize committee is looking into the possibility that the Pulitzer awarded to Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent whose dispatches covered up Stalin’s infamies, might be revoked.In order to assist in their researches, I am downloading here some of the lies contained in those dispatches, lies which the New York Times has never repudiated with the same splash as it accorded Jayson Blair’s comparatively trivial lies:
“There is no famine or actual starvation nor is there likely to be.”
–New York Times, Nov. 15, 1931, page 1
“Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda.”
–New York Times, August 23, 1933
“Enemies and foreign critics can say what they please. Weaklings and despondents at home may groan under the burden, but the youth and strength of the Russian people is essentially at one with the Kremlin’s program, believes it worthwhile and supports it, however hard be the sledding.”
–New York Times, December 9, 1932, page 6
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
–New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 18
“There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”
–New York Times, March 31, 1933, page 13
I would like to add another Duranty quote, not in his dispatches, which is reported in a memoir by Zara Witkin, a Los Angeles architect, who lived in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. (“An American Engineer in Stalin’s Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934,” University of California Press ). The memoirist describes an evening during which the Moscow correspondents were discussing how to get out the story about the Stalin-made Russian famine. To get around the censorship, the UP’s Eugene Lyons was telephoning the dire news of the famine to his New York office but the was ordered to stop because it was antagonizing the Kremlin. Ralph Barnes, the New York Herald Tribune reporter, turned to Duranty and asked him what he was going to write. Duranty replied:
Nothing. What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated.
And this was at a time when peasants in Ukraine were dying of starvation at the rate of 25,000 a day.
And that is how mainstream media journalists think about the people who are harmed by their leftist policies – whether it be the unborn, children raised without one or more biological parents, families who cannot get make ends meet, innocent people murdered by terrorists and other criminals, etc. Kill them all, as long as big government is in control, making everyone “equal”. Journalists want to call evil “good”, and good “evil”, until the people are so confused that they lose the ability to judge the crimes of Marxist regimes.
You can get the facts about the forced starvation of Ukrainian civilians – in this article from the center-left The Atlantic, written by historian Anne Applebaum.
Here’s one quote:
In the years 1932 and 1933, a catastrophic famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began in the chaos of collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. It was then exacerbated, in the autumn of 1932, when the Soviet Politburo, the elite leadership of the Soviet Communist Party, took a series of decisions that deepened the famine in the Ukrainian countryside. Despite the shortages, the state demanded not just grain, but all available food. At the height of the crisis, organized teams of policemen and local Party activists, motivated by hunger, fear, and a decade of hateful propaganda, entered peasant households and took everything edible: potatoes, beets, squash, beans, peas, and farm animals. At the same time, a cordon was drawn around the Ukrainian republic to prevent escape. The result was a catastrophe: At least 5 million people perished of hunger all across the Soviet Union. Among them were nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died not because of neglect or crop failure, but because they had been deliberately deprived of food.
Neither the Ukrainian famine nor the broader Soviet famine were ever officially recognized by the USSR. Inside the country the famine was never mentioned. All discussion was actively repressed; statistics were altered to hide it. The terror was so overwhelming that the silence was complete. Outside the country, however, the cover-up required different, subtler tactics. These are beautifully illustrated by the parallel stories of Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones.
Collectivization: that’s what the mainstream media loves. Everyone the same and equal, and no differences. Cogs in a machine, with no dissent from our watchful government above. When you look at North Korea, or Cuba or Venezuela, you’re looking at the Marxist atheist ideal. Free people are so unpredictable, they say, that we need a big government if we want to avoid catastrophes like global warming and overpopulation. This is how leftists think – or should I say, this is how leftists feel. They don’t think.
Leftism starts with a feeling of superiority over one’s neighbor, and the desire to be delivered from these inferior people by an infallible government. Those stupid neighbors with their religion and their values – they are wasting food and electricity on their large families. They should be thrown into a concentration camp, so that they don’t teach their children their mistaken values, e.g. – chastity, sobriety and natural marriage. Who can stop them from having views different from mine? The government can, if we enlightened people vote to make it big enough to control them.
It’s very important for people to understand what it is that they are consuming when they turn on television shows on CNN, or pick up a New York Times newspaper.
Climate-change activists are mobilizing to cut the birthrate, arguing that richer nations should discourage people having children in order to protect them from the ravages of global warming and reduce emissions.
Travis Rieder, assistant director of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, told NPR that bringing down global fertility by half a child per woman “could be the thing that saves us.”
“Here’s a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them,” said Mr. Rieder, who has one child.
He proposed procreation disincentives such as government tax breaks for poor people and tax penalties for rich people, a kind of “carbon tax on kids.”
Poor nations would be cut slack “because they’re still developing, and because their per capita emissions are a sliver of the developed world’s. Plus, it just doesn’t look good for rich, Western nations to tell people in poor ones not to have kids,” NPR said.
His paper, “Population Engineering and the Fight Against Climate Change,” written with two Georgetown University professors, is scheduled to be published in October.
Their work coincides with that of Conceivable Future, a New Hampshire-basednonprofit founded on the premise that “the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis.”
This sounds to me a lot like China’s one-child policy, which resulted in the government getting involved in all kinds of human rights abuses – coerced abortions, etc. But this isn’t surprising.
Remember when Obama was elected, and he chose a science czar named John Holdren? That science czar had advocated for a “world police” that would restrict the number of children that people can have, in order to stop global warming:
President Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren, once floated the idea of forced abortions, “compulsory sterilization,” and the creation of a “Planetary Regime” that would oversee human population levels and control all natural resources as a means of protecting the planet — controversial ideas his critics say should have been brought up in his Senate confirmation hearings.
[…][M]any of Holdren’s radical ideas on population control were not brought up at his confirmation hearings; it appears that the senators who scrutinized him had no knowledge of the contents of a textbook he co-authored in 1977, “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,” a copy of which was obtained by FOXNews.com.
The 1,000-page course book, which was co-written with environmental activists Paul and Anne Ehrlich, discusses and in one passage seems to advocate totalitarian measures to curb population growth, which it says could cause an environmental catastrophe.
The three authors summarize their guiding principle in a single sentence: “To provide a high quality of life for all, there must be fewer people.”
[…]Holdren and the Ehrlichs offer ideas for “coercive,” “involuntary fertility control,” including “a program of sterilizing women after their second or third child,” which doctors would be expected to do right after a woman gives birth.
What specifically did the authors recommend to solve the overpopulation “problem”?
Those plans include forcing single women to abort their babies or put them up for adoption; implanting sterilizing capsules in people when they reach puberty; and spiking water reserves and staple foods with a chemical that would make people sterile.
To help achieve those goals, they formulate a “world government scheme” they call the Planetary Regime, which would administer the world’s resources and human growth, and they discuss the development of an “armed international organization, a global analogue of a police force” to which nations would surrender part of their sovereignty.
Holdren also predicted that global warming would kill 1 billion people by 2020. That’s the level of scientific illiteracy and ignorance we are dealing with when dealing with the Democrat party. They will literally say and do anything to manipulate the voters into supporting a socialist agenda.
Christian apologists should care about this Weekly Standard story, and I’ll explain why at the end of this post.
The story begins by profiling the king of overpopulation hysteria, a man named Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich’s hysterical predictions were at least partly responsible for rise in public support for secular causes such as abortion, euthanasia, global warming alarmism, eugenics, and so on. But, as the article notes, Ehrlich’s predictions were wrong. Basically, you can think of overpopulation as a the “Left Behind” doomsday story of the left.
One quick example of Ehrlich’s failure at predictions:
Of course, it’s been obvious that Ehrlich was not just misguided, but an actual charlatan, since the 1970s. The late economist Julian Simon spent most of his career exposing Ehrlich’s errors. You may remember the Ehrlich-Simon wager. In 1980, Simon bet Ehrlich $1,000 that over the course of the following decade the price of a basket of commodities—any resources Ehrlich chose—would drop, as proof that Ehrlich’s ravings about the relationship of population to scarcity was wrong.
Simon was correct. Ten years later Ehrlich sent him a check, with no note. Never prone to either civility or introspection—he frequently called people he disagreed with “fools,” “idiots,” “clowns,” and worse—Ehrlich later told the Wall Street Journal, “If Simon disappeared from the face of the Earth, that would be great for humanity.” Hell of a guy.
The part of the article I want to look at it is how this disproved charlatan was supported by the secular left:
In 1990—the same year he lost his bet with Julian Simon—Ehrlich was awarded a million dollar MacArthur “genius” grant and was simultaneously feted across the Atlantic with Sweden’s Crafoord Prize, which was worth just about half a million. In 1993 the Heinz Family Foundation bestowed on him its first Heinz Award. This little trinket came with $100,000 in cash and the most delusional praise possible, claiming that Ehrlich’s “perspective, uncommon among scientists, has made [him and his wife] the target of often harsh criticism—criticism they accept with grace as the price of their forthrightness.” Which is a peculiar way of explaining that Ehrlich was completely wrong and that he responded to all such evidence with ad hominem attacks. Five years later, in 1998, he was awarded the Tyler Prize,which comes with $200,000. The money train kept on rolling.
And it wasn’t just dumb philanthropists. “Serious” organizations continued to honor him. In 2001, the American Institute of Biological Sciences gave Ehrlich its “Distinguished Scientist” award. In 2009, the World Wildlife Fund featured him as a guest lecturer in their flagship speaker series. In 2012, he was inducted into London’s Royal Society, which is Britain’s nearly 400-year-old national academy of science. There is more. So much more.
Paul Ehrlich’s entire career stands as a monument to the ideological imperatives of the world’s elites and the extent to which they exist not just independent from, but in actual opposition to, both science, evidence, reason, and good faith.
So basically, we are dealing with a cult leader who makes false predictions and then is celebrated even as they are falsified. It reminds me of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For just one recent story on the demographic crisis, check out this one about Germany, which has the lowest birth rate in the industrialized world, and is set for long-term decline because of it.
I basically have two issues where I diverge from the consensus view: global warming and fully naturalistic molecules-to-man evolution. Of course, I have scientific reasons to doubt them. But I also have observed for people who support these myths behave – defending their heroes and painting the opposition as crazy. It’s an important lesson to learn. How far will people go to believe what they want to believe and try to convince others to believe it, too?
How is this relevant to Christian apologetics? Well, in Christian apologetics, you don’t just talk about the resurrection. You have to establish your credibility as a truth-seeker, and it’s better if you can do it in some non-religious area. For example, I have a secular Jewish guy who I talk to who is a strong supporter of abortion. He believes in global warming, Darwinism and this overpopulation nonsense, too. If you can show him the evidence that disproves any one of these, it exposes how he has deliberately chosen to believe things that he didn’t have evidence for because he wanted to believe it so badly.
Demonstrating mastery at disproving the secular left’s myths in one area clears the way for getting them to rethink what they believe and why in every area. It’s important for Christians not to appear desperate. We cannot just fixate on the gospel and salvation and try to rush people to a conversion in 5 minutes by threatening them with Hell. We have to show them that Christianity should be adopted because it’s true, because it’s the end result of a process of thinking clearly. Thinking clearly in one area is evidence to our audience that we can at least in principle be thinking clearly about religious issues, too.
And this is another reason to be responsible and wise with your life decisions. Don’t study junk in school. Don’t work easy jobs. Don’t waste all your money on fun and thrills. Don’t lack self-control. People judge your ideas by how successful you have been in your education and profession. So make decisions that show them that you are competent, not crazy. If you present yourself as a an irresponsible, out-of-control thrill seeker who has not succeeded in your education, career and finances, then you’ll have no credibility with a secular audience before you even open your mouth. Be a person who gathers respect because you know what you are doing. If you want to succeed at evangelism, you have to heed this warning and avoid doing the easy thing just because it feels good.
It’s no surprise that the world’s population is at an all-time high – exceeding 7 billion – although many might not know that it increased by 5 billion during the past century alone, rising from less than 2 billion in 1914. And many people would be surprised – even shocked – to know that over the past three decades, fertility rates have plummeted in many parts of the world, including China, Japan and even significant regions of India.
These Asian giants have not been alone. In much of Europe, North America, East Asia and elsewhere, the average number of children born to women during the course of their childbearing years has fallen to unprecedentedly low levels.
Our new book, The Global Spread of Fertility Decline: Population, Fear, and Uncertainty (Yale University Press, 2013) analyzes these trends and the demographic, political and economic consequences and uncertainties as low fertility has become a global phenomenon. Like other facets of globalization, low fertility rates are by no means universal: High fertility persists in sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of the Middle East, but elsewhere low fertility is more the rule than the exception. These underlying trends in childbearing mean that in the near future the rate of population growth both in Europe and Asia are likely to decline. The world is not on a path of unrestrained demographic growth, as some believe. People all over the world have hit the brakes.
It’s strange because a lot of people on the secular left are worried about overpopulation, which is one of the factors causing them to push for abortion – and even subsidized abortion.