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December 11, 2009

Population control rears its ugly head again

The National Post is, relatively speaking, one of the more conservative newspapers in Canada, or at least as conservative as you can probably get in Canada.  I used to get the paper for a long time, but gave it up because I wasn't reading it as much as I used to.

It's too bad I gave it up, because that takes away the opportunity I would otherwise have to cancel it with disgust after reading Diane Francis' latest piece, "The Real Inconvenient Truth."  I had thought that the idea of "population control" had pretty much waned in the Western world, with the exception of those radical environmentalists who would gladly get rid of all humanity in order to save the planet.  But those theories never reached the mainstream.

Until now, that is.

In her article, Francis actually says that the entire world should be forced to follow China's "one child" policy because otherwise population growth will eventually make the world unsustainable.  Yes, I said "forced."  She calls it a "planetary law."

She praises China's policy stating:

"Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict."

Yet she doesn't seem to be aware of how much fossil fuel that China actually uses.   A September 2009 MSNBC report states "if China's energy usage structure remains unchanged, its emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming would reach 17 billion tons a year by 2050. That would represent 60 percent of total global emissions and three times China's current production, it said."  That doesn't sound very environmentally sound.  In other words, population control doesn't appear to have had any effect on China's carbon emission output.

But that's just one place where Francis is wrong.  What's almost offensive about this article is what she advocates.  Every country in the world should follow China's "One Child" policy?  According to Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post on November 11, 2009:

"Yet, coerced abortions, as well as involuntary sterilizations, are commonplace in China, Beijing's protestations notwithstanding. While the Chinese Communist Party insists that abortions are voluntary under the nation's one-child policy, electronic documentation recently smuggled out of the country tells a different story."
So every country in the world should do this?    Francis doesn't go into exactly how she thinks this policy should be enforced.  UN thugs in black uniforms (and blue berets, don't forget that) going into each hospital and making sure those giving birth don't already have a kid?  Random searches of doctors' offices, especially obstetricians, checking the files to make sure that their patients don't already have kids?  And forcing the patient to go have an abortion if she does have a child?  Just what kind of world are you envisioning, Ms. Francis?

"Reproductive freedom" is the major battle cry of abortion-rights activists.  Surely the freedom to have kids is just as important as the freedom not to have them?  Would these people rise up if Francis' ideas were taken up by those at Copenhagen (which is what she is advocating when she claims that those attending the summit are ignoring the real solution)?  Probably not, but it would be nice if they did.

Francis doesn't mention yet another bad outcome of China's policy.  According to Parker:

"The one-child policy has created other problems that threaten women and girls. The traditional preference for boys has meant sex-selected abortions resulting in a gender imbalance. Today, men in China outnumber women by 37 million, a disparity that has become a driving force behind sex slavery in Asia. Exacerbating the imbalance, about 500 women a day commit suicide in China -- the highest rate in the world, which Littlejohn attributes in part to coercive family planning."
 Considering the number of male-dominated societies in this world right now, do you really think that this wouldn't be a planetary problem if Francis' ideas were to come to fruition?  But let's just ignore that as well.

The fact is that these kinds of population control ideas don't even need to be implemented.  Despite Francis saying that "Doing nothing, by contrast, will result in an unsustainable population of nine billion by 2050," the developed countries of the world are already doing this out of habit.  The required birthrate for a stable population is 2.1 children per female.  Many Western nations, as well as countries like Japan and Russia, are already taking care of Francis' problem for her.  Japan's birth rate is 1.27 children per woman.  Canada's is 1.58.  The US is just under the replacement level, at 2.09.  Meanwhile, Niger (to name one developing nation) is at 7.75!  Overall, the world birth rate is at 2.58, which is down from years previous.  (All these stats can be found here).

The birth rate of the world is falling, and the world's population is aging, and as they die off, that population will fall.  Francis mentions 9 billion people inhabiting the world in 2050.  What she doesn't mention is that this is a peak prediction, and that it will fall after that.

Improving the world's economy would help this problem a lot more than enforced sterilization and abortions, because poverty is one of the main reasons for the high birth rates in the developing world.

But that's all beside the point.  It's numbers, statistics, factual things that can be looked up.  What about abstract things like morality?  Freedom?  It's too bad that Francis doesn't explain how she thinks that her ideas should be enforced.  The only way they could be is through coercion, and I don't like what's at the end of that road.  Sure, it might start at population control.  But when governments have that kind of power, where do they stop?

I suppose we should be happy that she doesn't follow some top scientist who advocated culling 90% of the population. But really, could that be far behind?

(h/t Jonah Goldberg)

Update (12/12/09): According to the Washington Post, China is now starting to reap the inevitable results of their one child policy.

"More than 30 years after China's one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed "little emperors," a population crisis is looming in the country.

The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.

The imbalance is worse in wealthy coastal cities with highly educated populations, such as Shanghai. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 percent of Shanghai's registered residents, while the birthrate was less than one child per couple."

How's that working out for you?

(h/t: John J. Miller)

Update #2 (12/13/09): Also, it turns out that Francis herself has 2 kids.  Ironic, isn't it?


  1. I'm glad you liked it. I try to be entertaining here, but I also like to be informative and serious at times. I'm glad I succeeded in this case. It's been a long time since I've been so pissed off when I read an article.

    Actually, I think it was the last time I wrote and researched a rant on here. :)


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