WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 5 (IPS) – The world’s population is currently around 8 billion, with an increase of 3.0 billion expected before 2100. The process of reducing human numbers so that “we don’t destroy what keeps us strong can be done starting now.” Gently, humanely and completely safe.” The scientific and other human accomplishments of my 90-year life are not only astonishing, but also seem to have made many of us seem arrogant and docile with regard to future human survival on Earth. Or, if not arrogant or helpless, at least largely or inadvertently ignoring the urgency of the onset of devastating environmental threats.
These terms are comprehensively described in every possible medium. See Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy, two recent documentaries by authoritative scientists about human attacks on our fragile environment. Jeff Bezos’ comment after his flight into near space was about realizing the need to protect a small orb. I attended the first Earth Day in Chicago in 1970 and had earlier had the pleasure of meeting for lunch with Fairfield Osborne at the New York Zoological Station in New York on Long Island. What a cheerful, caring and insightful man. Veer, as he was known to his friends, wrote Our Stolen Planet, a popular 1948 book that marked the takeoff of our modern environmental movement. Yet, as our most respected scientific observers tell us, a fundamental solution to global problems requires us to drastically reduce human numbers or threaten our very own survival.
The world population is now nearly 8 billion people, with a 3 billion increase expected before 2100. The population was first around 2 billion, so it has expanded 4 times in my life! The process of reducing human numbers so that we do not destroy what sustains our lives can be done from now on quite gently, humanely and safely. Or we can keep moving forward because we are now arrogantly, stupidly, selfishly and violently leading our lives on this finite planet to its ends. Authors have always imagined the imaginary end of human life.
I discuss this issue in my new book, We Humans Overtake Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100 Now available on Amazon and other book sites
Prioritizing population reduction in any way is meant to preclude the urgent need to address climate issues as proposed by the United Nations. In fact, many conservation efforts have been largely effective, except when they have not been as effective as the ongoing destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and other non-renewable resources. One of my cousins has been working there at the Nature Conservancy for many years, but we are losing the battle. A recent proposal for the United Nations to form an environmental committee to take action on this key issue. the following link:
In short, the annual human excessive use of the earth’s bounties has reached its limits as we can now see from global events reported daily.
I was present at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo as a press representative for several NGOs to which I was affiliated, including the Population Institute.
At the time, the media reaction was great, although it was temporary in the past, but of course some commentators used words like “historic” or a quote from the United Nations website, “no less than a revolution came out of Cairo,” like “Barbara Croisette, former UN chief of staff for the New York Times, before the 37th session of the Commission on Population and Development where she delivered a keynote address on the topic “Has Cairo Compatibility Lost Momentum: A Journalist’s Perspective”.
Now at the age of 90, and as one associated since 1965 with many family planning organizations and NGOs focusing on “population explosion”, I can sadly note my continuing disappointment with the massive shortcomings of leadership during these years in making women’s rights and access to family planning globally.
We are all well aware of the role of some religions in slowing the adoption of family planning, but also there was much less enthusiasm from those who pursued women’s rights but rejected pre-Roe v. Wade in gaining a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
This was an issue that was a major part of my activities earlier in my life as I worked closely with funding abortion facilities, for example, with Al Moran, CEO of PPNYC and helping Rei Ravenholt start Ipas, which internationally focused on helping women get operations Safe abortion. The movie “Whose Choice” I funded about the persistent delay in abortion services can be watched for free at www.churchandstate.org.uk. Since then, I’ve gone to great lengths to add more tools to allow women to be served, other than just saying they should have more tools. Speaking is easy, service difficult. Politics is harsh. Ray’s early departure as head of Planned Parenthood at USAID was certainly related to his aggressive abortion initiatives.
My director at the time was a major donor to the Population Council in the late 1960s. Its unrestricted grants of $2 million a year ($17 million in today’s dollars) were halted when the board refused to take on abortion projects, saying its Catholic board member would object.
I specifically remember the voice at the 1994 Cairo conference by Joan Dunlap, who was an aide to Population Council John D. Rockefeller III in New York City. She clearly supported women’s rights, but her illegal abortion early in her life apparently affected her reluctance, which she expressed to me at a lunch in the late 1960s, to participate in my abortion projects at the time.
Her position appears to have changed with her 2012 obituary reports. Not unique to people developing situations, for example also in the early 1970s the PPFA branch in my hometown refused to perform abortions at the time, forcing a group of us to Starting a stand-alone clinic that performed thousands of early abortions in its first year.
At the time of the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, the world population was 5.6 million, or nearly 8 billion, having increased 4 times in my lifetime. Still, world leaders and the media do not give the issue proper priority. Do we move or continue down this downward path unnecessarily? The evidence is now immutable but still not fully dealt with due to failed global leadership.
Remember that Apocalypse fantasy writers were seen as out of the way in fiction, but not anymore by respected scientists and naturalists like Sir David Attenborough or E.O. or Wilson. In short, Cormac McCarthy’s “Road” no longer seems so far-fetched.
By reading their articles, one can realize the obvious truth of the above.
Donald A. Collins is a former US Navy officer, banker, and venture capitalist. Also a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C., he has spent more than 50 years working in women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or administrator of several family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood of America, Population Institute, Guttmacher Institute, and Family Health International (mow FHI360) and Ipas. He is an undergraduate at Yale University and holds an MBA from New York University. It can be accessed at [email protected]
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