Msgr. Charles Pope
Archdiocese of Washington
Oct 1, 2010
One of the seeming premises of the culture of death is that human life is essentially a bad thing. The thinking goes that there are too many of us and that we destroy the planet by our mere presence and use of resources that could be put to better use by more noble creatures like the animals. The Culture of Death has used a lot of fearmongering over the past decades to make great inroads into the western psyche. One of the fearful images I*vivdly remember from a Star Trek*episode where they*visit a planet that is horribly over-populated.*Since I am away this week preaching a priest retreat I thought I might re-post this blog from about a year ago. I will monitor comments and so encourage you to comment.
It was always drilled in to us when I was growing up that the planet was overpopulated. We were promised famines, and disease by the doomsayers. Clearly we were headed for disaster and only contraception could save us. Some also suggested forced sterilization and abortion for recalcitrant reproducers, like they have done in China.
But really! How overpopulated are we? What kind of a physical footprint do we really have on this planet? Try this on for size.
So there you have it. “But Father, but Father… we can’t all live in a suburb like that. We need roads, shopping centers, parks, farmland, schools, etc.” Yes indeed, but as you can see there is a lot of land left over. I think we’ll squeeze it all in somehow. Point is, there’s plenty good room. We are a long way from fulfilling God’s mandate to “be fruitfull and multiply to fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28)
- There are currently about 6 Billion people on this planet.
- Lets put them, four to house on a quarter acre of land. This is the typical size of a traditional suburban lot.
- Now, physically, how big is the suburb of houses we’ve created?
- Let’s see, 6,000,000,000 four to a house is 1.5 Billion houses.
- 1.5 Billion Houses on a quarter acre each is 375 Million Acres.
- What does 375 Million Acres compare to? Well lets see, The state of Texas is 171904640 acres. 375 Million Acres is just over twice the size of the State of Texas (2.18 Texases to be exact). It also equates to 3.6 Californias. Why Alaska at 420 Million Acres could hold them all and still have 45 million acres left over.
What of famines? True there are shortages in the world here and there. We have plenty of food here in America but it is sometimes hard to get it to famine regions due to war and corrupt governments. We have the food, it’s getting it there that is the problem. That’s why allowing starvation is so immoral. We have so much abundance in the god ole USA that our government actually pays farmers not to plant to help keep prices higher.
What of water? Fresh water is limited. But we can desalinate. Right now it costs too much but I have little doubt that as the need grows for more fresh water we will find more cost-effective ways to desalinate.
What about climate change? – not too sure about that. It does seem clear that the climate has always been changing. That was the case even before we were here. Climate has always changed, quite radically actually, and we, and the planet, *have adjusted.
Why is this on a Catholic blog? Well think about it, contraception, abortion, sterilization, even euthanasia all march under banners that, among other things, appeal to fear about overpopulation. The Church has often been ridiculed for being out of touch and insensitive to the great question of overpopulation. This little presentation has had as a goal to spark a discussion if such fears are really justified or is it just another fear mongering myth? How say you?
Here’s the scary Star Trek video I remember. Look at the terrible crowds *outside the window. We were told to expect such terrible things if we didn’t stop reproducing. Notice how Kirk suggests contraception and sterilization.
The following video gives a little more background to the history of overpopulation concerns. I think its a good video but, as you will see, I think they underestimate a little the acreage necessary to house six billion. They say one Texas I say two. But hey, it’s all pretty clear, we’ve got a lot of land, God’s been generous. Also, the video says population will peak in 30 years and then start to go back down. I am not sure how they say that or know it.