Advocacy Project

For my advocacy project I tried to promote an easy method that will decrease population. This method was adoption. To do this I made a Facebook fan page which can be found here. I won’t go into too much detail about adoption as I covered it in the blog. Adoption is something that has many benefits. Although it does not change the total number of people in our world population, it does not add to it either. This is a very good thing in my opinion. In addition to keeping the population even, adoption theoretically provides a better life for person adopted. I briefly mentioned it earlier, but my Aunt and Uncle have adopted four children from Ethiopia and their lives are undoubtedly better off as a result of this adoption.

One thing I would certainly do differently if I had the chance to do this project again would be to have an in person event. Creating something on Facebook and sending an invite out to my friends is not the best way of spreading the word on adoption but I am living in Harrisonburg for the summer and the town isn’t exactly full of people. In an in person event I could have found someone to speak who either was adopted or has adopted on how it has impacted their life. Facebook is just very impersonal and it does not adequately capture the emotion that adopting holds. As I said I tried to reach out to all the people who I am friends with on Facebook but many people simply ignored my page. Although this is frustrating, it is to be expected. I usually do the same when people send me suggestions for things. A few people who I am friends with and sent invites to talked to me about it in person or through other mediums and I encouraged them to comment on the page itself but last I checked only one or two had actually done so. It is extremely difficult to get people excited or interested in a cause via the internet unfortunately. I do have friends who have similar views on adoption and population control and even they ignored my request. I would not consider my project a failure but rather an act in progress. Population control and adoption are something that I am passionate about seeing the benefits of adoption and some of the repercussions of an out of control population. This is a cause that I do not plan on abandoning anytime soon. I think it is critical for our generation to be informed and start making decisions that will help our world in the future before it is too late. The human race is teetering on the edge of destruction and if we do not start taking steps to take our actions our lives may change drastically in the near future.

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Countries Stimulating Growth

As I covered yesterday, some of the most populous nations on Earth are taking measures to limit population growth. Other nations, such as Russia and Australia on the other hand, are trying to stimulate growth as they have seen their populations decline significantly in recent years.

Russia: At current rates of .6% of increase in population growth Russia is unable to maintain their current population. A higher death rate exists in the nation and any new births are not sufficient to cover the difference between the two. Russia has gotten fairly creative in implementing measures to increase their population. One regional governor went so far as to giving his citizens the day off in order to procreate. If the women had a child exactly 9 months later they became eligible for a prize, the penultimate being a new, fully paid for house. Former Russian President Vladimir Putin implemented a 10 year plan that offered financial incentives and subsidies for women in the hopes of encouraging them to have children.

Australia: Australia has recently implemented a plan where mothers of new born children receive bonuses for each child they have. When first introduced, the bonus was worth only $3000 but it has since climbed to $4000. Additionally, Australia has introduced a plan where all immunizations for children will be free going forward. In 2011, if the legislation is passed by the Australian Parliament, paid maternity leave will be implemented to up to 18 weeks after having a child.

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China and India

China and India combined account for roughly 37% of the world’s population with 20% for China and 17% for India. Both countries have implemented policies designed to limit population growth. Below I will delve into specific polices for both highly populated nations.

China: China is notoriously known for its, “One Child Policy,” which was introduce in 1978 and implemented in 1979. This policy is not very complicated to understand. Each family is allowed to have one child. This creates a problem however because the Chinese view family names as very important. Without having a male to inherit and carry on the family name it dies. Since the policy was implemented there has been a significant decrease in the population growth of the nation. It is estimated that 200 million less people have been born under the policy before the start of the new millennium. Other provisions of this policy include sterilization procedures on those who have already had their allocated child. It is estimated that in 1983, “Tubal ligations, vasectomies, and abortions amounted to thirty-five percent of the total birth control methods,” that took place in the country. Those who violate the one child policy are subject to higher taxes and other punishment as deemed by the state.

India: During the 1940s and early 1950s India had a population growth on average of 1.3%. The political leaders of the time believed that this level of growth would be consistent as time went forward and hence they did not see a need to implement any policies pertaining to growth. Growth however skyrocketed. By the 1960s, just 10 years later, the growth rate had increased to 41 per 1000 people. To curb this India took drastic measures. They implemented a massive overhaul of their health care institutions by increasing the number of hospitals. While this is a good thing, rather than educate their population on birth control measures, they preferred the route of forced sterilization. Although their methods are controversial, they do appear to be working as the population growth rate has decreased from 2.1% in 1990 to 1.7% as quickly as 1997, no small feat for a nation that breached the 1 billion total shortly after.

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Population Control in the Modern Time Period

Population in the modern time period has been controlled, for the most part, due to the wars that have been fought as I stated in my opening post. There have also been epidemics with disease most notably the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages and the flu epidemic in 1918. Certain countries in our modern world today have implemented policies to both enhance as well as limit the total populations. Throughout the next few days I will cover policies that have been implemented in China and India who are trying to limit growth as well as Russia and Australia who are providing incentives for the aging population to have more children.

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Population Control in the Middle Ages

As the world progressed through time population evidently grew. Throughout the Middle Ages of the 16th and 17th century there were two opposing sides. Religion played a key role in both the politics of governments and the daily lives of individuals during the time period. The bible called for procreation and so did individuals like Martin Luther. In 1522 in what he titled, The Estate of Marriage he wrote, “A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen; that’s when they are still in good health and best suited for marriage. Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them.” Opposite of the religious viewpoints of the time, Machiavelli believed that an increase population could create problems. He theorized in Book II Chapter V of Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius that, “When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere… the world will purge itself in one or another of these three ways (floods, plague and famine)” Machiavelli’s ideas permeated into the 1700 as Sir Thomas Robert Malthus wrote, “Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.”

The population control movement has had many famous and influential people weigh in on it throughout the years. It has changed over time as the political landscape changed. Next week, I will delve into more of the modern view towards population control.

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Population Control in the Greek and Roman Civilzations

The idea of controlling population has been around for quite some time. Ancient scholars such as Plato and Aristotle pondered the idea when considering the longevity of the Greek city states. They saw that overpopulation led for resources to be scarce within the city states and the masses became hard for the local governments to control. A population that was too small meant that industry was not operating at capacity and if attacked, the city states could have problems defending themselves. They preached that a balance was necessary between promoting procreation as well as immigration if necessary. Aristotle even advocated abortion as a means to control population. In Book II, Chapter VI of A Treatise on Government Aristotle wrote that if population increased substantially then there would, “certain poverty on the citizenry, and poverty is the cause of sedition and evil.”

The Greek city states isolated themselves and hence needed to control their population. Empires, such as the Romans, throughout the ages however saw things differently.  To achieve their broad goals of conquering the world the leaders of the Roman Empire needed a significant population base in their homeland to produce goods and support their armies abroad. To promote population growth at home a series of laws were instituted. The first was known as Legas Julia or the Julian Laws. This law included provisions that limited marriage across social class boundaries. This law also imposed punishment on those who were celibate. There were also incentives given to encourage people to get married such as tax breaks for marriage and having children. The second law was called Lex Papia Poppaea. This law was enacted to strengthen and encourage marriage. One provision within this law again tried to keep classes from intermarrying. Marrying partners also had to be suitable matches. A marriage was void if either partner was unable to have children or if one person was deemed to be of a lower class than the other. This law also had a provision that addressed celibacy. If you lived in the Ancient Roman Empire and were not married by a certain age there would be penalties. If a couple got divorced or one was widowed they had one year or six months respectively to remarry. If a man reached the age of sixty or a woman the age of fifty they were no subject to the celibacy laws so long as they had not been punished by them before. There was also a penalty on married couples who did not produce children.

That is all for today’s post. Check back tomorrow for information about how population control progressed through the Middle Ages.

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The Ancient Maya: A Case Study

The ancient Maya civilization was once a great power throughout Central America. They ruled from roughly 2000 BC to 900 AD, a run just short of 3000 years. Evidently throughout that 3000 year reign, something must have gone wrong. A civilization at the peak of its power does not disappear almost entirely without something drastic happening. Guy Gugliotta, in his article for National Geographic titled Maya: The Glory and Ruin states that, “When cities were small and resources relatively plentiful, but over time, growing populations, an expanding nobility, and rivalry between the city-states strained the limits of the environment.” Obviously, when a civilization had as much power as the Maya did resources must have been used in a sustainable and efficient manner. He goes on to point out that, “Maya farmers were well schooled in sophisticated techniques designed to get maximum production from delicate tropical soils. But beginning in the ninth century, studies of lake-bed sediments show, a series of prolonged droughts struck the Maya world.” Archaeologists like Tom Sever and Daniel Irwin point out that the Maya relied on a combination of slash and burn agriculture and the conversion of seasonal wetlands to drier land for farming. Both of these techniques are very invasive to the environment and can throw off the ecosystem very easily. Changing the ecosystem could have caused the droughts which lead to resources becoming scarce and, “that could have fueled many of the suspected factors that led to the Maya decline—even seemingly unrelated issues like disease and war.”

Although the Maya were only doing what they needed to survive it eventually led to their demise. They destroyed their environment in a way that could not be fixed all to feed their growing population. Their natural resources became constrained and limited and over a period of 150 to 200 years, their civilization was all but destroyed. Like I discussed yesterday, the carrying capacity of an area is a set figure. Tampering with the environment while going over the carrying capacity not only impacted the Maya but is also present in areas in our world today. The Maya should provide an example for our world leaders today as to what can happen if population is allowed to spiral out of control.

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Repercussions of Increasing Population

Today I would like to discuss the negative repercussions that can occur when a population is allowed to grow unchecked. There is one key term to understand first. That is carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is the total population an environment can sustain indefinitely given there is adequate food and water available as well as a suitable habitat. Carrying capacity is significant because overpopulation does not necessarily depend on the overall size but rather the ratio of resources that are available to the population.

When a population overruns its carrying capacity its resources are depleted. Fresh water becomes scarce if it is not contaminated from increased sewage from the rising population. Food resources run out and species can become extinct. As a result of food and water becoming scare, individuals become malnourished which leads to a shorter life span and an increase in Infant mortality rate. On more of a community level, living conditions become inhospitable and crime rate has been shown to increase.

Environment degradation, which is referred to in the Rockefeller video I posted last week also comes into play. Deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems occur which can accelerate the natural resources of an area disappearing and making the situation even worse. The destruction of the ecosystem can lead to climate change on not only a local scale but also a global one. This is the case with the great Mayan civilization which I will discuss in a later post.

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Population Control Methods Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post there are three more methods of population control that I want to discuss: abortion, war, and adoption.

Abortion: Abortion is controversial itself and I will try and stay out of the politics behind it. In the simplest sense, abortion controls population by removing a life before it is born. There is not much more to say on this topic as it is fairly self explanatory.

War: War is an indirect method of population control. Obviously, people die in war. I was unable to locate the source for this information, as it was on a PowerPoint slide from a class I am also taking, but there have been an estimated 250 wars in just the 20th century ranging from World Wars I and II to smaller conflicts like struggle in the Balkans. In these wars, an estimated 110 million people have been killed either fighting or as civilians caught in the crossfire.

Granted, war is an indirect way of population control, and in no way am I advocating for war, one cannot dispute that it does reduce the world population. Yes we live in a world of roughly 6.8 billion people. 110 million dead from wars, although a tragedy, is not that many dead in the grand scheme of world population. Exponentially however, it does make a significant difference because odds are the majority of those who died in wars would have offspring and their offspring would have offspring thus increasing the world population.

Adoption: Adoption is the most straightforward method of population control. Forgo having your own children to adopt those that do not have parents. This method does not increase the total number of people on the planet and gives a home as well as parents to those who do not have them. One downfall of this however is that adoption is a very complicated process as I have seen firsthand. My Aunt and Uncle have adopted four children from Ethiopia because it was unsafe for them to extend their family due to health concerns. People choose to adopt for a variety of reasons other than health. My Aunt runs a blog about adoption and parenting adopted children and she proposed this topic on there. The answers this topic received ranged from religious callings to adopt to things like adopting because couples were unable to have children on their own and individuals who felt compelled to adopt after having been adopted themselves.

There are a variety of reasons to adopt and each individual has their own but in terms of population control it does not add any new children to the world thus slowing down the constant growth of our global population total.

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Population Control Methods Part 1

Population control comes in many different forms. In my opinion, there are five main methods of controlling population. These include contraceptives, education, abortion, war, and adoption. I am planning to split this topic into two different posts in order to give each method its deserving coverage.

I first want to start off with this video of David Rockefeller speaking at a UN meeting. In this video he discusses population control and why is it needed in the future.

Contraceptives: The first and most common form of population control is contraceptives such as condoms or the pill. They come in all shapes and sizes and as long as you have taken a basic health class, which I am sure most people have, you are probably aware of this form. Contraceptives can be controversial depending on your religious views. Roman Catholics are firmly against any type of contraceptive as are some sects of Judaism. Islam, although they do not have a stance saying that contraceptives are implicitly wrong, try to promote birth and population stimulus. Protestants, for the most part, view birth control and contraceptives as morally wrong whereas people practicing the Hindu religion have no ban on birth control or contraceptives.

The aforementioned religions accounts for a significant portion of the worlds populations, with the biggest two being Catholicism and Islam. Both of the religions as well as Protestants believe in methods that do not limit birth but rather hope to increase it. Bringing up the topic of contraceptives to some of these groups can create controversy as it is against their fundamental beliefs.

Education: Education is perhaps the simplest form of population control and it also goes hand in hand with contraceptives. As I stated in the previous post, the population increases more and more each second. Educating people about this as well as different options to having your own biological children is critical to controlling the worlds overall population growth. Some different methods of education on population control would include a basic health class. Health classes are part of our elementary and middle school curriculum, specifically a portion on reproductive health. This is not the case in most nations. Advocating for adding basic health education as well as population control education should be something each nation employs. Education should include a discussion on contraceptives as well trends in the global population to increase awareness of the situation we are in currently and headed towards.

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