According to the United Nations, the world’s population is likely to reach 8 billion by 2023, a couple of years away. Mother Earth is bleeding from destruction. Is the world population helping or destroying. Read on to see what Fr. Jean-Marie Nsambu says about it.
The answer to the question here-posed, is not rhetorical, though many often reduce it to that. It requires much reflection and particular cognizance of why the earth is and for whom. In rhetoric, many movers and shakers of society have made speech of the obvious; how this our world, like any other planet, is space that does not increase. And with sharp rises in human population, they have argued that soon, there won’t be enough resources to go around for sustenance of many lives.
According to the United Nations, the world’s population is likely to reach 8 billion by 2023 a couple of years away! The United States of America Census Bureau projects that same number of people to populate earth not earlier than the year 2026. The UN Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which every two years calculates the number of people, finds that these projections provide a standard and consistent set of population figures. Its recent worldometer estimates the earth to be holding 7.9 billion people as of June 2021. Now enter the speculators! They have taken these figures to capitalize on particular social injustices visited on a good number of peoples, and they conclude that the world’s problem is overpopulation. It is said that one in eight people across the world, barely has enough to eat. In reality, however, the situation may even be worse. People, in different parts of the world, are still dying of hunger. But, could that be due to overpopulation, if at all?
Africa is looked at as the continent with the poorest of the poor peoples on this globe. That is, those who lack basic human necessities like food, water, healthcare, clothing and formal education. A little less than half of the 1.216 billion Africans there are, fit in this category. Never mind that Africa is a bloc super-rich with resources! Its woes, attributed mostly to the sickening governance of many a country, make Africans a people to shun. Supposedly, they are burdensome to the rest of the better world, particularly to those who love to play God towards it.
In 2017, Quartz Africa, an online publication on economies of the continent, circulated an interesting article by Joe Penney & Commentary: “West African governments want to cut population growth in half, but for whose benefit?” The news outlet stated that in a few years, Africa’s population is likely to double. That Africans will soon account for a quarter of all people in the world. Bad news! And why? Because to the others, “Africa will play a central role in shaping the size
and distribution of the world’s population
over the next few decades!” Those
others are mainly the West; European
economies, including, former colonizers
of the then nascent African nations.
Virtually, every government in Africa runs
to these countries begging for all kinds of
assistance. This is a problem not only for the beggar economies. It is more so arduous to the donors, or the so-called development partners, as governments of the West refer to their countries, with the aid they presumably give to their perpetually developing counterparts. The article reads: “French President Emmanuel Macron said recently Africa’s ‘civilizational’ problems were in part due to women having ‘7 or 8 children’, while Denmark’s minister for development cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, recently committed $14 million to family planning in developing countries. She argued ‘part of the solution to reducing migratory pressure on Europe is to reduce the high population growth in many African countries’.” Moreover, there are conspiracy theorists understandably so who claim that the whole conundrum of the COVID-19 pandemic is a ‘success’ lab experiment sponsored by some wealthy, powerful and cold-blooded individuals looking to sever human population. A January 2021 fact assessment attributed to the Associated Press (AP), found that the claim that
world billionaire Bill Gates suggests to depopulate the world by 3 billion people starting from Africa, was not true. He only spoke “about the benefits of slowing the rate of population growth.” When the world was created, God, who majority acknowledge as Supreme Being positive atheists and agnostics are only 7 percent worldwide did not append a limit to the number of people the world should hold at any time. Rather, He ordered humanity to “be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it,” according to the author of the Book of Genesis. God blessed mankind, the human male or female created in His image, and gave them dominion over the universe.
Evidently, every person, from conception to natural death, has equal stake to live and thrive, as part of a community that also claims particular territory by right. Would these God-given commands, therefore, not define the basic duty of humanity? In the order of creation is mankind set to propagate existential being using the Godgiven resources of this world, equitably and sustainably, to cater not just for the now, but for posterity as well. Made in His image and likeness, the whole human race is given dominion, which is however subject to ‘prophetic critique’; subordinate to the truth, as unchanging; yesterday, today and always! In a 2012 webcast interview #askbillg on youtube, Bill Gates tried to address the issue of population growth. “At the global level, it is not that daunting. The population, percentage-wise, is growing slower today than in the past. The problem is that the population is growing the fastest where people are less able to deal with it.
So, it is the very poorest places that you are going to have a tripling in population by 2050. Therefore, their ability to feed, educate, provide jobs, stability, protect the environment in those locations means they’re faced with an almost impossible problem […goes on to name a few African countries and Yemen].” And he continues: “So, what we need to
do is take this generosity in this innovation, and go in those places to offer better tools to the women, which they want to space birth in, or have a small family size, and improve health. Because it is amazing, as children survive, parents feel that they have enough kids to support them in their old age! So they [can] choose to have less children. [For example] Niger right now, still [has] 7 children per family, whereas in the richer countries you are often at a stable point of 2.1, or even less. So, it is really an acute problem in a certain number of places. S,o we got to make sure that we help out with the tools now so that they do not have an impossible problem later.” The Church teaches that every life is a gift from God. She opposes theorists who advance the issue of overpopulation in advocacy of population control using such means like contraception and abortion. Earth’s problem lies not in the number of people there are, but rather in how concerned the people are towards each other, as they use the resources at their disposal. Humans, as rational beings, are expected
to cooperate with the eternal order in creation. But, many people are wont to have hedonistic greed for grabbing resources at the expense of the survival of others. This man-eat-man tendency is most evident in chaotic times. For instance, when the COVID-19 first broke out, there was a rush to the stores and supermarkets, where people bought off the shelves basic items for the selfish intention of hoarding. Also today, in Uganda’s deficient systems of governance, there is a neo-primitive accumulation of wealth. A few privileged families have grown obscenely rich, the last 35 years, from the booming corruption that has left million other Ugandans struggling to just live by. There is no doubt, the issue of resources is of great concern, especially where different communities could be in conflict over them. That is, why every society needs leaders who are attentive to the needs and interests of the people, and who work to ensure the same are realized. In the 1963 papal encyclical, ‘Pacem in Terris’ (Peace on Earth), John XXIII stressed this: “Human society can be neither wellordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.” Its role is to ensure as far as possible the common good of society. In the teaching of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes, the common good is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” Indeed, the good common to all, concerns the life of every person. It, therefore, calls for prudence from everyone to the other, more so from those in public office. In a classical case for Mother Earth, which he describes as “our Sister,” borrowing from St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures, Pope
Francis notes the harm humanity inflicts on the world. This is not because of population, but because of imprudence. In his famous
encyclical on climate, Laudato Si, Pope Francis avers that “this sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” We can only adequately respond to the problems of the world, the pope observes, if we address causes related to the injustice
of the carefully crafted social inequalities. “There is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but
one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage.” Pope Francis seems to agree, the problem is not the number of people who are poor. It is rather, the number of philanthropists, professionals, opinion makers, planners, the media and all those with authority, who are far detached from the real issues affecting poor people, the majority of the world’s population.
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