Radiant Beams from the Gospel of Life

Chapter Ten: Future World Population

In the Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II touches briefly on the demographic question in #16; he criticizes the fact that "anti-birth policies continue to be enacted" instead of "serious social policies, programs of cultural development and of fair production and distribution of resources." With that he implies that anti-birth policies are not "serious social policies" which can really help families.

In #88 he approves that "centers for natural methods of regulating fertility should be promoted as a valuable help to responsible parenthood, in which all individuals, and in the first place the child, are recognized and respected in their own right and where every decision is guided by the ideal of the sincere gift of self." By thus treating natural family planning as a family issue, and not as a means of dealing with a demographic issue, the Pope in effect distances Church teaching from advocating natural family planning as a means of population control. He treats of NFP in a context of family life.

In #91 where he refers to "population growth" he rejects the current imposition by governments of contraception, abortion, and sterilization programs, stating that "the ways of solving the population problem are quite different... Solutions must be sought on the global level by establishing a true economy of communion and sharing of goods, in both the national and international order." He spelt this out a bit more specifically in his address to the United Nations on 5 October 1995, urging that "we must recommit ourselves to that solidarity which enables others to live out, in actual circumstances of their economic and political lives, the creativity which is a distinguishing mark of the human person and the true source of the wealth of nations in today's world." The task of the United Nations is to facilitate the conditions in which human creativity can function at its best. For creative humans themselves are the wealth of nations. His call for international solidarity goes beyond lending assistance; it is a call for the family of nations to work together as a true family, in which each has regard for the others, and has special care for the weaker members. Because the goods of Creation are meant for all people, therefore "the economic life of the world community should be oriented to sharing those goods, their use and their benefits" declared the Pope in an address to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 23 October 1995.

By reading between the lines we can conclude that the Church, in no way whatsoever, advocates any kind of birth control for dealing with demographic issues. And we are probably correct in stating that the Church does not see the present population growth of the world as a problem which is alarming, and most certainly not one which needs programs to reduce births. Future generations, when reading accounts of the Cairo anti-population policy, opposed dramatically by the Vatican Gospel of Life, will recognize that the Church was and is correct when she distances herself from all programs to decelerate demographic increase. Her program encourages people TO BE, whereas the anti-life clamor urges them NOT TO BE. Let us take a look at demographics in world history.

World Demographics

World population growth in the past must have had its ups and downs, but it surely never before grew to the nearly six billion people which now populate the globe. From the time of Adam and Eve, which may have been 400,000 - 200,000 years ago, the prevailing if not exclusive life-style was hunting and gathering food and resources, not cultivation of fields and animal husbandry. This hunting-gathering population spread over the entire globe during that immense span of time, probably from the savannahs of Africa into other parts of that continent and beyond; probably via the gateway of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean into Europe to the west, and into Asia to the east; and over the Malayan Peninsula into Australia; and northward into greater Asia, then via Beringia, which was a 1000 mile wide land corridor during maximum glaciation, into North America; and then all the way south to the tip of South America. Islands of hunter-gatherers existed in all continents except Europe until very recently, and exist even today, notably in Australia and Brazil.

Nevertheless, the total world population of all hunter-gathering peoples on the globe remained minimal when compared to growth which followed the adoption of agriculture and herding about 10,000 years ago. In vast Australia, for example, the Aborigine population probably did not exceed 300,000; small social groups of several hundred to several thousand were quite isolated from each other; they spoke perhaps 300 different languages; bordering groups might understand each other's language, but beyond that languages and cultures divided the peoples into socially and economically self-sufficient units whose people knew little about the world which lay beyond the borders of their yearly rounds of wanderings.

Agriculture and herding, however, supported a much larger population than did the hunting- gathering economy. Greater populations began to develop in river valleys, such as the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates, Indus and Ganges, and on around the globe. The bronze and iron age which produced sharp and hardened tools for cultivation (unfortunately also for weapons) vastly improved the food supply to support larger populations still. Nevertheless without modern medicine and hygiene, infant and child mortality was high, and the average life expectancy of the adult survivors was never what it is today.

Various tables have been drawn up, suggesting that life expectancy was only 18 years in average during the early iron and bronze ages, 22 years during Roman times 2000 years ago, and 35 years during the Middle Ages in Europe (see Woytinsky, 189). The UN estimate of world life expectancy during 1990-1995 is 65 years. For Japan it is already 79 years (men and women combined), the highest in the world (UNFPA 1993, 48). As events are moving now, the rest of world is edging up to close the 14 year gap with Japan, and should normally surpass even that during the next decades.

A rising gradient plotting world population increase must have been very steep initially, when Adam and Eve's offspring first increased and multiplied as they left the original human nest; but once the human family encircled the globe as hunter-gatherers, population may have almost stabilized during more than 200,000 years. We know very little about that. The growth that concerns us more immediately started only several hundred years ago, with what we term the industrial revolution. And that happened, ironically, almost as soon as Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) had prophesied, falsely as we now see, that population growth would forever be checked by productive insufficiencies. The so-called "population explosion" was detonated even before the ink was dry on the weeping pages of his pessimistic views. A sharp upward turn in the population growth curve is noted from 1850 onwards, although a distinct upward curve is noted earlier, from around 1750.

World Population Estimates in millions
1650-1950 data, adapted from Woytinsy, p.35

Year 545
1650 623
1700 728
1750 906
1800 906
1850 1,171
1900 1,608
1950 2,400
2000 6,000

(2050) 11,600 UN Medium Projection - 1993
(2050) 9,400 UN Projection 1998

The 400 years, from 1650 to 2050 appear to be the maximum demographic growth years. The UN projections indicate that the sharp upward turn is a temporary transitional event, not likely to continue into the long term future. The high, medium, and low projections are based on corresponding assumptions of fertility and mortality. The high projection swings upward to 28 billion by the year 2150; the medium indicates 11.6 billion. Note that the lower projection indicates a downward trend in population beginning around the year 2050. That projection is based on the actual current data of presently developed countries, and assumes that newly developing nations will eventually join the trend. If that demographic curve forecasts the future accurately, then our race will become extinct during the next millennium. The UNFPA, however, is more optimistic and gives greatest credence to the medium assumptions:

Rapid population growth is therefore still the dominant feature of global demographics, and will continue to be so for at least the next 30 years. The 1993 global population of 5.57 billion is projected to increase to 6.25 billion in 2000, 8.5 billion in 2025 and 10 billion in 2050.; significant growth will probably continue until about 2150 and a level of about 11.6 billion (UNFPA, The State of World Population 1993, p.1).

Once a population takes off on a typical course of modern economic, social, and health development, as began to happen in the more developed countries about 250 years ago, mortality rates decline; but it is only after a lag of time that fertility rates also begin to decline. Hence the temporary phenomenal increase of population occurs which demographers call the demographic transition. A productivity "explosion" accompanies this temporary "population explosion." The two improvements fortify each other; the rapid increase of healthy and well educated young people capacitates a powerful economic take-off and subsequent drive to maturity. There is this advantage for newly developing countries today, however: it took 250 years for the countries which are already well developed today to reach economic and health maturity; newly developing countries can now appropriate this wealth of technology and telescope their drive to maturity into perhaps half a century of intensive growth.

Children do not grow forever, as we know; and somewhat the same pattern of growth is seen in new populations; a typical boy may be 19 inches at birth, double that at 3 years, and double again at maturity; he does not double his height again and again to grow into the sky. We observe the growth of children with equanimity, because we expect them to grow very fast for a while, then to stop growing when they are mature. The UN projections indicate that world population also has its temporary growing season; in fact, the peak growth period is probably already past.

People who believe that world population will just keep increasing and shoot for the sky unless we push the panic button and impose birth control, are not well informed. [Update, added March, 2000]: The major problem of the new millenium is not to be population growth but stagnation or decline in numbers. In the year 2000 the number of children age 0-14 is about 1.9 billion; that is projected to increase only slightly by the year 2050, to just below 2.0 billion. In other words, world population growth of the future is practically stabilized already because the number of babies born is no longer increasing except minimally. When babies born in the year 2000 reach the age of 80, world population growth will have ceased, according to this projection (see The State of World Population, 1998, UNFPA, chart on pages 2-3). Yet some of my thoughtful friends in Japan believe sincerely that catastrophe lies ahead unless all the world controls births. They even believe that the Japanese families ought to control births to help the rest of the world. I dare say that many Japanese parents, who instinctively love children, who also realize that Japan must have more babies to remain a strong and competitive nation, nevertheless believe that it is a noble thing to practice birth control; to sacrifice their own family preferences, as well as the greater well-being of their Japan, and so to help prevent world overpopulation. That may be well-intentioned philanthropy, but it is not reasonable; it certainly does not improve the world situation.

For people are the world's greatest resource. By using modern advantages, the average person today produces a margin of surplus of living resources; by so doing, the average person born on earth today enriches the world a bit before he leaves it tomorrow; there is no progressive poverty on this earth, but we see a steady trend of progress toward better living conditions; each average person is contributing a bit of positive well-being to the general welfare. The average person born in 1900 left the world a bit richer when he died at a ripe age yesterday. Likewise the average person born in the 1990's can add a bit of wealth to humanity before passing away in the 2090's. It is a mistake to deprive the world of additional human benefactors by practicing unreasonable birth control; by birth control which does not look to the needs of one's family, but is motivated by a mistaken view about world demography.

The "1-2-4" situation in Japan - one child, two parents, and four grandparents - indicates an aging population, and hard days ahead for the young who have to support the old. If Japan's current replacement rate - 1.5 children for 2.0 parents - continues as at present, or even declines further, the nation forfeits its future. If this downward trend continues, then after several hundred years the Japanese nation will likely not have enough of a labor force and economic strength to prevent eventual absorption by other more vigorous peoples.

The world population growth rate appears to have peaked around 1960 at 2.1% per year. Currently it is down to about 1.7%; the UN medium projection for the year 2000 is 1.5%, and for the year 2020 it is 0.5% (UNFPA 1993, p. 3). If, however, we calculate a 2.1% annual increase by using the K mode on a calculator, and start with the 3.019 billion population of 1960, without taking into consideration the changing patterns of fertility and mortality which occurred in the meantime, we depart from reality; it would yield 6.379 billion in 1995, higher than our actual 5.75 billion; and increase to 7.076 in the year 2000, 11.9 billion in 2025; and a Mount Olympus of 160 billion in the year 2150. But that is a mathematical game, not realistic demography.

Shall we pity the people who will (hopefully) inhabit the globe in 2150? Let them be. Peace! It will be their world. If their population curve continues upward, the living levels they enjoy will most likely rise in parallel, or surpass it on a steeper gradient. The noisy and polluting gasoline powered cars which we know will likely be gone; perhaps clean and quiet vehicles propelled by electric current will replace them. Smoke stacks rising from fossil fuel burners will have disappeared and clean nuclear and solar energy will be smokeless. Roof gardens and greenhouses will supply home grown tomatoes and potatoes by clean hydroponic farming, ten times as efficient as today's fields. The children might study at home instead of commuting to schools, with mother chaperoning the TV lessons and work books. Shopping, banking, medical diagnosis will be done by push button electronics. Travel agents may advertise supersonic travel to global tourist attractions, and anniversary trips to the moon; and for newly-weds, a spin around Venus. The problem of the 2150 population will be not so much with the weather and with earning bread for the table, but with keeping the peace, and living in global human solidarity.

If 28 billion, or 11 billion people will inhabit the globe in 2150, they would very likely have a better life than if only 4.3 would then be alive, as the UN low projection foresees. These 4.3 billion would have an unbalanced age composition, broad at the top with the silver age groups. It would be a 1-2-4-8 population structure: 1 child, 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents. And if this aging population does not succeed in heaving itself out of the low fertility rut, humans would disappear from the face of the earth. This is not entirely fancy; even now nearly all of the developed countries are already in that rut. If the young and developing nations would follow us into that rut, and so shrink the global fertility rate to the current low rates of our developed nations, "and if the rate of decrease maintained itself for all succeeding generations, the population of the less developed countries - and that of the whole planet - would end by disappearing in 2400" (demographer Gerard-Francois Dumont, p. 319). It would not be a happy ending of God's designs for the race. The current developed nations would become extinct first, by the year 2250: "The quantitative mathematical logic, that is, the continuous application of an annual negative growth rate, would lead to the disappearance of all peopling in the industrialized countries from 2250." And the newly industrializing countries, if they follow the fertility patterns of the already industrialized countries, would follow them into extinction by the year 2400 (Dumont p. 319).

Dumont shows that in the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth centuries "the cause of demographic growth in the Northern countries was first of all industry, and then, only later, progress in medicine and health structures. In the South, on the contrary, with about a century's delay, medicine had the principal role" (Dumont p. 313). Until that time, he continues, the duration of life depended largely, in each region, on weather which resulted in good or bad crops. Innovative use of horse power accelerated the production of farm work, and the side benefit of fertilizer enabled continued cropping instead of crop rotation every three years. Sewage systems were improved, the digging of canals helped transportation, new jobs were created. Medicine, biology and chemistry made decisive development in research and diagnosis and innovative treatment of illness possible. Purified drinking water and improved sewage systems assured progress in general health and hygiene.

Benefitting from better conditions of life, sufficient food in every season, better hygiene, preventive vaccines and different kinds of care, humanity discovered that what was inconceivable in past centuries and millenniums become a reality. Man could distance himself a great deal from death. This is the formidable change which we call the first demographic revolution (p. 314).

"Negative population growth" has resulted in the extinction of many nations in past world history. Corrado Gini, a famous Italian statistician, in a series of lectures at Chicago University in 1929, asserted that many nations which flourished in the past are now either extinct or in decline, because they lost reproductive fertility. A loss of national fertility sooner or later appeared with the passage of the majority of the population along a social parabola rising from lower classes into upper classes. The fact that the upper class spouses listen easily to arguments favoring child spacing is an indication to Dr. Gini that the drive and power to reproduce is waning. This "upper class" mentality is associated with the extinction of many nations in past history.

Many nations have gone into decline or complete extinction in the past, Gini pointed out, despite the fact that natural resources were more favorable to them than to neighboring populations which were increasing. This led Gini to discard the theory of Malthus that reproduction always presses upon the limits of living resources.

Industrialization and Urbanization Accelerate the "Second Demographic Revolution"

Gini spoke of a decline of human fertility which accompanies the rise of living levels as populations moved up from lower to higher levels. Without need of accepting his theory of biological fertility decay during the process, which most demographers now deny, we see today that fertility does decline along with urbanization and industrialization. The reasons are not hard to find. This observed decline of fertility, now so evident in the developed economies of Europe, the America's, and parts of Asia, and in Australia and New Zealand, gives us reason to believe that world population growth will decelerate everywhere with economic development, without need of promoting birth control programs at all. But it need not result in a disaster of final human extinction if sufficient numbers follow the sane teachings of The Gospel of Life.

The replacement rate of population in Japan, for example, has dropped to 1.5; it means only 75% replacement of adult population by the children being born. What may be the cause? Aside from the "flywheel" effect of anti-birth propaganda which stopped three decades ago, and which has excessively discredited motherhood, there are other natural factors by which industrialization tends to lower birth rates. A comparison between conditions in rural subsistence economies with those of highly industrialized nations makes this quite plausible.

1. Infant and child survival rates rise: In a rural subsistence economy, parents who bore 8 children saw only 4 survive to adulthood. In an advanced economy parents who bear 4-5 children see a least 4 reach adulthood. Higher survival rates quite naturally motivate many parents to space births intentionally.

2. Change of the demographic age structure: The demographic age structure of a former rural subsistence population, characterized by high fertility and high mortality, is shaped like a pyramid, broad at the base with the young population, pointed at the top with few in the old age categories. During population transition, when mortality declines, and life expectation increases, the pyramid changes into shape like a bullet, then into a bulbous configuration. If a population goes into actual extinction, of course, the bulb changes into an upside down pyramid; when the narrow base also disappears, the tribe or nation goes into extinction. As Gini noted, lack of offspring marked the end of many tribes and nations during the course of human history.

A young population An aging population An aged population Adapted from Woytinsky, p. 243.

Two factors tend to depress birth rates during the aging process of a population:

a) The older and mature populations have a large proportion of people above 45 years old, mostly infertile. The larger proportion of this infertile age group in the demographic configuration tends naturally to depress the average birth rates of that population, even if the fertility performance of those in the child bearing ages remains constant.

b) The median age at first marriage tends to rise from perhaps the age of 18 in the young rural subsistence population, to perhaps the age of 25 or above in the highly developed technological economy. The 7 years difference in reproductive spans makes a difference. The two factors together, higher median age at marriage, and larger proportion of people above 45 years in the demographic structure, may cut a national birth rate in half, other things remaining equal. Therefore we do not expect a mature population in a developed economy to increase as rapidly as one which is emerging into an economic climb from a rural subsistence base.

c) With industrialization, children become economic burdens: In a rural subsistence economy, children became economic assets at an early age, working the fields with the parents. In our advanced economy, children are an economic burden, now going to school at parental expense. When they graduate, they leave home to start an independent existence. Parents pay for their education, and pay into social security funds to support themselves in later life. The previous economic benefits for bearing and rearing children have become reversed into economic costs. Parental responsibilities tend to motivate parents in developed economies to space births far more so than in the undeveloped economies.

d) Natural Selection, 1: When only 60% of the infants ever born reached adulthood, perhaps there was some natural selection: the more robust infants and children had a higher survival rate than the weaker ones. In India, for example, during 1921-30 only 56.5% of infants born survived to the age of ten; in Mexico in 1930, it was 58.1% (Woytinsky, 180). Today, over 90% of infants reach adulthood, the less hardy surviving together with the more hardy; this may dilute subsequent birth rates for biological reasons. I have no figures, but this appears to be plausible.

e) Natural Selection, 2: In a rural subsistence economy couples tend to marry young and to have as many children as health and circumstances allow. Healthy couples tend to have 8-10 children, whereas less healthy couples - with hereditary ailments such as diabetes - may have only 2 or none at all for physical reasons. The overall national vigor may become diluted if the differential in the birth rate decreases; if the healthier parents have fewer children, whereas the less healthy ones have the same as before. And the end result may again be a depression in birth rates because of a national lowering of reproductive capacity due to health reasons. Again, I have no figures, but the theory appears to be plausible.

f) School: Economic, social, and psychological factors tend to induce a quite natural postponement of marriage when economies develop, because children and juveniles attend school longer. And after graduation, both men and women may pursue a single life for some years before they feel ready for marriage. The median age at first marriage rises for good reasons during economic transition, and this tends to reduce the birth rates accordingly.

In Japan another factor operates in this area: the traditional age for retirement of the father from his company or occupation is 55, though this is changing and more flexible of late; until then he has been drawing gradually higher wages and bonuses each year; but at age 55 he retires, as company policy and national tradition dictate. He draws a considerable lump sum at retirement, and shifts to another job which provides a much lower income. He should therefore pay for the schooling of his children, which is very expensive, before he retires at age 55. By that reckoning, his youngest child should not be less than 20 at his retirement time; that is, the children should not be entering university but ready to graduate. By this reckoning, parents should not bear children after the father is 35 and the mother maybe 32. The mother then has a narrow window of seven years at most during which to have her children, from marriage at 25 to cut-off age 32. Japan's dismal reproduction of only 1.5 children per two parents is largely due to this, and appears to be a chronic situation.

However, at least one sixth of the families in Japan have 3-10 children even today. For example, of 1,188,242 births in 1993, 203,221 were a third child or beyond, that is, 17% (Ministry of Welfare, Maternal and Child Health Division). The accumulation of more children in this substantial minority of the nation keeps alive and well the traditions of the good life in larger families. In large part, they will inherit Japan's future. This robust and persevering larger family population within the nation will not overpopulate Japan, but rather support the nation's vitality when the majority of families with fewer children remain a demographic constant or tend to decline.

g) Professions: Parents in developed economies can serve society through professional contributions of high quality, such as teaching, medical services, research, the arts, civic service and many others; many find fulfillment and satisfaction in such occupations more than in rearing a large number of children. This occasions motivation to space and avoid births in a modern society, in a manner not present in a rural subsistence economy before demographic transition.

h) Careers and jobs for women: Many women who have advanced education and can find good paying jobs, postpone marriage to prolong their careers; they may later combine motherhood with careers or with part time jobs; in turn this motivates them to limit births and so return to work when the youngsters can enter the nursery or kindergarten. This is another factor which has brought on Japan's less than replacement reproductive rate.

That women get equal pay as men for the same kind of work when done outside of the home merits our understanding, but it is also a major influence inducing women to postpone marriage and to avoid becoming mothers of larger families. The Vatican's proposal made at Copenhagen in 1995, that women be paid equal wages for their home tasks as for jobs outside the home has compelling logic in this context. It may very well be that the key factor to influence men and women to evaluate justly the contribution of mothers and homemakers is payment in cash for these services. For example, husband and wife might voluntarily agree on the amount of wages per hour to be reckoned for mothering and homemaking, which should come out of his paycheck. If a just and satisfactory formula is enacted and implemented, by which women get equal pay for the work they do at home as men get for the work they do outside of the home, such a pay system may yet save the developed nations from sliding down the incline toward depopulation and eventual extinction.

9) Break-up of the extended family: The rural-to-urban migration, which has practically completed its process in Japan, has at least temporarily nuclearized the ancient and ancestral extended family; young couples form nuclear families in cities far from parents and grandparents, liberated now from bonds and social pressures which had supported the extended family structure from time immemorial. Mothers who were honored when the children came in the ancient society, and assisted by parents and relatives, now find themselves alone; every additional birth requires sacrifices without the usual rewards and support from an admiring relationship. The break-up of the extended families and formation of nuclear families is a major factor in decreasing the motivation for births in a large part of the world.

In 1992 the population of the less developed regions was 35% urban, as contrasted with 73% of the developed regions, and 44% for the world (UNFPA 1993, p. 48). We expect more of the same in the future, until the world population becomes overwhelmingly urban. In this context of accelerating urbanization and permanent residence in cities for the majority of our race, the provision of proximate housing for extended families should be a prime social priority. Grandparents in cities should live near enough to their children and grandchildren to be able to help the younger generation routinely, and to contribute to the education and loving of the grandchildren.

10) Consumer mentality: We see everywhere that an opulent lifestyle induces populations to lose a taste for the simple but great joys of family life with many children. Murphy's law that consumer wealth breeds family poverty goes into effect more and more when living levels rise. Many parents also honestly believe that three or four children suffice in their case, or even one or two, because they wish to educate them well, and because they prefer to have more time and energy to pursue professions and contribute to the good of humanity in other ways. All this combines to indicate that world population may tend to stabilize in the future when populations everywhere have achieved mature economic and social development.

And more. These and other considerations indicate why we expect populations to increase during the first demographic transition when infant and child mortality declines; and why we expect, in turn, a deceleration of the increase when levels of living have improved markedly for the general population. Gini theorized that fertility declined in nations when larger sectors of the population migrated from lower to upper class living levels. Today we see that the economically developed world which has migrated from the lower levels of living in subsistence agriculture economies, into affluent living conditions in high-tech economies, experience general fertility declines.

As a whole, the already developed nations achieved rapid economic development without need of national birth control drives. In fact, birth control policies might have decelerated the rapid pace of economic development in the USA and other developed countries in the past. Other things being equal, we would expect slower economic development to have occurred if the young labor force had been depleted by birth control during the transition to the high-tech economy. If that analysis is correct, then the UNFPA does economic harm rather than good to the developing countries by promoting birth control drives.

And yet, we cannot be certain about trends of future world population. Miscalculations of the past should warn us to be cautious and humble about our expectations of future world population trends. After World War I a rapid decline in birth rates became a national concern in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Great Britain. The situation seemed grave. And a similar prospect was in sight for all the Western developed countries of that time. Many believed then that the low birth rates would affect economic and social life adversely. "Nations without youth would lose vitality, economic growth would slow down or stop completely, and the era of dynamism and progress would be followed by a long period of stagnation" (Woytinsky, 242). Measures to encourage marriages and births then became a strong national policy, and were not entirely without success.

But prominent demographers proved to be wide of the mark in their projections of future world population. Raymond Pearl, in 1930, concluded that the growth of the world's population would eventually stop at 2 billion people. He revised this to predict 2.150 billion by 1950, and 2.450 by the year 2000 (see Woytinsky, 247). Woytinsky suggested (1953) that this was too low; that it may reach 3.250 billion by the year 2000; prominent demographers agreed on similar estimates. All missed by about 100%! Not by 25%, nor 50%, but 100%. Little did they know. God and the people apparently paid slight attention to their projections. As it turns out, the world population will likely be slightly above six billion people, not three billion as they had envisioned. The three billion additional people can be the happier for it!

And by this time the 5.6 billion people are quite well adjusted to the planet. God has made enough living room for all, and more to spare. He is eternal wisdom, and knows infallibly what we need for viable and comfortable human life on our globe. He fine-tuned the planet with meticulous care - through secondary causes as we view it, but not without His providence. A providence which makes all things cooperate for our welfare. Two examples are adduced to allow us to marvel at the Creator' ingenuity.

It should amaze us all that our atmosphere has this balanced mix: enough oxygen to fuel our fires, but not enough to cause a global explosion from a spark. The 20.946% oxygen in the atmosphere is about right, when mixed with the inert 78.084% nitrogen. The carbon dioxide content of only 0.034% (increased by now to about 35 parts per 1000, varying with the location) is sufficient to support moderate photo-synthesis but is not excessive to fuel run-away plant growth. Ozone, which filters out certain bands of ultra-violet wavelengths, preventing harm to our skin, has at its maximum concentration about 10 parts per 1,000,000, depending upon the location; in a column of atmosphere 8 kilometers high it would be only several millimeters in height (see Encyclopedia Britannica, "Ozone"). Ozone is not included in this table of the lower atmosphere as given in EB "Atmosphere."

Table I - Composition of the Lower Atmosphere, (Permanent Constituents)

The second example is the beautifully balanced cycle of life's processes, in which flora and fauna cooperate to mutual advantage. It is a cycle dependent on photo-synthesis and carbon combustion. Plants draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and water from the atmosphere and soil; into this mix they draw energy from the sunlight to fix carbo-hydrates as animal food; and release free oxygen into the atmosphere for animal and human breathing. Animals and humans reverse the process, consuming the carbohydrates, breathing the free oxygen, combusting the trapped energy in their muscles and life processes, and returning the carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and water to the soil and atmosphere. "Without this perfect cycle, life on earth would have gone out of business long ago" (Augros and Stanciu, 116).

God, with exquisite and perfect foresight, by divine power and infinite love, has furnished a suitable environment which makes life possible for us. We can be certain that if He made our life machine to function, His laws will also be to our advantage, not to our harm. The Church is therefore convinced that it is never necessary to break a natural and divine law to achieve human good and welfare. God does not need a UNFPA and Planned Parenthood to make a correction in His eternal plans; to promote contraception in order to prevent overpopulation. The Church, therefore, stands firmly on the pattern of life based on God's commandments:

  1. Thou shalt not kill.
  2. Thou shalt not use sex outside of marriage.
  3. Thou shalt not contracept.
  4. Thou mayest adjust family size to thy needs by using natural family planning.

If ever in the very distant future the world's families would recognize convincingly that, for their own welfare, they must cooperate in world wide solidarity to accept birth quota's to prevent absolute overpopulation, to preserve the ecosystem, to close the ozone hole, to mitigate the greenhouse effect; to remedy whatever; and if there is really no other way to keep the world comfortably habitable than to put a quota on births; then, at that time, the Church may recognize that parents should control births to maintain global welfare. That time is not now, and my assumption is that it will never be. Rather, we will find now and always, so long as the world functions as our home, that MORE PEOPLE IS BETTER if we keep the ten commandments adequately.

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