Overpopulation now considered science “myth”?

Funny, forty years ago it was the No. 1 science fact. Right up there where human-caused climate change is today.

As I know from experience, pregnant women took their share of heat, even in sparsely populated countries like Canada.

Well, at Nature, it’s currently #5 myth

“The science myths that will not die”

But the human population has not and is not growing exponentially and is unlikely to do so, says Joel Cohen, a populations researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York City. The world’s population is now growing at just half the rate it was before 1965. Today there are an estimated 7.3 billion people, and that is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Yet beliefs that the rate of population growth will lead to some doomsday scenario have been continually perpetuated. Celebrated physicist Albert Bartlett, for example, gave more than 1,742 lectures on exponential human population growth and the dire consequences starting in 1969.

One dire consequence has been forcible sterilization and abortion.

The world’s population also has enough to eat.

Yes, and obesity is becoming a global problem .

Like others interviewed for this article, Cohen is less than optimistic about the chances of dispelling the idea of overpopulation and other ubiquitous myths (see ‘Myths that persist’), but he agrees that it is worthwhile to try to prevent future misconceptions. … Scientists need to be effective at communicating ideas and get away from simple, boiled-down messages. Myths that persist More.

What scientists need is science journalists who lose the pom poms and start asking the hard questions when they are unpopular.

It is precisely when the hard questions are unpopular that they are most urgently needed.

One wonders whether uncritically accepted climate change claims will do more or less damage than overpopulation claims.

See also: Some are starting to get it: Science journalist fed up with “nutrition science” Is this getting to be a trend?

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  • Drunk_by_Noon

    In the west it’s a myth, but in the third world they are over-populated by between 5-10 times.
    Africa is at about ten times her historic carrying capacity.
    Same thing with China, India, the Middle East, and Central, and South America, but to a lesser degree.

    The stats were fudged using third world data in the west to predict doom.

  • Hard Little Machine

    The modern world, the industrialized first world will fall to a half billion though.

  • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

    By the time the Population Bomb hit the main rags, population growth was beginning to subside anyway. (Though it was the bollocks of the century, it was too good a Science Scare to pass up, and created political advantages for secular elites.)

    Why population growth was already subsiding: Reduced child mortality rates began to sink in culturally, in many places. People started to sense that if they had six children, they would in due course, have six young adults instead of three (as in earlier times). That makes a difference to what happens next.

    Wherever machine power replaces human and animal power, we will broadly speaking, see reduced birth rates over time. The old theory was that healthy kids can work more than they need to eat (“Every child is born with one mouth but two hands).”)

    The new theory became, get your kid into a paid job, best of all in the middle classes (which is easier to do if one has only a few contenders than if one has many).

    Zachriel seems to believe that birth control causes low birth rates. No. Of course not.

    Birth control makes low birth rates more convenient to achieve, assuming the desire already exists. (Alternatives are abortion, infanticide, forced celibacy, very late marriage, etc.)

    Smaller families generally happen in situations where there is an apparent advantage to smaller families.*

    Feminists today often talk as though a “childfree” status confers power; in antiquity, it would make a woman a shunned, possibly abandoned, non-entity.

    = She failed to produce the most valuable thing a woman could produce, which was a free labour force. Happy the woman who had ten strong sons; she was practically a queen, and even her husband had to defer to her.

    Now the wheel has turned and will probably not turn back.

    But the genius of the Population Bomb movement was to take a comprehensible demographic change and, with lots of help, turn it into a pseudo-crisis to advance irrelevant goals.

    No surprise if human-caused global warming turns out to be the same thing. One can only pity the victims, usually the wretched of the Earth in these cases.

    * Where birth control is readily available but not being used, you can be pretty sure that some factor still rewards childbearing. People can be stupid but not usually that stupid. As a group, they tend to be able to figure out whether 2, 4, 6, or 8 is the best number to aim for.

  • k

    too many interests in not wanting to see the over population problem
    – Catholic ideology
    -Capitalist Captains of Industry ($$$$$$$$$)
    -Cruel Dictators (realizing too many people=willing slaves controlled by the gun and one bowl of rice a day)
    -Charity Business Community

    • Clink9

      Nobody wants to do the right thing to help.