Dispelling the Overpopulation Myth

Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population

Hans Rosling (2013)

Film Review

In Don’t Panic, world famous Swedish statistician Hans Rosling disputes the myth of the “population bomb.” Rosling starts by documenting the radical drop in fertility in the last forty years and examining specific factors behind it. He predicts that global population will peak at 11 billion around 2100 and start to decline.

The average global fertility rate in 1963 was 5 children per woman; today it’s 2.5 and still dropping. Asia, which holds 4 billion of the world’s 7 billion population, has the largest impact on shrinking fertility rates.

Rosling hones in on Bangladesh to explain this phenomenon. In 1963 Bangladesh had a fertility rate of 7 children per woman; today it’s 2.2. This relates largely to heavy investment by the Bangladeshi government in reducing the birth rate. Their primary strategy is to encourage teenage girls to postpone marriage and complete high school. In addition to paying families to keep girls in school, the government has launched specific programs to create jobs for women and educate them about family planning.

Rosling also points to the reduction in child mortality (due to improved access to health care) as a significant factor in reducing Asian fertility rates. During the 1960s, one in five children globally died before age 5. In Asia, the average family typically lost four out of six children. Because they expected most of their babies to die, they had a strong incentive to keep having them.

It was mainly due to high child mortality that the world population grew so slowly prior to 1800. Child mortality remains extremely high in Africa, an important reason why their fertility also remains high.

Rosling devotes the end of the film to an examination of poverty, world hungry and the planet’s ability to feed 11 billion people. I found this part of his talk disappointing, owing to his failure to grasp the role of economic colonization and “development” (ie corporate seizure of land and resources) in the origin of third world poverty and hunger.

In fact, he’s a great fan of “development” and the rise of industrial agriculture in Africa. Research by the Oakland Institute paints a very different picture of the corporate land grab in Africa. One in which multinational corporations are leaving local farmers destitute by driving them off their land. See Speculating With Our Food

20 thoughts on “Dispelling the Overpopulation Myth

  1. OVERPOPULATION IS A DEFINITE MYTH AND A MYTH IT IS. THE GLOBAL ELITE USE THIS, SO THAT THEY CAN PLAN TO MURDER AND CAUSE WARS, DISEASE, ETC…, TO ATTAIN THE GOAL OF HAVING ONLY SO MANY OF US PEOPLE TO MANAGE WORLDWIDE. FIRST AND FOREMOST, OVERPOPULATION IS NO BODY’S BUSINESS, OVERPOPULATION IS STRICTLY IN THE HANDS OF YAHVEH, THE CREATOR; THIS IS THE BUSINESS OF THE CREATOR AND NOT OUR BUSINESS. YAHVEH IS THE ONE WHO CREATES LIVE AND HE IS THE ONE THAT WILL TELL US HOW MANY PEOPLE SHALL OCCUPY THIS PLANET. HE IS THE ONE WHO MAKES ROOM AND TAKES ROOM. WE SHOULD NOT BE CONCERNED OF HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON THIS PLANET, THERE ARE NATURALLY DISASTERS THAT HAVE COSTS MANY LIVES, IT IS NOT UP TO US HUMAN BEINGS TO DECIDE THIS, IT DOES NOT BELONG IN OUR HANDS.

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    • My view is that enclosing the commons was a bad idea period. Our ancestors were driven off land they farmed communally for thousands of years. For centuries, this pattern has been repeated in the third world, along with the mythology that people who lose their livelihood in this way can always find work in the cities. The city never, ever provides enough jobs, of course, and a pattern developed in the 19th century of declaring people who were permanently excluded from the employment market as “surplus to need.”

      I share Gerry’s concerns that we most likely cannot feed 11 billion people under our current economic system. The US, Canada, Russia and other grain producing countries haven’t run a grain surplus in nearly a decade, and we already lose (globally) nearly one million annually from starvation and malnutrition-related conditions.

      I say get rid of the corporate billionaires and give us our land back if we have to feed 11 billion people. Biointensive agriculture and food-forest based permaculture produce two or three times the yield of industrial agriculture. Central economic planning would also go a long way towards eliminating the malnutrition caused by income inequality.

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  2. Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    “Overpopulation” is simply an elite created excuse, a rationale, for depopulating the earth of those the elite consider to be “not fit for life.”

    It’s a eugenics inspired myth, a eugenics inspired bald faced lie!

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  3. The premise for the argument is that we can’t feed so many people. WRONG. We can fit the worlds population back to back on the island of Madagascar with room to grow our own food. If you look at the world…it has been expanding (meaning growing bigger…this is the actual earth we live on not the people. Look at each country and see how say Australia’s west coast and Africa’s east coast align. That is for starters). The argument for “too many people” on planet earth is yes…a lie to justify you know who’s agenda. Now we see death each day in the news around the world. 100 here 10,000 there while your family is eating dinner. All normal. I’m over being terrified.

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  4. Wow thank you for sharing! I knew that overpopulation was a bit of a myth, or so I thought. This video really expels that myth and clearly explains the truth. I feel enlightened and feel I need to share this information. I would love to reblog but I feel a nice health rant coming on about this subject and don’t have time right now! Thanks again

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