The frightening world population growth

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If you’re not worried about the world’s runaway population increase, something’s wrong with your perception of reality.

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According to the United Nations, the world’s population will increase from 7.2 billion today to 8.1 billion in 2025, with the developing world, including the Philippines, accounting for most of the increase.

The UN warns that developing countries—the very ones that can ill afford it—will see their combined population jump from 5.9 billion today to 8.2 billion in 2050.

On the other hand, the population of developed countries will remain at its present level: 1.3 billion.

To repeat, the world’s population going up to 8.1 billion in 2025 should frighten economic planners out of their wits. But there’s no need to look that far ahead, to keep them—and all reasonable people—up all night.

“The future is already here,” to quote William Gibson, a Canadian science fiction writer.

In the Philippines, we’re already feeling the effects of too many people chasing after too few resources: housing, food and clean water, education, medicine.

Forget entertainment, the appreciation of nature, the pursuit of excellence in the arts and letters, the enjoyment of the company of our fellowmen. These are things that make life worth living, but they are foreign to people living a miserable existence.

A while back, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentin demanded that Dan Brown apologize for making the observation in Inferno, his latest best seller, that people in Manila are so destitute many of them sell their young children to the flesh trade, and they feel happy about it because at least the children will now have something to eat.

Whatever your feelings on the matter, you cannot deny the fact that we live in perilous times.

In developed countries people draw up plans where they will spend their vacation next year. In the Philippines, people worry where the next meal is coming from.

People don’t lose their appetite for food just because they’re poor. And they will try to satisfy that appetite by robbing other people, and if they will have to kill in the process, they will.

If you say poverty and crime are caused by corruption and poor planning, you’re probably correct, but only partly so. By their greed our leaders deny people food the sick the medicine they need, but even if you distribute the resources more equitably there’s just not enough to go around.

We have a population of 92.3 million, while our GDP stood at $224.8 billion in 2011. In comparison, California, with a population of 38 million, registered a $1.9 trillion GDP in the same year.

By way of explanation, you can say California’s GDP is much higher because the state is highly developed, as the rest of the United States is. You can also argue it has a highly educated workforce. All that is true, but that does not detract from the fact that the Philippine population has a very low GDP to show for its size.

It is quite obvious that we need to keep our population in check and increase our GDP, if we are to begin the long journey to approach the level of comfort that the population of a state like California enjoys—or a country like Singapore’s.

The Philippines was reported to have attained a 7.8 growth rate in the first quarter of the year. But critics thrashed the accomplishment, saying it hardly made any dent in the high unemployment and underemployment rate.

The critics may be right. Growth must be sustained over a long period of time for it to trickle down to benefit the poor, who by the way constitute the great majority of the population.

It is exactly that objective, we’re told, that the administration’s economic planners are trying to accomplish. That fearless forecast is admirable, but its realization is something we have yet to see.

Meanwhile, we need to keep the population growth within manageable levels. The government has set out to attain that objective, but it runs smack against the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition.

The RH Law was signed recently by President Benigno Aquino 3rd after its contentious passage in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

According to the Church, the RH Law contains provisions for the distribution of drugs that induce abortion. The government, although it admits that the law was enacted for the purpose of assisting married couples plan their family size, denies it is encouraging abortion.

For the sake of the country and its people, the Church and the government should be able to find a middle ground.

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