Interview with The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet’s Surprising Future author Fred Pearce.
Global environmental problems are not, and will not, be mainly a problem of overbreeding Indians or Africans. First, their birthrates are coming down fast, with Indian women, for instance, having fewer than three children on average today; and even African women have falling fertility. And secondly, because overbreeding — in the sense of women having more than replacement levels of children — is almost entirely in countries with a very low per-capita footprint on the planet. For instance, the carbon emissions of one American is the same as that of 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians and 250 Ethiopians. If, as economists suggest, the world economy will grow by 400 percent by 2050, then no more than a tenth of that will be a result of population growth. The issue is consumption, and that puts the onus right back on the conspicuous consumers to do something about their economic systems, not least before more developing countries follow the same model.
So these worries about overpopulation are unfounded?
When Paul Ehrlich wrote his famous book ["The Population Bomb"], women were having an average around the world of five or six children; now they’re having an average of 2.6. Fertility rates around the world have halved. That’s not just true in Europe and North America; they’re way below replacement levels in most of East Asia now. Not just China but Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Burma have replacement rates of fertility or below. Around the world, fertility rates have been coming down really sharply. So the population bomb as we’ve conceived it before really isn’t there. There’s still population growth going on, but that’s going to stabilize. [...]
If chaos theory taught us anything, it’s that societies head off in all kinds of directions we couldn’t predict. Fifty years ago, if we had taken a slightly different path in industrial chemistry and used bromine instead of chlorine, we’d have burned out the entire ozone layer before we knew what the hell was going on, and the world would have been very different. There’s always scary stuff out there that we may not know about. You can’t predict the future. You can just try and plan for it.
(via David Forbes)
See also: Peak Population
On the other hands, The Quiverfulls doing their best to combat peak population.