Religions and babies – a TED talk

Lots of us-probably too many of us

I have had a problem (I am not alone) with global population and its exponential growth for years now and am sometimes quite vociferous about the impending global over-population that will chomp its way through all available resources on our wee planet.

Now, I am being told that we have to think in terms of a global population limitation of 10 billion because that will represent the number at which we humans will actually be able to reproduce – given some criteria, of course. I have a bit of a problem getting my head around this.

In April of this year, the remarkable Hans Rosling gave a talk in Qatar to a mixed audience representing different religions in the country of Qatar. I would suggest that the most represented religion in that audience in that country would be Islam.

Hans Rosling – quite a remarkable man

Rosling’s talk was to do with global population growth and religion. To those of you who have not come across Hans Rosling, he is a quite extraordinary purveyor of statistical data in visual form. He developed the software that he uses to display data and manipulate the stats from present to past and projected future.

He is probably the cleverest statistician around at the moment. He is also a medico and qualified in Public Health in Bangalore. Anyway here’s the blurb from the TED talk:

‘Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others — and how does this affect global population growth? Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions. With his trademark humour and sharp insight, Hans reaches a surprising conclusion on world fertility rates.

In Hans Rosling’s hands, data sings. Global trends in health and economics come to vivid life. And the big picture of global development—with some surprisingly good news—snaps into sharp focus.

“The number of children is not growing any longer in the world. We are still debating peak oil, but we have definitely reached peak child.” (Hans Rosling)’

Of course, this does not mean that all of a sudden I will let go of and summarily dismiss my concerns about global population. Our ability to breed and reduce infant mortality while increasing longevity and sending terminal diseases back into the ether where they can do no harm just increases the problem of global overpopulation.

We are still only 7 billion and Rosling’s prediction that we will have to think of managing a finite world with a projected 10 billion and all the resources needed to maintain life for that 10 billion still fills me with despair.

The only way we can reduce our breeding rate or, at least, keep it to some sustainable level (and I don’t think 10 billion is sustainable), is by lifting the living and educational standards of the most dispossessed of us on this planet. This of necessity involves an increase in the consumption of the planet’s limited resources.

Much as I enjoy Rosling’s delivery of statistics and can be caught up by his enthusiasm, I cannot bring myself to think that all will be well. The planet will go on for its projected life which is about 4½ billion years, albeit in different form with a different (if any) atmosphere and different forms of life that can adapt to changing planetary conditions. Homo sapiens won’t make that grade I am afraid. We are too specialised. The top of the tree tends to be that way. Therein lies the fall.


2 comments on “Religions and babies – a TED talk

  1. Susan says:

    Great post Ronni, I think you are right about population growth and the need to educate the people. I really enjoyed this one, though it is a scary idea you are talking about.

    • Veronique says:

      The problem with education Susan, is that it takes so long. A generation at a time, so to speak. I think the only real option left to us is free family health planning, free contraception – preferably the injectable kind – and free abortions. Once those measures are in place, then education will have a chance to work for the long haul.

      We just aren’t very good at seeing further than our lifespans and we only see our own needs anyway. Doesn’t augur all that well really, does it? Did you read this blog post?

      Apart from that, I hope you are well and studying hard:-). I am so sorry about George; please accept your heartfelt sympathies. I know what it is like:-(

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