Over at Books & Culture, there’s an interesting interview of Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Longman talks with interviewer W. Bradford Wilcox about the current attitude among progressives (Longman calls himself a progressive) regarding population growth.
You are a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a progressive think tank. Why should progressives be concerned about fertility declines in the West? How do fertility declines specifically threaten progressive values and public policies?
It’s fair to say that most self-described “progressives” don’t agree with me that low fertility is a problem. Many environmentalists, for example, believe that fewer people means a cleaner environment. Other progressives suppose that a decline in population would increase the amount of food and other resources available to the poor. Many feminists, gays, and “childless by choice” people in general feel threatened by suggestions that society needs more children. And when it’s pointed out that the lowest birthrates are generally found among the most “progressive” people, then the conversation gets really heated.
On all these counts, I believe progressives are in denial. Today in the United States, for example, we have far cleaner air and water than we did in the 1940s, when the population was just half its current size. That’s no paradox. Population growth is a spur to more efficient and cleaner use of resources, so our cities are no longer choked with smoke from steam engines and our cars get far better mileage and are far less polluting. Similarly, population growth is what drove us as a society to find far more productive ways to grow food. Thanks to increased crop yields, per capita food production is higher than ever, even as world population surpasses 6 billion. At the same time, there is more forested land in the United States than in the 19th century because so much less acreage is needed for farmland.
The whole interview is well-worth reading, especially given the ever-increasing number of people on the left who call for fewer babies.
Today at 11:00 a.m., EDT, FRC will host a Family Policy Lecture by Dr. John G. West, of the Discovery Institute entitled, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: The Disturbing Legacy of America’s Eugenics Crusade.” If you can’t join us on location here in D.C., be sure to watch the live webcast of the event. Here are the details:
This year marks the centennial of the world’s first forced sterilization law, passed by the state of Indiana in March 1907. By the early 1930s, some 30 states had enacted similar laws as part of a secular crusade to breed better humans known as “eugenics.” Promoted in the name of Darwinian evolution, eugenics led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of Americans against their will, many of whom would not be considered mentally handicapped today. Why did America’s leading scientists and scientific organizations embrace eugenics for so long? Was eugenics a logical application of Darwin’s theory, or a terrible misuse of it? What is the connection between the eugenics movement and the population control movement that arose in the 1950s and 60s? Most importantly, what are the lessons we can learn from eugenics for today’s controversies over science, bioethics, and public policy? Dr. West will explore these questions and more.
If you were asked to name the technologies whose proliferation inadvertently threatens the human race, what would you include? IEDS? Assault rifles? Nuclear warheads?
Add this one to your list: the sonogram machine.
The widespread use of sonogram technology—coupled with liberal abortion laws—has made it possible for women to identify the sex of their child so that those without a Y chromosome can be killed before they’re even born. Last year, in a speech before the U.N., demographer Nicholas Eberstadt revealed the details of this frightening trend:
Over the past five years the American public has received regular updates on what we have come to call the global war on terror. A no-less significant global wara war, indeed, against nature, civilization, and in fact humanity itself has also been underway in recent years. This latter war, however, has attracted much less attention and comment, despite its immense consequence. This world-wide struggle might be called The Global War Against Baby Girls.
The effects of this war on girls can be seen in the changes in the sex ratios at birth. Eberstadt explains that there is a “slight but constant and almost unvarying excess of baby boys over baby girls born in any population.” The number of baby boys born for every hundred baby girls, which is so constant that it can “qualify as a rule of nature”, falls along an extremely narrow range along the order of 103, 104, or 105. On rare occasions it even hovers around 106
These sex ratios vary slightly based on ethnicity. For example, in the U.S. in 1984 the rates were: White: 105.4; Black: 103.1; American Indian: 101.4; Chinese: 104.6; and Japanese 102.6. Such variations, however, remain small and fairly stable over time.
But Eberstadt finds that in the last generation the sex ratio at birth in some parts of the world has become “completely unhinged.” Consider this graph from provinces in China in 2000:
Teen girls from intact families with frequent religious attendance averaged the fewest sexual partners (0.47) when compare to (a) their peers from non-intact families with frequent religious attendance (0.93), (b) peers from intact families with low to no religious attendance (1.14), and (c) peers from non-intact families with low to no religious attendance (1.55).
Source: Fagan, Patrick, A Portrait of Family and Religion in America: Key Outcomes for the Common Good, (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation 2006), pp. .
The need to solve cultural problems for today's family is great, urgent, and possible.
Your gift before June 30th is crucial to help us finish our fiscal year strong and prepare for the upcoming year. Your generous donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to our current Challenge total. Thank you for your partnership.