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Behind the Mask

According to figures from the United Nations Population Fund, October 31, 2011, marked a new milestone in world history: This Halloween the earth’s population exceeded seven billion people, more than at any point in recorded history. And as predictable as a gaggle of ghouls on your doorstep, the overpopulation alarmists were again up to their old tricks, spooking their neighbors with warnings, and portents and evils imminent.

Even the Associated Press played up the fear factor, reporting (Oct. 16) that “the world’s population didn’t reach 1 billion until 1804” — note the negative formulation of that bit of info — “and it took 123 years to hit the 2 billion mark in 1927. Then the pace accelerated” — oh no! — “3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1998.” And now to seven billion this Halloween. Is your heart racing yet? That averages out to an increase of one billion people every 16.8 years since the “acceleration” began in 1927. And the UN projects that we’ll add another billion people by 2025.

It’s no secret that Western Europe, Japan, and Russia are in the midst of a “demographic winter”: These regions have been experiencing a long, protracted population decline. (The U.S. population has been hovering at replacement level for several years now.) So, what’s the worry? Simply this: As the AP reports, sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s highest birthrates. This region “will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially” — and here’s the kicker — “without major new family-planning initiatives.”

The new population figures don’t mean so much to the wealthy. “For the rich, it’s totally manageable,” John Bongaarts of the Population Council told the AP. “It’s the poor, everywhere who will be hurt the most.” The solution? Eliminate the poor. In the nomenclature of the world’s policy- and opinion-makers, family planning is a euphemism for contraception and abortion.

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