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WB AA presents birth control today. Freedom and responsibility. This is a series of programs about birth control and how it affects us and our society. Today we discuss population control and social stability. The world is finite and yet man has been living and breathing through the ages as if the earth's resources would go on forever. Population experts say we are past the optimum for a high scale of living. In fact they say we are near the limits of survival. The population environment crisis is just beginning to hit our mass consciousness. It is difficult to conceptualize a problem so mammoth as uncontrolled population growth. It's very easy to turn off and ignore the problem. But this is something that everyone eventually is going to have to face. Dr Deward Allen is a wildlife ecologist and professor in the Department of Forestry and conservation at Purdue. He feels people are finally starting to become aware of too
many numbers. In 1970. It probably will go down in history as the year of the environment. And we've been building up to this problem for some decades. I say problem. Everyone can see it. But I think I need to put a proper perspective on this by saying that we're really dealing with a population and Veyron much problem. Because when you talk about environment you are automatically talking about the living standard of people and the environment. And that ties back into the number of people that must be served by our environment. The first widespread publicity that was given to this problem was back in about 1798 when the famous essay on population was published by. Great Britain's mouth has noted that
the ability to support populations was a an arithmetic progression that when it was additive it went one two three four. While populations doubled they went to 4 8 16 32 and on up. That's compound interest. And we have now caught up to the point worldwide where our population has has compound it in a way that is showing the limits of the earth very clearly. We cannot stretch our resources and we cannot stretch our living space beyond a certain level. We don't know where that is because our technology keeps doing things better and it does help us support more people at higher living standards within limits. But this can't go on forever it has become quite obvious that it can't and it also has become obvious that. We need to
stop our population growth by design rather than let nature do what the hard way. Population biologists are pretty familiar with what happens to animals in the wild when they overpopulate they destroy their habitat and then they go down in defeat and they are greatly reduced in number because of the reduction of the carrying capacity of their habitats. This could happen worldwide to people and quite a few authorities think it's on the way to happening. I think we might. I think we might review our present population status very briefly here about the year 16:50 the earth reached its first half billion population and the population had doubled before that since about the year 1 A.D. so we can say it took roughly. One and a half thousand years a little more than that to double the population
then. Nonsense. Sixteen fifty or after that it took 200 years to double it again and in 1850 we had about a billion people on earth. The next doubling took about 80 years and that brought us down to the year 1930 with two begun and we reached the third bed in about 1965 67 I believe it was what we reached. And we're on our way they say. Population experts estimate that we're on our way to having about seven and seven billion people on earth by the year 2000. That's a little less than a doubling of what we have today and it represents a doubling in 35 years. This certainly is the kind of geometric growth that. Young Doctor mouth us for saw back there in 1798 and while he did not forsee the Industrial
Revolution the he the increase in our technology the very spectacular progress that we've made. He did see this basic biological reality and it's still with us in the United States. Some people look around and see a lot of open space especially as they fly across the country and they say Well with all that open space we can't be overpopulated here but there are some there are some perspectives in which we need to look at this thing. The United States or reached its first 100 million in the year 1917 and the second 100 million in 1967. We're expected to add the third one in a little less than 35 years and have 300 million by the year 2000. An important way to look at this is that where in terms of the resources were using because we have an increasing population
armed with a very rapidly increasing technology and we and the other Western nations of the world who which altogether comprise about a billion people are using well over half of the world's resources. In terms of agricultural land and other resources consumed we import a lot of things to support our very high living standard and we have we must compare that with what is going on in the rest of the world because about to more than two and a half billion people in this world in the so-called underdeveloped countries are getting far less than what you might consider their share of the earth's resources because of our high rate of consumption. It's estimated that a baby born in India compared with a baby born in the United States will have about that
is the Indian baby will have about one twenty fifth the impact on resources that the baby in the United States has. This reflects their relative standard of living standards of consumption. I think that as of now we ought to remember that the earth is increasing by the population of the earth is increasing by about seventy two point six millions a year and that that is going to increase in the media at future. And so if people of the world are not well provided for now the question is are we going to be able to catch up and still provide for the equivalent of the population of 73 cities of 1 million each each year. For now
and and actually an increase of of that amount in the future. We are going to have a lag in population control a very serious lag even at the very best. For example President McNamara of the World Bank gave out some figures last spring I believe it was that if the developed countries of the world the industrialized countries reached a level of birth control affective soul that they the parents only replaced themselves by the year 2000. And if the underdeveloped countries of the world were able to achieve this 50 years later. Then as of 1970 it would take about 150 years to stabilize the world's population. This means our present population of three and six tenths billion would have grown to about 15 billion.
This is of course far too slow in terms of the best interests of humanity. It indicates that we're going to have to have education and public information programs to achieve something far more effective than that. Many demographers and population ecologist feel that something is going to happen long before that that this kind of population growth cannot possibly be supported and that the environment and world food production and the limits of that kind it will be effective before the population was ever able to reach the level of 15 billion. Our standard of living is we say the highest in the world and this will have to include the rest of the industrial nations and it has been estimated that at our rates
of consumption. The agriculture and the industry we drop on could support about a billion people in the world. That's just our food production you might say food and fiber production and our industrial plant. Now if you plug in some other things. Then the estimate goes down. A sociologist who studied this matter of a population expert has said that the Earth could if you can and consider all of the aspects of our living standard could support only a half billion. And I reiterate here now that we have more than three and I have begun. So it indicates what we're up against with this certain increase that's going to occur. The. In the United States we have grown up with an obsession on growth. This was a pretty practical outlook in the early days of
the occupation of this continent by the white man and three centuries ago because you needed a certain number of people to operate this industrial culture that we were developing and to begin with and for him you might see a couple of centuries the more people we had the better we lived. But now we have reached a point where if we take growth as our standard and insist that every year we keep producing more gross national product the present level I think is about 4 percent. That there comes a time when you when you run out of resources. We we have not run out yet. We have many renewable resources that if we manage and manage them right can keep on producing indefinitely for us. But we are not going to be able to maintain our level of consumption now and increase it year after year. If this means impoverishing the rest of the world. So everybody has to be taken
into these designs for the future of mankind and growth cannot possible it be our guideline for the future we're going to have to adopt a stability position somewhere. And the sooner we start planning in this direction the sooner we understand what the economic problems are in and the social problems in a society and population that has reached stability. Then we the better we can plan realistically for bringing the best life to people in the future. You could say that question is do we stop now in our great expansion and our efforts to get all possible produce out of our environment or do we stop over using our environment in the year 2000 or do we stop in the year 2025. The sooner you stop the more you're going to have to work with in the future and probably it's time that we
took a great deal more responsibility for the future than we have now. We have particular problems of course in our cities are areas of great density. These need much more from our study than they have had because it appears that in these great areas where 70 percent of our people now with these metropolitan centers that we are developing problems a great deal faster than we're developing solutions are are and are increasing pollution level is the thing that has been most visible to a lot of people and. It has been estimated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation that if in the United States we set for example a very high level and immediately set out to cure cure our pro pollution ills and clean up the environment as we actually would like to have it. It would cost around 150 billion dollars per year.
That indicates how far behind we are running and some of these environmental problems we're certainly not going to do that it means we've got to get into this program gradually and that we have to cut off a lot of these. Problems and cut them off in their growth by reducing the population just as fast as we can because for the future if mankind wants the kind of life that can be realized on this earth through good management and for that and through the utilization of the abundance that actually is here then he is not going to be able to overpopulate this or he's going to have to find the right level and the right living standard. This will take time. It will mean the application of a great deal more knowledge than we have at present. To many people these sound like abstractions and the question is properly asked Then what is our immediate and practical approach to
these environment population problems. Undoubtedly. In addition to their research work and Vesta geishas that have to be made by experts in many fields and generous you might say ecologist and sociologist eco economists. In addition to all that we must have a very great effort in the field of public information and education. It must be assumed that our people are going to act on a voluntary basis through understanding and that they must be convinced of the great importance of reducing birth rates and achieving population stability at their earliest possible time and then probably continuing with a reduction of the population to the point where mankind finds that a lot of these problems can be handled and solved. This puts some of the issue of course up to
government. It in It implies a strong leadership in the direction of population control through education. It implies also that we must have a great understanding on the part of the younger generation that are going to be the parents in the decades to come. I believe we're on the way to such an understanding of both the population issue and the environmental issues that go with it. Teaching the public about the use of contraceptives and making them easily available is not enough. Dr. John Severin professor of health education at Purdue makes just this point as he talks to a group of health educators and what must come first is a genuine desire for fewer children and that would begin I think to get to the crux of the matter and that's where I think we come into the picture. We need an attitudinal change. We've got to go beyond this thing that well now will have some kind of a program because it's the thing to do but will poorly finance it. So as we can afford as one truck and two or three people to
drive over the hills of Appalachian or Asia throwing out free condoms and all the pamphlet on how to use them. Well they thought out the back door like to do with the galoshes from the Welfare Agency thinking all along that I fooled them they're not going to get rid of me I'm a better man than they think. There are many reasons why these techniques don't work. But essentially I think they missed the target. They oversimplify a very complex problem. Advocates of birth control find it difficult to get the support of the destitute people in Iran because to them children awat represent the only hope for the future. And secondly when we try to educate or simply on the basis of here is a contraceptive device and here's how you use it. They have some theory of the genocide. They say well I don't see him passing him out in the wealthy suburb over there to the people who have a demo they don't like my stock and I think that the world would be better off without him.
Among Us says in the under-privileged countries it is difficult to sacrifice the pleasure of the president or the immediate future for the sake of a distant future which is but definitely perceived. Population control programs are plagued with the fact that the poorer the community the more important the role played by children in its daily lives under restricted conditions children offer the only hope of reward many times the only sense of fulfillment particularly for the mother. They offer some insurance against the solitude and trials of old age. Children are the most reliable and often the only source of deep emotional satisfaction a real sense of fulfillment on the part of persons who are in poverty conditions. And finally and most importantly they symbolize hope in eternity. Men and women playing with children amidst poverty and destruction proclaim faith in mankind. As Plato wrote and symposium Marvel then not at the love which
all men have for their offspring for that universal law than interest is for the sake of their mortality as long as you or I have children we shall never die. And there is some very very important emotional and psychological implications. And certainly I think it bears mentioning and study and we have researched very little. So children do represent a very important reward and they there are some very very important fundamental reasons for having children and I think we are in a sense of circumvented or completely skipped that in many of our programs to try to control the population the various proposals have been made for dealing with the population problem beyond current national efforts of voluntary family planning programs. Bernard Burleson of the Population Council reviews some of these proposals in an article titled Beyond family planning. Part of studies in family planning published by the Population Council. He lists proposal ideas such as intensified
educational campaigns incentive programs tax and welfare benefits and penalties approaches by political channels and organizations. On to the establishment of involuntary fertility control. Where can the line be drawn. Let's hear the view of Dr. Daniel Callahan director of the Institute of society ethics and the life sciences and author of ethics and population control proposals which call for reverse taxation or taxation on those who have increasing taxation and those who have over a certain number of children. One major difficulty with those is that they seem almost certain to discriminate against poor rich people who want to have more than two children would be able to bear the cost would be the poor people who might. Might suffer so to a problem with any kind of bonus or incentive scheme is that they might well appear quite coercive too to the very poor or very desperate who
need money and feel they have no choice but to take the money in return for giving up their right to have for their children of the rich by contrast might feel that they could and would feel no pressure at all and readily give up the money in order to retain their freedom to have as many children as they want. A major difficulty aren't so with either the coercive were quite psycho worser schemes is that at present there don't exist a fact of contraceptives the pill has recently come under a cloud the I you d which is is in principle the next most effective method does not have a very good record over over a period of years with women. Other methods are erratic and uncertain at best. So if one seriously thinks of coercing people into having smaller families or taxing
them they have families which are too large. I think you have to deal with the very real ethical issue of how can you require people not to have children when in fact the means don't exist to enable them to do so with hundred with 100 percent effectiveness. Now my own approach to the issue is to. Argue that until voluntary family planning programs have thoroughly discredited themselves it is but premature and unwise to begin considering any kind of coercive schemes. The main objection against the voluntary family programs is that they seem to presume that the choices that individual couples made make will necessarily were down to the overall welfare of the society. But it has been
argued that people still desire more children than they want to both in the developed. They still desire more. Children than a decent population could stand and given that situation even if one makes effective contraceptives available even if one educates people by and large they may still have too many children. Now I think. My reading of the various data here is that this point has yet to be proved in this country. Recent studies have shown that probably something in the vicinity of 800000 unwanted births a year of births with which which could have been avoided had effective family planning programs been available in this country less than half of the counties have effective family planning programs. And when one moves out of the developed world to the underdeveloped world. The picture is is more dismal still. One can't say that voluntary
family planning programs have failed. Seems to me until they have genuinely been tried and in most countries of the world very little in the way of governmental resources have gone into voluntary family planning programs of very little research has still been done on the best ways of educating people to the use of contraceptives. Administratively very little has been done to decide upon the most effective kinds of structures which would get contraceptives out to people. At present on paper at any rate about 80 percent of the countries in the. Developing parts of the world have family planning or population programs but the reality of the matter is that most of these programs are very small insufficiently funded poorly staffed and capriciously and chaotically administered. Until
these programs have actually received the kinds of resources research and support they need it seems to me much too soon to say that they will not work at the present time the United States has a loosely knit voluntary family planning programs. This year President Nixon called for a commission of experts to study population. The president's top medical officer Dr. Roger O Edgar Berg assistant secretary of Health Education and Welfare spoke on U.S. population growth and family planning programs. At a press conference at this year's annual meeting of Planned Parenthood world population if the population continue probably a large number of the demographer believe it will continue. It would look at or we could expect. Around 300 million people in this country by the end of the century. It would mean the building of a city of two hundred fifty thousand people. Every 40 days roughly
between now and the end of this century. He committed himself to the fact that we will see that by 1974. A probable 5 million people would like help with family planning can be given that service. I personally feel sure that there are four five or six million women who would like such help and who have not been able to get it before. I'd go one step farther. It's possible that our population will study. But in 19 35 or so they thought that we were going to level off at a hundred fifty million for good. Now we know 200 million. Changes in our attitude towards children. Towards the problems of raising them can very well influence our population growth. Either up or down. However.
At this point having conversations about country. And. This has been the final programme in the series birth control today. Freedom and responsibility. The series was written and produced by Colleen Gary and narrated by David Bundy recording engineer as
your announcer Roger priest. The series is presented to the instructional radio division of WBA at Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana. This is the national educational radio network.
Birth control today
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Population Control and Social Stability
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Birth control today; 15; Population Control and Social Stability,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
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APA: Birth control today; 15; Population Control and Social Stability. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from