Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How long do you wait for a prediction to come true?

The New York Times article and video tell the story of the 1960's threat of horrendous over-population that would outstrip the carrying capacity of the earth.   Anyone who was alive during the
                                                                                    time heard of , or read, The Population Bomb,
by Paul Ehrlich that foretold a dystopian future of famines and civil unrest with increasing population, and preached coersive means to reduce human numbers if voluntary  methods didn't work.  (He still does.) As the article explains, there were movies, music and organizations that grew out of, and playeid into this fear, or zeitgeist.
Zero Population Growth (ZPG) was in full swing, urging young couples to have no more than two children - one child to replace each adult.  It became the moral thing to do.  To save the earth, one must have no children, only one, or two at most.  Unlike previous generations, families with more than three children were rare, and four children or more was frowned upon.  Women in India and China faced forced sterilization, and there was a real fear that that could happen here.  ZPG's message was powerful.

Of course, readers of a certain age know all of this.  Still, for all of you, even the older ones among us, the NYT video, The Population Bomb? (see below) is important to watch, and at only 13 minutes, it won't take much of your time.

The surprising thing for me was that the world population has doubled since 1969 - the year I graduated from high school.  (My copy of The Population Bomb could be worth a few bucks today!). I see and feel the squeeze and wish it weren't so.  But the Baby Boom, the largest generational bump in world history, begat the Echo Boom, and both generations are on the planet at one time.  World population is predicted to peak in about 2040 to 2050, from 7B today to 9B, but some people continue to think, or fear, that population growth will be a continuous upward trend.

The video and article, The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion, reminds me of our current zeitgeist - an overwhelming fear of climte change.  The parallels are astounding, and coming out of the Baby Boom generation where the earth was in peril from too many people, it is natural that this feeling would take off in a different direction, with the earth still in imminent peril.  Humans pass down their fears and the cycle continues.  Unfortunately, the optimism that came from expanding technological prowess and the Green Revolution does not seem to exist now.  Fear tends to be a more dominant human emotion.

This is not to say that all fears of environmental damage aren't real, only that there is exaggerated hype which leads to unfounded claims and coercive practices.  An example of zeitgeist in Wikipedia:
  • Failure to question research findings that agree with prevailing political and philosophical ideology represents one of the effects of the zeitgeist.
The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.  

This is an important video to watch and share, along with the accompanying article.   The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion
New York Times Retro Report, May 31, 2015  by Clyde Haberman

Video:  The Polulation Bomb?
12.56 min. Video of footage from the 60's and today, tracing the arc of the 60's threat of over-population.  Use the link above.  Video is also on Youtube.

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