Thursday, April 22, 2010

Population Comparisons

Wolfgang Fengler discusses rising population in Africa. After covering the basic statistics (soon to be or already are over 1 billion Africans; in 1970 there were 2 Europeans for every African and by 2030 there may be 2 Africans for every European; etc.), he makes a couple profound points, one of which is:
Many think this is a big problem. ... I am less certain that the rapid population growth in Africa, especially in Kenya, is the fundamental development challenge: ... despite Africa’s rapid population growth and Europe’s stagnation (even decline in few countries) the old continent remains much more densely populated than Africa. If we look at Western Europe – where I come from – there are on average 170 people living on each square km. In Sub-Saharan Africa there are only 70 today. This gap will narrow in the next decades but even by 2050, Western Europe is expected to be more densely populated than Africa. I am following the population debates in Europe, especially in my (densely populated) home country Germany. I have never heard anyone argue that there are too many people in Europe.
Ever and again, I hear the immortal words:
``If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,'' returned the Ghost, ``will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.''
Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.
``Man,'' said the Ghost, ``if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!''

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