A most difficult subject.

On Thursday November 19 The Times published a double page spread on a United Nations report subject (human) world population growth. Ben Webster offered his startlingly obvious endorsement in that birth control could do more to control greenhouse gas emissions that building wind turbines. Which is a bit like saying that blowing into the wind could avert a hurricane. Bronwen Maddox headlined her piece 'The taboo is broken' in reference, of course, to the unsustainable number of babies being born.

Taboo? Neither governments nor the public at large and certainly no church has felt like facing the facts. The facts are that destructive emissions and the depletion of earth's resource is directly and incontrovertably linked to the numbers of us. And, just as importantly, to the levels of our individual material wants (as opposed to needs)these days.

It is extremely difficult for most of us and quite impossible for many to discuss this subject without thinking of that beautiful little baby, of whatever colour, and feeling awful about the possiblity of denying its very existence. Objectivity does trend to die the death, and I speak as the father of four.

Yet denying the existence of a baby is precisely what contraception is about! And were it not for contraception, given the world-wide promiscuity of our times we would indeed be in very big trouble already. As it is I have read that, should all of even today's population succeed in living to the standards of 'the west' some 3.5 planet earths would be necessary. As that is an impossibility it does not take much imagination to foresee a grim future for both the few haves and the many have nots. It is no good The Economist opining 'the population problem will right itself', although evidently it could indeed - provided you see plague, pestilence and world warfare as your preferred answers.

In the course of writing my latest novel, Going with Gabriel, I researched this subject in some depth. Recently I sent review copies to some of the well known experts, both scientific and philosophical, whose work on population I read. Watch this space...

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