Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 67(3) August 2017

Book Review

The War Against Population

 By Jaqueline Kasun
Ignatius Press; Revised and Updated ed. edition (1 July 1999)
ISBN: 978-0898707120

Reviewed by Pravin Thevathasan

Population Book coverThis is the title of a brilliant book written back in 1988 by economist Dr Jacqueline Kasun and it is now perhaps even more relevant than when it first came out. Dr Kasun was one of the great pro-life leaders of our age. She writes: "The idea that humanity is multiplying at terrible and accelerating rates is one of the false dogmas of our times. ... these ideas form the basis for an enormous international population-control industry that involves billions of dollars of taxes ..... embodied in their agenda is the sort of social planning that actually mandates draconian control over families, churches and other voluntary institutions..."

Her work challenges that of the leading proponent of population control Paul Ehrlich, whose 1968 book The Population Bomb predicted mass starvation because of the population explosion. He mistakenly predicted severe famine, the spread of disease and other negative consequences of population growth. He wrote that population control needs to be promoted by compulsion if need be and he endorsed abortion as a means of population control.

He also stated that aid should be with held from nations that failed to support his agenda.

Dr Kasun has shown that the world food production has actually increased very substantially from 1950 to 1977. She claims that the world has sufficient resources to support a population of 40 billion if need be. She claims that eugenicists are behind the population explosion myth and she accurately predicted a time when euthanasia would be promoted for economic reasons. The mass sterilization programs in the developing world has been promoted for eugenic reasons.

She has written that "if all the world moved to Texas, each person could be given the space available in the typical American home and the rest of the world would be empty ..... most of the earth is still empty. It is estimated that the area occupied by human beings account for no more than 1% of the earth's surface."

Fertility rates have been below replacement for several decades and the population is declining in some countries. The World Bank's prediction of the ultimate population of the world is about 10 billion. At that level, human beings will occupy 2% of the earth's land surface and we might use one fifth of the land area for our crops. Dr Kasun estimates that the less developed continents are capable of feeding 18 billion people. It is war and political corruption which lead to mass starvation, not over population.

What about deforestation? The United Nations data for 1988 shows that the world's forested area of 4 billion hectares is the same as in 1950. The forested areas in the United States has not changed since 1920.
Air pollution and traffic congestion are indeed serious problems in most American cities. Again, this is not due to over-population. Experience has shown that the problem could be alleviated by charging to use congested roadways.

In summary, "there is no evidence that any of our environmental problems is the result of over-population or would be improved by limiting population growth. Correcting our behaviour is far more important than reducing our numbers." Dr Kasun would almost certainly have approved of much of the material in the papal document Laudato Si, unlike Paul Ehrlich who condemned it as "raving nonsense" for not promoting contraception and abortion.