An Unlikely Source Debunks the Latest Overpopulation Myths


To me, those who raise the alarm about overpopulation sound like flat-earthers. Overpopulation is a myth from the 1970s, when there were 3.7 billion people and the myth was used to predict all sorts of catastrophes, including the starvation of hundreds of millions of people. It was also used to justify measures like abortion, eugenics, and sterilization. And yet, here we are in 2017 with a population over 7 billion, and none of the doomsday predictions have come true.

Yet some people continue to bring up this silly myth to justify drastic action to combat climate change. Children are now seen as polluters, and those wanting to decrease their carbon footprint are being advised to have fewer kids. Large families are judged and criticized.

However, an unlikely source has a new article going after this latest form of hysteria — The Washington Post.

The Post is a firmly left-wing newspaper, and has gone even further to the left in recent decades. So it was surprising to me when I saw that not only did this op-ed appear in The Washington Post, it was published by a staff writer, not a guest columnist.

The last three paragraphs are really biting:

…Western finger-waggers seem to have no compunction with traveling around the world to expand their families by any means necessary, pursuing anything from expensive (and no doubt resource-intensive) fertility treatments to surrogacy in the same countries where they urge citizens to contracept more fervently.

When the enlightened advocates among us hand down recommendations, one has the nagging feeling that they’re envisioning less themselves and their compatriots than more easily caricatured others — the poor, the black and the brown, those Third World women whose lives, they imagine, are sad and difficult anyway, who would probably welcome having one or two fewer children. It’s an ugly sort of paternalism, well-meant but fundamentally chilling. At its core, it denies the humanity of others.

But the deepest argument, perhaps, is more philosophical than scientific. It’s the rare person who isn’t saddened by environmental degradation. We all want to make the world a better, more liveable place. But children are not interchangeable widgets that we choose one more or one fewer of according to the dictates of emissions efficiency. For whom are we scrambling to save the planet, if not future generations? What is the world if there’s no one to live in it?

The whole article is worth a read. Let’s hope that more people begin to see the truth of these arguments.

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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