The Myth of Overpopulation

One of the most quoted reasons for birth control in general - abortion and euthanasia specifically - is that the world is overpopulated.  As evidence for this position, some use the fact that there is widespread hunger and poverty across the face of the globe.  Many claim that this is primarily because there are too many human beings currently alive and being born.

While it is indisputable that these tragedies occur, it is easy to prove that the problem is not too many people!

Let's take the world population as it is in 1999, and say that it's about 6 billion people:

6,000,000,000 people

Now let's take the lower 48 states of the United States of America, which has a total land area of 2,914,652 square miles.  At 640 acres per square mile, this amounts to:

1,865,377,280 acres

If we divided the population into "families" of four, that would be 1,500,000,000 "families":

1,500,000,000 families

If we took each "family"and gave them each a whole acre of land on which to raise food and their families, you can see that the United States could easily hold all of the people in the world with room to spare!  In fact, there would be enough room left for about another 1,500,000,000 people. 

The 365,377,280 acres left over in the US amounts to 570,902 square miles, which means that you would have open area more than twice the size of Texas left after putting everybody in the world in the lower 48 states of America.

To put it more graphically, you could fit all of the people in the world in the United States and still leave the states of:

totally free of people!  Here's what that would look like ( the states filled with gray would be "empty"):


This would also leave the rest of the planet free of people, and available for growing food, recreation, or any other use that we might find.  It should be obvious that the problem is not too many people.

Nobody is seriously contemplating moving all of these people, of course, but these simple calculations should prove beyond argument that the world does NOT suffer from overpopulation in any sense of the word.

If the world is not overpopulated, what seems to be the problem?

Well, if you take a look at the problem honestly, it's almost purely one of the human heart.  To many, human beings are regarded as interlopers - a parasitical species which has invaded "Mother Earth" and should be regulated or eradicated because of the damage we do here.  This point of view is rooted in the belief that we are merely animals, and are therefore of no more intrinsic worth than a flea or an oyster.   This point of view also allows people to act for their own benefit - no matter what the results are for others.

However, this point of view, by itself, can do very little harm.  It is when this point of view is married to political power that it becomes truly dangerous to humanity.   Many point to religion as the largest killer of innocent human life in history.   To the contrary, it is government which is the largest enemy of innocent life.   Let's take the 20th century as an example:

Over 37,000,000 soldiers died in the various wars fought in this century prior to 1997.   Wars are almost purely political in nature.

Hitler, of course, killed over 12,000,000 innocent human beings, at least half of these being Jewish..

In Soviet Russia, over 40,000,000 people were killed by their government.

In Communist China, over 35,000,000 people were killed during and after the revolution.   Today forced abortion and other travesties kill millions of others every year.

In Ethiopia, most of the much publicized hunger and starvation was the result of government policy - over 1,000,000 people were starved to death on purpose by their government.

Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed over 1,000,000 people in Cambodia.

In Rwanda, at least 800,000 people were massacred in a mere 100 days.  This slaughter was nurtured and aided by the government.

In the modern day Balkans, 200,000 Bosnians were killed by Serb forces, and as this is written, we are witnessing still more genocide in Kosovo, where thousands more are being killed by government troops.  While some of this carnage could be called religious in nature, it is clear that the ones doing the killing do not subscribe to genuine religious beliefs, but are working out ideological aims.

In Sierra Leone; in the Sudan; it is evident that in the 20th century overpopulation isn't what kills people:  Governments kill people.  They have killed over 100,000,000 people in this century alone.

The next time tells you that the world is overpopulated, please educate them.  It is only by stripping the humanists of their myths that we can hope to point them towards the truth.

Credit needs to be given to D. James Kennedy, from whom I first heard a similar example, but using Australia instead of the United States.

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Last Updated on 06/24/99