Al Gore Recycles the Same Old Population Control Myths

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

While speaking at a conference in New York City earlier this week, former Vice President Al Gore used updated language to rephrase the same old discredited notion that cutting down on the number of people in the world will somehow curtail pollution.

During a keynote speech delivered at the Games for Change convention on Monday, climate change activist Al Gore targeted population control as a way to reduce pollution and gave women some advice on how they can help to facilitate this goal.

“One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principle ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women,” Gore said.

Notice how he uses the phrase “empower and educate” girls instead of saying what he really means – teach them how to use birth control.

“You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children have, the spacing of the children,” he goes on to say.

“Fertility management” is one of the most creative obfuscations of the truth since the coinage of the phrases “family planning” and “reproductive rights,” but they all mean the same thing – prevent the birth of babies. 

“You have to lift child survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families and most important — you have to educate girls and empower women,” he said. “And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.”

His facts are about as fuzzy as his language.

First of all, world population isn’t growing, it’s shrinking, so there’s no need to provide “ubiquitous” birth control programs. In fact, if you allotted 1,250 square feet to each person currently alive on the planet, they would all fit into the state of Texas.

According to Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and an expert on the subject of population control, the world’s population growth rate maxed out in 1965 and has been in sharp decline.

”The unprecedented fall in fertility rates that began in postwar Europe has, in the decades since, spread to every corner of the globe, affecting China, India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America,” Mosher says in his book, Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.

“The latest forecasts by the United Nations show the number of people in the world shrinking by midcentury, that is, before today’s young adults reach retirement age.”

The birthrate of Europe taken as a whole, from Ireland to Russia, is only 1.5 children per woman in her lifetime, far below the minimal replacement rate of 2.1. Latin America’s is down to 2.4 and dropping fast. China’s is 1.7. South Korea’s is a mere 1.1. The United States is the only developed country at or above replacement rate; we’re right at 2.1.

If we really want the population to stop polluting the environment, maybe we should start by taking away the very thing the Al Gores of the world are touting – birth control pills.  Last year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association began a major public awareness campaign regarding contamination that’s resulting from pharmaceuticals, including birth control pills, that are getting through sewage system filters and leaking into the environment.

Scientists have discovered “intersex” fish in our waterways which had both male and female features which was caused by the presence of estrogen and other steroid hormones which are excreted by women on birth control pills and are turning up in the water supply.

Since this was first discovered by University of Colorado biologist John Woodling in 2005, numerous other studies have found problems associated with estrogen in the water supply such as in frogs, otters and fish whose male species have been “feminized” by female hormones. In some places, certain species of fish are also experiencing a reduction in fertility due to the same problem.

Al Gore’s message might sound good to the modern ear but, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the “ubiquitous availability of fertility management” is not the solution to the world’ pollution troubles, but part of the problem. 

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