Not My America!

I am beyond being just angry by what I see happening to my country.  I am livid.  I am ashamed.  I am disgusted.

This is not my America.  How dare they rob me of the nation I know and love?  What gives them the right?  Who has suddenly decided that a twisted sexist and bigoted interpretation of the bible that I do not agree with, suddenly has more say over what our country does and what it stands for, than its own Constitution?

Almost on a daily basis I am seeing something else that makes me feel sick.  Here we have a global environmental crisis, an economic crisis, healthcare crisis, housing crisis, a prison overpopulation crisis…  What is the GOP focusing on?  What is the topic I have to be subjected to every single day? 

Alaska.  Arizona.  Wisconsin.  North Carolina.  Kansas.  In one state after another human rights are being decided upon  by not only one religion in a secular nation founded by Deists, but by just one flavor of that one religion.

Which state is next?   Which state is suddenly going to back-slide into bronze age thinking, deciding a fetus is a person before it is even conceived or that  women’s healthcare or mental well-being is now of secondary importance to the mass production and harvesting of potentially viable eggs or fetuses?  The new message here; women have rights only to a  point, and the Religious Right get to decide on a daily basis what rights women can or cannot have!

Now women can’t even…buy contraceptives if the pharmacist just happens to have a problem with population control in an already very overcrowded world where people die of starvation every single day because there’s not enough food?  You have got to be kidding me!

So then, following that same line of thinking, does this mean stores can deny cigarettes to smokers if the guy behind the counter doesn’t smoke or doesn’t believe in smoking, or alcohol if he thinks drinking goes against God?  Should bank tellers suddenly have the right to not give people with fancy clothes or fancy cars money because it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to get into heaven?

When does it end?  Or is this preferential treatment shown only to women?  Somehow because women have wombs they can become at any given time, breeding stock whenever a pharmacist decides its god’s will?

What the hell?

Now all of a sudden human rights are a privilege for some, not all.  Gay couples in love have to wait on pins and needles, hoping this time maybe the majority will finally vote that yes they may have the same rights as everyone else, while meanwhile heterosexual couples can marry any time they wish and that right is not subjected to a majority vote.

Since when should anyone’s basic human rights be subject to a majority vote?   If that’s the case then why aren’t traditional marriages subject to a majority vote?  Shouldn’t gays have the right to vote every four years if they think straight couples should be allowed to marry?

Protecting the sanctity of marriage–that’s the Religious Right’s war cry.  Yes, and we see so much of that among straight couples.  Gay marriage just isn’t natural the Right Wing claims.  Yes, and neither is riding in cars, flying in airplanes, drinking carbonated beverages, wearing contact lenses, false teeth or glasses. Should we do away with all these other things too because they’re not “natural?”

The bible is a book, and unproven–a book filled with errors and contradictions.  Bats are birds in the bible, unicorns exist, and donkeys talk, and yet, the bible should have equal or more authority over citizens of this country (regardless of their beliefs), than the United States Constitution???

Any divine inspiration the bible has is here say only.  I could say that J.R.R. Tolkien was divinely inspired and Lord Of The Rings is the one true word of god.  Does that make it true?

How come it is that the very same people who hold aloft the bible and point to the bits that says women should not have authority over men or gays are an abomination, can completely ignore the parts of the bible that say you should stone to death your daughter if she isn’t a virgin on her wedding night or stone to death your son in front of the whole town for being insolent?  Who are they to decide what is and what should not to be taken seriously in the bible?

This is not Christianity.  The Religious Right claim to speak for Jesus, claim to represent Jesus.  But what they represent is what they believe in.  Just like Hitler found bits in the bible to justify his actions, so does the Right Wing fundamentalist Christians find juicy little morsels to pick out of the muck that most of the bible is and say “Here!  Proof God hates gays!”

Anyone can at any time pick through the bible and find something there to support whatever opinion they want to have supported.  The bible says the handicapped or physically imperfect should not be allowed in god’s temple too.   And women should not wear braids or jewelry, or cloth of mixed material.

I’m sorry, but how stupid can we get?  What must the rest of the world think of us?  It’s embarrassing. 

This is not the America I grew up loving and believing in.  This is obscene and ugly and it needs to be stopped.  It doesn’t belong here.  Not here, the home of the free.

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Mary WHO??? What the First Christians Believed…

http://www.christianitydisproved.com/bible/marcion-of-sinope.html

Who was Marcion? What was Marcionism? Why was he so important in the development of the church in the Second Century?

Who was Marcion?

Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien GodMarcion: The Gospel of the Alien God

Marcion of Sinope was born around 85-100 CE, in the region of Pontus on the Black Sea.1 According to Hippolytus, Marcion’s father was a bishop in Sinope; the young Marcion likely attended his church and became familiar with the Christian scriptures.2 As time progressed Marcion became an educated man, who prospered as a ship-master/shipowner.3 His familial relationships did not share the same prosperous fate as his career; tradition has it that Marcion’s father excommunicated him in Sinope for seducing a young virgin, what is more likely, is that he was excommunicated for his false teachings in relation to his father’s Christianity.4 Marcion had embraced a radical Paulinist theology (see ‘What was Marcionism?’ below), we don’t know how far developed this theology was at the time of his excommunication, but we do know that it was fully developed by 144 CE.5

Undeterred by his excommunication, Marcion travelled throughout Asia Minor seeking recognition for his theology; he was rebuffed by the church leaders of Ephesus, Smyrna and Hierapolis.6 It was probably around this time that Marcion infamously encountered Polycarp and his barbed retort, “I recognize you as the first born of Satan.”7

Undeterred by his rejection in Asia Minor, Marcion travelled to Rome on his own ship with grand plans in mind, upon arrival around 137-139 CE, he donated 200,000 sesterces to the proto-orthodox church.8 It appears that Marcion learnt from his experiences in Asia Minor, rather than submitting his theology to the church in Rome straight away, he probably sequestered himself to five years of private study, from around 139-144 CE.9 At the end of this period, Marcion emerged with Marcionism’s foundational documents; the Marcionite Bible and its commentary the Antitheses.10 He gathered the Roman community, submitted his theology and demanded a verdict from the presbyters in 144 CE.11 There can be no doubt that this action unearths Marcion’s mindset; he saw himself as the literary saviour of the proto-orthodox church, he would have expected the community to read his writings and see the error of their ways. For the third notable time, Marcion and his theology were rejected, he was expelled from the community, branded as a heretic and had his 200,000 sesterces refunded.12

Undeterred by his rejection in Rome, Marcion started his own church; if the proto-orthodox would not propagate his theology, then he would do it himself. The ensuing results were spectacular, by the year 150 CE Justin Martyr wrote: “And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive … And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies…”13 Tertullian echoed these sentiments: “… [Marcionism] has filled the whole world…”14 as did Epiphanius, “The sect is still to be found even now in Rome and Italy, Egypt and Palestine, Arabia and Syria, Cyprus and the Thebaid – in Persia too, moreover and other places.”15 Marcion’s church was a formidable rival to the proto-orthodox; Marcion lived no more than 15 years after his Roman expulsion, but his efforts influenced Christendom for centuries.16 According to Harnack, “No other religious personality in antiquity after Paul and before Augustine can rival him in significance.”17

What else do we know about Marcion the man? It is clear that Marcion was a great organizer that he was: energetic, intelligent, stubborn, an idealistic reformer, naive, self assured, single-minded, forcible, and resilient, a visionary, sincere, pragmatic, serious-minded and possessed strong convictions.18 He had an aversion to philosophy but was potentially influenced by the ‘problem of evil’ in his younger days, he rejected allegorical interpretation and was not significantly influenced by the Gnostic Cerdo; if he was influenced at all.19 He was an ascetic, a modalist, a dualist, a docetist, a biblical theologian, a biblical literalist, a textual critic/restorer, as well as a man that loved his enemies and embraced the Beatitudes.20 It is highly unlikely that Marcion was a charlatan; he never claimed a religious revelation, he never claimed to have received his scriptures supernaturally and he never claimed authority for himself.21 He could easily have claimed these things; charlatans have done so both before and after him with lasting effects.22 No, Marcion was a genuine believer, he saw himself as a student of Paul, simply following in the apostle’s footsteps.23

What was Marcionism?

Marcionism rested upon two foundational assumptions.24 The first assumption was based upon Paul’s writings in Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! … For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.25

Marcion interpreted Paul‘s words literally, there was only one gospel not four (or more) and it was the gospel that Paul had received personally from Jesus Christ. The second assumption arose from Marcion’s observation that the Old Testament God was starkly different from Jesus. According to Tertullian, Marcion compared Old Testament verses like:26

He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.27

With Jesus‘ loving words toward children:

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs”.28

From such verses Marcion made the relatively logical conclusion, that the God of the Old Testament; the creator-God, was different to the good-God who was the father of Jesus Christ. The creator-God was: inferior and previously ignorant of the good-God, the creator of the physical world, the God of the Jews, in opposition to the good-God, the law-giver, a judge, just, petty, cruel, finite, warlike, jealous, blood-thirsty, severe, fierce, hostile to Christ, responsible for procreation and all other evils of the flesh.29 In stark contrast, the good God was: the God of Marcionism, superior to the creator-God, in opposition to the creator-God, separate from the universe, loving, good, righteous, giving, kind and previously unknown; a stranger/alien from the third heaven.30 The good-God had never produced any flesh, and he was seeking to purchase/steal people from the creator-God to his own heaven through Christ the redeemer.31 Marcion rejected the creator-God, the Old Testament and its prophets; the law and its creator-God were viewed in opposition to the gospel and the good-God.32

In summary, Marcionism was foundationally based upon Paul‘s one gospel and the rejection of the Old Testament, its law and creator-God, in favour of the new good-God.

From this foundation, the Marcionite conspiracy theory was born; Judaism had corrupted the true gospel/epistles throughout the entire apostolic age.33 Marcion therefore would allow no connection between the gospel/epistles; “…anything that purports to be Christian and yet exhibits a connection with the Old Testament is false and forged.34 To rectify this alleged travesty, Marcion set about ‘restoring’ the Pauline texts, excising them to form the first closed canon; the Marcionite Bible which accompanied the Antitheses.35 The excised Bible contained one unnamed ‘authentic’ gospel (Luke), and the epistles: Galatians, Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians and parts of the Epistle to the Laodiceans.36 The proto-orthodox destroyed this Bible along with the Antitheses but we can deduce Marcionite teachings from the anti-heretical works that the texts spawned.

On Christ, Marcion denied the virgin birth, instead proposing that Christ had emerged from heaven in 29 CE as the son of the good-God; a stranger to the creator-God.37 Christ didn‘t have a normal physical body but he was not a phantom, he still suffered.38 The purpose of Christ‘s visit was to purchase mankind from the creator-God for the good-God, with Christ‘s blood.39 This act displayed the innate goodness of the good-God, the new reality was love.40 Marcionites were ‘saved’ by faith in Christ, not by observing the creator-God‘s law which Christ abolished.

On Judaism, Marcion saw the Old Testament as a book of literal history; he rejected it but did not see it as a book of lies.41 He believed that the Jewish Messiah was yet to arrive.42

Much emphasis was placed on newness within Marcionism. Marcionites constantly referred to Jesus’ saying:43

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.44

Contrary to the proto-orthodox, Marcionites held that there was no physical resurrection of the dead. They believed that the soul would be saved but that the body, the creation of the creator-God, would be destroyed.45

Marcionites held to the Pauline teaching that, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”46 As such, people that rejected Christ were to be punished on judgment day. Since the good-God couldn‘t possibly have his own hell, non-believers would simply be cast away to the creator-God, who does have his own hell and will burn them with fire.47

Marriage was not allowed by Marcion, it was viewed as a corruption. Since the creator-God ordained marriage, the Marcionites believed that they were distressing him by avoiding it; this was a positive thing for they viewed themselves in opposition to the creator-God.48 Sex was prohibited for it engaged the sinful flesh, an additional bonus was that this too supposedly bothered the creator-God.49 This teaching had an enormously negative effect upon the movement‘s demographics; besides the ascetic deterrent, they couldn‘t expand the religious base by indoctrinating children, they had to continually recruit new members.50

Marcionites had special dietary restrictions, they were not allowed to eat meat with the exception of fish and they were not permitted to drink wine.51 Food intake was to be minimized alongside fasting, which was also conducted to spite the creator-God.52 Marcionites also practiced the Eucharist.53

Baptism was practiced, it is possible that women were allowed to conduct the ritual and that it was allowed more than once.54

Whilst Marcion rejected the Old Testament prophets, it is possible that he did not reject the concept of prophecy itself.55

It also appears that Marcionites died for their beliefs in significant numbers; being prepared for martyrdom was encouraged.56

Whilst many of Marcion‘s teachings were irrational by modern standards, there was one teaching that was clearly unethical; it involved the damnation of Abel and Enoch amongst others. It was commonly held in Marcion‘s time that Jesus had descended to Hades, to redeem prior generations.57 Judaism ‘back-sliders’/non-adherents were saved including Cain, Esau, Abiram, Korah and Dathan.58 But, ‘ethical’ people like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Moses and David were not, for they had followed the creator-God.59 This teaching was clearly immoral; to reward a murderer such as Cain, yet condemn Abel to an eternity of fire was an ethical affront to justice.

Marcionite teachings were propagated within Marcionite churches.60 Their church structure paralleled that of the proto-orthodox involving bishops, elders and catechumens and they observed similar religious events.61 Their services were open to the public; pagans included.62 They had no clear cut doctrinal system which allowed diversity from the beginning, Marcionism would evolve with time; most notably with Apelles.63

Why was he so important in the development of the church in the Second Century?

The success of Marcion and his Marcionite church threatened the proto-orthodox: “Already in the year A.D. 150 Justin could say that his influence extended all over the Empire. A real rival to the growing Catholic Church had sprung into being, and for a few years it must actually have seemed possible that the Marcionite church would become the dominant church.”64 This spurred the proto-orthodox into action, three major developments took place: (1) The proto-orthodox were motivated to clarify their ecclesiastical doctrines; (2) They were forced to create their own Biblical canon, and; (3) They were motivated to include Paul in the newly formed canon. These developments will be analysed in turn.

Prior to Marcion’s emergence, the proto-orthodox lacked conclusive ecclesiastical doctrines; there was no canon besides the Old Testament, there was a lack of meaningful creeds, there were competing interpretations of tradition, there was a reliance on “apostolic men” like Polycarp, and the episcopate was still developing its authority.65 Marcion‘s theological assault spurred them into action; anti-heretical counter literature was profusely written by the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian forging ecclesiastical doctrines.66 The Old Roman Creed was reiterated to specify the belief, that the creator-God was the Father of Jesus Christ, and the need for their own canon was identified.67

Marcion‘s greatest contribution to the development of the second century church was the Marcionite canon; it was the catalyst and prototype for the proto-orthodox‘s canon.68 Prior to Marcion‘s emergence, Christendom had employed a vast array of literature ranging from the accepted Old Testament, to various gospels, apocalyptic works, epistles and letters.69 There was no consensus on which texts where authoritative, it depended on which church you visited.70 Marcion led the way on enforcing consensus and the proto-orthodox followed suit: It cannot have been twenty years later when authoritative bishops in Asia Minor and Rome proceeded to set in opposition to Marcion‘s Bible a collection that was also in two parts and to designate it as the apostolic catholic New Testament. This work, created in imitation and under the impact of Marcion‘s creation, was hardly felt to be an odd innovation, because the four Gospels had already been in use in those churches for more than a generation.71 Whilst the proto-orthodox would have inevitably developed their own canon, Marcion accelerated the process.72

Finally, the contents of the proto-orthodox canon were influenced by Marcion; specifically the inclusion of Paul‘s writings. Prior to Marcion, Paul had progressively been on the outer of proto-orthodox Christianity; appreciation for his “gospel” had been waning.73 In the words of E.C. Blackman, “It may be that but for Marcion the Catholic Church might have left Paul‘s writings out of its canon, and have left the Apostle with no greater authority than the Apostolic Fathers.”74 Ironically, it seems like Paul‘s real saviour was Marcion.

Silent No More!

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I deem the essential principles of our government. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation.  But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”      -John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” -John Adams

“The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.”
                        -Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.  Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated.  I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
                            -George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, 1792

“. . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”  Benjamin Franklin
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Tolerance.  For three years now I have been an atheist, after over 35 years of being a born again Christian.  What have I had to learn like I never had to learn before?  Tolerance.

When I was a Christian I thought nothing of not only proclaiming what I believed, but arguing about it, vehemently, sometimes even rudely.  Everyone else’s beliefs were wrong and mine were right.  And often I had other people back me up on it too, because mine was the acceptable, popular opinion.  I was indignant if anyone disagreed.  I couldn’t remotely entertain the thought that I might be wrong, or that my mother could be wrong, or her mother, or the church leaders I had grown up listening to and believing every word.  And the BIBLE!  The unblemished Word of God.   His might–at my fingertips if only I believed hard enough.  The “good book” that Christians arm themselves with in defense against Satan. 

I remember as a child I had cards in a box and each card had a bible verse on it.  I would memorize the card, and once I did, I’d put it aside and then memorize the next.  Until I could say one verse after the next correctly, and in order.   I did this because the church I went to preached that Satan is repelled by bible verses.  So I learned them.    And they sounded right to my young ears.

And of course they did.  They were cherry picked for the impressionable young.  There was none of the darker verses found throughout the bible. Nothing about burning witches or about women being forbidden to speak or ask questions in church, etc. 

At bible camp we sang our songs over and over, both morning and night, celebrating, among other things, having been “washed in the blood” or being “under the blood”–(a hold-over from the blood baptisms of pagan Mithraism Christianity replaced–where followers stood under a grate while above them a bull was sacrificed.).  To this day I can sing every song we sang then–I remember every single word.  Because that is part of belief.  It starts out as an idea.  It is repeated in verse and in song.  It is memorized.  It takes root inside your head –becomes a way of thinking and habit…until you forget when it started or where it came from.  That’s when you accept it’s always been, and it is true, absolutely true, so true that everyone should know!   Or so I thought.  Someone at some time must have done their research to prove it’s all true–so I didn’t have to–again, or so I presumed.  I just…accepted that the bible was history, and the tales in it–about real people.  But really, were they?   Did people like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John… actually exist?  Jesus too?   No one seemed to question it in my little bible-camp world.  I never heard anyone at my church or at that camp question if these characters in this book ever lived at all?  No one asks this.  No one asks WHO exactly wrote the bible, or why, or who hired them to write it?  For what purpose?  What was the agenda?

As a Christian the religious holidays were wonderful. Filled with fellowship and wonder and reverence and even hope of the promise the birth represents, and the sacrifice on the cross represents.  I walked around with a cross around my neck.  I was never a bible thumper but I was a Christian and I loved getting the warm and fuzzy Christian spam emails I got, and if anyone asked me oh sure, then I’d talk about my faith because then I knew it was safe.  Here was someone who would agree with everything or most everything I did.  I could talk and they’d nod their head and then they’d talk and further feed my belief, strengthen my delusion that this whole thing really is true.

If i ever came across a Jewish person, or atheist or anyone who was obviously not a believer, like someone wearing a turban or veil, oooh, I’d feel indignant inside.  I wouldn’t want to start up a conversation with them because…well, two reasons.  One, what did they know?  They were the lost.  The unsaved.  The ignorant.   And two…they might know more about their religion or beliefs than I knew about mine and I didn’t want my precious beliefs I hadn’t bothered to research, threatened in any way!  I didn’t want to look foolish, or have to be put on the defensive or hear the painful words said that MY beliefs are not true!  I didn’t want to be insulted by hearing someone say my Heavenly Father doesn’t exist or his Son who DIED for my sins…doesn’t exist!  That kind of thing offended me, angered me, deeply upset me.  So I avoided talking religion to these people–and in fact avoided people like this completely. I even avoided reading any books or articles by non-Christians which might challenge or put into doubt for me, my “faith.” I didn’t want to doubt, or question. I wanted to be like a little child as the bible commands, and blindly BELIEVE without question as good Christians do.

That was then.   Fast forward to now and I am an atheist.  Suddenly I notice how often people talk about their beliefs as if they think everyone agrees with them.  Suddenly people are making a big deal about whether our current President is a Christian or not–while I’m thinking, what difference does THAT make when most of our founding fathers were not!

Learning to not defend my new non-beliefs has been difficult, because I grew up quick to get indignant and angry and upset any time anyone attacked my Christian beliefs.  But to defend my new beliefs as a secular person who doesn’t believe…that’s wrong.  That’s offensive to the majority–to all those Christians who, just like it once offended me, get angry and upset and take it personally when they hear anything contradictory or like an outright challenge to their beliefs.   So really, it’s ok for Christians to broadcast what they think and believe and why.  That’s called witnessing.  It’s trying to spread the good news.  It’s a wholesome, happy message of hope.  A positive message. So it’s okay because since it’s so positive, how can it possibly offend anyone?  Right?

Well, it does!  I didn’t realize it’s a two way street, not just a one way street, until I found myself at an intersection and changing directions.  It IS a two way street and believe it or not, people who don’t believe in Christianity or the Christian god do still feel all the same burning passions inside them for whatever it is they do believe, be it belief in another religion, or belief in science, in evolution, in preserving the balance of nature, of being humane to each other and to animals.  Whatever the belief, it is close to the believer’s heart.

So when we have Conservative Republicans fighting to be nominated, and they’re busy vocalizing about how America is a Christian nation…which it isn’t and never has been…it basically says to all the rest of us who are not Christian, get the hell out, you aren’t wanted here.

There’s a Reason Rally on March 24th, 2012–a coming out celebration for Secularism.   Why?   Really, why?  What do people who don’t believe in God have to defend?  To cry foul over?   To get indignant about?

How about the fact this is our country too?  And we love our country too?  And we aren’t deceived by the bullshit they’re feeding the mainstream  that this country was founded by Christians–when we know perfectly well it was not.   This is our country too, and yet can a secular person, someone who does not believe in god or gods, have any hope of running for President?  No.  And how come that is?  Since when has the word “Christian” become the replacement word for words like wholesome, kind, compassionate, honest, ethical, caring, fair, gentle, forgiving, merciful, loving or good?

For a very long time people with no beliefs have felt no need to speak out.  For a very long time atheists and agnostics and pagans and heathens or whatever else you want to call us–infidels–whatever, have held our tongues and allowed the religious to walk all over those of us who don’t believe.  To silently smile and meekly try to change the subject rather than disagree and risk hurting someone’s feelings or upsetting someone.   But now we have the Religious Right trying to tell all of us that we are all of us Christians, and their puritan ideas of what is right and wrong, should be accepted by us all!   We’re back to that old song and dance again about how women should have babies if they get pregnant, whether or not they want to, and women should not have insurance coverage for birth control–which of course will mean so many more unwanted babies coming into the world with parents who can’t afford them.

I think it’s time to speak out.  I think it’s time that the secular population join together and protest our right to not believe, our right to not have to be silent just because our opinion is the less accepted, minority one, our right to not be governed by doctrine that seeks to keep our society in the dark ages, women under the dominion of men, and further allow our planet’s overpopulation crisis to multiply.

In my view such religious doctrine that abortion is murder (which the bible does not say, by the way), and the people or organizations like the Religious Right who seek to make war against women and take away their rights over their own futures–their own bodies, are one of the main reasons why  why our planet’s environment is so out of whack now–why we have too many people and not enough food–and why we have killer storms in parts of the world where they have never been before.

So it’s not just for the sake of our pride, and our desire to be counted as patriotic Americans too.  Nor is it just for the purpose of defending/preserving our human rights.  It’s for the sake of our planet, and for the sake of the advancement of science and understanding–the only weapons we have to defend ourselves, against ourselves.

The Damage Myths Cause For Our Planet & All Life

I am trying really hard to avoid this current election because it angers me.   The conservative Christian and other groups that we are being told want to discourage contraception or eliminate it completely due to their own person “moral” objections, and in doing so create more unwanted pregnancies to then force women to have to bear for nine months….WTF????  And then what?  What will happen to all those unwanted babies?  Will all these people against women controlling their own bodies line up and offer to adopt?  Or will we see more children stuck their whole first 18 years in foster care, moved from house to house, subjected to carrying their belongings in garbage bags and never knowing what it feels like (many of them) to be loved?

It just floors me that people can be soooo short sighted.   I don’t care if some people believe the myth that a god is going to destroy the earth when it all gets just too bad, then create a new earth, a new Jerusalem for Christians (only) to inhabit for a thousand years, or whatever it is they believe.  It is MY world too.  I would like to live the rest of my life without the prospect of developing worstening claustrophobia issues everywhere I go.  I would like to see the natural world be allowed to continue, and enough natural habitat for other life besides human beings, to be allowed to continue.

When I was in High School I read about a study they made on rats in a cage and overpopulation.  I remember reading, the denser the rat population, the more the rats wanted to kill each other.   Below I found the following, which explains this more.   Yes I do think human beings should wake up to the fact we are also animals.  And this increase in rage we feel on crowded roads and in long lines and over-crowded side-walks–there’s a really big reason for it.  Why do we see more and more school shootings and mall shootings and seemingly normal people suddenly turning on their families, killing their spouses and children?  Is it oh, I don’t know, SATAN????  Or could it be human beings are just as likely to behave as other animals do when conditions become too crowded?

I think religion is fine and well.  But I think just the oppressive doctrine that wants to control not only the members of that religion but EVERYONE, is causing not just women, but all of us, immense harm by hugely contributing to a very overpopulated world.

On Rats:   http://culturechange.org/issue19/overpop_terrorism.htm

Overpopulation & terrorism: rats in a cage

by John Omaha

Many people will find it difficult to compare human populations to rat populations. Many humans will suffer for that cognitive impairment. When a pair of reproductively competent rats are placed in a closed space and provided with sufficient food, they will reproduce and reproduce until the space is filled with rats. At a critical density, wars break out. Some rats, alpha males, claim territory and defend it. Others attack. Sound familiar? Only difference between rats and humans is the language-making capability of the human left brain. We humans give names to our territoriesó “World Trade Center” is one. The right brain, impelled by drives and emotions, is the fundamental force operating here. The left brain makes “reasons” for what the right brain is going to do anyway. Some of these “reasons” are: democracy, Islam, God, Allah, terrorist, Third World, globalization.

 What we are seeing is the result of an exponentially increasing population. This is population biology at work. Anthropologists and population biologists studied all the wars in history for which adequate data were available. They learned that war breaks out when the percentage of the population consisting of single males in the age range 16-26 exceeds a certain fraction of the total population. Whatever Osama bin Laden may call it, whatever Al Fatah, or the PLO, or Jonas Savimbi, or Mexican President Fox, or the Australians who refuse to allow the Indonesian refugees into their country, whatever the East Timorese may call it, the Afghanis, the Pakistanis orwhatever name it is given is not correct; the correct name is overpopulation.

 And this is just the beginning. World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. Itís a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever was going on in Pennsylvania are conflicts between population segments assembled behind alpha males in an overpopulated, confined space, in which the segments are seeking to expand into territory that is resource rich compared to their own.

 Unfortunately, all the players are thinking from inside the box. Bush tells us we wíll find the terrorists and punish them. The terrorists are only the proximate problem. The terrorists are the vanguard of the real problem: the surplus billions of people on this spherical Petri dish. Only when the true problem is identified and addressed will we escape the inevitable fate of our species–a mass die off that will sometimes look like terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and will at other times look like AIDS and at other times like “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia. 

Control of our species reproductive drive is the central survival issue our species must solve if Homo sapiens is to be a successful evolutionary experiment. Solving the issue will require the cooperation of all human beings. We are not doing very well.

 John Omaha, Ph.D., is with Chemotion Institute: Treatment, Education & Research for the Ingestive Disorders P.O. Box 528 Chico, CA 95927 530-899-7719 E-mail: jomaha@sunset.net 

 

On Everything Else:    http://www.overpopulation.org/faq.html

1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies. December 28, 1998   from the Germany World Population Fund doclink
If fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. May 1998   Bill McKibben – Atlantic Monthly doclink

Population (in billions)   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Year   1804 1927 1959 1974 1987 1999 2011 2023
Elapsed   123 33 14 13 12 13 15+

doclink

At least 150 million couples throughout the world want, but do not have, access to reproductive Health Services doclink
For An Additional $1.63 Per U.S. Taxpayer Per Year, 11.7 Million More Couples Would Have Access to Modern Contraception doclink
By 2030, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 4.9 billion, while the rural population is expected to decrease by 28 million. September 2010   Population Reference Bureau doclink

  • 1983 Year that world grain production per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1985 Year that humanity’s demand for resources first exceeded supply(mec.ca)
  • 1989 Year that world fish catch per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1999 Year that the world population reached 6 billion (US Census Bureau)
  • 2012 Year that the world population will reach 7 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 2050 Year that the world population will reach 9.2 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 3 Days for the world population to increase by that of San Francisco
  • 6 Months for the world population to increase by that of California
  • 200,000 World population growth each day
  • 70 Years for population to double, in any country, at a 1% growth rate per year 2009   doclink

  • The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.
  • Only 17% of the world’s population lives in industrialized countries
  • The average life expectancy is 61, up from 40 in just 50 years. The numbers of people 65 and older make up 10-15% of the world population today and is expected to increase to 20-30% by 2050. 2009   doclink

1) The use of contraception among couples in developing countries has increased from 10% in the early 1960’s to 60% today.2) During this period, the fertility rate fell from about six births per woman in the mid-1960’s to below three per woman in 2000.3) Global population growth has slowed to an annual rate of 1.35%, the lowest in decades.4) Uncountable numbers of women and children have lived instead of died. doclink

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that hunger is a daily concern for 13.8% of Americans
  • There will be 125 million births in the world this year. By the time this group is ready to start school, there will have been another 625 million births.
  • Every 20 minutes, the human population grows by about 3,000. At the same time another plant or animal becomes extinct (27,000 each year).
  • According to the U.N., if fertility were to stay constant at 1995-2000 levels, the world population would soar to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion by 2300.
  • The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold. April 2004   US Census Bureau doclink
End of this page in “Factoids” section, pg 1 … Go to page 1.. 2 3 4 .. 4.6

Does It Matter to You?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on Overpopulation

February 26, 2012   WOA website1. What are the biggest issues that arise from overpopulation, and why are they so bad?

a. Food shortages and associated malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, stunted growth and stunted brain power, starvation b. Peak oil, which greatly impacts food supply. c. Per capita water shortage and poor water quality, which greatly impacts food supply and human health d Climate change which creates hotter, more hostile crop growing conditions and flooding, also hostile to crops. e. Shortage of nonrenewable resources, particularly fertilizer, necessary for crop production, but also other resources needed for manufacturing, without which our materialistic civilization will grind to a halt. f. Environmental damage caused by the quest for more fossil fuels and essential metals, destruction of animal habitat caused by urbanization.

2. In the future, do you foresee it getting worse or better, and to what degree?

Going by a. Food shortages alone, it will only get worse unless we quickly stabilize population and find some as-yet-discovered agricutural advancement. The Green Revolution has petered out.

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. Is there anything that you believe we can do to help lessen the effects of overpopulation on the environment and other animals?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, male involvement, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates. But these programs need more funding and we must push for that funding.

4. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more apparent?

Slowing population growth takes time unless we resort to drastic, ugly, highly unpopular solutions. We must increase funding for family planning now, because putting babies back in the womb, or even a worse alternative, is not an acceptable solution.

5. Why do you think so many people are ignorant on the topic of overpopulation and it’s effects?

a. Resistance to contraception and the belief that sex is only for procreation by certain Christian religions. b. Belief that population stabilization requires ‘population control’ – the One Child policy in China,for example. Not understanding that there are gentle solutions that will help people live a better life, and that people actually want, and that have been proven to work. c. Inability to connect the dots when 6 billion goes to 7 billion in 12 years and then to 8 billion in 13 years. Belief that ‘God will take care of it’. Cornucopian view of the world fostered by decades of technological advances and materialistic success has caused people to think that the world’s natural resources are unlimited. Forgetting that fossil fuels have allowed the West to advance technologically and live very comfortably, and therefore not really thinking to look at the dim future of fossil fuels.

6. Do you believe overpopulation, or the way we use resources is more of a problem, and why?

There is no doubt that, if the 2 billion people living very comfortably on this earth made sacrifices, then the 2 billion living on the edge could live more comfortably – IF (a very big if) it was practical to transfer the assets of the rich to the poor, and if the rich would willingly give up their comfortable life. Unfortunately many people use the excuse that consumption is a bigger part of the problem (they believe it is) to avoid dealing with population altogether.

Most frequently we hear about overconsumption in the West measured in terms of carbon emissions. However, we must remember that the critical path for humanity is the supply of food. Arable land is fast disappearing due to urbanization, soil erosion/overuse, and water shortages in both rich and poor countries. Both rich and poor countries will suffer, the poor first, but then the poor in the richer countries. Already the middle class is fast disappearing in the U.S., due to loss of jobs to overseas employees. So the U.S. is not immune to the impacts of food shortages.

Unfortunately, population is growing so fast that, whatever advances we make by providing more food to more people eventually ends up at a point where there is not enough food and starvation is nature’s way to equalize supply and demand.

7. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus is reputed to believe it would happen in the 1700s (that wasn’t actually what he said); Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

8. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

9. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

10. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

11. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow.

12. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

13. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources.

14. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

15. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

16. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

17. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

18. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

19. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

20. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

21. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

22. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

23. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

24. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students). You can hook up with the Sierra Club and join population activities there: http://www.sierraclub.org/population/

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

25. Why don’t we hear much about this issue on the news and such? It seems like something that should be dealt with immediately, yet i don’t see anyone in power taking action.

I come across over 20 articles a day on population, some of them in important places like the New York Times, the Economist, National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, and so on. Today food and gas prices are rising, partly due to peak oil, partly due to climate change, partly due to seasonal fluctuation, but mostly due to a shortage of resources per person.

On the other hand, there are conservatives that do not believe in limited resources, overpopulation, “telling people what they should do in their private lives,” contraception, and abortion. Some of these people are in places of high influence, like the U.S. Congress, which has recently contemplated removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, claiming the money is going for abortions, which it isn’t. The money goes for family planning services (not abortion) and reproductive health services. These same conservatives control various media such as Fox News.

The United States and other countries HAVE been taking action on this issue for many years. Programs are in place for voluntary family planning and reproductive health, among others that reduce fertility rates. These programs have been instrumental in bringing down world fertility rates, which are now around 2.5 children per woman. But every year there is a battle over how much funding should be put into these programs by the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: any suggestions for these FAQs are welcome. Send to karen4329@karengaia.net

More Faqs

November 23, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

2. What do you believe is the worst effect of overpopulation? Why?

By far the worst effect is the inability to feed every one. Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. What has been done/is being done to slow overpopulation? What would you do to slow overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

4. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus thought it would happen in the 1700s; Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

5. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

6. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

7. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow. doclink

Questions on Food

November 21, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. How does overpopulation affect the food industry?

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

2. Are there any foods that are able to feed the world?

Grains are usually the staple used to feed the world: rice, wheat, and corn in particular. But new strains are needed to grow in hotter climates, less water, and/or poor soil. If these strains are not developed by technology, there will not be enough food to feed the world. Today there are 1 billion underfed people in the world. This number is likely to grow if population continues to grow and a solution is not found.

3. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

4. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources. doclink

Population Control?

September 26, 2011   WOA websiteThe world is headed for disaster. If we don’t do something, nature will do something for us. Shouldn’t we be doing some sort of population control like what China did? Maybe a two child or one child policy for the world? doclink

It appears that the three of us are in agreement about the impending consequences of overpopulation.But we must understand the solutions.Fertility rates have been coming down for many years. They are continuing to come down. We are experiencing population momentum, which means that reductions in population growth lag behind reductions in fertility rates. China’s population growth rate is only 0.47%, and its population expected to peak in 2030 at 1.4 billion, then decline.The UN population projections had low, medium, and high scenarios, with the difference between medium and high or low only half a child in fertility rates.So it is EXTREMELY important to sufficiently fund efforts to make contraception accessible to all women of child-bearing age, and at the same time to empower women to make health decisions for themselves, because reproductive health is very closely tied to contraceptive usage. The latter includes such measures as eliminating child marriages, girls education, micro credit, and male involvement.All of these things are being done, and have been done, worldwide, since the 1950s, and have been very successful, but have lacked sufficient funding, which is frequently blocked by conservatives in the U.S. administration and legislature. This year funding is again being attacked by our very conservative legislature.Some people argue that these contraceptives are being forced upon third world women, but in 1994 it was decided that all attempts to meet targets and all coersion would be stopped and women would be encouraged to choose their own family size. It works out because women, on average, do not want large families as long as they can be assured there will be enough children surviving to replacement. In developed countries many women seem to want even fewer than the replacement level number of children. Women in the U.S. are producing 2.09 children on average, just a tad below replacement level, while women in other developed countries considerably fewer. The overall world wide average is 2.52 and comes down every year. Replacement level for all but countries with very female death rates is 2.1

Why is Population Ignored by Human Rights Groups and Democrats?

August 28, 2011   WOA websiteRebecca wrote:

I agree with you about overpopulation. I have no children and have my animals spayed and eat no meat, pork or chicken, leave my car parked, keep lights off, don’t heat or air condition (live in So Cal so that is possible) and don’t buy products excessively, try not to buy products that were tested on animals, clean with baking soda, put groceries in canvas bags etc- so in addition to not adding to population try to be fair about reducing my portion of carbon footprint.

But whenever I bring up overpopulation at Democratic or Labor meetings (not abortion, birth control, which is a two-fer because it also helps prevent spread of STDs in many cases) I get a stunned silence and no one will discuss it thinking they must have a white supremist in their midsts…though the competition for air,water,food, jobs and land has become fierce and is beyond a political party problem, has to have an economic impact too due to “supply and demand”.

I have written to television stations and asked them not to feature “octomom”, “kate plus 8” “19 and counting” etc and they ignore me too.

Somehow the idea of caring for elderly (albeit healthy) persons in excess in the population is considered anethma though one would assume excess children in the population also are being cared for..and also no one seems to get it that if elderly persons were spending less on chidlren being raised during their working years they could save more to take care of themselves in ol d age…

Anyway how do we get this idea across and make it “cool” like recycling to say “three is the new large family” and encourage people to stop at one or two?

~~~

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your thoughtful remarks and commend you on your lowered footprint.

Overpopulation has certainly acquired a dirty name, and I think due to lies spread by religious conservatives who believe sex is for procreation, contraceptives are abortifacient, and abstinence is the only good birth control. They think anyone who promotes family planning is evil and must be racist, and they make huge efforts to spread that opinion far and wide. On the other hand, the women of these same religions are using contraception, almost as much as the general population, so maybe we can push for a connect between these women and their priests and husbands.

So I always examine religious objections and detractors and am always looking for evidence to counter whatever misrepresentations they may put out.

In addition, most people do not see the big picture, or at least do not want to think about it. Peak oil and food shortages will affect us all, but people tend to think that their life is secure and nothing will happen to them, so we sound like we are Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.

Then there are those who blame the huge consumption of the Western world for the world’s problems, but in fact, even poor rural people’s lives are not sustainable unless some miracle of technology comes along (the Green Revolution is done what it can, mostly). And it isn’t a problem of distribution because a) it has been found that if you feed a population, that population grows some more (it is only sustainable if people can feed themselves), b) transporting food to famine areas is good for real emergencies, but because of peak oil, is not sustainable as a long term practice.

And where population is growing the fastest – in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, it can be seen that life is already unsustainable in many areas there and I print stories about that.

And I always find new and interesting articles on sustainability (there are plenty of them) that will help prove the point that humanity’s footprint is not sustainable.

I am happy to find so many news articles that reinforce the idea that we are indeed headed for trouble — I am not happy about the bad news, but glad that there are so much in the news.

I agree with you about the elderly. I am a senior myself, but longevity is part of the problem – it adds to the number of people on the planet. If people continue to live longer and longer, at some point we would have to give up having children altogether. Personally I would prefer to give up when I get past a certain point of decrepitude, and let some youngster take my place. We can’t afford to nurture young children and educate them in order to pass on our civilization (hopefully a less destructive one), if at the same time we taking care of so many old ones – I’m thinking of the large number of baby boomers the U.S. now has, compared to the number of working people.

I would not focus on the octomoms because the fertility rate is coming down in the world, and has been at replacement level for some time in the U.S. Instead I would work on the large numbers of unintended pregnancies and meeting the unmet need for contraception, and teen pregnancies, and child brides in the developing countries, and educational soap operas in areas where fertility rates are high due to cultural preferences, and male responsibility.

Fertility rates are coming down due to efforts starting back in the 1950s, and continuing today. Average today is 2.5. But funding has not been adequate and we now need to put about $12 billion towards the areas mentioned in the preceeding paragraph.

Karen Gaia doclink

On Expecting People to Have Fewer Children

May 16, 2011   WOA websiteI have been thinking a lot about population issues lately, and wanted to hear some advice from you. The single worst thing someone in America can do for the environment is to have a child. How can you reconcile talking about this with people without offending them and making them feel persecuted for having children? I feel like this issue really should be discussed more, but I am afraid to say something and hurt someone’s feelings.

I know you have done population activism for a while, so I was wondering if you might have any advice for discussing the subject without acrimony.

Thanks,

Autumn

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Hi Autumn,

The average fertility rate in this country is about at replacement level. Immigration is the biggest contributing factor to U.S. population, but that does not add anything to the worldwide population, except where it takes the pressure off the resources in Mexico and Central America, which leads to higher birth rates there. Also, immigrants soon assume consumption levels higher than where they come from, but it is difficult to fault people for wanting to achieve a ‘good’ life. If it were not for immigration, our growth rate would be zero, and our population stabilized.

It would be good if Americans dipped down to below replacement level, but this can best be done by addressing the unmet need for contraception. 1/3 of the births in the U.S. are unintended. The teen birth rate in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world. Concentrating on teen pregnancy and fighting the abstinence-only mentality, and using more role models (both good and bad – if done the right way) on television – this will go a long way towards reducing our birth rate.

I no longer get excited about people having 6 or 13 or so kids. They are in a very small minority. Many people have only 1 or even none. It averages out. Many developed countries have such a low birthrate (Spain has a fertility rate of 1.4) that there is concern that they will be sustainable economically. Some even fear that their country will become one of old people, with not enough young people to reproduce. This is a real concern.

In the U.S., our baby boomers are retiring. We will have a huge amount of resources going to old people, and maybe not enough going to the education of our future adults. But of course, having larger families to take care of all these seniors would be a disaster – a giant Ponzi scheme.

Recently attempts have been made to defund Planned Parenthood because some legislators think it does abortions on federal money. The federal program Title X grants money to Planned Parenthood to be used for family planning, but excluding abortions. Planned Parenthood gets less money from Title X than their costs for family planning (excluding abortions), so none of Title X money goes for abortions. There are many Catholic and Evangelical Christians who are against contraception. It is their hidden agenda to make contraception illegal.

So I think where we can do the best good in the U.S. is by making sure that there is sufficient funding for programs that provide contraception, family planning, sex ed, girls self esteem, and male responsibility, which is what Planned Parenthood does. Also social media role models, like televisions’ ’16 and Pregnant’, should continue.

The biggest population growth is in Africa and Central America. Africa’s population is expected to triple by 2100. This is where we need to concentrate with programs like the ones suggested for the U.S. above. Because they are developing countries we also need to add education for girls, raise the age of marriage, and provide microcredit for women.

These programs have already been successful for over 50 years, but funding is inadequate. We need about $2 billion a year for these programs, so little if you compare it to the $2 billion a week that we spend on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same kinds of people who stand in the way of contraception and sex ed in the U.S. are the ones who stand in the way of funding for international family planning.

Regarding reproductive health: when more women survive childbirth, they are less likely to think of themselves as baby machines. It gives them some respect getting health care, which saves many lives. Also, when a woman has her postnatal visit, the midwife asks if she wants to space her births, which she almost always does, so that’s when she receives contraception. In, fact, that is almost the same way I got started on contraception, after Rose was born and modern contraception was new.

Anyway, what we need is advocacy for funding – there are many opportunities if you are interested. doclink

Frequently Asked Questions

May 2011   WOA website – asked by Codey1. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

2. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

3. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

4. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

5. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

6. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

7. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

8. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

9. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

10. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

11. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students).

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

I hope I have been of help.