As part of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet Live series to be screened this March, the BBC ‘will question whether people really need to have children in a hard-hitting new film looking at the impact of over-population’. It will ask viewers ‘whether it is right to bring new life into a world facing a bleak future because of climate change and mass migration’.
The most obvious answer to this question is that however lovely they are, whales, wolves and leopards will not pay for a TV licence, thus paying for the pensions of BBC presenters in their old age.
However, they have already answered their own question in the negative. Program host Chris Packham remarks: ‘One of the difficult questions, if you are thinking about starting a family now is what do you know of the potential future for your children. You want them to survive and reproduce themselves and from a human perspective do you want to bring something you will cherish and love and value into a world where they might no longer survive.’
It is instructive that Packham, who refers to children as ‘things’, has himself decided against having children. Based on his belief that ‘“overcrowding in the UK will have a profound impact on the economics of this country,”’ he would educate women everywhere to embrace his own negative view of having children as a personal burden and a burden on the planet.
In view of the fact that global population ‘has doubled from 3.61 billion to 7.3 billion in the past 50 years and is likely to reach 9.7 billion by 2050’, director of BBC content Charlotte Moore said it was an ‘emotive issue’, but ‘there was a ‘real sense of urgency’ to fix it.
This ignores the fact that world population increase is being caused not by more births but by fewer deaths. Thanks to better nutrition people are living longer, meaning there are more of them to count; neither are people fleeing poor countries because of ‘overpopulation’ but because increased prosperity means they can afford to pay people traffickers to bring them to the more prosperous West.
Such prosperity is far from the stark warnings of The Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, who in 1970 predicted that the death rate would ‘increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years’. The previous year, he had warned: ‘If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.' (Please note, Dr Ehrlich, for better or worse, we are still here.)
Ehrlich wanted compulsory sterilisation in India – now a thriving economy – but since such schemes became notorious the population control movement is now appealing to individual consciences and relying on this ‘eugenics conscience’ to ensure that anyone with too many children can be roundly criticised for their selfishness.
Bizarrely, while calling on children to change the world, this movement also maintains that children are responsible for ruining the world. But their message will backfire if people consume and discard as much stuff as they like because they have made the virtuous decision not to reproduce.
The problem of declining birth rates will eventually be acknowledged. But this will be followed by the problem of too many old people and the answer of ‘virtuous suicides’. Perhaps instead of birthday cards we will celebrate with Happy Death Day cards. Instead of sending congratulatory telegrams to centenarians, whichever monarch is reigning over us will offer one-way tickets to Dignitas.
The kind of green thinking promoted by David Attenborough, Chris Packham and the BBC functions as an effective cover for population control, but it also boosts the anti-capitalist case against growth, i.e. the prosperity that Communism has consistently failed to deliver, although it has been very efficient at controlling the population — much of it by starvation owing to their failed economic policies.
What both these extremes of Left and Right fail to realise is that people create prosperity. Perhaps the miserable Malthusians at the BBC think we will simply manufacture robots to do the work while they continue to lecture everyone else about simple living. Thus the rich can teach the poor how to be mean.
It is strange that the richer people get, the less they value the Earth’s most precious resource – children. But without children, the Planet would be very blue indeed.
Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).