Baby Six Billion

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
November 08, 1999

I received a letter the other day scribbled with the following words: "All the rest of God's creation cannot continue to be destroyed because the human species is breeding itself out of resources. Get real…The world is already saturated with unwanted humans!"

Another pro-abortion person told me the world "sighs with relief" when people die from disasters.

Interesting perspective.

This way of thinking is fueled by comments often heard at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), referring to a "world devastated by human activities." This description was used recently, as the world reached the "Day of Six Billion."

Our population has reached six billion. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Population controllers mourn it as a disaster. On the other hand, a prestigious group of international leaders recently signed a statement entitled "Welcome, Baby Six Billion," which pointed out that this event is a blessing.

Overpopulation fears are too often misplaced. The problem is neither that there are too many people nor that there are too few resources. The problems, instead, are selfishness, the use of food as a weapon by dictators, and the interference by some governments with food production and adequate distribution.

As far as the existence of resources, to quote the statement mentioned above, "Enough grain is produced for every person on earth to consume 3500 calories daily. If you add to that meat, fish, fruit and all other food sources, there is 4.3 pounds of food produced per person every day."

As far as the number of people, the statement points out, "Underpopulation, not overpopulation, is the greater threat to the world today. By the beginning of next year, over seventy countries representing over half the world's population will have below replacement rate fertility - defined as 2.1 children per woman. The populations of the developed nations are not doubling today, but are declining."

During the years I worked at the Vatican, there was hardly a day that some document from the United Nations did not come across my desk. No matter what the theme of the paper, the concern about "too many people" was rarely absent.

Except, that is, for the reports about what the experts in demography were saying. The concern over declining population has solid evidence to back it up, and meetings have been held at UN headquarters to discuss what to do about it. No clear solution is in sight.

We might get a clue where to start, however, by reflecting on our reaction to the birth of the world's Six Billionth Baby. Can we rejoice? Can we give thanks for life, which "is always a good" (Evangelium Vitae 30)? Can we bring ourselves, and at least one other person, to echo the sentiments of the recent statement which concluded by saying, "We are grateful that Baby Six Billion has come into the world. Baby Six Billion, boy or girl, red or yellow, black or white, is not a liability, but an asset. Not a curse, but a blessing. For all of us."


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