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March 10, 1963 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-03-10
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The World, Faced with Space
And Resource Limitations,
Must Turn to Birth Control


THE CONCERTS and festvials until 191
versity Hall which stood where the f
then they have been held in Hill Aud
which were bequeathed to the University
ano former member of the Board of Regel
Sink remembers that in its early days th
quently referred to by such distinguished n
Paderewski as "the finest music hall in thi
ing capacity of more than 4000 and
standees, has been known to accommodat
Last season, with the addition of a

MAN HAS been on earth for hundreds
of thousands of years, but it was not
until about 1820 that the human race
first numbered one billion members. The
second billion, however, was added in a
little over 100 years: we reached this
mark shortly after 1920.
A few months ago, though few people
noticed, the world's population passed
the three-billion mark. We had added an-
other billion in 40 years.
With these trends in effect, it isn't too
difficult to imagine how quickly the next
billion will arrive-and the next three
billion. Experts have gone a little further,
calculating when our present growth rates
will bring us to the point when we cover
all the land surface (the year 2690),
when humanity weighs as much as the
earth itself (3660), and when mankind is
a solid ball of flesh expanding into space
at the speed of light (7260). At this point,
the pundits whimsically observe, Ein-
stein's theories show that growth will
have to stop!
Such "scare" statistics-every popula-
tion writer and lecturer has his pet set-
are not intended as predictions of what
will happen, but rather to drive home the

It's hard to get excited about whatever
other values well-fed Westerners may
hold dear, when one is cold, starving or
sick. But they are in a vicious circle which
prevents the very industrialization which
could raise their living standards.
In order to industrialize, an agrarian
society must be able to set aside some of
its resources and use them for building
machines, factories, schools, roads, and
the innumerable other things which can-
not be consumed. But in most of the un-
derdeveloped nations, there is nothing to
spare: today's production is used up sim-
ply in keeping today's people alive. If
nothing breaks the circle, tomorrow's
people will be no better off than today's
To the extent that this vicious-circle
situation holds true in a pre-industrial
country, the only answer is to seek these
needed funds from outside its borders. If
enough capital could be imported to build
a few factories and educate enough peo-
ple to operate them, it would seem indus-
trialization could proceed under its own
momentum-without further outside as-
The fruits of these first steps would
boost incomes enough above subsistence
to permit some of it to be diverted into

THEN IF EUROPE has survived a per-
iod of falling death rates, why can't
today's underdeveloped nations do the
There are two basic differences. First,
these health measures were invented in
Europe, one at at a time, and applied as
they were invented. As a result, European
death rates dropped gradually, and there
was time for the social change which (as
we shall see later) has much to do with
lowering birth rates, to take place. But
today all these medical advances are be-
ing dropped, full-grown and ready for use,
into the laps of the underdeveloped peo-
Second, Europe had an entire New
World, a whole relatively empty hemi-
sphere, to which its excess population was
willing and able to migrate. Today's un-
derdeveloped nations are experiencing no
such "safety-valve" emigration.
One more thing: despite its advantages,
Europe's population quadrupled between
1750 and 1900. What might have hap-
pened without such advantages? Look at
India and China today.
The conquest of disease in the under-
developed areas is by no means a fait
accompli. The introduction of more health
measures and the wider dissemination of

phetic for more than just India and
The effect of such conflicts, needless
to say, will be the massive squandering
of time, energy and resources by nations,
who can ill afford to waste anything.
tob-distant horizon, let's turn to our
nation today and consider the effect of
population on it. For the moment, let's
really be selfish and short-sighted. Let's
suppress any guilt-feeling we may have
because we, seven per cent of the world's
population, maintain our prosperity by
consuming every year as much as the
other 93 per cent. Let's even forget about
our children's future, and worry only
about ourselves, today, 1963. With our
range of vision narrowed down this far,
can we say that the United States is pres-
ently overpopulated?
This is a tough question. It depends
upon what you mean by "overpopulated,"
which in turn depends on what you think
the population should be, a judgment
which in turn depends on what things
you value in a society. To take two ex-
treme examples: to a hermit, if there are
two people in the whole nation, that's
one too many; to someone who craves

Auditorium, the Society began a new er
the first time it was able to accommo
Broadway musicals, and dance companies
not hesitate in presenting to,its patrons
owned by Robert C. Mellencamp, a gra
in drama, made the curtains, and provic
other necessary stagecraft.
"We are aware of the stage and ba
for large companies and their equipmen
thought and study to improving these
of the public in realizing the limitatio:
period is greatly appreciated," Rector eN
high and we hope to become fully eqi
musical production by these continuing e
Commenting on the public approve
attractions - operas, symphonic orch
dance productions, and both lyric and i
Rector remarked, "The continual capacit
itself. Over 120,000 admissions will be to
With the Choral Union Series, the
formances of Handel's oratorio "Messia
Festival and Chamber Music Festival (pr
Lecture Hall), special single events, ar
Festival, a total of 34 events this seaso
its audiences experiences which are bot
beneficially educational


point that today's growth rate cannot
continue for long. These statistics, how-
ever, are significant. They may with some
difficulty be translated into the joy and
suffering, the hope or despair, the real
day-to-day needs of real people. This is
the real impact of the population explo-
sion: can men be just as happy in a world
of 30 billion as in a world of three billion?
IN TERMS of how people live, the im-
portant division of the world of 1963
is between the one-third of humanity,
which lives in relative comfort and the
two-thirds for whom life is still a day-
to-day struggle for survival. It is in the
latter group that numbers weigh the
heaviest today.
The greatest need of the people of these
nations is for economic development, for
here the physical needs which material
progress can fulfill are most acutely felt.


investment in more industrial equipment
and education. This in turn would raise
the incomes of the next generation, who
could invest even more, and so on.
So goes the theory of foreign aid, and
it is with such hopes that we have pumped
over $70 billion into the underdeveloped
nations since World War II. But the re-
sults have been sadly disappointing. For
every nation or part of a nation that has
seen small improvement, two more appear
to be worse off than they were ten or
twenty years ago.
What went wrong?
ADMITTEDLY, there have been many
human failures in the various foreign-
aid efforts. Many times, the wrong money
has been given to the wrong people for
the wrong things. But in many cases, the
program has proceeded according to
theory: both industrial and educational
programs have been implemented. But
what happens?
Their fruits do not go to improve the
average man's lot, with some left over
for the investment that could improve it
even more. Instead the increased produc-
tion has been gobbled up by the growing
population. Thus nothing new is invested;
the net result is simply more and more
people living at the old levels of misery.
The next question is, why are these
populations growing at such incredible
rates? Their growth, we find, has been
largely independent of the existence or
effect of foreign aid or the level of food
production. Instead, the population in-
crease has come about because death
rates have been slashed while birth rates
have remained extremely high. But people
can die from other causes than hunger,
and it is the conquest of some of these
other causes of death that has brought
the precipitous decline of the death rate.
Most prominent among these is the
conquest of epidemic disease by the appli-
cation of sanitation and medical practices
developed in the West. Most of these have
not been the highly sophisticated kinds
of personal medical care which have been
applied in the West during the twentieth
century, but rather the general public-
health and sanitation measures which
dropped Europe's death rates during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

those already of use is bound to continue.
Indeed, it would be cruel to cut them off.
But as long as population grows, we are
relieving the suffering of disease only to
have it replaced by the suffering of mal-
nutrition and starvation.
Another attribute of a growing popula-
tion adds to the pre-industrial man's
woes. As long as babies are being born
faster than people are dying, there is
going to be a high proportion of-ehildren
in the population-over 50 per cent of
many nations' people are under 15. Such
an age-structure not only takes a heavy
toll in the individual family by increas-
ing the number of people each breadwin-
ner must support, it further confounds
a nation's desires for material progress.
As IF THE PROSPECT of more and
more people living in the same old
misery weren't enough, the "revolution of
rising expectations" is an even more
ominous sign for the underdeveloped na-
tions. Until recently, most of the world's
weary, hungry people were relatively do-
cile and contented. They were resigned to
their lot because they had no inkling
that things might be better. Today, this
is no longer the case. With every contaict
with the prosperous nations, the pre-
industrial peoples are becoming more rest-
less, more desirous of the comforts of in-
dustrial civilization. Yet at the same time,
the processes of population growth, as we
have seen, are turning these rising expec-
tations into frustration. And this frustra-
tion can explode into war.
One population student, W a r r e n
Thompson, affirms this in his book, "Pop-
ulation and Peace in the Pacific." Thomp-
son explains that it is not the totally iso-
lated, utterly impoverished masses that
start wars, but rather those who have had
just a taste of industrialization. Not only
are they hungry for more, but they can
turn a rudimentary degree of organiza-
tion and a huge, militarily expendable
population into a frightening destructive
force. -
Like medicine, the "revolution of rising
expectations" is not yet a universal
phenomenon. But as it spreads, and if it
continues to be frustrated, we can expect
Thompson's observations to prove pro-

cpnstant contact with mobs of strangers,
the whole nation could become as crowd-
ed as Manhattan and still be underpop-
The question of optimum population
thus becomes a question of values.
But the question cannot be dismissed
by saying "it's a question of values."
Though some values are extremely contro-
versial, others are fairly universal. Thus
we can say without reservation that India
is overpopulated, because practically
everyone values staying alive and eating
adequately. In America, where these al-
most-universal needs are generally well-
satisfied, the values which are threatened
(or fulfilled) by population growth are
less widely held.
With this in mind, it may be worthwhile
to consider the impact of our present
population situation on some of the things
we may consider our goals.
IT IS PERHAPS a significant index of
our values that the bulk of the writing
on the American population question cen-
ters on economic considerations. The
usual criterion in such discussions is,
what population level (or what rate of
growth) will deliver maximum per-capita
Here, the experts disagree. Theoretical-
ly, the ideal population for economic pur-
poses is one which lies at the meeting-
point of two economic forces. On the one
hand, specialization and division of labor,
which allow more efficient mass produc-
tion, require a_ larger population. On the
other hand, labor is not the only "re-
source" necessary .for production. When
a large population consumes to the point
where other resources-minerals, fuel,
water, space-become scarce, then the in-
creased cost of acquiring and processing
these resources outweighs the savings
Kenneth Winter is a sophomore
in the literary college and an as-
sistant night editor on the Daily.
This article is the outcome of a
long-term interest and study in the
problems of population expansion.

EXPLOSION...........Page Two
By Kenneth Winter
By Louise Lind
By Barbara Pash
REVIEWSA..............Page Eight
A Pictorial History
EDUCATIONs........... Page Twelve
By David Marcus
CO-EDITORS: Cynthia Neu
Harry Perlstadt
PHOTO CREDITS: Page Two: Daily;
Page Three: Daily; Page Four: Daily;.
Page Five: World University Service;
Page Six: Associated Press; Page
Seven: Associated Press; Page Eight:.
Daily; Page Nine: top, Doily; others,
University News Service; Page Ten:
top, University Musical Society;
center, Daily; bottom, University
News Service; Page Eleven: Daily;
bottom, University Musical Society;
Page Twelve: Daily.

rug KA] 'Wt(,AN nAI!

SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 1963

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