Population control advocates neglect concrete health problems, Steve Mosher says

Leo Bryant / Steve Mosher
Leo Bryant / Steve Mosher


Researchers who claim that an increased human population size harms the environment have written an editorial in a prominent British medical journal promoting contraceptive use in the Third World, leading Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute to warn that concerns about population control and climate change neglect the concrete health problems of people.

Leo Bryant, who is a researcher at the World Health Organization and an advocacy manager for the international pro-abortion group Marie Stopes International, authored an editorial in The Lancet claiming that increased access to contraceptives would slow population growth and curtail climate change, Reuters reports.

He claimed that two hundred million women want access to birth control but cannot get it. This reportedly results in 76 million unintended pregnancies every year.

His study on the relationship between climate change and population growth in the world’s 40 poorest countries reportedly indicated that rapid population growth puts pressure on the environment.

Though population growth in poor nations with low carbon emissions is considered unlikely to increase global warming significantly, Bryant said that overpopulation combined with climate change will worsen living conditions and degrade natural resources, Reuters says.

The research, to be published in the World Health Organization Bulletin in November, reports that population growth in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda is exacerbating drought and straining fresh water supplies.

Bryant told Bloomberg that the “environmental relevance of family planning” should be examined.

“Reproductive health services ought to be integrated into the climate adaptation strategy,” he said.

Advocates of population control claim that contraceptive family planning is five times cheaper than “green” technologies intended to fight climate change.

According to Reuters, policymakers neglect family planning in order to avoid being associated with efforts like China’s one-child policy, whose implementation has included coercive abortions and sterilizations.

Bryant told Reuters that researchers are not advocating that governments instruct people how many children they can have.

“The ability to choose your family size… is a fundamental human right,” he claimed. “But lack of access to family planning means millions of people in developing countries don’t have that right.”

Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), commented on the Lancet essay in an e-mail to CNA. He charged that population control advocates blame people as the economy sours.

Claims in the article’s subtitle calling climate change “the biggest global health threat” of the century, in Mosher’s view, are “simply not true.”

“Everyone reading the Lancet article will be dead in a hundred years, and I guarantee that they will not die from ‘climate change.’ Rather, they will die from infectious diseases, from cancers, from heart attacks, from strokes, and so on.”

“These are the real health threats of our age,” Mosher claimed. “These are the threats to our lives and wellbeing that should command our attention and our resources, not some vague, unpredictable and indirect health consequences of supposed ‘global warming.’”

Population control advocates are distracting from “more immediate threats” to human health and are delaying the discovery of cures for fatal illnesses, he charged.

The immediate health concerns of Africans, particularly HIV/AIDS, is a topic that has been raised by bishops at the synod for Africa in recent days.

Many Catholic prelates in Africa have criticized the distribution of contraceptives, the use of which Catholic teaching considers to be a sin against marriage.

Bishop of Capra, Namibia Joseph Shpandeni Shikongo addressed the Synod for Africa, meeting in Rome this month, on the topic of condoms.

He stated that they spread a “secular and relativistic vision of sexuality” and encourage promiscuity.

He also criticized the government in his country for undermining the Church’s promotion of abstinence in the face of HIV/AIDS, adding that the Namibian government is much better financed, has international advisors and better access to the media than the Church.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, who is Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, has also reported that faulty condoms imported to Ghana often break and give a “false sense of security” in fighting HIV/AIDS.

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