Curbing Unsustainable Population Growth



The ‘natural’ ways of controlling population are based on death and famine. In the developed world, and increasingly in developing countries, we have recourse to other methods – artificial contraception - to limit our families and population size.

In Britain family sizes are now in decline but this was not the direct result of social policy aimed at reducing the birth rate. In fact, the deliberate use of birth control was widely condemned as unnatural and immoral by the medical profession, the church and a wide range of conventional opinion, even though doctors and vicars were the first to limit their own families.

Many people with particular religious beliefs are fundamentally opposed to the use of artificial methods of contraception. In the developing world, where, as you saw above, the population is frequently increasing at an unsustainable rate, this is a particular problem. For Muslims and Roman Catholics (and others), who may nonetheless wish to limit their families, the preferred option is to use natural family planning methods. Most of these have been practised since ancient times, but they were all unreliable or dangerous by today's standards and over the period under review their use was closely associated with prostitution and ‘vice’.

This highlights the fact that population dynamics cannot be considering in isolation from religious beliefs and cultural ideology. Indeed, religion and ethics have a fundamental part to play in the debate about sustainability and, in particular, attitudes to ‘nature’ and environmental responsibility. It is to these issues that we turn in the next chapter.

Above text sourced from OpenLearn under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence