WORLD ISSUES Big population means trouble, lecturer warns



We've conquered death but have done little to make family planning accessible worldwide, a population expert says.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The world's population will increase by more than 50 percent by 2050 unless something is done, the president of the Population Institute says.
"Failure to give high priority to population issues in international affairs may see us committing the ultimate global blunder, one from which there is no recovery," said Werner Fornos, who has served since 1982 as president of the Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that promotes a balance between the world's population, environment and resources.
Fornos lectured on population growth Tuesday at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.
"The population issue isn't dead," Fornos said during an interview with The Vindicator before the lecture.
"We've conquered death through medical breakthroughs, mass inoculations and sanitary improvements. We have been less successful, however, in making a wide variety of effective, efficient and affordable methods of family planning universally accessible."
Fornos said the overpopulation issue is greater in the world's poorest countries.
What he wants
It is the obligation of industrialized nations, such as the United States, to provide money for family planning options, including contraceptives, and to empower women in those Third World countries to control the overpopulation problem, he said.
But the Bush administration is steadfast against population funding, Fornos said, pointing to the president's decision to withhold a $34 million appropriation approved by Congress to help the United Nations Population Fund.
"The solutions are there; we know what makes people pregnant," Fornos said. "We refuse to tackle this issue because of political reasons."
Fornos accused the Bush administration of being influenced by the Vatican, which opposes birth control.
Fornos said he has spoken to the Pope on three occasions, and the leader of the Roman Catholic Church agrees with him that there is an overpopulation problem but says that birth control is not the answer.
What would help
One solution to the overpopulation problem is to empower 350 million women worldwide who want no more children, according to surveys, Fornos said. Because of their country's practices, those women have no voice, Fornos said.
"There is no rational explanation or excuse for gender inequity and inequality in a world where women perform two-thirds of the world's work, earn only 10 percent of the world's income, and own less than 1 percent of the world's property," he said.
There are 6.2 billion people worldwide, and the figure is growing by more than 78 million annually, nearly all of it in the poorest countries, Fornos said. Forty-two years ago, the world's population was 3 billion, he said.
By 2050, estimates are that the world's population will grow to 9.5 billion, Fornos said. If the proper resources are put in place, that figure could be reduced to 8 billion by 2050, he said.
Fornos has made frequent national television and radio appearances and has been quoted in numerous newspapers and magazines worldwide.
He is the author of "Gaining People; Losing Ground," has lectured on population issues throughout the world and has been listed among the 100 most influential people regarding the environment for three consecutive years by Earth Times, a New York-based environmental newspaper.
skolnick@vindy.com

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