The 7 billionth baby was born last month. I posted this  ‘factoid’ on Facebook a few days ago in view of the ever-ongoing push to limit births by promoting abortion and contraception, especially in Third World countries, a disdain for large families, and an almost palpable fear of “too many people”  on our itty-bitty Earth.

Too many people? Not enough room? “… the world’s population could fit in the State of Texas. Texas encompasses 268,581 square miles. Based on world population figures from July 2011, the world’s population is approximately 6,973,570,000. This means that one person would have nearly 1,074 square feet to live in the State of Texas, or live in a density somewhat similar to New York.” — Human Life International


The following article was published in 1994.   I thought it was already on my blog but I can’t find it anywhere!  So, because it is still just as relevant, I post it now.


Several years ago I came across something I found hard to believe. I read that you could put all the people in the whole world in the state of Texas and each person would have 1500 square feet all to himself! I got out my World Almanac and my encylopedia and set to work. It took awhile. I had to remember how to turn square miles into square feet and how many zeroes in a billion. But, in the end, it was true. Everyone could live in Texas and we could use the rest of the world as a playground and a breadbasket.

Writer James Sedlak recently had some fun with the everybody-in-Texas idea. He recalled his family homestead, a four bedroom house on a 4500 square foot lot. There are now 5.5 billion people in the world and there are 262,840 square miles of dry land in Texas. If everyone were in a family of four and lived in a simlar home, the parents could share a bedroom, each child could have his own room, and there would be a nice guest room remaining in each home. His conclusion: “We could fit the entire population [of the world] in the state of Texas and have up to 1,375,000,000 spare bedrooms!”

One might get the impression from the media hype that there are so many people on earth that they are about to fall off the planet. If you’ve ever flown over our great country, however, and seen the vast emptiness, it is obvious there is room for many, many more Americans. But surely, one might say, they must be elbow-to-elbow in China where families are forcibly limited to one child.    Actually, although China is the most populous nation in the world, the population density in China is about the same as that in Pennsylvania. My own state of Connecticut, as well as Massachusetts and New Jersey,  are each three times as densely populated as China.

Well, one could argue, if there is plenty of room it must be that there is not enough food. In 1968 Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb predicted that in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people were going to starve to death. World population has increased but even in the Third World the average person is better fed than in 1968. Never in all of history have so many lived so high on the hog. Never have so many complained of obesity as their major health problem.

Since 1977 world food production has surpassed population growth. Colin Clark, former director of the Agricultural Economic Institute estimated that using modern agricultural methods an “American-type diet” could be provided to 35 billion people, or a Japanese-type diet to three times that many people. Contrary to Ehrlich’s prediction, life expectancy in developed as well as undeveloped countries has continued to increase, and China and India are now among the leading exporters of food.

The doomsayers claim that we already have too many people. However, it has long been noted as a demographic truth that when national prosperity increases, national fertility decreases. Procreation has been called the poor man’s recreation. Perhaps prosperity permits other diversions. Perhaps it results in better education,  more women in careers, later marriages and postponement of childbearing. Perhaps with economic security parents do not feel they need the security of many children. Whatever the mechanisms, history shows that as per-capita income increases, per-family birth rate decreases.

There are, surely,  terrible areas of squalor and hunger. There are greedy people who rape the land, pollute the water, exploit the poor, and hug their plenitude to themselves. The problem is not one of lack of space, or food, or resources, or a need for better contraception and more abortions. The problem is one of unmitigated selfishness on the one hand and the lack of love on the other. Greed sacrifices people, love sacrifices for people. The problem is not what too many people are doing to society, but what society is doing to too many people.

G. K. Chesterton said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; rather, it has not been tried. Gandhi said that if Christians practiced Christianity there would be no Hindus in India. And, I might add, no poverty, no homelessness, no starvation. Christians with more than they need would aid their neighbors in distress.

The world powers, all of which have birth rates below replacement level, are pouring millions into programs to decrease the fertility of Third World countries. Often they will only provide aid to undeveloped countries on the condition that they accept programs urging contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Imagine, as has happened in India, requiring villagers to accept family planning, primarily in the form of vasectomies, in exchange for a village well! Some feminists have criticized population control programs which use economic coercion to limit women’s reproductive choices. According to Pope John Paul II such programs can easily become “a substitute for justice and development” in undeveloped countries.

Since we do not know what tomorrow holds, who can say that less is better? We are seeing unprecedented hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. We have conquered some diseases  that used to be killers, but they have been replaced by new ones. AIDS is certainly not contained. Our old bacteria are developing new strains which are resistant to antibiotics. An epidemic of infertility has become evident, largely attributable to contraceptives, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases which no one ever heard of until recently. We still might, God forbid, endure a nuclear holocaust. We are not likely to have seen the last of war.

God knows what is to come, we don’t. How do we come to the decision that ideally population growth should stop, right now, by whatever method, even if it means killing the unborn, even if it requires permission from the government to bear a child (as has been suggested).

In closing, I will let Malcolm Muggeridge make my point. Consider, he says, “the amazingly ludicrous spectacle ot twenty-three million Canadians in an enormous country full ot unexploited wealth, boasting with great satisfaction that they’ve achieved a zero birthrate. Even more hilariously funny, so funny that one wonders if it isn’t God’s special blackboard to hold up to us the infinite follies of mankind, are those nine million Australians who cling tenaciously to a tiny bit of the coastline of a huge continent and praise the Lord for having achieved a zero birthrate.” (Eighty percent of Australians live within 50 miles of the ocean!)

Yes, even as I write, my local newspaper features an AP release in which ecologist David Pimentel says we should slash the world population to 2 billion and limit familes worldwide to an average of 1.5 children. Well, as I said, this article is presented as another perspective. If we are indeed on the eve of destruction it is not from too many peiple but from too little love.