Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Monday, June 19, 2006

Leave Mother Nature Alone

In the last little while (some months if memory serves) there have been at least three opinion columns in the Citizen about population growth. Not what you'd expect as a product of the 70s, where Zero Population Growth was big and fear-mongering rampant about the burden of over-populating the Earth. Back then, everybody thought we'd trigger a massive famine, war or other disaster if the population kept growing.

These columns are lamenting the fact that Canada's population is not only not growing but babies are being born at less than a replacement level. In other words, we Canadians will have fewer people living here in some years from now, than we do now. The reason the columns say they are upset about this is economic - a Health Canada paper says that there will be "labour market challenges" (old people are presumed not to work) which "could" lead to a decline in the GDP and an "insufficient tax base".

A logical rebuttal (not found in the columns) is that old people do indeed work and they definitely pay taxes. Even if they don't work, they still have income and therefore pay tax on it. No, there seems to be an assumption that growth is good and no growth is bad. The columnists don't consider that things have a way of working themselves out, that Mother Nature Knows Best, that all humans are just tiny cogs in a wheel.

However, the thing that really bothers me is that the growing populations of places like India and China and Africa are not mentioned at all. These columnists do not even hint that populations here might be able to be replaced by people from elsewhere on the planet. In fact, one columnist states:
"Every day, everybody gets older. Every day, people die. Without babies being born, whole nations would vanish in less time than it takes an oak to mature."
Their sole concern is that "Canadians" are not being replaced by more "Canadians" (or in fact, Swedes or Norwegians or even Americans in other places they have looked at with the same "problem"). Immigration issues are only mentioned in passing and immigration solutions are not hinted at. This is one reason why I do not care for social conservatism. It strikes me as being awfully white in its focus and I know where views like that have lead in the past. It's also an "us against them" mentality that is understandable in its origins - deep-seated primitive man fears of the unknown - but that is also overdue for discarding on the evolutionary ash heap.


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