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Noah Men vs Doomsday Men

Tara Ali Baig

By Derek Llewellyn-Jones
Faber and Faber, 1975, 355, 3.95

VOLUME I NUMBER 2 April - June 1976

The 9th article of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China states, ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat.’ This seems to sum up, with typical Chinese compression, what the Doomsday men anticipate when population increases in the present stage of exponential growth (now doubling themselves in smaller and smaller periods of time) result in appalling human numbers in less than 35 years more. The UN diagram based on human growth estimates after 1970 shows a pattern like an Egyptian lily rising from a slender stem and sweeping into a wide flower, India and China providing almost half the petals. By the year 2000 when the world population may exceed 6.5 thousand million, the rate of human growth will change from doubling every 100 years in 1850 to only 35 years by the year 2000. The Limits of Growth School, the Club of Rome and MIT have hammered away at the theme of doom if the world does not start balancing population with this small planet's limited material resources. To the credit of the author, he sums up the Doomsday argu­ment, supported by tables and statistics which are clear, authoritative and to the point, with the counter argument of the Noah men, who, less pessimistic, believe that good health measures for children, reduced child mortality, the rapid growth of family planning, (accelerating in all over-populated countries), better agro and other technologies, plus reduction in indus­trial pollution would effectively avert the ultimate human calamity. Men are not lemmings. It takes them time perhaps to get new ideas across, and during that period, the worst can certainly be imagined. But the Noah men have faith it seems in mankind's inexorable will to live. The original survivors on Noah's ark went off to Ararat with the basic material to start the process of human and animal proliferation once the flood subsided. The problem of this last quarter of the 20th century is not floods which wipe out human life but fundamental and vital imbalances which very well could. During this century we have had extraordinary human development, the results of the Industrial Revolution, the shift of power and affluence from colonial exploiters to the new economic multinational corporations, and under-developed nations with new freedoms struggling to give their people wealth and hope. Now that modernization is within their grasp, these very western powers talk of doom ahead, thus cheating the have-not nations both of their ancestral ...

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