There’s More Than Enough of Us

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Malthus. Malthus was the father of

Malthusianism, which contends that the Earth cannot support unchecked population growth.

250 years ago, the world population consisted of about 800 million inhabitants, and from that moment, it has progressively increased, until the mid-nineteen fifties in a continued, steady way, but since that date, it has been increasing exponentially. Thus, the world population has, since 1950, virtually trebled from 2,519 million to 7,401 million today.

The Buddhist views on procreation and marriage are liberal. Marriage is regarded entirely as a personal and individual concern and not as a religious duty. It is not laid down anywhere that Buddhists must produce children or regulate the number of children they produce.

Although Buddhism does not direct people to give birth, or suggest how many children they have, if any. Buddhist leaders are acutely aware of issues related to overpopulation. The Dalai Lama stated, back in 2008 that if the population grows beyond 6 billion, this will cause great difficulty – (the world population is now approaching 7.5 billion). Therefore, he says, family planning is necessary. In an attempt at humor regarding such a serious subject, he quips that if more people become nuns and monks (therefore practice celibacy) this will help control population growth.

Thich Nhat Hanh, teacher, author of books about contemporary Buddhism, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, stated in his U.N. World Conference speech, “For a Future to be Possible”:

“Our world is becoming smaller, and even more interdependent with the rapid growth in population . . . It is important to reassess the responsibilities of individuals in relation to each other and to the planet as a whole…

We are finding that the world is becoming one community. We are being drawn together by the problems of overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, and an environmental crisis that threatens the very foundation of our existence on this planet.”

Malthus himself stated that population tends to increase at a faster rate than its means of subsistence and that unless it is checked by moral restraint or by disease, famine, war, or other disaster widespread poverty and degradation inevitably result.

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