Population: Earth’s Most Important Challenge

From Seth Fearey to WarrenHall Crain re Kiran’s vision  

The most important challenge, as I see it, is population.  You seem to agree.  I don’t know if I mentioned it to you, but my father worked for Population Action International for about 20 years after he retired from the Foreign Service.  PAI is the largest privately funded think tank in the US.  He was a bit late to the party….  he had five kids and he was very disappointed when I told him that I was not going to have any.

I see population growth as based on two very profound forces.  First is our biological imperative.  We are programmed to reproduce.  Second is economics.  Children are still needed in much of the world to take care of their parents in their old age.

The first force can be combatted by making birth control available to all at no cost.  The program must include educational material about the importance of smaller families and how to use the various birth control methods.  And that of course requires political will, a very difficult problem in some countries.

The second force, economics, can be addressed by providing better safety nets for the aged, as well as emotional and social respect and support.  But it is a profound cultural change, so it will take time.

A tool I like for cultural change, which I have probably talked about, is entertainment media.  Specifically, soap operas.  It is being used in many countries.  There was a USAID funded project in India to combat child brides, I think.  Another project is reducing teenage pregnancy in the US.  When done right the approach is very effective and cheap on a per person reached basis.  Click Population Media Center for more information.

As for your second issue, the environment, I believe it is too late to stop much of the damage from climate change.  The consequences over the next 100 to 300 years dwarf the other three problems on your list.  I can only hope that the crisis will lead to long term change in how humans treat the planet.

I sense that you have great faith in humanity’s ability to do the right thing.  While there are many who tread lightly on the planet, I see many who are fighting for power, wealth, and survival for themselves.  I do not see a way to turn them. How can we deny the right of poor people to fight for their survival even though it leads to war, terrorism, and terrible crimes against humanity?  We can’t even slow the Israelis in their battle for survival (as they see it).

I think the population problem can be solved.  We have the answers, the technologies, and the money.  We just need the will.  The mounting crises around the world will help with that problem, but it’s going to take time.  Even the Mormons have finally come to realize that having large families is self-destructive.

I hope you get some better solutions from some of your other correspondents.

Best regards,


Seth Fearey, 10 February 2015


From WarrenHall Crain: Seth Fearey was the Peace Corps Country Director when I began my Peace Corps service in Kyrgyzstan in 2013. He has become my good friend, and we have had a brisk discussion about Kiran’s vision for the future of our planet that lies at the center of my novella THE MESSAGE. The above was his email to me on this topic. Here is the reply I sent him:

Seth, I am positive that Kiran’s vision can be realized in full and hopeful that it will be. Not, of course, in my lifetime. But within the next few centuries.

I agree that population is an important challenge, though not the most critical in these years. You will recall that THE EVENT in THE MESSAGE brought Earth’s population to one billion people. You will also recall that THE EVENT did not happen, but that (in THE MESSAGE) Earth’s population stabilized at eight billion (THE MESSAGE, page 104)) In FUTURE CHRONICLES (which I expect to publish late next year) Earth’s population is brought to nearly one billion in the first century of THE AGE OF SPACE and stabilizes at a bit over two billion in the second century. I may change those figures, as I am coming now to believe that we will stabilize Earth’s population at between nine and ten billion in the end of this century (CE).

You’ve pointed clearly to the many arenas in which action is needed to stabilize our population. And you’ve pointed to the major stumbling blocks to population control. As you note, “we have the answers, the technologies, and the money.”

The environment is a more crucial challenge. We must do our housekeeping. We must care for this planet. In 1966 I flew with a friend over the Columbia Glacier (at that time covering an area larger than the state of Rhode Island). And I’ve seen recent pictures of the still receding glacier. When we stop our reliance on fossil fuels we will be able to stop the recession. It will be many years (Look for this in FUTURE CHRONICLES) before this glacier is magnificent again, and millennia to bring it back to what it was.

And there are so many cultural changes we need to make. You and I are in the education business these days. We know, perhaps better than most, the damage done by poor education and the benefits of a world in which “everyone has access to superb education (Kiran’s Vision).

10 February 2015




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One Comment on ““Population: Earth’s Most Important Challenge”

  1. WarrenHall

    Seth maintains that population is the most important challenge. Here’s one way to curb population growth: Assess a fine of one hundred thousand US Dollars from every woman bearing a second child — anywhere in the world. Easy – conceptually. Exceptionally difficult – politically. WarrenHall

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