Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's book, How To Save Jobs, which is available now. AC360° viewers can download it for free at HowToSaveJobs.org. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.
David Gewirtz | BIO
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute
This article is a continuation of Jobs and population: Controlling population.
The paradox, of course, is that if we don't curb our rampant population growth, the planet will not be able to support us.
This is where religious leaders can help in a way no enforced government policy like the jìhuà shengyù zhèngcè can. Religious leaders have a reach and an influence far beyond that of most political entities. Religious leaders teach values and provide guidance to their congregations.
Religious leaders make up the single most effective values-message distribution channel on the planet.
While about 15 percent of the world's population doesn't practice a religion, nearly 85 percent does. Christians and Muslims make up more than 50 percent of the world's religious practitioners. Buddhists and Hindus make up the vast majority of the remaining devout throughout the world.
Many of the world's religions rely on ancient texts to provide guidance for a modern world. While believers contend that these sacred texts reflect the philosophy of their respective divine beings, these books also represent field guides to life in ancient times, a look into society as it was millennia ago.
Many believe their holy books to reflect the word of the sacred, but there's no doubt each of these books also served as an instruction manual for those living in a far bygone era. While many of the instructions presented in these good books are timeless, some lessons are far more reflective of the time they were written than of modern times.
Moses is believed to have lived about 1,200 B.C. Both Gautama Buddha and Confucius are believed to have lived about 550-560 B.C. Jesus is believed to have lived about 2,000 years ago and Muhammad is believed to have lived in the 7th century.
According to some academic aggregation work done by the U.S. Census Bureau, the world's population in Moses' time was only about 50 million people. That's 10 million less than the population of modern Italy, alone.
During the time of Buddha and Confucius, the world population had doubled, to about 100 million. You could fit everyone in the ancient world into less than the number of people who currently live in Mexico.
By the third century, much of what is in the modern Christian Bible had codified. The worldwide population back then was about 190 million people. Even as late as the time of Muhammad in the 7th century, the population was only about 200 million people.
Today, we have more than 30 times the population than they had back then. When the religious texts were written, they reflected a world with a mere fraction of the population, resource usage, and complexity we have today.
For our population to decline to a level more in keeping with available resources, people the world over have to actively decide to have fewer children. Families with more than two children (zero population growth) need to be strongly discouraged, and families with one or even no children need to be encouraged through both economic policy (i.e., tax incentives) and values-based education.
In today's world, most couples are still encouraged by family, friends, church, and even the tax code to have kids. But the planet can't sustain it - and neither can the American job market.
To survive, we must not just reduce population growth, we must reduce our population. China, who has been dealing with the effects of an insanely huge population for decades, understands the problem, but took steps that will ultimately hurt its citizenry.
If our population continues to grow, and if more and more of our jobs move to cheaper workforces the world over, and if we continue to consume non-renewable resources, eventually even Western countries will be forced to take some action with population. The alternative, which is also a possibility considering the spinelessness of most of politicians, is to hide from the issue and let the country simply slide out of its preeminent place on the world stage.
On the other hand, if we can start enacting positive population-reduction policies (say, tax incentives for child-free families rather than tax incentives to have more and more kids) and if we can inculcate a new set of values into couples, one where having lots of kids is discouraged rather than celebrated, we have a much better chance of building a stronger nation in the long run.
Reaching nearly 85 percent of the world's population, religious leaders make up the single most effective values-message distribution channel on the planet. We're living in a far different world than the ancients were, and our religious leaders might, in fact, be the only leadership group able to take point on the critical issue of planet-killing over-population. We need our religious leaders to step up, to think through doctrine from both modern and historical perspectives, and encourage couples to have fewer children.
We need our religious leaders to preach a doctrine of fewer children, to help couples (and their families) learn that fewer children isn't something to be ashamed of, but something celebrated for its contribution to the greater good and glory of their creator.
Otherwise, our grandchildren will have jìhuà shengyù zhèngcè to look forward to. Either that, or they'll have the starvation and the strife that comes from a resource poor and hungry populace.
And now, let's jump from the serious issues of over-population and resource consumption back to the Internet, and ask if it could possibly be all the Internet's fault?
There is a connection between these two topics. But you'll have to stay tuned for the next article to find out what it is.
Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz.
Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Director of the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines. He is a leading Presidential scholar specializing in White House email. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.