Friday, March 26, 2010

Overpopulation: The main cause of Pakistan's problems and possible solutions to this crisis.

Pakistan is a truly unique country with a rich natural heritage. It has all the climates and landscapes of the world. From hot sandy deserts in the south to arctic cold glaciers and high mountain ranges in the northwest and the north with heavy snowfalls and thick, dense forests.

It has natural drinking water from it's mountains and rivers, saltwater to extract salt for use and to sell. Pakistan has full access to open sea, a better access than most European countries since they need to pass their ships through each others waters to export/import products.

Pakistan also has large reserves of oil, petroleum, coal and natural gas, yet it not only uses up these resources every day, but also heavily relies on imports of extra oil (and possibly gas) from the Gulf region.

Having access to open deep sea, Pakistan also has access to rich fishing resources and similar sea food products.

Pakistan has a large irrigation system providing huge access to clean water for drinking and agriculture. It could also have been used for forestation and preserving natural habitat.

Technologically Pakistan has made some fair amount of achievements. It has amongst the most brilliant scientists and inventors and has made many significant contributions to the world.
In the year 2007 Boeing purchased over a hundred million dollars worth of aircraft components from Pakistan, including engine parts for the GE94 engines used on their B777 aircraft series.

Brain, considered to be the world's first successful PC virus was written in Pakistan by two brothers Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi in 1986. 

Pakistan is one of the largest producers and exporters of surgical instruments for hospitals worldwide, including European and Chinese hospitals.

Pakistan has also managed to produce nuclear weapons, a goal few countries on the planet have achieved.

With all these facts given, why is Pakistan then one of the poorest and polluted countries on Earth? The obvious answer no one wants to know: overpopulation.

In the first few years of independence from British rule, Pakistan's population was only around thirty-four million people. This rose steadily thirty-seven million.

By the 1980s it's population reached eighty-four million. Now it's around one-seventy million.

Create a scenario in which the population had stayed below forty million. Most people would have access to basic human needs. Because there would be less people, there would be a large supply of food and water for each person.

And because there would be an extra supply of resources, the price of food would be much lower and affordable.

Transportation and fuel would be be cheaper (and it was) because there are less people buying and consuming fuel with a small population. With less people consuming fuel, there would be plenty of fuel reserves to export and gain profit from.

The Gulf Arab states have small populations and huge reserves of oil deposits. Imagine if Saudi Arabia's population was 150 million instead of less than forty million.
More oil would be consumed, the prices would be much higher, there would be less extra oil left to export.

Had Pakistan's population stayed within forty million, there would be plenty of resources to export. Balochistan and Sindh, Pakistan's southern provinces are filled with rich reserves of coal, gas and oil.
Both provinces could consume, share and export these resources had the population remained at a sustainable number.

Punjab on the other hand has rich reserves of meat and agriculture which could feed the entire Pakistani population and extra reserves could be exported.

Plenty of profits would have been generated from all this. Indeed, Pakistan could have become as rich if not richer than the Gulf Arab states had the population stayed within the limit of forty million people.

Let's pretend as an example Pakistan's water resources can provide for the needs of about fifty five million people. And let's now pretend the population of Pakistan is around thirty seven to thirty nine million. That provides more than enough water to keep the population going.

The extra water could have been be exported, used for plantation and many other positive uses.

Before continuing to finish reading the rest of this post, I would like readers to watch the following videos which discuss the problem of overpopulation on a global scale:


For many years I saw and still do see overpopulation as the cause of Pakistan's problems and many people from my country disagreed with me (surprisingly upper class, educated).

Their beliefs were the typical replies of denial. Some such as that people with more children "have their own view points" or others that it's unfair to tell poorer people to have less children when rich people can have a larger number.

But the most arguments I've heard from Pakistanis is that population growth does not affect the country as there are countries with much larger populations but in similar conditions to Pakistan or some even better.

I disagreed the whole time. The first laughable philosophical points do not even really count as arguments since you cannot counter a scientific or statistic fact with philosophy.

But in regards to countries with bigger populations such as China or America, they cannot be compared to Pakistan. For one their landmasses are much bigger. Secondly, they have much more resources and are technologically more advanced than Pakistan. China has also successfully managed to contain it's birth rates through it's one child policy and though America faces a more difficult situation, it still has a much higher income per capita than Pakistan, a larger landmass and larger amount of resources to support it's population compared to Pakistan.

It is simply senseless to compare different countries in completely different conditions on the basis of common high populations and high birth rates.

It's only now that people are starting to see what I see. As an example this Dawn news report of an announcement from a Pakistani minister.

I have heard of similar news reports, but am unfortunately unable to locate them on the Internet currently.

Another typical argument I've heard is that investment in education is the solution to controlling population. Many think with literacy, people will have more awareness.
To an extent I can agree with this, but I do not think illiteracy is the only cause of overpopulation in Pakistan.

According to this site, Mongolia's literacy and education rates have been relatively low until as recently as the mid 90s or at least that's what it seems to indicate.
I don't know how reliable or accurate it is, but for a country that has been isolated, unaffected by globalization and has a mostly nomadic population, it should not be surprising that much of Mongolia's population is uneducated. By this I mean lack of schooling, not just the inability to read and write.

Even despite much of it's population being nomadic and uneducated, Mongolia has just over three million people and is larger than Pakistan in landmass.

How are these two countries where most of their populations have not been through proper schooling at almost opposite ends in terms of number of people??
Mongolia at just about over three million while Pakistan somewhere just below one seventy million.

The point I'm trying to make is that the lack of education does not seem to have sent Mongolia's population into a skyrocketing growth rate; hence lack of education might not be the source of overpopulation, nor may it's best solution be further investment in full time schools, universities and other educational institutions.

Another example is that overpopulation is also occurring in America. America's population growth rate is not much less than Pakistan's. How can this be? Isn't America a country with good education facilities?

Even educated middle class families in Pakistan have high birthrates.  Many even gain jobs in management, medical services, mechanics etc. I've come across middle class families where parents are educated along with all their off-springs, yet the number of people per household is fairly high.

It brings me to the same conclusion: schooling does not seem to cut down on birth rates.
Now one would ask what is then the cause and solution to overpopulation problems in Pakistan?

Though I like most others was ignorant to the causes of overpopulation, like others I've recently come to realize what the problem is: Fertility of the land.

By this I mean the land's conditions to accommodate human habitation and growth.

A lot of factors that go into this need to be understood. These include a landmass's climate, food, water and other natural resource availability. The more hostile the climate of a land, weather hot or cold, the less humans will be encouraged to live there. This is true for most living creatures who migrate, hibernate and reciprocate according to climates and seasons.

Australia is a good example of this. Despite being one of the world's biggest countries, it has a small population of just over twenty one million people. Not coincidentally, Australia has a limited supply of fresh water, an extremely dry landscape, mostly unsuitable for farming and difficult for humans to live in. All this these have restricted population growth rates in Australia.  

The Scandinavian countries are another good example of this. They have extremely cold climates, discouraging human population growth there. The lack of sunlight also contributes to depression and high suicide rates.

But at the same time all this has done wonders for them since the natural resources in Scandinavia grossly outnumber the human inhabitants living there.

Today the Scandinavian countries are amongst the best and safest to live in due to their small and sustainable populations.

The Gulf Arab states are also another good example of this. The hot and dry climates not only make agriculture mostly impossible but also makes human habitation difficult with extremely high temperatures.

Much of the Gulf Arab countries are dry deserts and mostly uninhabited. This is both due to lack of food and water resources and extremely hot climates.  Saudi Arabia is the largest country without even a single river.

Such conditions have limited population growth in the Gulf Countries. That has also done wonders for them since the discovery of oil and a small population has brought riches to the Gulf Arab states. This would not have been possible had these countries had high fertility. They would be overpopulated and would be consuming their energy resources with little or none to export and profit from.

The situation in the subcontinent is different. Most of the subcontinent has an extremely fertile landmass which support food and water production, making it an extremely overpopulated region.

Even inside Pakistan, different parts of the country have vast differences in population demographics and growth rates which are again determined by the conditions of the landmasses.

The Kashmir province has a mostly rough and rugged terrain making mobility dangerous and difficult.
Mobility and living conditions are made even more difficult during the winters. Agriculture also becomes restricted during the frost season with all the fertile farms being covered in snow.

Today the Kashmir province along with the Northern Areas district has a total population of around only ten million people.

Balochistan is the least inhabited province of Pakistan with a population of around only eight million people. Despite being the country's largest province, Balochistan has a mostly dry climate with limited rainfall and cold, frosty winters in it's northern parts.

All these factors have made agriculture difficult in the province, meaning a restriction in the food supply and so restricting population growth. But in the other provinces of Pakistan, especially Sindh, Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, quite the opposite is true.

The climates of these provinces are mostly humid. Almost every parts of these provinces are habitable, save for Punjab's northern areas or other mountainous areas in Sindh, Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa.

These provinces also have rainfalls, especially during monsoon seasons. Most of these areas were also heavily forested, especially Punjab. These areas provided the human inhabitants with large food and water supplies for generations. Most of Sindh and Punjab's and perhaps even Pakhtunkhwa's agricultural lands are from deforestation.

Today the vast majority of Pakistanis live in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa and are also experiencing threateningly high birthrates.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is that humans will enrich themselves from the lands they live on as much as they can and grow as much as the land(s) and it's conditions will allow them to.

Regardless of education, the vast majority of humans will follow their natural instinct of greed and desire to gain and grow as much as they can unless there is interference.

The interference can be  of any kind. It can be from a higher power- such as the case of the Chinese government's enforced law of allowing only one child per family in China. It can also be from wars and natural disasters such as Iran loosing up to three million fertile male adults from the war with Iraq or suffering from various earthquakes both before and after the war.

All these factors severely disrupted Iran's population growth rates. Today Iran has a population of less than eighty million people.

Of course those who agree with me that overpopulation is the main cause of problems in Pakistan will most likely now state that stopping the growth of the population is the solution.

I disagree with this idea as well. Simply halting the population growth rates won't solve the problems of Pakistan, for the country will still be left with around one seventy to one eighty million people and not enough resources and finances to support them.

Add to that further deforestation and waste from consumption.
The solution is to depopulate Pakistan until the population falls to lower than fifty million or even less than forty million.

Some may think it's an unrealistic goal, but if Pakistan is to rid itself of it's current problems, I can guarantee almost none will be solved until the population is brought back down to what it was in the first few decades of independence.

Depopulation in a country occurs when the death rates are higher than the birth rates, meaning there are more people dying than there are people being born.
In Pakistan the birth rates are currently fairly higher than the death rates, so depopulation has not been achieved as of yet.

There are many ways to reach depopulation and I'm sure many people will have their strategies but the important thing is they all have to reach the same goal.

Of course we cannot increase the death rates by killing people, but there are still ways to make the death rates higher than birth rates.

Some are:

-Making the death sentence unconditional for murderers, rapists, drug dealers, child abusers and similar criminals. I have explained why it should be done in this post.

-Making Euthanasia legal, which I will explain in another post.

-Legalizing abortion.

I also feel a strong one would be to promote adoption. Many people in Pakistan who wish to have children can do so by adopting children instead of unnecessarily increasing the population.

This would not only decrease population growth rates but also reduce the number of orphaned children in Pakistan.

I recall between the late 90s and early 2000s, a house cleaner who would come to my house in Karachi to do some chores. He announced that he and his wife recently had a daughter.
I straight forwardly told him that this was a bad idea since it would be costly and contribute to overpopulation.

He claimed one child was enough and he wanted nothing more. A few years later he announced he had a son. I pointed back to his earlier claim that he would have no more children.

His reply was that now that he has one child of each gender, he wants no more. Let us imagine if he and his wife adopted an infant boy instead of giving birth to a second one. It would have made a huge difference.

And the chances of him having done that would be strong had child adoption been publicly promoted in Pakistan.
Politicians can set an example by adopting a first or second child at infancy to promote the practice amongst all classes of Pakistan.

There are also benefits for families who adopt children in both health and favoritism. For example couples that consist of first cousins are better off in adopting healthy children instead of giving birth to children who will most likely be deformed.

Adoption of Pakistani children should also be promoted amongst Pakistani expatriate communities especially those who wish to raise their children as Muslims or wish for their children to be of the same race as their own.

There are many newspapers, magazines, websites and other forms of media used by Pakistani expatriate communities to stay in touch with what happens at home from news to events.
Such media should be taken advantage of to promote adoption of Pakistani children amongst expatriates.

I recently read that the Pakistani government's newest population control program was financing couples with just one child, including education and other needs. Why not provide this finance to couples who adopt children?

In terms of favoritism, I notice many men and women in Pakistan and Asia would like to have spouses who have certain features different from their own and would like their children to appear a certain way after their spouses.

Sometimes, I see marriages between Pakistanis of different racial phenotypes, including those within my family.
On the other hand in Western countries many couples also wish for their children to look a certain way such as having more tan.

Other times, people go after genetic donors possibly to select what kind of children they'd have.
Other richer people such as Micheal Jackson are said to have genetically customized their children to have light eyes and other features that suited him.

But the problem is that most people can't afford to genetically modify/customize their children, so why not go for adoption? Adopt a child that suits your favorite appearance.

While all these are very helpful suggestions, they will not help decline the population in any significant way.

That is why I  propose that the strongest solution would be a reduction in the food production. As I pointed out the problem, that is countries and regions with high fertility, especially in the supply of food and water have rapid population growth rates to match the supplies.

Even history shows that the earliest known major civilizations all started on fertile lands that provided large quantities of food and fresh water.

The fact is that around one eighty million Pakistanis have access to less expensive food sold in the domestic market. Even if they can only afford a small amount, they still have access to it. Otherwise there wouldn't be one eighty million Pakistanis alive today.

And the reason why food is sold cheap for the past sixty years is because much of our landmass is able to produce food in these massive scales.
In countries that do not have such high fertility, food and water are usually sold not so cheap.

In Pakistan, food producers are taxed when selling their products abroad, especially during times of disasters such as the 2010 floods. These taxations discourage them from exporting abroad and pressures them to sell domestically.

This makes food availability cheap to the population and only further contributes to it's growth.

If this trend could be reversed of exporting our food resources with decreased taxes on the farmers and vendors while taxing the domestic sales, it could reduce population growth in Pakistan.

Everyone may be effected in Pakistan, but for families with few or no children, the taxation will have very little effect. 

Increasing food exports could also increase our budgets in infrastructure, law enforcement, education facilities and other developments. The increased taxation could also be invested in birth control to further strengthen it.

I do not wish to be misunderstood as advocating starving the people. What I'm proposing is making food availability even more difficult so the masses will be busier trying to afford food than producing more children. Making food less available and more expensive to the point that people will be preoccupied just to consume food and stay alive.

The upper class in Pakistan will also be affected by the food taxation, but since they have few children per family, they will not be affected by much. Even profits gained from exporting food should be invested in birth control.

Imposing a one child policy on the masses will only cause backlash and rebellion. The masses will control their birthrates only at their own discretion, not on what is sustainable for them and the environment. Therefor, reducing the food availability will probably be the most effective way to halt this unsustainable growth.

Had our government and leading elites realized the causes of overpopulation and put a limit on the domestic sales of the produced food, our situation would have been much better today.

Our government probably wouldn't even need to have set up birth control programs to combat this unsustainable growth had the food production been controlled.

Some people might see my plan as cruel and inhumane. But if such a plan is not carried out, the population will continue to grow at this alarming rate. This will result in even worse and inhumane living conditions.

Since much of the Pakistani masses will refuse to limit their birthrates to one child per family at the most, it must be enforced upon them in the way they cannot resist; by cutting down on the food production.

Unless there is a promising population decline rate, a drastic curb in the food and other resource availability has to be enforced. My main point is that since an increase in agriculture leads to an increase in population, a gradual decline in agriculture should lead to a gradual decline in population.

The same solution has been discussed on this site. 

I've read recent reports of Pakistani scientists trying to increase the food production by strengthening the fertility on the lands. If true, this will only help grow the population, not decline it.

There might be many other ways to reduce population in Pakistan, other ways I cannot think of currently.
There are many who claim that corruption is the cause of poverty other problems in Pakistan too.
I don't find this argument very convincing. Many Eastern European and Arab countries are plagued with corruption. But it has had much less consequences on the East European and Arab populations due to their smaller populations. 

Most oil-rich Gulf Arab states have governments who spend most of their country's income on luxuries while only a fraction of the GDP is spent on the people.

But this fraction seems to be more than enough for the populations of Gulf Arab states since their numbers are incredibly low.
Poverty is close to nothing amongst the local populations of the Gulf. Even Mediterranean Arab countries which have very few natural resources to export and profit from have much higher living standards than Pakistan due to their lower populations.

There are some countries that are not overpopulated and still suffer from poverty and mass starvation but that is usually to social instability.
This is not the case for Pakistan, which is in a mostly stable social situation unlike other countries which are at full scale civil war and have no governance at all.

Pakistan's main problem is overpopulation alone which has caused most of the other problems.

Whichever way Pakistan's population can be curbed, it must be done at all costs. All finance and resources spent on charity and human development must be put into reducing the population by millions. That's what it will take. All welfare and humanitarian organizations in Pakistan must put their maximum efforts and resources into population reduction. All donations spent on human development should be invested immediately into birth control regardless of which method is best in doing this.

To spend money and resources on poor people is pointless if their misery is going to continue and only worsen due to high population and birthrates with an unequal amount of resources; therefore the best and only way to abolish poverty is to reduce the population to a sustainable number.

If all this is not done now, there may come a time in the near future that the situation will be out of control and will have devastating consequences, with no solution to solving the country's problems when there's just too many people.
Having an enormous amount of people will make birth control the more difficult since the average couple in Pakistan has several children.

Those several children in just about two decades after their own birth will give birth to several children of their own. Indeed two parents could become grandparents to dozens of grandchildren. The math of exponential growth is quite simple.

We often hear and read about the government doing nothing for the people and to some extent it is true. But what can the government or any organization really do for people that have just too many children?

It brings us to the same issue of denial. Despite the corrupt politicians and military dictators that Pakistan has suffered through, the country could still have flourished and developed. All this could have been achieved had the population stayed below forty million people.

Pakistan would have at least been far better off than what it is currently.

Our older generations tell us of much better times in Pakistan when the cities were clean, safe, peaceful and the country was much more civilized with most people enjoying a decent living standard. The environment was much friendlier, including maritime environment.
They will tell us all this but they will usually not tell us the real reason why it was so different: The population back then was much less and stable.

With a growing population, Pakistan can expect increasing poverty, inflation, crime, pollution, shortages, unemployment, turmoil, environmental denigration, foreign dept, dependency on foreign aid and many other horrors that overpopulation brings with it.

More than fifty years on after surpassing the maximum population our country could sustain, we have still not figured out the real cause of Pakistan's problems -not just because we're stupid and blind but also because we have lived in denial.

People don't want to tell others not to have children because they themselves want children of their own and don't want to sound like hypocrites so they stay all quiet about it.
Instead the people weather the street beggars or the rich, spoiled elites like to play the fun and easy part by tossing the entire blame on the government without taking a second look at themselves.

I could very well be wrong about overpopulation being the source of Pakistan's problems and I'm sure there are still those that argue against it.

But until now I have seen no credible evidence against this.
None of those who argue against me on this issue have provided any solid or convincing evidence to support their arguments, and so I strongly stand on this belief until or unless convinced otherwise.

To get more brief insights into how agriculture causes overpopulation click here.
 

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