Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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160 I Dialogue fessor Forrester and the Club of Rome, it is getting close as historical time goes, that is, within the next hundred years. There is no essay in this volume which directly attempts to refute the projections of Professors Forrester and Meadows, which is a pity, as these projections are open to considerable criticism on the grounds, for instance, that they make no real allowance for the increase in human knowledge. The arguments of this volume are of a qualitative rather than quantitative nature, and while many of them are worth serious consideration, the real issues of the debate are quantitative. "How much" and "how long" cannot really be answered by qualitative arguments. Section II (Section I is the Introduction) consists of two essays on " 'Overpopulation/ the Wrong Problem," by Ben Wattenberg and Harold J. Barnett. These are valuable in attacking the view that all we have to worry about is population, which one must confess some of the more extreme anti-natalists almost seem to apply. It is certainly necessary to remind ourselves that many of the most severe and immediate problems of the world, such as war, pollution, poverty, maldistribution, poor provision of public goods, external diseconomies, crime, mental disease, and just plain underachievement of human potential—which is perhaps the worst of them all—will still be with us, even if we only had half the present world population, or a quarter of it, provided that other conditions remain the same. Evil is a hydra-headed monster, and cutting off any one of its heads will not kill it. Furthermore, there is a real question of priorities of present effort, the answer to which depends a good deal on our feeling about the marginal productivity of effort. What the authors of these essays seem to be saying is that neither pro- nor anti-natalist policies and efforts have actually been very successful, so why not concentrate on the other things? I must confess, I am by no means convinced by these arguments, in the sense that while reduction of population growth is not a panacea to all human ills, the anti-natalists seem to me to be right in supposing first of all that the sharp reduction in mortality which has taken place in the last seventy-five years, especially in the tropics, has created a desperate need for anti-natalist policies, at least in these areas. Otherwise, very major disasters may ensue which the Temperate Zone countries, at a later state of development of population process, will be both unable and perhaps unwilling to cope with. Thus, while it is entirely legitimate to point out the need for thinking about priorities and for not putting all our eggs into the basket labeled population control, thinking about them will still lead us to the conclusion that a long-range effort towards population control should begin now. The very ineffectiveness of natalist policies of any kind should spur us to seek both for more effective and more humane solutions to the problem, rather than the ultimate solution of rising misery and mortality. There is indeed an important demographic identity with which it seems to me the authors of this volume have not come to grips. It is that in an equilibrium population the average length of life of the individual in the population is the reciprocal of the birth (or death) rate. If the average age at death is to be yo, the birth rate in an equilibrium, stationary population must be about 14 per 1,000. If the birth rate is 40 per 1,000, which is all too common, then in equilibrium the average length of life will only be 25. A further proposition, which is not quite an identity, but which I think will command almost one hundred percent agreement, is that a society in which the expectation of life is well below the normal biological