On the one hand, we have Prof. John Beddington predicting that we will have a global crisis by the year 2030. This crisis will be the direct result of the growing population, which will put heavy demands on food, water and energy. The climate changes from “˜global warming’ will only add to the problem. Prof. Beddington advises the governments of the world to address these issues now in order to avert the crisis that is looming in the not-so-distant future.
On the other hand, we have Pope Benedict XVI encouraging the African people to abstain from sex rather than use a condom. On the surface of it, his message is not all that controversial. However, it is quite naÃ¯ve for him to think that people can abstain forever. Catholicism is growing in Africa (which astonishes me), so the Pope has considerable power with these people. They will listen when he tells them not to use a condom to prevent HIV. But, how can he expect them to abstain from sex altogether? They will not listen to that part of the message.
According to the Church, the purpose of marriage is to procreate. Therefore, they do not allow the use of contraception. This prohibition carries through into the HIV/STD realm as well. Some within the Church hold different views to the pope in this regard. They see the use of condoms as part of the “thou shalt not kill” commandment. The pope argues that encouraging use of condoms does not address the issue of preventing the spread of HIV. He believes that the HIV virus can still pass through pores in the condom, which the WHO have dismissed. However, it is true that HIV can still be spread with the use of condoms. It is not a 100% guarantee of protection for either HIV or contraception.
Given the global crisis warning now, shouldn’t the Church review its policies regarding contraception? Shouldn’t they aim to encourage their followers to be part of the “green movement”? Most of the growth population in this world is in Third World countries. Even in First World countries, the growth rate is highest amongst those whose ancestors are from the Third World. At what point is it OK for a couple to declare that they have too many children? Is the Church so concerned about their own size that they would not wish to risk it by promoting contraception?
If people do not voluntarily control the birth rate (which currently exceeds the death rate), I can see Prof. Beddington’s dire predictions coming true. It will take more than just ensuring plans are in place to provide adequate food, water and energy to areas at risk for such shortages. We do not have a limitless supply of these essentials. We do not have adequate natural resources, and increased industrialisation in order to provide them will harm the environment even more. Perhaps it will take natural disasters, like the tsunamis and hurricanes, to restore the balance of the world population. Or, even widespread illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, or the plague. Or, another world war. It can certainly happen.