Home » Opinion » Opinion: Pope right to warn against breeding ‘like rabbits’: Overpopulation is a serious issue

Opinion: Pope right to warn against breeding ‘like rabbits’: Overpopulation is a serious issue

Pope Francis greets people Jan. 21 at the Vatican. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Pope Francis greets people Jan. 21 at the Vatican.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

In light of a few words recently uttered by the great Pope Francis, I’d like to take this opportunity to write about the very serious issue of overpopulation.

While it’s true that I would feel much more comfortable discussing Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards or Taylor Swift’s recently discovered belly button, I think this is important. Besides, Pope Francis is basically Beyoncé for Catholic people, right? It’s like pop culture for sheltered parochial school students.

The Pope recently commented that in order to be “good Catholics,” people need not feel the urge to breed “like rabbits.” I give major props to the guy for tossing out that colloquial phrase, but he should’ve known people wouldn’t be too happy about it. And being in the position of power that he is, Pope Francis had no choice but to apologize through an archbishop in a more thoughtful and family-friendly way.

But I want to speculate on his original message.

The truth is, people are having too many kids, and it isn’t just Catholics. Our world has way too many people, and that fact becomes more apparent each and every day.

I’m saying it, because someone has to say it. And it’s true. Our population is skyrocketing at alarming rates. Experts estimate that we’ve broken the 7 billion mark, and that number is quickly making its way to 8 billion. But people don’t want to hear that they should stop having children. And ethically speaking, it’s a limitation that even I can’t justify.

But we have to do something about it.

Food shortages, pollution, climate change and countless other problems that threaten society can be traced to the simple fact that we have too many people. We have too many people, and we do not have enough resources to support them.

It’s easier to govern a nation of 1 million than it is a nation of 1 billion. It’s easier to feed two mouths than it is to feed four, and it’s easier to delete 10 Candy Crush invitations than it is to delete 20. Diversity is good, and there is strength in numbers. But at some point, a community suffers when it becomes too dense.

So how do we control our population when our very instinct seeks to promote it? Our entire society is built upon the idea of growth, and yet, in my opinion, that growth is causing the vast majority of our struggles.

We can’t force people to stop having children. It simply wouldn’t be fair. Instead, we need to educate. We need to spread awareness regarding the consequences of overpopulation. We need to teach people what it truly means to raise a child. We need to realize that mass-producing these wrinkly little angels — which are more or less shrieking bags of meat — will inevitably suck up all our hard-earned money.

Nobody should be told that they should not have children, but everyone should know that it’s not a decision to make lightly.

In addition to education, access to birth control should be a non-issue by now. Condoms should be free and easily obtained in schools and clinics. If a woman wants to prevent her body from producing a child, then her decision should be seen as intelligent and respectable. She should not have to deal with outside forces that seek to threaten her decision.

As a society, we harbor far too many needless taboos on this subject. We uphold these arbitrary stigmas on the ethics of marriage, sex and birth control, and they only exist to hurt us. This behavior simply serves to produce unnecessary political debates, unnecessary restrictions on female rights, and unnecessary guilt over boinking one’s high school sweetheart.

In a future that is threatened with so many potentially catastrophic outcomes, I think we would be better served by training and educating a limited group of forward thinkers than we would be to needlessly create more victims.

Anywho, that’s all I got. Now if you’ll excuse me, I desperately need to go catch up on “19 Kids and Counting.”


  1. Um, no. Overpopulation is not a problem. In fact, in Western nations (where the Pope’s message was mainly heard), the birth rate has fallen to such levels that countries are actually encouraging their people to have more children. The foolish Malthusian experiments of the last century have only proven the law of unintended consequences – many of our current problems are due to population distribution, not population size. As one example, the one-child policy of the Chinese has created such an imbalance in the male-female ratio that it is causing serious societal problems.

    Nobody has generated a reliable model for exactly how many people the earth can sustain. Screaming that the earth is overpopulated and citing a couple of general (and essentially meaningless) statistics is no substitute for real research. This op-ed is nothing more than a cover piece for the tired old screed of “more sex, less children” – a narcissistic view which is really all about “what I want”, and has nothing to do with what may be good for society as a whole.

  2. Over population will be the fault of people who do not care, people who pop out babies like a Pez dispenser does candy. There are plenty of people who do just that. They don’t care one drop about what this guy says.

    If we would pay ( welfare) the same women we pay when they push out their spawn the same amount, hell pay them half to not get pregnant… watch your feared population explosion drop.

    Those of us who grew up in a major city in ” the rough part of town” and currently live in lower middle class neighborhoods know that the population explosions big bang will be found there. Working class people seldom have more than two children, maybe three. There are exceptions but…

    Try this for a survey: Get a list of all families in Franklin county who have more than 6 children. Then tell me how many on that list are self sufficient and how many are on welfare.

    The truth can be ugly and make one uncomfortable. Too bad, it’s still the truth.

  3. This old myth of the 1960s and 70s needs to be put aside. It takes people to build complex economies and advanced civilizations…just look at history. The densest places such as Egypt, China, the Med, and tropical Latin America all produced advanced civilizations, and they were crowded. On the other hand, the Sahara dessert and the Amazonian rain forest produced scattered tribes that barely got past the use of stone tools. Small populations tend to produce bare subsistence, while large populations produce (over time) the opposite. The wellspring of creativity requires competition (today we would say ‘markets’), and that means large populations.

  4. Ligonite: It is narcissistic of Western cultures to want to compete with other cultures in terms of population. What gives us the right to overpopulate just because others do? In sociology, you see a lot of data supporting the idea that once cultures get to a certain level of technological development, the birth rate slows and sometimes even decreases. We need to focus on getting more areas of the world to that point, and not the other way around.

    Well said, Tyler. I completely agree!

  5. There is not an overpopulation problem. I suspect that since you’re writing for the Lantern, you are considerably younger than I. We’ve been hearing this overpopulation thing for decades, but, no real impact in the developed world. If there is any kind of overpopulation issue, it is in the third world where people don’t expect half their children to live to maturity. The real solution to any perceived overpopulation issue is economic prosperity.

  6. Cancer to the human body is unrestricted cell growth.
    People are cancer to the earth in that there is nothing
    to keep them from multiplying. Soon there will be fresh
    water shortages and carbon overages.

    It will be interesting (distressing) to see what happens.

  7. @Tevin – you might want to try anger management. And you might also want to check the statistics yourself. You may be surprised at what you find.

    @dain/@Tom Cain – perfectly and succinctly expressed.

    @Anon – nice job of sidestepping the issue. You cannot define “overpopulate” so you just take a jab at Western culture – which by the way you are a part of. If you think so poorly of Western culture, try moving to the Middle or Far East for a while and let us know how much better things are there.

    As for @John – I am amazed that your self-loathing allows you to continue living and consuming all of our precious water while “carbon-polluting” the earth.

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