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Sustainable Development. 2000; 8(3):135-141.Neo-Malthusianism advocates 'population control' as the solution to all major global problems. While overpopulation is a serious problem, blaming the population growth in the South as the prime cause for the destruction of the environment is hypocritical. Rather than the 'bottom billion', it is the 'top billion' population from the 'affluent' West - and their 'effluence' - that is inflicting greater environmental injury to the earth. In the patriarchal system of free-market economy, aborigines and women are marked inferior. Given the strong preference for male children in many Third World countries, the statistics on 'missing girls' explain the sad situation of female infanticide and underreporting of female births. Most contraceptive research is aimed at women only. Furthermore, newly developed contraceptives would be first tested on poor women of colour, often without their knowledge or consent. However, after the 1994 Cairo Population Conference, reproductive rights and empowerment of women are recognized as key issues in controlling population growth. There must be a radical change and paradigm shift in policy-making at every level from subjugation and subordination to partnership in order to solve most of the world's problems. (author's)
London, England, I.B. Tauris, 1992. xi, 359 p.Crisis sometimes spurs revolutions. The revolution that needs impetus is sustainable development. The issues of rapid population growth, consumption and technology, and environmental destruction are complex. Overstating the importance of population growth is no better than ignoring it as an important factor. Five village case studies reflect empirical evidence of the nature of the problems: Musoh, Malaysia; Ranomafana, Madagascar; Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Kalsaka, Burkina Faso; and Hatia Island, Bangladesh. The example in Malaysia reflects the myth that forest people do not put pressure on the environment, which is only true when population density and consumption are low and technology is limited to sticks and blowpipes. Various theses about population are traced from Robert Wallace, William Godwin, and Thomas Malthus through critics such as William Hazlitt, Karl Marx, Henry George, and into the modern period of Ester Boserup, Paul Ehrlich, Dennis Meadows, and Paul Simon. The result is ideological chaos. The author reflects on the growth of the environmental crisis, the shortages of food, fertile land, energy, and minerals, and the state of biological diversity. The Madagascar example, illustrates past creative processes and present destructive ones. Deforestation, forest adjustments, land degradation, marginal people and areas are considered. Burkina Faso exemplifies how soil erosion can be stopped with appropriate use of technology on marginal slopes, but the balance between population and resources is lacking. In the Cote d'Ivoire example, author reflects on the growth of nonagricultural work, urbanization, the environmental impact of cities, solid waste generation and disposal, polluted waters, and atmospheric pollution. On Hatia Island population density, harsh environmental conditions, and cultural patterns which place women in inferior positions show the nature of poverty and interaction with population growth, which is exacerbated by natural disaster. A general theory of impacts is proposed based on Barry Commoner's concepts and charted. The options for action are identified. Shakespeare's Hamlet syndrome is referred to in the hope that action is not delayed until almost too late.