Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Future

Remember The Population Bomb? It was published in 1968 and was not only popular, but accepted as irrefutable truth by many thoughtful people during my college years, 1971-1975. The book's thesis was, as a Wikpedia article on the subject says, that there would be "mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals." Because of this impending crisis, the book "advocated immediate action to limit population growth."

But, guess what? The "population explosion" didn't happen. Wednesday's Harvard Business Review Daily Stat delves into why the dire predictions of shortages resulting from overpopulation didn't come about.

MARCH 6, 2013
Whew! How We Dodged the Bullet on Global Starvation

How did the world survive the 20th-century population explosion, which many had expected to lead to mass starvation? Agricultural innovation contributed to a 10% rise in per-capita food production from 1961 to 1980, and greater global trade and a population shift to cities helped the world absorb billions more people, David Lam of the University of Michigan writes in Demography. The population boom was triggered by rapidly falling death rates, but the subsequent global decline in birth rates means that the world's population, now at 7 billion, may soon stabilize and may never reach as high as 12 billion, Lam says.

Source: How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons From 50 Years of Extraordinary Demographic History

Casey Stengel was right: It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

Does that mean that scientists--social as well as physical--should refrain from speculating about the implications about ongoing trends? Or that we should stop paying attention to them?

Of course not!

But I think that we shouldn't ascribe infallibility to pronouncements about the future made by any human being, no matter how well trained, thoughtful, and credible they may be.

As a Christian, I want to make responsible decisions about my life, my actions, and my votes.

So, when I hear what knowledgeable people tell me about the federal debt and its implications for the future or what climatologists say about global warming, to name two examples, I don't stick my head in the sand or go into panic mode. I consider, do what I can, and move on with my life.

This is possible because as a believer in Jesus Christ, I'm assured that I belong to the God Who is in the process of making a new future for His creation. And, because of the grace of God received by all who believe in Jesus, I get to be part of it!

Even with all my sin, faults, and imperfections, God is teaching me to pray with King David:
...I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in Your hand...
[Psalm 31:14-15] 

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