Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 3:29 pm | Fair 61º


Letter to Editor: Pope Francis and Climate Change

Pope Francis while visiting the Philippines acknowledged that climate change is man-made and pledged that he would advocate for action to mitigate climate change in both an encyclical he will issue and at the U.N. talks in Paris.

I hope that he will advocate for action to achieve population stability. The Philippines recently celebrated exceeding 100 million population. With a land mass about half the size of the U.S. state of Montana (population 1 million), it has the fastest-growing population in Asia.

When I first arrived in the Philippines about four years ago, it was to assist Father Ben Beltran as a missionary with the SVD order of the Roman Catholic Church.

As I traveled the country pitching integrated rice duck farming (IRDF) to priests, educators and government officials, I was impressed with the farmers, who have increased food production every year both in total and by hectare, despite typhoons and disasters according to the International Rice Research Institute.

My own demonstration of IRDF at the Eco Farm of the Divine Word College of  Mindoro, was less than successful due to my own ignorance of rice and ducks, but many farmers are having success throughout the Philippines and the world.

The number of jobs available and the number of educated Filipinos have also increased every year, but so does the number of poor people. More Filipinos live in poverty today than ever before. With GDP, food production and jobs all increasing every year, why the increase in poverty? The answer, of course, is overpopulation. The numbers born exceed the increases in jobs, food and revenue. Wages in the Philippines are very low, minimum wage in the Manila area is less than $10 dollars a day and in most areas less than $5. Most employers actually pay less than the minimum wage.

The Philippines and Filipino families try to remedy this by exporting workers to foreign countries that have achieved population stability and, therefore, prosperity and good wages. Large numbers go to China and Singapore, where strong family planning programs have fostered economic miracles. The possibility of sending offspring overseas to earn real wages and send money home is one of the things driving the rapid population growth.

Some commentators here in the Philippines see an advantage in this rapid population growth. They assert that more workers means more support for families and the government programs. Of course, this is only true if there are jobs with good wages.

Lastly, another cost of overpopulation is the cost to the environment. Animals being hunted toward extinction, beaches and streams cluttered with trash and forests cut down for charcoal all indicate a need for population stability.

Rowland Lane Anderson
Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines
Formerly of Santa Barbara

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