The Study of Man: Will Births Outstrip Mankind's Resources?
Almost forty years ago an agricultural economist, George F. Warren, wrote: “The questions whether our soil is exhausted and how we are to be fed in the future, are constantly being discussed in newspapers and magazines.” This ought to remind us that the modern food-versus-population controversy is not simply a product of post-World War II pessimism. It has been around for à long time. But it has been percolating with exceptional vigor ever since William Vogt’s Road to Survival and Fairfield Osborn’s Our Plundered Planet reopened the dispute four years ago. Thus, a dispatch from Rome tells us that even Pope Pius’s recent statement affirming the opposition of the Church to birth control was made only after a careful study of the population-versus food question.
In the days before I. B. M. machines it was possible for any reasonably intelligent man to get into the middle of a discussion like this and take his stand; the facts, being unavailable, played a minor role in shaping opinion. Today, in the age of science, any argument not buttressed by a maze of figures is considered suspect. But where, as in the present case, both sides to a dispute can assemble an equally impressive stack of charts, tables, and diagrams, the statistics may merely bury the argument without settling it.
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