Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

By | May 26, 2009

overpopulationSOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said the summit was unprecedented. “We only learnt about it afterwards, by accident. Normally these people are happy to talk good causes, but this is different – maybe because they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal,” he said.

Some details were emerging this weekend, however. The billionaires were each given 15 minutes to present their favourite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an “umbrella cause” that could harness their interests.

The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

This could result in a challenge to some Third World politicians who believe contraception and female education weaken traditional values.

Gates, 53, who is giving away most of his fortune, argued that healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation.

At a conference in Long Beach, California, last February, he had made similar points. “Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” Gates said then.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.”

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said.

via Times On Line

Birth control is the kindest option. Better than war, starvation, or plague anyway.

4 thoughts on “Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

  1. Sepp

    You’re right that birth control is an option. Trouble is it has been tried and is resisted where it’s “most needed”, i.e. in poor populations. It goes against a stronger motivation that requires numerous children to assure survival of the parents and grandparents in the absence of economic security.

    I tend to agree with Bill Gates who is quoted in the article as saying that, once the extreme poverty is alleviated, people will change by themselves and they will be making smaller families in as little as half a generation.

    Once you have assured survival and economic well-being, population control takes care of itself. We’re putting the cart before the horse when we insist that poor countries need to push birth control in the absence of economic security.

  2. Jer

    “Population Control,” a term first introduced by Thomas Robert Malthus over a century ago, has become the artificial means of realizing “natural selection,” i.e. social Darwinism. The world’s first World Population conference was organized in 1927 in Vienna primarily by Margaret Sanger; Population control has a long and documented history. It’s “success” is a misnomer because it is a vision that is imposed from on high. In order to properly encounter the phenomenon of population control we have to ask the question about what a “person” is. I mean to suggest that if a person is simply a number or lacks inherent dignity then population control is a perfectly logical solution to the “problem” of population. If, however, a person has inherent worth then reducing them to a statistic and engaging in “umbrella” type solutions seems symptomatic of a world-view reflected in some of the most terrifying and stultified individuals in recent history. I implore anyone who still lingers with an ounce of wonder and curiosity to explore the possibility that man is more than an object for manipulation. In conclusion I would like to suggest that using a phrase like “population control” amounts to a magical incantation that seeks to affect a vision that also has a long and documented history, Utopia.

    1. Jer

      In correction: It was held in Geneva, not Vienna.

      See: See Ramsdun, Edmund. “Carving up Population Science: Eugenics, Demography and the Controversy over the “Biological Law” of Population Growth.” Social Studies of Science, Vol. 32, No. 5/6, .Oct. – Dec., 2002. Pg: 859.

      My apologies.

  3. Prof Bob

    According to an article in Science Daily (April 20, 2009), a survey of the faculty at the State University of New York, which has a very strong environmental science department, the planet’s major environmental problem is overpopulation.. Climate change is second. This echoes the theme of the popular free ebook series “And Gulliver Returns” –In Search of Utopia—(http://andgulliverreturns.info) As one professor at SUNY said “With ten million or even a hundred million people on the planet there would be no warming problem.” It is both the technology and the number of people using it that create so many of our planetary problems.
    There is no question that China’s one child policy has helped the world and the Chinese economy. Whenever a country attempts to reduce its population it can expect a two or three generation period of problems while deaths reduce to equal births. I hope that China will recognize this fact and keep its own population on the path to reduction–which should begin by 2050. China’s actual fertility rate is not 1.0 per woman, but 1.8–the same as Norway’s.
    China’s Platonic-like oligarchy is far more efficient than modern democracies. The self-centered desires of each of us to have as many children as we want; the pressure of some religions and most businesses for more converts and customers; and the need for more soldiers to defend each sovereign state– each fight the obvious solution to the problems of the world: warming, illegal immigration, the use of irreplaceable natural resources, waste disposal along with air and water pollution, starvation, and the lack of fresh water. But countries commonly encourage more births to enlarge the tax base and pay for the elderly. Then each generation will contain still more elderly.
    In answer to one of the other comments, how much dignity is there in a child dying from AIDS in an impoverished village?

Leave a Reply