Tom Friedman at his best: “Ndiamaguene, SENEGAL — I am visiting Ndiamaguene village in the far northwest of Senegal. If I were giving you directions I’d tell you that it’s the last stop after the last stop — it’s the village after the highway ends, after the paved road ends, after the gravel road ends and after the desert track ends. Turn left at the last baobab tree.
It’s worth the trek, though, if you’re looking for the headwaters of the immigration flood now flowing from Africa to Europe via Libya. It starts here.
Thank you Tom Friedman for your excellent work here. The problems revealed boggle the mind, but let me dare raise some ideas. There is an international disaster brewing caused by a population explosion, exacerbated by climate change, and the population explosion definitely makes the climate change problem worse.
The wealthy countries can either sit out the population growth crisis, or intervene. Over history, the population explosions in places like China, when combined with drought, often led to civil war and massive starvation and cannibalism. Europe had wars and plagues. We could chose these traditional solutions today, but for the first time, the suffering would be broadcast on television, and we would have to watch it or turn it off. Also, we have the knowledge and means to find a more humane solution.
An intervention by the United Nations or its proxy would have to focus on an exchange. The haves would supply food, water and housing in exchange for either family planning or sterilization. Mathias Weitz commented after your piece: “The African population doubled from 1982 to 2009, and quadrupled from 1955 to 2009. The main cause of the desertification in the Sahel is overgrazing by an ever growing population.” I wish to remind readers that world population just went from 2 to 7 billion in less than a hundred years.
Family planning might include IUD’s for every woman, but like the mosquito nets in Kenya, the baubles might be diverted to other purposes, like necklace decorations. Enforced family planning or sterilization are not pleasant ideas, but following the massive suffering and killing in the evening news, while our own climate keeps changing for the worse, will have its own drawbacks. Seven billion humans and growing, is a force in nature causing the sixth extinction. We are literally destroying thousands of other species by our fecundity, and risking our own future.