In my hometown [Hinton, West Virginia] the issue of abortion is as intense as it is everywhere else. In response to a pro-choice advocate’s argument that over-population was a justification for abortion, a local anti-choice zealot responded flippantly and dismissively: “Over populated world? A bit of trivia—All the people of the world could be settled in the State of Texas with some room left over.”

I was intrigued by the image of all the people of the world located in the State of Texas and of the anti-abortionist being one of six billion people in a state with an area of about 250,000 square miles. I did the arithmetic; and I discovered that he is right. If all six billion people of the earth were located in Texas, each would have a lot of about 900 sq. feet. But, then, there are some deductions that would have to be made from the lot.

First, the western half of Texas, I understand, is a desert that is fit only for rattlesnakes, sidewinders, cactuses, and militiamen bent on insurrection; and it is a place so hostile to life that not even a Shiite Iraqi would voluntarily migrate thereto, not to mention the reluctance to go there of folks who live in a villa on the Rivera, which is an Eden that gives them a view of the blue Mediterranean and affords them the temperature year round that only God’s chosen could expect. The prospect therefore is that the people of West Texas would be forever at war with the people of East Texas, the West Texans’ aim being to expropriate to themselves by tooth and claw the East Texans’ lots. .

Where are the automobiles to be parked? To provide parking for 6,000,000,000 SUVs will require considerable real estate and so will the parking areas at all the Wal-Marts and the roadways leading to and from malls and all other places in Texas. Then, there needs to be space for railways, governmental buildings, corporate towers, religious edifices, merchants’ stores, offices of all kinds, manufacturing locations, cities and town, waste dumps, and most of all cemeteries. One needs to calculate the amount of ground needed to bury about a million people a day. A lot 6x6x8 times six million adds up.

Next there must be deducted land for golf courses, football, baseball and soccer stadiums. And, of course, military installations, airfields, colleges and public schools. But most important in Texas is room for oil wells, particularly, in the event that Iraqi oil fields do not suffice to fill all the tanks of all the SUVs and also in the event that environmentalists —and Texas would have an abundance of them if all humans were there—continue to frustrate Bush II’s ambition to drill in the Arctic Wilderness.

With all the deductions there will be little left but standing room for the six billion inhabitants. But a large number of them will be copulating regardless of how crowded it is. Nature has a way. The result of all the amorous unions is predictable: about a million more people a day, in excess of deaths, will make an appearance and scream for attention.

With the prospect of a million new mouths to feed a day or 365,000,000 a year, someone is going to suggest that there has got to be a stop to the oppressive increase in population and that sex education, contraception and abstinence are not enough. The only other answer, he suggests, is abortion. So after lengthy debate as to whether ‘tis better to abort or to perish smothered in people, the majority decides that even God does not mean by “be fruitful and multiply” that man and woman should procreate themselves out of a place to stand. So the majority legalizes abortion. And, I suspect that had the anti-choice zealot been in a position to vote, he would have voted with the majority.

Environmentalists have calculated that any given lifestyle requires so much acreage to sustain it. The calculation is based on many factors: the number of members of the family, the square feet of the residence, the number and kind of cars they drive, the amount of meat consume, and many other factors that indicate the degree of luxury that they enjoy or the lack thereof.

Of course, Americans’ lifestyle requires many more acres of land than the lifestyle of the citizens of any other country. In fact, the lifestyle of Americans is such a burden on the acreage of Earth that in order for the rest of world to live as well as Americans do, another Earth would have to be created. And since God is not of a mind to create another Earth for people who have desecrated and overpopulated the original one, Americans are faced with the dilemma of either reducing their lifestyles or confronting the hordes of poor of the world demanding some kind of social and economic justice by peaceful or violent means. And a place to stand.

In my pre-occupation with humans, a common failing of Homo sapiens, I forgot the rest of life; that is, all the other animals and plants. Where are they going to find space in a Texas with six billion people? If there are no plants, there will be no oxygen. No roses, no perfume. Claustrophobia and despair will grip all of life and squeeze even hope from it. Abortion will seem a blessing.

Over-population is not a bit of trivia; it is a worldwide plague, and it will become a fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, unless man treats it as a plague instead of a triviality.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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