Saturday, May 8, 2010
50 Years of the Pill
I think reliable birth control is the most important invention in human history, offering us the chance to escape from the frantic race between population and productivity and build a world without hunger. Always before, every increase in productivity was eventually overwhelmed by rising population; despite all the amazing technological advances, the average European of 1800 was shorter and less healthy than his ancestors of 8,000 years before. Since about 1850 we have achieved such extraordinary economic growth that we have been able to keep ahead of population and get richer even as we have become more numerous, but the costs, both environmental and social, have been very high. If we balance our population and keep our technological inventiveness, we can look forward to a future in which we are as rich as we choose to be.