Adjective: able to be maintained at a certain rate or level; able to be upheld or defended. (Miriam-Webster)
The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere = to hold & sun = up), thus the Miriam-Webster definition of upheld or maintained. In 1987 the Bruntland Commission of the United Nations (UN) defined the concept of sustainable development as “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Once the concept of sustainable development was loosely defined, it took off. Not only has sustainability turned into its’ own industry, but it is now a widely used marketing concept. We hear the concept of sustainability applied to food, cloths, fabrics, building materials and other piece goods. We hear the concept of sustainability also applied to plant and animal life. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) even had an Animal Welfare and Sustainable Development Conference in Brussels (2012) to discuss its’ Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) through 2015, which it defined as “Continuing to promote high animal health and welfare standards in the EU and internationally.”
I take no issue with any aforementioned sustainable development plans. As a Christian woman I have a responsibility to God’s earth and the life found in it. Genesis 1:28
God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.
Genesis Chapter One reminds us that the whole human race is made in the image and likeness of God and has dominion over the earth. As a human, I must be respectful of the dominion given to me by God. The Lord is telling humans that we have responsibility to all living things on the earth; they do not have responsibility to us. For example, I have dominion over my cat Larry. It is my responsibility to take care of Larry; it is not Larry’s responsibility to take care of me.
Why do we apply this concept of sustainable development to everything from food to textiles but we don’t apply it to the human beings to whom God gave special dominion? We often don’t uphold or maintain human life and ironically this is done to support the sustainability of future generations. How does this make sense?
The myth of overpopulation has fooled many and some sustainability efforts feed into these unsubstantiated fears. The most common myths of overpopulation are: overcrowding, food shortages, running out of water or other natural resources, and human birth rates growing at an exponential rate. All of these fears are myths. Yes, you heard me right; the concept of overpopulation is a myth. It has not been proven by science, and most scientific data disproves the concept that the world is over populated and that our resources are insufficient. You can find out everything you ever needed to know about the myth of overpopulation at: http://overpopulationisamyth.com/.
Because of this myth of overpopulation, we are harming the sustainable development of human beings. In many places around the world population control programs have been implemented under the guise of not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Let’s talk about the most well-known example in China where the sterilization of large numbers of women has occurred. The government has violated the human rights of women by mandating intrauterine devices after the birth of the first child, sterilization after the second child, and mandated abortions for those women who find themselves pregnant in circumstances outside of these government guidelines. At last count, these types of population control programs have occurred in 37 different countries. (Source: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/unto-the-least-of-these-my-brethren-us-population-control-policy.cfm )
In addition to government funded population control programs, some women are being hoodwinked by the myth of overpopulation. I was horrified when I read about Toni Vernelli of Somerset, England who aborted her child and sterilized herself at the age of 27 to do her part to reduce her carbon footprint and not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Toni’s boyfriend bought her a card to congratulate her on the accomplishment. You can read more about her story and others here: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/planet-un-parenthood.
These are just a SMALL sampling of examples demonstrating how we humans are encouraged to respect the sustainability of everything other than ourselves. To sustain or uphold our current population the replacement fertility rate is 2.1 children per woman. You can check out the science here: http://overpopulationisamyth.com/2-point-1-kids-a-stable-population#header-1 . This 2.1 number is just to sustain our population, not to grow it. It has been three decades since China has implemented its population control program. As a result of cultural preferences to male children and good ultrasound technology there are millions of baby girls that were never born. There are 120 baby boys born to every 100 baby girls (vs natural law of 106 boys born to every 100 girls). Let us not forget that only a woman can give birth and must do so at a replenishment rate of 2.1 children just to sustain the level of population. The current replenishment rate in China is now at 1.4 children per woman. (Source: http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/china-population/ )
Let’s revisit the UN’s widely accepted definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” China implemented its’ population control programs to sustain the ability of resources for future generations and the result was the opposite. Currently, one of China’s greatest problems is its’ shortage of woman. There are not enough women to: take care of the aging population, become spouses for the abundance of single men, or replenish and sustain the current population. In short, due to the myth of overpopulation the current sustainable development or population control programs that were put in place have in fact compromised the ability of future generations of Chinese humans to meet their own needs.
The Chinese are not alone in compromising their sustainable development. According to a recent Pew study, 1 in 5 American women end their child-bearing years without having children; up from 1 in 10 in the 1970’s (Source: Cosmopolitan Magazine Summer 2014). How sorrowful for Christian women! Have we lost faith in the sustenance of the Lord? Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. Some Christian women seem to be duped by the myth of overpopulation and are erroneously using population control methods as a means of sustainability for everything else other than themselves. Do we believe that Christ is Lord, King of Kings, the maker of heaven and earth? If we believe that then we must be reverent. Psalm 128 reminds us that if we are faithful to the Lord, the He will be faithful to us.
Psalms, Chapter 128:
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
and who walk in his ways.
2. What your hands provide you will enjoy;
you will be blessed and prosper:
3. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your home,
Your children like young olive plants
around your table.
4. Just so will the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.
THAT’S sustainable development which meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.