While this argument seems to be fairly convincing at first, it does not take much scrutiny to see the faults in it. The main problem with this is the superficial, anthropocentric reasoning the author has used. Once the reader sees the cracks, this argument has very little left to keep it from collapsing.
While falling fertility rates in current times may well have caused our population growth rates to fall, putting the ‘population bomb’ behind us, but the fact is, there are still more people present on the earth today than there were in the 1960s. Although we survived the ‘fastest population growth the world will ever see’, there are still more mouths to feed, bodies to shelter and clothe and warm, minds to educate than the world has ever seen.
Firm assertions such as the statement that Paul Ehrlich was wrong in foreseeing incurable famines further weaken this argument. While he may have been wrong about the particular decade such famines would occur in, one cannot simply toss his warning aside as something that will never happen. While food production may have increased drastically over the years, in most cases food production has increased in countries that already have surplus resources. The ‘serious problems with food distribution and malnutrition mentioned’ cannot be overlooked the way Lam has here. As our population grows, so will the number of people who fall in the group with no access to food and clean water.
As for the decreasing poverty rates, statistics such as the ones cited here mean very little in practical terms. Coming from a third-world country myself, I can attest to the fact that a country’s increased wealth on paper does not necessarily mean that the money always trickles down to the masses. Furthermore, the poverty line arbitrated by the WHO only distinguishes between the very poor and the not-so-poor; people close to this line have tough lives regardless of which side of it they are on. Increasing inflation rates have also meant that more people who could manage to live hand-to-mouth simply cannot do so any longer.
The biggest blow to this argument is the fact that the world is not a utopia where humans are the only important beings and our actions have no repercussions. There is a limit to how many fields can be planted, how many animals can be reared for meat, how many fish can be hunted by the thousand. Were the food production rate to grow to be able to feed an additional 3 billion people in the next 70 years, the ecosystem would be drastically affected. Furthermore, we humans burden our planet just by living on it with our emissions and carbon footprints. Global warming, an issue the author has alluded to, in worthy of more than just a passing mention in one single sentence.
Lastly, where someone is born is purely based on probability. One cannot really conclude whether or not the 7 billionth baby would actually lead a better, healthier life than the 6 billionth child.