Category Archives: Family

THE MEANING OF LOVE

Romantic just married couple hugging face to face against illuminated dark background with glowing sparkles around. Free Photo

The Meaning of Love

Clark Swain

A song tells us that “love is a many-splendored thing.” In a humorous way love has been referred to as a supersaturated solution of sentimental slush. It has also been described as an insane desire to squeeze orange juice out of a lemon. Throughout the centuries poems have been written, songs have been sung, mountains have been climbed, and battles have been fought because of love. Even murder and suicide have been committed in the name of love.

We do not always think in an accurate way about love. One of the incorrect and irrational attitudes we tend to have is that love is merely a mystical feeling, a mysterious power that takes over; and when it comes, we “fall into it,” helpless to control it. We are prone to think that it can vanish as mysteriously as it came and that we are helpless to prevent its leaving.

A number of months ago a woman came to me for counseling. She explained that she had fallen out of love with her husband and had fallen in love with another man; she and the new man were considering divorcing their marriage partners so they could marry each other. Each had several children—ten children were involved—and yet they were considering giving up these children and their partners because they had fallen in love with each other. The woman felt that she was as helpless to learn how to love her husband once again as she was helpless to terminate her love for the other man.

Another individual who came for counseling told me that he was thinking about divorcing his wife because, he said, “I don’t think I love her anymore,” as if it were impossible for him to do anything to change his feeling. Such a person needs to learn the meaning of real love. We need to stop thinking of love as a mysterious power that has control over us. We need to think of love as a way to treat other people, rather than as something that happens to us; then we will begin to have power over our loving.

Those who conclude that love cannot be defined—that there is no way to explain it and it is something we cannot understand—are those who think incorrectly about love, who think of it as a mystical feeling, a mysterious power, a trap into which one may fall. Those who think of love as it really is can define it, explain it, and understand it.

It helps if we think of a person as being loving, or if we think of one as either having ability to express love or lacking this ability. One of the most important things to look for in a marriage partner is the extent to which that person is able to express love. And in preparing ourselves for marriage, one of the most essential characteristics to incorporate within ourselves is the ability to give love as well as to receive it.

This ability begins in childhood, in the loving care of a mother’s arms. To illustrate, a city boy went to visit his cousin on a farm. He watched carefully as his cousin milked the cows, took the milk into the house, ran it through the separator, and then took some of it back to the barnyard where he gave it to the calves. Finally, with a tone of enlightenment in his voice, the city boy said, “Oh, I see what you do. You put it into them when they are young; and when they get big, you take it out of them.”

This is the way it is with people and their ability to give love. The more love we give a child in his younger years, the more ability he will have to give love throughout his adulthood. When parents give love to a child, they are helping him develop loveability.

Babies and children need love just as they need vitamin C and whole grain cereal. It is impossible to give a baby too much love. One who receives insufficient love may become retarded in his physical growth and his personality development. He may become emotionally and physically ill.

One of the important reasons for giving an abundance of love to a child is that it helps him develop self-esteem—appreciation, respect, and love for himself. And the more fondness one has for himself, the more able he is to give love to others.

The selfish person isn’t the one who loves himself; it is the one who has negative feelings about himself, who is self-centered, who is focusing on himself, trying to overcome his misgivings about himself. One who is at war with himself does not have peace of mind; he has inner conflict. If we can help a child develop self-love, then he is likely to be free from inner conflict and free to give kindness and love to others.

In one study recently, people were asked to indicate what they loved. Ninety-two percent said they loved children, 86 percent said they loved God, and 66 percent said they loved animals, but only 33 percent said they loved themselves. We need to stop thinking that it is wrong for a person to love himself. The Bible doesn’t say, “Love thy neighbour instead of thyself”; it says, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39. Italics added.)

If a woman says, “I know my husband loves me, but he hardly ever tells me so, and he seldom shows affection,” it is possible that this man grew up in a family where love was seldom expressed. It is important for parents to tell their children often that they love them and to physically express love to them; and a husband and wife should frequently show love to each other in the presence of their children so that their children learn that to feel love alone is not enough—it must also be expressed.

Many persons have not grown up in loving families; they still can learn to love, however, by learning what a loving person does and by making an effort to do those things. Dr. Erich Frohm, in his book The Art of Loving (New York: Harper & Row, 1956), defines and explains what a loving person does. A loving person cares about the loved one. Parents who really love their children take good care of them. A person who says, “I love flowers,” but who doesn’t water and cultivate his flowers, really is not loving his own flowers. A person who says, “I love dogs,” but who doesn’t feed his own dog, is not giving love to that dog. Loving is caring.

A loving person respects other persons. A part of respecting people is not to force them. It may be necessary at times for an adult to force a child to do something against his wishes; but when two grown people are relating to each other, if there is love between them, there is no force. We may try to persuade a person to see our point of view, or we may try to convince him to do something we would like him to do, but if we really love him, we do not force him.

A loving person responds to others. Since some people have more ability to love than others, it is reasonable for us to conclude that some people have more ability to respond than others, but we can learn to improve our responses. Loving is empathizing, trying to understand how the other person feels and letting him know that we understand.

A loving person has concern for the welfare, progress, and happiness of the loved one. He not only has concern; he does something about it by making his resources available to the loved one. Loving is giving. It is the giving of material things to others, but even more important, it is the giving of one’s time. Among the gifts a father gave to his son for Christmas was a letter that read: “To my dear son: During the coming year my gift to you is one hour of my time each day for you to use as you see fit.” Isn’t this an act of love?

Loving is giving, but what about a person who becomes upset because the gift he receives is not as fine and luxurious as the gift he has given? This person has a bargaining approach to giving. A true gift of love is one that is given with no strings attached; it is given with no concern about what will be received in return.

Who is richer: he who has much or he who gives much? The giver is the richer, for he always receives for having given. Consider the parent who gives abundantly to his children by educating them and helping them maintain good health; then, when they grow up to become happy, productive adults, they are able to give more in return to their aging parents.

The builder who gives extra time and effort to build an excellent house gains satisfaction from the contentment of the family that lives in it. The actor on the stage who gives extra preparation and exertion to his performance receives from the audience their approval and applause.

An important dimension of loving is that the loving person also makes a conscious effort to receive. He is willing to receive not only physical gifts but also suggestions, advice, and acts of kindness. Have you ever known a person who will not allow you to do anything for him? who will not even permit you to open the door for him but always insists that you go first? who will not allow you to pay for refreshments when you are accompanying him on an outing? A person who is not willing to receive deprives others of giving. Receiving is an important part of loving.

Loving is sharing. Have you ever seen a rainbow or a beautiful sunset when you were alone and thought, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to share this with someone?” Or have you ever been alone during a time of illness or trouble and thought, “Wouldn’t it be consoling to have someone here to share this experience”?

Loving is forgiving. A loving person forgives one who has wronged him, and he also forgives himself for mistakes he has made. Guilt feelings can have some value in motivating a person to stop whatever it is that is causing him to feel guilty. To keep the guilt feelings beyond this point only interferes with a person’s effective living and happiness. It is a mistake for one not to forgive himself for something he has done that he considers to be wrong.

Another word for love is charity. Thus, when Paul tells us what charity is in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, he is really explaining what love is. A loving person suffers long and is kind. His love is of long duration; he envies not. He is not puffed up. Arrogance, boastfulness, and conceit are not his ways; he is humble. A loving person does not behave himself unseemly; he thinks no evil; he bears all things; he endures all things; and he is not easily provoked to anger. A loving person does not hold a grudge against others; he realizes that to do so is to bring more harm to himself than to them.

Real love is basically the same in all human relationships, whether between a grandfather and a grandmother, a newly married couple, or a mother and her child. It involves caring, respecting, responding, empathizing, having concern, giving, receiving, sharing, forgiving. Notice that these words we are using are verbs, and verbs denote action. Loving requires action.

A person who says to another, “You have killed all the love I ever had for you,” does not understand the art of loving, because nothing can kill love; if it dies, it commits suicide, because love is not a measure of the one being loved, but of the one doing the loving. Whether or not we give love should not depend on another person’s attributes and behavior. It may be easier to love one person than another because one may be more charming, more pleasant, and more physically attractive. But our loving should not be determined by the nature and the behavior of another person; it is not just a feeling—it is a way of treating a person.

If a person is mature in his ways of loving, then for him love is not blind. Mature love sees more, not less; but because it sees more, it is willing to see less. The mature lover is other-centered in his loving, not self-centered. He is patient and willing to prepare for a good marriage. If a man and a woman are mature in their way of loving, their love relationship will enhance their growth as individuals.

What about being in love? It is possible that a couple may have great capacity to give love as individuals, but they are not in love. Perhaps they have different backgrounds and interests. He’s from the country and she’s from the city; he’s interested in ranching and the out-of-doors and she’s interested in travel and music. He is Catholic and she is Protestant. He desires to have children and she is not interested in having a family. Thus, even though each may have great ability to give love, it would not be wise for them to marry.

Maybe you are wondering if you are really in love with your partner, if the two of you have a genuine love that will stand the test of time. If there is admiration between you, if you agree on most things, if you cooperate instead of compete, you are probably in love. If you feel comfortable together and can relax and be natural, you are probably in love.

If you feel proud to be seen together in public, if you have similar interests, and if you really trust each other’s loyalty, you are probably in love. If you enjoy one another’s company so much that when you are apart you have a longing to be together, and if you have feelings of deep affection for each other, you are probably in love.

The more of these dimensions that exist in your relationship, the more resilient and lasting your love is likely to be.

Love does not consist of gazing into one another’s eyes, but of looking outward in the same direction. When a man and a woman have learned to do this, though they are two separate persons, a state of inter-person fusion exists between them so that in a real sense they have become one. Each feels toward the other, “I am all for you and you are all for me.” Thus, love is truly “a many-splendored thing.”

THE END OF THE WORLD

Published on December 11, 2020

The End of the World as We Know It?

written by Glenn T. Stanton

Edited By Alex Santiago

How is the world going to end? Polls consistently show that most believe the cause will be environmental. “Climate anxiety” has reached such a fevered pitch among young people across the globe that the Lancet recently issued a special “call to action” to help with the problem. Clinicians have even created “climate anxiety scales” to measure the runaway angst spreading through our children, and the rest of us.

But what if the best, emerging science is actually telling us quite firmly that such fears are not only deeply misplaced, but that the most realistic cause of our collective human demise is likely the precise opposite of what most assume? This is the conclusion of a very interesting body of highly sophisticated and inter-disciplinary research. The greatest threat to humanity’s future is certainly not too many people consuming too many limited natural resources, but rather too few people giving birth to the new humans who will continue the creative work of making the world a better, more hospitable place through technological innovation. Data released this summer indicates the beginning of the end of humanity can be glimpsed from where we now stand. That end is a dramatic population bust that will nosedive toward an empty planet. New research places the beginning of that turn at about 30 years from today.

This means that Thomas Robert Malthus, and his many influential disciples, had it precisely wrong. More people are not only not the problem, but a growing population is the very answer to a more humane future in which more people are living better, healthier, longer lives than they ever have in our race’s tumultuously dynamic history.

We are not killing the planet

Pop voices like those of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg and countless Hollywood celebrities have warned that unless drastic action is taken at once, we face irrevocable global catastrophe. The Climate Clock in Manhattan’s Union Square pegs the start of the Earth’s deadline at a little more than seven years from today. But this is not science. The most sophisticated examination considering the Earth’s eco-deadline was just published in August in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. Drawing upon 36 meta-analyses, involving more than 4,600 individual studies spanning the last 45 years, nine ecologists, working from universities in Germany, France, Ireland, and Finland, explain that the empirical data simply does not permit the determination of any kind of environmental dooms date, or “thresholds” as scientists call them.

These scholars state frankly: “We lack systematic quantitative evidence as to whether empirical data allow definition of such thresholds” and “our results thus question the pervasive presence of threshold concepts” found in environmental politics and policy today. They explain that natural bio-systems are so dynamic—ever evolving and adapting over the long-term—that determining longevity timeframes is impossible. Talk of a ticking eco-clock is simply dogma. Two major books published in 2020 serve as carefully researched and copiously documented critiques of environmental scaremongering. Both are written by pedigreed progressive environmentalists concerned about the irrationally wild rhetoric of late.

The first is Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All  by Michael Shellenberger, who TIME magazine has lauded as a “hero of the environment.” Shellenberger explains that not only is the world not going to end due to climate catastrophe, but in very important ways, the environment is getting markedly better and healthier. He adds that technology, commerce, and industry are doing more to fix the Earth’s problems than Greenpeace and other activists. As an environmentalist, he is strongly pro-people and pro-technology, explaining counter-intuitively that the scientific “evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.” He is right.

The other major environmentalist challenging eco-doom is Bjørn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank that seeks global solutions to humanity’s most pressing problems. The Guardian feted Lomborg as “one of the 50 people who could save the planet.” In his book False Alarm, he explains how “climate change panic” is not only unfounded, but wasting trillions of dollars globally, hurting the poor and failing to fix the very problems it warns us about. Lomborg explains ironically that “the rhetoric on climate change has become more extreme and less moored to the actual science” at the very time that “climate scientists have painstakingly increased knowledge about climate change, and we have more—and more reliable—data than ever before.”

Lomborg holds that while “global warming is real… it is not the end of the world.” “It is a manageable problem” he adds. He is increasingly dismayed that we live in a world “where almost half the population believes climate change will extinguish humanity” at the precise moment when “the science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded.” Demonstrating this is not difficult. Simply consider what we all need to live: air, water, abundant food, and protection from nature. Each of these are improving in dramatic ways precisely because of technology and growth. The scholars at Our World in Data and the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford demonstrate this.

The world’s air is getting cleaner overall, and markedly so.

At the very time that population and industry have both grown dramatically across the globe, not only is the problem not getting worse, but human death rates from air pollution have declined by nearly half since just 1990. And it is not people driving less or living by fewer factories that’s saving lives. Counterintuitively, air pollution deaths are more than 100 times higher in non-industrial societies where cooking over wood or coal burning fires is a regular part of daily life. And as the world develops, such cooking declines. This means growth and technology are literally helping people breathe easier. And ozone pollution, or smog, has been declining rapidly throughout the world even in high-income, heavy manufacturing Asian Pacific regions.

Water is humanity’s second most immediate life need. The number of people around the world with improved access to clean drinking water increased 68 percent from 1990 to 2015, even as the population itself has expanded. That is astounding. Roughly 290,000 people have gained access to improved drinking water every single day across the globe over the last 25 years and that number is only increasing of late.

Food is our third greatest survival need. Contrary to grim Malthusian predictions, the United Nations explains that humanity now produces more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet. In fact, the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture revealed back in 2012 that “we already grow enough food for 10 billion people.” This is a 25 percent bounty over our current global population, a surplus which we will never need. And, as we will see in the next section, our world population is soon to top out at just 9.73 billion people and then start declining precipitously into the coming century. While we must do a better job politically at distributing that bounty, our food supply is not only more plentiful, but of better nutritional quality thanks to technology. It’s why malnutrition is declining dramatically across the world.

And the number of people around the world living in dramatic poverty is dropping, even as we grow in number—a direct refutation of ubiquitous Malthusian projections.

The Earth is actually doing better at providing what is needed to sustain human life as a consequence of human ingenuity of industry and technology. And what about the Earth itself? Let’s look at two important measures.

First, is it becoming more hospitable to human thriving, or less? A major 2019 study in the journal Global Environmental Change drawing from “one of the most complete natural disaster loss databases” reveals “a clear decreasing in both human and economic vulnerability” to “the seven most common climate-related hazards” by up to 80 to 90 percent over the last four decades. These hazards include all forms of flooding, drought, and deaths related to extreme wind, cold or heat. The trend lines are dramatic.

The scholars at Our World in Data add that this also holds for other natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcano activity, wildfire, and landslides. “This decline is even more impressive,” they explain, “when we consider the rate of population growth over this period” revealing a greater than 10-fold decline in nature-related human deaths worldwide over the last century.

This means the Earth is becoming a much safer place for humans to live precisely because we are adapting to it better. That is precisely the opposite of catastrophe by most people’s honest math.

Second, is the Earth itself being more widely exploited or getting a break? The 2018 United Nations List of Protected Areas report (Table 1, p. 41) demonstrates that the total number of protected sites in the world has increased 2,489 percent since 1962 and the total protected terrestrial and aquatic area grew by 1,834 percent. The proportion of land used for all agriculture (crops and grazing) per person across the globe has plummeted dramatically over the last 100 years as technology allows us to grow more food than we can consume on less land per capita than ever before.

And this is true across all continents.

As stewards of the planet, we still have much work to do in improving the environment. But note the key word: improve. The empirical data persuasively indicate the most significant trend lines are moving in the right directions in profound ways for billions of people around the globe, and the reason is technology and human progress. These truths are the exact opposite of an eco-Armageddon.

What does the likeliest end of humanity look like?

So does this mean there are no concerns about humanity’s future? New research published this summer has many of the world’s leading scientists extremely concerned, much more so than when 2020 began. A major demographic study published in the Lancet in July provides a glimpse of humanity’s end if things continue as they are. This work was conducted by 24 leading demographers and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What concerns these scholars is certainly not too many people, as nearly everyone assumes, but a relatively near future of far too few.

Demographers have long been concerned about this. The “news” part here is how much more dire the Gates research is. Using a more sophisticated analysis than the United Nations and other leading global think tanks have employed to date reveals the world’s population shortfall will be markedly more dramatic, and sooner, than anyone anticipated. The BBC described it as a “jaw dropping global crash.” And none of these demographers see this as a good thing. Quite the opposite. No fewer than 23 leading nations—including Japan, Spain, South Korea, and Italy—will see their population cut in half by 2100. China’s will drop by a stunning 48 percent, knocking it out of contention as the world’s economic super-power. This precipitous decline will not be caused by disease, famine, or any kind of natural disaster. The missing population will simply never have been born. Their would-be parents are simply forgetting to have them.

Imagine any of these countries getting a military intelligence report that a foreign enemy was set to reduce their population by more than half over the next 60 years. But in this case, the dramatic act of war is self-inflicted by each country’s growing cohort of non-parents. Another 34 countries will see dramatic population declines by 25 to 50 percent by 2100. Beyond this, the projected fertility rates in 183 of 195 countries will not be high enough to maintain current populations by the century’s end. That is called negative population growth and once it starts, it probably won’t stop. These scholars predict that sub-Saharan and North Africa, as well as the Middle East, will be the only super regions fertile enough to maintain their populations without dramatic immigration policies.

To say the geopolitical and economic consequences of this fact will be profound is an understatement. The Gates research further darkens the already bleak picture painted last year by two Canadian researchers, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, in their insightful and carefully documented book, Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline. They warn:

The great defining event of the twenty-first century—one of the great defining events in human history—will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end. We do not face the challenge of a population bomb, but of a population bust—a relentless, generation-after-generation culling of the human herd. [emphasis added]

The Gates scholars agree with the Empty Planet scenario, marking 2064 as humanity’s demographic high-water mark at just 9.73 billion human souls, short of the long predicted 10 billion. Academic demographers are not given to hyperbole. The unsustainability at work here is extreme. The Gates team explains:

  • The number of global citizens under five years of age will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100, a 41 percent drop.
  • The number of over 80-year-olds will soar from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100, a whopping 514 percent increase.

Imagine these are your company’s future customer projections. You don’t get to the future with numbers like this. Putting this in very stark, recent historical perspective, there were 25 worldwide births for every person turning 80 in 1950, a healthy demographic dividend. In 2017, that ratio shrank to 7:1. Not so healthy. These 24 Gates demographers explain, “in 2100 we forecasted one birth for every person turning 80 years old.” (See it for yourself at p.1297.)

This is what the end of humanity looks like. Professor Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine and head of the Gates study, told the BBC, “I find people laugh it off… they can’t imagine it could be true, they think women will just decide to have more kids. If you can’t [find a solution] then eventually the species disappears.” And the solutions that developed countries have tried of late are not working.

The twilight of economic and technological growth

Few scholars have appreciated the full consequences of this implosion like Professor Charles Jones of Stanford University’s King Center on Global Development. In October, he published a persuasive paper entitled ‘The End of Economic Growth? Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population,’ in which he asked what happens to global economic and technological growth, not just when population growth slows or goes to zero, but actually turns negative? Elaborating upon Bricker and Ibbitson’s work, he contends that we must consider what he calls “an Empty Planet result” where “knowledge and living standards stagnate for a population that gradually vanishes.”

Like Shellenberger, Jones is “pro-people” for empirical reasons. He explained to me that contrary to nearly all demographic predictions, “we simultaneously have many more people and much higher living standards” precisely because “people are a crucial input into the production of the new ideas responsible for economic growth.” Jones calls our attention to the groundbreaking work of his mentor, economist Paul Romer, on Endogenous Growth Theory, which explains why more people are not only a good thing but essential to improvements in human thriving and a better world documented above.

Their concern is far more nuanced than fewer babies not becoming the needed taxpayers to support tomorrow’s mushrooming non-working elderly. Endogenous Growth Theory is more subtle and elegant as it actually explains our current developing world. In a 2019 paper in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Jones calls Endogenous Growth Theory “truly beautiful,” a superlative seldom employed by nerdy economist types. It earned Romer the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Thomas Malthus saw new people as zero-sum consumers of our precious limited resources. Thus, fewer are better. Romer’s Endogenous Growth Theory demonstrates precisely why Malthus was so spectacularly wrong. He failed to appreciate that humanity’s power as innovators is positively and exponentially greater than our collective drag as consumers. Romer recognized why, rather than devastating scarcity, which breeds fear and drives the need to control, a rapidly growing human population has actually produced unimagined abundance. Human ingenuity and innovation are far richer blessings to the world than our appetites are a curse. The latter drives the former.

And this is not just happy talk. The data bears it out. More people are the answer to a better world for everyone. This is why our global political moment is so critical. Policies that favor difference and competing ideas are where growth happens. That is precisely what good science and democracy require. Death happens when competing ideas are shut down in favor of strictly enforced homogeneity. Endogeny requires the dynamic competition of heterodox ideas so that they can be aired, challenged, and refined by others. Current “progressive thought” is really a new fundamentalism that is contrary to growth. It is fear-based and leads to death. This is precisely what we are seeing today.

The magic of what Romer and Jones describe is found in the codification of human knowledge and the non-rivalry of ideas. Natural resources are what economists call “rival.” You and I cannot eat the same potato or drink the same glass of water simultaneously. We must either compete for it or produce twice as much. But the idea of how to find and store more potatoes or water is non-rival. It can be written down and shared all around the world by people at the same time without diminishing its full power. So, as Jones explains, “because knowledge is non-rival, growth in the aggregate stock of knowledge at the rate of population growth will cause income per person to grow.” [p. 878, emphasis in original]

Oral rehydration theory is one of Romer’s favorite examples of the power of codified ideas. Dehydration from diarrhea has long been the primary driver of child mortality—deadlier than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. As Jones explains, some medical workers discovered that “dissolving a few inexpensive minerals, salts, and a little sugar in water in just the right proportions produces a solution” that prevents death from dehydration. That relatively simple recipe could be written down, shared, and used by billions at the same time. It has since saved untold lives. Objects are rival. Ideas are non-rival and thus, exponentially powerful. And humans are the globe’s only inhabitants that produce ideas. And when growing groups of people cooperate around and share these ideas, stunning things happen. This is Endogenous Growth Theory and it explains the wonder of the modern world in which we have more wealth and food at a time when we have the most people. Malthus and his disciples said the opposite would happen.

Romer entitled his 2018 Nobel acceptance talk in Stockholm “On the Possibility of Progress,” as an obvious challenge to Malthus, and at an efficient 30 minutes, his lecture is worth watching. He spoke of how his work—and that of Yale’s William Nordhaus, his co-recipient—demonstrates “the benefit of other people.” Our scientific, industrial, and tech revolutions, and their dramatic improvements to human flourishing, were, he explains, “driven by a process of more discoveries, leading to the production of more food, which led to more people, who in turn developed more and more discoveries” which have improved the lives of billions. As Romer explains, “This is not just exponential growth. This is exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth…”https://www.youtube.com/embed/vZmgZGIZtiM?start=1022&feature=oembed

He went on to explain that this “combinatorial explosion” of more people cooperating around ever-growing, world-changing, life-improving ideas makes it “immediately obvious that the discovery of new ideas from an almost infinite set of possibilities could offset the scarce resources implied by the Malthusian analysis.” And it obviously has. If the eco-doomsayers could choose to live at any time in human history, they would undoubtably choose today if their dream is physical safety and a long, prosperous, and contemplative life with an abundance of essential resources and a substantially improving eco-system.

As Romer explained to his Nobel audience on that lovely winter evening in Stockholm, Endogenous Growth Theory is the beautiful explanation of why, “on balance, it is better to have more people” rather than fewer. Limiting our population is not a progressive idea. The most sophisticated, cross-disciplinary science emerging from academia appears to tell us that the ancient Mosaic wisdom of the Judeo/Christian tradition, to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” is exactly the correct progressive prescription for the continuation of human well-being. And failing to do this is what the end of the world actually looks like.

Glenn T. Stanton is the director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. His latest book is The Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity is Actually Thriving in America and the World. You can follow him on Twitter @GlennStanton.

ADDICTION STATISTICS FACTS IN 2020

42 Addiction Statistics and Facts to Know in 2020

Written by Hristina Nikolovska / February 10, 2020

We’ve compiled the following list of addiction statistics from several verified sources to help educate you. Addiction is a big problem throughout the world, with a lot of people battling various forms of the disease. Because of addiction’s prevalence in the world today, it has become necessary to know the various forms this problem takes and the effects these substances have on us. 

When measuring addiction, it’s all about the quantity of the substance used and the frequency. In the US, the substance abuse facts show us that more than 23 million individuals from age 12 and up suffer from a type of substance abuse disorder. 

These statistics cover several substances, including cocaine, alcohol, and prescription medications, to give a better idea of the challenges those with an addiction face. As the following data will show, these substances affect people across all genders, races, and economic backgrounds. 

Important Addiction Statistics

This list contains some of our more intriguing statistics for a quick read:

  • Only 10% of Americans dealing with addiction receive treatment.
  • 4% of American teenagers struggle with a form of substance use disorder. 
  • 14.8% of young adults struggle with at least one form of substance use disorder.
  • 1 in every 16 adults reported having a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2017.
  • Meth is currently used by approximately 897,000 teenagers and adults in America, thus seriously contributing to the drug problem in America. 
  • Approximately 5 million Americans regularly use cocaine.
  • Approximately 16% of men in America smoke cigarettes.
  • 10% of the people who misuse opioids become addicted to them.

General Statistics on Addiction

1. Only 10% of Americans dealing with addiction receive treatment.

As stated earlier, there are over 23 million people in America struggling with at least one type of addiction. Out of these, very few get treatment. This leaves a lot of people trying to live with a substance addiction.

(USA Today)

2. More than 20% of Americans with an anxiety disorder also suffer from a drug use disorder.

This shows the direct relationship that anxiety and depression have with substance abuse. These may be factors that contribute to or affect drug abuse.

(NCBI)

3. Every year, 3.3 million fatalities occur due to alcohol consumption.

It’s also one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. These alcohol statistics include the results of short-term actions, such as reckless driving, or long-term health problems, such as cancer or liver disease.

(World Health Organization)

4. In 2017, approximately 38% of adults with substance use disorder symptoms had an illegal drug use disorder.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Illicit drug use refers to the abuse of any illegal drugs, as well as the misuse of certain prescription drugs. The list of illegal drugs includes heroin, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, or methamphetamine.

(Bright Path Program)

5. Genetics and one’s environment have a large impact on addiction.

Why do people do drugs? Genetics, along with the impact one’s environment has on gene expression, accounts for about 40% to 60% of an individual’s risk of addiction.

(NCBI)

Teenage Drug Use Statistics (Ages 12–17)

6. 4% of American teenagers struggle with a form of substance use disorder. 

An estimated 992,000 adolescents—i.e., one in every 25 persons aged 12–17—experience some kind of challenge with substance abuse. 

(American Addiction Centers)

7. 443,000 adolescents aged 12–17 had alcohol use disorders in 2017.

This value correlates with 1.8% of all adolescents, and it shows that teens are more susceptible to the effects of drugs than adults. The 2017 numbers were somewhat lower than the figures from 2002 to 2015, though they were comparable to the 2016 estimate.

(SAMHSA)

8. Approximately 741,000 teenagers suffered from an illicit substance use disorder in 2017.

This corresponds to approximately 3% of teenagers aged 12 to 17 who admitted to having had an illicit drug use disorder. Additional addiction statistics show that an estimated 7.5 million individuals aged 12 and higher had at least one illicit drug use disorder.

(82717life and Drug War Facts)

Young Adults Age 18–25

9. 14.8% of young adults struggle with at least one form of substance use disorder.

In the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was discovered that 5.1 million people in the 18–25 age range struggle with a substance use disorder. This accounts for one out of every 7 people in this age group.

(Bright Path Program)

10. 7.3% of young adults admitted to having an illicit drug use disorder in 2017.

The substance abuse statistics show that about 2.5 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported struggling with an illicit or illegal drug use disorder in the previous year.

(American Addiction Centers)

Ages 26 and Older

11. In 2017, 5% of adults lived with an alcohol use disorder.

Roughly 10.6 million people aged 26 years and older struggled with alcoholism in 2017, according to the drug addiction statistics from 2017. It was also noted that the values obtained for 2017 were lower than most of the years leading up to it.

(NSDUH)

12. 1 in every 16 adults reported having a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2017.

Approximately 13.6 million people aged 26 years and older admitted to dealing with a substance use disorder. This value represents 6.4% of the total individuals in this age range.

(NSDUH)

Drug Use by Race and Region

13. Native Americans and Alaska Natives 12 years of age and up had the highest level of drug abuse in 2017.

In the survey carried out, 12.8% of Alaskan Natives and Native Americans had trouble with drug abuse or misuse. This is higher than the measured statistics in 2016, which recorded 11.7%.

(American Addiction Centers)

14. About 4.6% of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians struggled with illnesses related to drug use in 2017.

These drug use statistics show that 4.6% of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians struggled with drug use in 2017. This is lower than the 4.8% recorded in 2016’s results.

(American Addiction Centers)

15. Approximately 6.8% of African Americans struggled with drug use-related illnesses in 2017.

6.8% of African Americans, according to the drug statistics from 2017, had issues with drug use, while 6.6% of Latinos or Hispanics suffered from drug use illnesses. Compared with the values from 2016, the values are getting lower among African Americans (7.6%).

(American Addiction Centers)

Methamphetamine Addiction 

16. Meth is currently used by approximately 897,000 teenagers and adults in America. 

Research shows that untreated addiction to meth, one of the most abused drugs out there, can lead to potentially dangerous results. A considerable percentage (30%) of law enforcement agencies see it as the biggest drug threat and one that requires the most resources to tackle.

(Talbott Recovery)

17. Meth is involved in 85%–90% of stimulant-related drug fatalities.

Meth is responsible for causing the highest death toll among stimulant-related drugs, a concern we continue to see among the meth addiction facts. Data from 2015 add that 5,716 individuals died as a consequence of an overdose on stimulants. Worse, the number of deaths caused by stimulant drugs rose by a margin of 225% from 2005 to 2015.

(Talbott Recovery)

18. Admissions to meth addiction therapy increased by 3% from 2014 to 2015. 

These meth statistics show that some people, although few, are seeking treatment for their meth addiction. With more efforts made to educate people, the results should keep improving, and more people will be encouraged to get therapy for their addiction. These statistics also show that up to 135,264 people got help for meth addiction in publicly funded facilities in 2015.

(Talbott Recovery)

Cocaine Statistics

19. Approximately 5 million Americans regularly use cocaine.

In 2017, 2.2 million Americans reported having taken cocaine at least one time in the previous month. Nearly 4% of students in 12th grade admitted to using cocaine at least once in 2018.

(CDC and Addiction Center)

20. In 2017, cocaine was associated with 1 out of 5 overdose-related fatalities.  

This drug abuse statistic also states that the proportion of fatalities associated with cocaine overdose improved from 2016 to 2017 by a margin of 34%. The drug abuse facts verify that cocaine can result in organ damage, cause respiratory failure, and provoke mental disorders.

(CDC)

21. Approximately 966,000 American adults struggled with a cocaine use disorder in 2017.

Cocaine is one of the many substances that have contributed to widespread illegal drug use in America. These statistics also indicate that more than 5 million Americans use cocaine regularly.

(NY Post)

Tobacco Addiction

22. Around 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. 

This is partly because cigarettes are relatively easy to buy once you’re over 18 years of age. The drug abuse statistics also report that the proportion of Americans smoking cigarettes fell from 21% in 2005 to 14% in 2017. About 604,000 Americans aged 12–17 and about 1.2 million Americans aged 18–21 smoked their first cigarette in 2017.

(Time) 

23. Approximately 16% of men in America smoke cigarettes.

Only 12% of American women smoke cigarettes. People who have the highest probability of using cigarettes are those who live in poverty, have a disability, or don’t have a university degree. Smoking cigarettes in the US results in more than 480,000 deaths each year.

(CDC)

Alcoholism Statistics

24. Of the 61.4% of students who drive in America, 7.8% of them have driven after drinking alcohol.

This shows that of the students who drive, 7.8% had driven one or more times after drinking alcohol. After drinking, the incidence of driving a car or other vehicle was greater among men (9.5%) than women (6%).

(Promises)

25. This disorder leads to over 200 distinct types of health conditions and injuries.

The alcohol abuse statistics indicate that alcohol abuse costs the US about $250 billion annually. According to data from 2016, approximately 15 million Americans are diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder every year, and an estimated 136 million Americans consume alcohol—which is about one-third of the population.

(The Recovery Village)

26. Approximately 2,200 individuals in the US die each year due to alcohol poisoning.

How many people die from alcohol? This comes out to an average of six people a day. Between 2010 and 2012, an estimated 76% of the deaths caused by alcohol poisoning were among adults aged 35–64.

(Promises)

27. Approximately 60%–70% of the married couples who have been in a physical altercation with each other abuse alcohol.

How many families in the US are affected by alcoholism? Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are an issue that can ruin a marriage or drive a wedge. Individuals who drink can blow through the family budget, cause fights, neglect their children, and otherwise impair the health and happiness of the individuals they love. In time, family members may even create symptoms of codependency, unintentionally keeping the addiction alive, even if it harms them. However, family therapy and rehabilitation can be of assistance.

(American Addiction Centers)

Opioid Addiction Statistics

28. Approximately 130 Americans die from issues due to an opioid overdose every day. 

Figures show that up to 399,230 Americans have died as a result of opioids between 1999 and 2017. In America alone, there were 47,600 recorded deadly overdoses in 2017, each involving a minimum of one opioid.

(Pharmacy Times and Addiction Center)

29. Approximately 21%–29% of patients misuse opioids meant for chronic pain.

The Opioid Crisis statistics show that this substance has had a drastic impact on the nation, resulting in public health concerns relating to social and economic welfare. Of the people who take prescription opioids, 21%–29% misuse them.

(NCBI)

30. Just in 2017, 2 million Americans misused prescription opioids for the first time.

A lot of individuals who misuse prescription opioids have a high probability of becoming opioid addicts. These same drug facts also state that around 2 million Americans struggle with an opioid use disorder.

(NIH)

31. Doctors released 191,218,272 opioid prescriptions in 2017.

This is a slight decrease from the 200 million opioid prescriptions that were released annually between 2006 and 2016. Worse, the rate at which opioid painkillers have been sold has risen by 300% since 1999. 

(CDC and Addiction Center)

Opioid Abuse Statistics by State

32. The number of opioid overdoses in big cities have risen by 54% in 16 states.

This statistic also notes that overdoses of opioids have risen by 30% in 52 locations across 45 states from July 2016 to September 2017. As you can see, the number of opioid overdoses, not to mention the overall use of drugs in America, has consistently been on the rise. 

(NBC News)

33. Approximately 80% of individuals who used heroin also misused prescription opioids.

This demonstrates the relationship between the use of prescription opioids and heroin. In a survey carried out in 2014, 94% of the respondents said they first used heroin because most prescription opioids are costlier and harder to obtain. The opioid abuse statistics also go on to show that approximately 4% to 6% of people who misuse heroin had made a shift from prescription opioids. It’s estimated that up to 23% of all the people who take heroin have also developed an addiction to opioids.

(NIH and Addiction Center)

34. 10% of the people who misuse opioids become addicted to them.

The opioid addiction facts show that most people don’t think it’s a big deal to frequently share their unused pain relievers, apparently oblivious to the hazards of non-medical opioid use. When a friend or relative gives opioids to an adolescent, there’s a good chance they will misuse the prescription pain relievers and possibly even develop an addiction.

(Addiction Center)

Heroin Addiction Statistics

35. 886,000 Americans used heroin at least once in 2017.

The statistics counting the number of people who used heroin in America are on the high side. About 494,000 people frequently use heroin. In 2017, 81,000 Americans took heroin for the first time.

(Niznik Behavioral Health and Addiction Center)

36. People addicted to prescription drugs are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

These heroin addiction facts show that alcohol addicts are twice as likely to also be addicted to heroin, while cannabis addicts are 3 times as likely, and cocaine addicts are 15 times as likely. This demonstrates a clear correlation between heroin addiction and addiction to other substances.

(American Addiction Centers)

37. 25% of those who abuse heroin will likely become addicted to it.

The heroin statistics continue to prove that it’s a highly addictive substance. Obviously, it’s never a good idea to try it because the chances of getting addicted are too great. This is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in most demographic groups in the US, the use of heroin has increased over the previous two centuries.

(Addiction Center)

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

38. In 2017, around 1.7 million individuals over 12 years old had a prescription pain reliever use disorder.

According to these statistics, 0.6% of people 12 years old and upwards have a disorder associated with pain reliever abuse. In addition, in 2017, tranquilizers, pain relievers, sedatives, and stimulants were some of the most abused prescription drugs.

(Surgeon General and American Addiction Centers)

39. Opioid painkillers account for 38.2% of drug overdose fatalities.

Prescription drug abuse leads to the biggest proportion of drug overdose fatalities. Of the 22,400 people who died from a drug overdose in the United States recorded in 2005, the most frequently found drug was opioid painkillers, at 38.2%. 

(Foundation for a Drug-Free World)

Marijuana Addiction Statistics

40. Approximately 4.1 million adults in America over 12 years of age struggled with a marijuana use disorder in 2017.

The majority of individuals dealing with marijuana addiction issues were in the age range of 12–25. In 2014, nearly 6% of full-time US university students smoked cannabis daily. This is more than 3 times the number of daily smokers 20 years ago in this demographic.

(American Addiction Centers)

41. Each year, approximately 30–40 million Americans use marijuana by smoking it. 

What is the most commonly used illicit drug among persons aged 12 and older? In 2017, about 1.2 million Americans aged 12–17 and 525,000 over 26 years used marijuana for the first time. Marijuana is increasingly becoming legal across the United States, both for medical and recreational use, but it still isn’t entirely secure because it can be addictive and cause health issues. 

(Addiction Center)

42. About 30% of individuals who admit to using marijuana frequently have a disorder with marijuana use.

The marijuana addiction facts show that at least once in the previous year, 13% of 8th graders, 27% of 10th graders, and 35% of 12th graders used marijuana. Less than 1% of 8th graders, approximately 3% of 10th grade students, and approximately 5% of 12th graders reported using it daily. Marijuana’s average batch has become stronger, which has increased the overall number of marijuana deaths per year. The average marijuana batch in 1990 contained less than 4% THC, but that proportion has since increased to over 12%. 

(Addiction Center)

The Primary Causes of Drug Addiction

  • Adolescents and individuals with mental health disorders have a greater risk of drug use and addiction than other groups.
  • Genetics, including the effect of one’s setting on gene expression, accounts for approximately 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction, according to the addiction stats.
  • Environmental variables may boost a person’s risk of addiction to prescription drugs and their abuse. These could include parents’ substance use and their attitude toward medicines, peer influences, a messy home environment and abuse, community attitudes toward medicine, and poor academic achievement.

Conclusion

Addiction can harm a person’s normal activities and damage their relationships with friends and loved ones. However, there are several treatment procedures that are proven to be helpful with addiction. These addiction statistics should educate readers about the dangerous effects of addiction and help them make better choices.

HOW TO LIVE A DOUBLE LIFE ONLINE WITHOUT GET CAUGHT

Simone Smith,

Contributor Digital Identity Researcher

How to Lead a Double Life Online and Not Get Caught

Simone Smith

Updated Sep 30, 2013 The Internet allows us to form new identities and express controversial ideas without fear of personal reprisal. It allows us to explore interests that would be misunderstood by friends and family and discuss experiences that may damage our career.

There are many reasons to want to create a pseudonymous identity online. You may have undergone a traumatic experience you don’t feel comfortable talking about in public. You may be the head of a stuffy art museum, but love writing Doctor Who fan-fiction. You may want to write a scandalous tell-all blog. Or you may be a rabid democrat living in an extremely-conservative small town. You may just find it liberating to be freed from the biases society holds against your offline life or background.

How to Browse Without Being Tracked
There are many ways your online identity is tracked. For example, websites use cookies to track your activity and record your IP address. To prevent a covert online identity from being associated with your offline identity, you will need to change both your online habits and the tools you use to browse the web.

The first step is to begin using Tor. Tor is a free browser that obscures your IP address by using onion proxy software that provides multi-layer encryption. While not tied to you, personally, your IP address is associated with your individual computer, hence a skilled individual may use your IP address to discover your offline identity. This is why it is important to not rely on services like Chrome’s incognito mode to attempt to live your double life online; while it will prevent websites from storing things on your computer, it will not hide your IP address.

To download the Tor Browser Bundle, which includes everything you need to browse the net anonymously, visit Tor’s website and follow their instructions (also read up on using Tor properly- there are some things you can do using Tor that might still reveal your identity if you are not careful). You should use Tor Browser for all of your secret online activities. It may run a bit slower (as your interactions with other sites are bounced through at least three relays), but it is better to be safe and slow than speedy and sorry.

Use Tor for regular activities as well. This mitigates risk associated with others noticing your browser choice. When questioned about Tor, simply say you use Tor Browser because of concerns about privacy, which have been exacerbated because of this year’s revelations about the NSA.

How to Lay the Foundation of Your Double Life
Most online accounts require an email address. It should go without saying that you should not be using your personal email address when doing anything related to your pseudonymous identity. Instead, you should create a separate email that has no connection to your normal identity and is only used in connection to your covert activities.

I recommend using a free service such as Hushmail, Gmail, or Riseup.net to create this account rather than Yahoo or Hotmail, as the latter options include the IP address of the computer used to send a particular message. While this matters less when you are using Tor, you may still find yourself in a situation in which you need to check that account without the browser’s protection, hence more secretive email providers are better.

Tips on Developing Sound and Secretive Habits
With Tor Browser and a designated email account, you are free to live out your double life- so long as you do so carefully.

Never ever use a work computer for secretive activities. I don’t care how encrypted your work communications are. Company-owned computers are not to be trusted. Keylogging software, which will make all of your careful precautions amount to nothing, is only one of many potential complications.

Avoid using mobile devices. They can be lost. They can be stolen. Strangers (or worse yet, friends, family, and colleagues) can more easily look over your shoulder or snatch your device out of your hands. If you must conduct some of your double life through a mobile device, make sure it is password protected, only use it in private spaces, and bolster it with additional privacy protections, which, for the sake of brevity, I recommend you find independently.

If your double life involves posting content (e.g. blog posts about your secret ventures as an undercover nun), schedule your posts (many blogging platforms offer this functionality) so that they are published at random intervals that cannot be associated with a specific time zone or lifestyle. Do not tag photos, posts, or tweets with your location.

Important Identifying Information to Hide
Obvious information that might be used to determine who you are (eg. your name or the names of people in your life, your personal email address, identifying photos. etc.) is but a small factor to consider. Most secret identities are discovered by those who use more subtle hints to piece together your personal puzzle.

Don’t give away hints by even letting your pseudonym resemble your real name. If your name is John Doe, your online handle should be entirely different, like Shane Kugel (and not J.D. or Shawn Moe). Be extremely careful about mentioning employers in a manner that would enable the casual viewer to narrow your real employer down to a couple of candidates (e.g. “I work for a pet grooming salon in San Francisco, California”). Also be mindful with regard to any habits, sayings, or possessions you might mention (e.g. a storm trooper figurine kept at your desk) that could be identified by those who know you in real life.

If you maintain a website, make your WHOIS information private. If you do not, everything from your name to your email, phone number, and address may show up in WHOIS queries (just search for your friends’ domains to get an idea of the information that might be revealed). Subscribe to The Morning Email. Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Should you be involved in commerce, opt for trades whenever possible. Gift cards might be a convenient form of currency, so long as you keep the value of transactions below $500. Generally speaking, money is difficult to keep anonymous online- even when Bitcoin is used.

The Importance Leaving No Trace
Whenever you finish a session of secretive internet activity, your computer should be devoid of damning information. While it helps that you are using Tor, it is also important that you delete any files from your computer related to your pseudonymous identity (e.g. drafts of blog posts, photos, etc.) before you get up and walk away.

You never know who might poke around your desktop when you aren’t looking, and you would be surprised by how many friends and family members know the passwords to their loved ones’ machines.

Good Luck!
This brief guide is an introduction, not a comprehensive playbook. Its recommended tactics will help you avoid major mistakes and may accommodate “harmless” double lives, but if you are involved in some serious whistle blowing activity, fighting against a totalitarian government, or are threatening to take down a beloved member of 4Chan, you’re playing an entirely different ballgame.