Our Future Population
What this country needs is less ballyhoo and a more realistic appraisal of its resources, says
C. M. CAMPBELL
IN 1936 Premier Pattullo, in a broadcast, stated that British Columbia had resources for a population of from thirty to forty millions. G. G. McGeer, in addresses in Vancouver and London, has estimated 100 million people for the British Columbia and Alberta area. For the Dominion as a whole, the most startling estimate is that of Lloyd George who, based on information supplied him during his Canadian tour in 1923, covered this matter in his Winnipeg address as follows:
“Yours is a country of vast treasure and resources. You are just on the threshold and only on the threshold of your greatness . . Canada is capable of maintaining
a population of 600 millions. This is the way I work out the possibilities of your immense Dominion.’’
There is ample authority for statements of this sort. Stories of vast treasure have been endorsed by leading engineers, including those connected with our administrative departments and universities. A former deputy minister is authority for Mr. Pattullo’s statement. In a recent issue of a university periodical a writer states: “Mining is big business . . . colossal . . . stupendous and all the rest of it. More than that, it is big business that has come to stay.”
Statements of this sort, referred to as optimistic, continue to dominate. On this basis, Canada is destined to have a population many times the present one. The matter is vital, for we have borrowed and spent billions in preparation for a greatly increased population.
On the other hand, we have the statement of a bank president in a recent report in which he gives Canada a future population of only 100 millions. He considers also that we will have to showthe same type of industry as the Dutch if we are to have even that total.
Still farther down the list is the estimate of thirty-five millions prepared by Diamond Jenness, chief of the Anthropological Division of the National Museum. 'This estimate is detailed in the thirty-six-page article published in the University of Toronto Quarterly for August, 1932, and, as it is the result of exhaustive investigation, is entitled to consideration. Jenness estimates that in all Canada there are only 150 million acres that it will be profitable to cultivate, and that, from an agricultural standpoint, this moves us down into the second group which includes such nations as Germany. Though this acreage might produce enough food for 100 million people we will never boast that population, for, says Jenness: “No amount of ftxxl will ever banish the cold or turn the w-heels of industry, and in resources apart from food the country is very limited.”
Too Much Optimism
THIS will seem strange in viewof the character of our publicity in regard to our mineral and forest resources. Our mining population is, however, under 100,000 and, even if we include those added through indirect employment and probable expansion, the total will still be small when a population of even thirty-five millions is considered. Mining also is essentially a wasting asset. Like the tide, it gradually reaches its maximum and then gradually declines, but, unlike the tide, there is no second performance. At the present time the tide is getting higher and higher. Every year for the past five years the previous year’s depletion record, called a production record, has been broken. This is featured as progress, and Canadians are thrilled. Essentially, however, it is the same riotous progress that characterized the prodigal in the disposal of his inheritance. We are getting rid of capital assets and putting back very little in their place. It is as if the Canadian Pacific Railway paid dividends mainly from the sale of its branch lines, hotels and ships.
The matter is very serious and, dealing with the West, Dr. Warren, of the University of British Columbia, recently summed up the matter in the following words: “Because so few' mines of importance have been discovered in British Columbia in recent years, the industry faces inevitable exhaustion. Unless something is done about it and done soon, a portion of the 15,000 men now employed in mining will be unemployed.”
A well-known Eastern authority is G. C. Bateman,
secretary of the Ontario Mining Association. In a paper, published in 1935, he Iranklv stated: “The development of new' mines is unfortunately not keeping pace with the depletion of the old ones.”
We feature the “humming activity" of a new camp, but reference is seldom made to such places as Cobalt where, to quote a writer: “A hundred derelict shafts rising from beyond the surrounding hills tell the story of a bygone activity.” Cobalt, one of the world's great silver camps, produced about 400 million ounces, worth about half that many dollars. This is a large sum, yet depletion in Canada is now on such a scale that the equivalent of one entire Cobalt is exhausted every six months.
Westward the course of timber depletion takes its way. This sentence sums up the recent evidence of E. C. Manning, chief forester for British Columbia, before the Forestry Committee of the Legislature. Half a century ago the harbor of Saint John, N.B., was surrounded by lumber mills, and lumber rafts were characteristic of the Ottawa River. Those days are long past. Today the Pacific Coast leads in timber depletion. Two decades ago sawmills were running at Fernie. Waldo, Jalfray, Bull River, and other points in East Kootenay. At one time 500 men worked at Bull River; this watershed is now cut and the mill is idle. As recently as 1925, 500 men were employed at Yahk, but Yahk will s;x)n repeat the history of Bull River. The operations at Canal Flats, now employing 350 men, will be through in 1945. History is repeating itself in the Coast district, and our pnxiuction of Douglas fir will be definitely on the down grade in fifteen years. Farther west is the Pacific Ocean. Canadians, in short, are nothing more than butchers butchers of their natural resources.
OTHER conditions tending to an increase in population have not improved. The inflow of borrowed money, which heretofore has maintained an important population, has largely stopped, and the heavy per capita interest and deficit payments now necessary have greatly reduced the amount available for maintaining our population. On the prairies, recent events indicate serious reductions in our agricultural assets. In the West, the salmon pack on the Fraser River has dropped from five million cases in the decade ended 1905 to three million cases in the decade
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Our Future Population
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ended 1935, and there is the threat of foreign floating canneries beyond the three-mile limit.
The belief persists, however, that all is well, that large populations will ultimately find their homes in the vacant northern part of the country. This is covered by a popular writer in the following words:
“By the year 2000 the map of Canada will be changed, chiefly by the fact of the settling of the North. The last wilderness frontier will have disappeared, and people will be living in all the areas right up to the Arctic with as much thought of permanent abode as the peoples of Virden, Naramata, and Battleford have today about their nomes.”
This statement is sheer ballyhoo. Canada, it should be remembered, is not a new country. The tercentenary of Quebec was celebrated thirty years ago; the Selkirk settlers arrived in 1812; Kamloops was founded in the same year; Victoria has been a city for seventy-five years; and our Confederation has passed its threescore and tenth anniversary. Areas capable of sustaining appreciable population are now all defined. Mining and other activities may extend them temporarily, but, for the very good reason that exploration has shown a marked shortage of resources elsewhere, our main permanent population will be limited to the areas now settled or in process of settlement. These areas total roughly 1,000,000 square miles. In an important section, the Maritime Provinces, with better than average resources, we appear to have reached our limit, for the population is now stationary with twenty persons per square mile. If this is the measure of our ability to populate one wellappointed section, we cannot count on improving that density throughout the Dominion. If we take this figure, it will mean only 20,000,(XX) for Canada.
New Methods Necessary
ARE told that if we emulate the * * Dutch we can greatly increase our population. This is true, but, while there is some indication of a change in our methods, it is very slight. The heathen who, in his blindness, bows down to gods of stone has his counterpart in the Canadian who, notwithstanding his alleged enlightened condition, too often blindly believes that it is through false stories of huge reserves that his economic salvation is to come. While important exceptions are mentioned in this article, it is the general belief, often frankly expressed, that publicity of this sort is essential. One deputy minister of the former Department of ¡yiines, in endorsing the prevailing stories of inconceivable wealth, known to every engineer as absurd, has stated that, "They represent the true spirit of the mining industry without which the industry would not flourish as it does, but would languish.”
Absurd statements are therefore sent out as facts. Forty years ago Dawson pointed out that only a small part of the Pre-Cambrian Shield is even favorable for mineral wealth. Conditions have not changed, yet the public is now told that "practically every inch” is “laden” with mineral and that, compared with our Pre-Cambrian, the Rand is “only a beginning.” A Dominion Minister of the Interior who announced that, thanks to large deposits of valuable iron ore and coal in the country surrounding Churchill that place would one day compare with Pittsburgh, received high honors from our engineers, even though there are no known coal or commercial iron deposits whatever in that area. In 1936 Hon. T. A. Crerar I broadcast the statements that the mining
industry has “almost unlimited possibilities,” and that it can solve our railway problem by 1941. Recent reports of our insurance companies and our banks tell of inexhaustible wealth, how “no country is more richly endowed than Canada,” and how our mineral wealth is not a wasting but “an increasing asset.”
One of the chief bulwarks of our Canadian structure is the story that we have in reserve 1,234 billion tons of coal, one sixth of the world’s supply, second only to the reserves of the United States. No statements have received more publicity in Canada and, though they have been shown in Maclean’s and elsewhere to be farcical, they are still widely featured. Investigations by able engineers indicate that it is doubtful if even five per cent of this tonnage actually exists. Instead of being second in the world we are far down in the list, yet our Department of Mines and Resources has ignored these reports, and its action, in the face of published unchallenged evidence to the contrary, has been upheld by leading Canadians generally. Even a Premier of Alberta itself, a province whose own commission cut the estimated reserve of that province from 1,075 billion tons, or one seventh the world’s reserve, to twenty billion tons, still features the old and absurd figure that his province has one seventh of the world’s reserve. The Macdonald Coal Commission in British Columbia, after sitting three years at a cost of about $125,000, recently brought in a series of recommendations prefaced with the statement, "Canada possesses one sixth of the world’s coal resources.”
Not only is this all wrong, not only is there a limited supply, but the average cost for the past six-year period for all Canada was $3.60 per short ton at the pithead, as against a corresponding cost for similar coal of about $1.75 in the United States. The costs at our tidewater mines were $4.30 in Nova Scotia and $5.50 in Vancouver Island, and these high costs place us at a real disadvantage. In Vancouver Island, by reason of our inability to compete in foreign markets with coal from other countries and in our own country with other fuels, the coal-mining population has been cut in two in the last decade. Canadians also are taxed $10,000,000 annually, in tariffs and subventions, to keep this industry on the map, and even then it has shown a loss for years.
It is stated above that some indications of a change have appeared. Hon. T. A. Crerar, in his broadcast of January 5 last, featured no statements such as the ones already mentioned, and he made no reference to our having “one sixth of the world’s coal.” On the contrary, he was at pains to point out that our mineral production is “at the expense of capital assets,” that “the richest and largest mine must eventually become exhausted.” and that “it is necessary to take stock of our known gold and base metal deposits; to study ways and means of extending the life of our mines.” Bearing in mind the orthodox publicity, these statements should constitute front-page news, yet they have been almost entirely ignored in Canada.
Face the Facts
TN SEARCHING for a method for -*■ improving conditions, one is faced with two types of publicity which cancel each other and eliminate proper action. One type features vast natural wealth, and the other type demands economy. To announce great wealth and expect economy and effort, is the wrong type of psychology. Delay in realizing this condition is due to another psychological peculiarity of Canadian leadership. Officials who have absurdly overestimated our resources, when confronted with shortages in their
accounts, have been allowed to clear themselves with such excuses as, “Let us have more faith,” or, “I do not object to criticism for being too optimistic.” As a result of this, the shortages referred to continue to be ignored.
Optimists and adherents of the faith cure should read the story of certain virgins who, with optimism and faith but with no oil in their lamps, expected to make good. They are referred to as fools and they were shut out. Is there any reason why the same technique, practiced by Canadians, will not have the same result? "W ith these unchallenged charges of enormous shortages prevalent, the taking of an inventory should not be further delayed. It has been the rule in successful countries since the days of Moses: Mr. Crerar has now advocated it for Canada. Public policy No. 1 is, therefore. to take stock.
It is on record that twenty-five centuries ago a young man named Nehemiah, a Jew in Babylon, took stock in regard to the conditions in Jerusalem and squarely faced the situation. He found the walls down and the land of his fathers a country of no standing. He did not denounce the bearers of this news as pessimists and do nothing, but, with one of the world’s famous examples of team play, he reorganized the population and rebuilt the walls. Under his leadership the people had “a mind'to work,” and we are told how the high priest with his priests worked at one gate; next to him were the men of Jericho; then followed leader after leader with their sons, and if there were no sons the daughters worked instead. Jerusalem again took its place in the world and its population increased.
Canada is made up of four main units— British Columbia, the Prairies, Central Canada, and the Maritimes. Races of British and French origin dominate, but many other races are represented. We have many thousands of young men with a mind to work and many walls to build, but high interest rates hold them apart. There is often antagonism between labor and capital. Our railways compete with each other, not only in Canada but in the leading cities of the outside world. Above all, we have two political parties that have not hesitated again and again to place party advantage before the welfare of the country. We are in dire need of provincial, racial, financial, labor, railway, and political co-operation; our resources are running out like the sand in an hourglass, and we need team play as never before. If Jerusalem could find men who could work together, if other nations can find them in these modern times, surely Canada can do the same. Public policy No. 2 is team play.
Other Countries’ Example
^\THER nations are making good. The ^ Dutch, a modem example of team play, have been referred to. With natural assets small compared with those of Canada but without the handicap of an optimistic complex, this people long ago took stock, realized their limitations, and
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went out and obtained oil not only for their own lamps but for a large part of the world. They did more than that. They pushed back the sea, obtained rich colonies, worked up agricultural and manufacturing industries that compete with the world, and their ships sail, profitably, every sea. All this has enabled Holland to crowd in, with comfort, 650 persons to the square mile.
The methods of Great Britain, only slightly less densely populated, are much the same. Essentially the British base their plans on facts. Recently it was stated in Parliament: “A detailed survey has been made of the material, operative, and technical resources of the country, and they have been examined and tabulated.” They not only know what they have but also what they need, and their agents are in every part of the world looking after their interests and their reports are not ignored. Cargoes from all the world come and go to and from Britain.
A dozen years ago the Government mining engineer in South Africa took stock and announced that the end of the Rand reserves was in sight. A few self-styled optimists were silenced by statements to the effect that all the optimism in the world would not suffice to create, after the gold mines had petered out, a source of revenue to take the place of gold, and if the country were not to slip back into barbarism the task of finding a solution must be begun without delay and pursued with swift determination.
No time was lost in seeking oil for the lamps. Committees were formed and plans laid. Among other things, it was decided that more benefits must be obtained from the natural resources. Diamonds therefore are now cut at Kimberley, and the Union has a profitable iron and steel industry based on local coal and iron supplies. Areas under irrigation have been increased, and timber plantations like those in Sweden, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere, are an important factor in guaranteeing a future supply. Political leaders also have sidetracked politics and patronage, and are at present united for the good of the country. All this, backed by the fact that the new price of gold has added large tonnages to the reserves, has provided work for an increased population.
Furthermore, in South Africa they have amalgamated their railways into one national system. While the passenger facilities are not as luxurious as our own. a high standard of comfort is provided. Essentially the system is profitable, and for the last three years it has had an average surplus, after all interest and other charges were met. of $23,325.000 per year. Wasteful operation does not occur, bus and truck competition is under control, and the money saved is available for other projects employing men to advantage.
The histon' of Australia records great mineral assets like Ballarat, Bendigo, Charters Towers, Gympie, Mount Morgan. Broken Hill, Mount Lyell, and Kalgoorlie. Australia started mining nearly a half century before Canada, and her experience should guide us. When production began to wane and new mines were not found, the trouble began. After passing through trials and tribulations, Australia realized that mineral wealth is a fleeting asset and that facts of this sort cannot be successfully camouflaged by loans. Unpleasant remedies were adopted, but surpluses are now being announced, population is increasing, and the fact that this population is uniform in color and language gives in the long run great strength to Australia.
A statement widely featured in Canada reads something like this: First in asbestos, nickel and platinum; second in radium; third in cadmium, cobalt, copper, gold, silver, and zinc. This is quite a showing. In the country to the south, however, they can say with equal truth: First in those great essentials, coal, iron and petroleum; first in copper, lead, zinc, aluminum, and
molybdenum; first in arsenic, borax, cadmium, fluorspar, gypsum, natural gas, phosphates, salt, sulphur, and talc; second in barite, magnesite, mica, and silver; and third in mercury and potash.
The United States, however, w’ith vastly greater mineral production and reserves than has Canada, does not make these boasts. Americans years ago grasped the essential fact that mineral wealth is a wasting asset, and they concentrated on that point. They took stock, found out exactly how they stood, realized that they had passed the peak of their production, and they not only combed the world for minerals with the result that they now control as much of the world’s mineral wealth as does the entire British Empire, but they sought out and found methods to get more and more out of every mineral on the list. Out of two tons of iron ore worth $2.50 per ton, they make a ton of steel averaging $60 per ton. With alloy metals, this is made into a product worth from $100 per ton to several dollars per pound. Material of this sort is fabricated into various articles worth up to $100,000 per pound, as is the case with watch springs. They are growing the soy bean on a huge scale and producing from it not only food but oils, enamels and plastics, while Canadians have only started to grow it; they have found a way to make paper from the Southern pine; the Dupont firm is an example of what an independent research company can do; and American roads are a major attraction for tourists. These are a few of the ways by which the United States has provided for a population over ten times that of Canada.
Canadian Plan Needed
"L-TOW CAN these ideas be applied to Canada? Consider British Columbia: Premier Pattullo has stated that his province has ‘‘untold potentialities,” and he plans to have it expand east to the 120th meridian and north to the Pole. Economy does not have much chance when ideas of this sort prevail, and this province is adding millions and millions to its debt. It is time to get down to earth and recognize such things as the Manning report— only fifteen years more of normal production for the fir lumber industry. These fifteen years will pass just as fast as the last fifteen years. Then what? It is time to stop the export of logs; it is time to eliminate wasteful methods in logging. We should have a list of everything made of wood, and it is essential that we make an increasing number of these articles ourselves. We are not altogether lacking in enterprise: A Vancouver concern recently constructed for a Quebec paper company the largest wood pipe ever built—17J^ feet in diameter and 6,000 feet long. It is essential, however, to conserve our wood and reforest if these payrolls are to continue, and to realize that enterprise of this sort is actually vital.
British Columbia was once the chief copper-smelting area in the British Empire; today, thanks to depletion, there is no copper smelting industry at all. There is. however, sufficient ore available for a Coast smelter, for we are sending raw ore out of the province worth at times in excess of $10,000,000 in one year. We should have a smelter and refinery at tidewater that would treat not only this ore but all outside ore that could be obtained. An industry of this sort would employ directly about 1,000 men, and indirectly it would support several times that number.
We need more foreign trade and more deep-sea transportation companies. Canadians started the Cunard line but now have little stock interest in it, w'hile our interest in the Canadian Pacific Steamship line, one of the world’s most important deep-sea organizations, was limited in 1936 to only 11.44 per cent of the stock of that company. We need more companies of this sort with their roots deeper in Canada. Also we need more sailors, particularly in the West. The question of
the 1.768 Chinese on the Canadian Pacific Oriental boats, out of crews totalling 2,033 men, was threshed out in Parliament in Ottawa in 1937. and there is little likelihood of more Canadians being employed on these boats. We are also losing out in the fisheries, many Canadians being replaced by Japanese.
Good agricultural land in British Columbia is limited to about 10.000 square miles —half the area of Nova Scotia. The Manning report asks that our cut-over lands be examined, and those fit for agriculture be cleared where the cost is within reason and the rest reforested. This work should not be further delayed. It is encouraging to note that the ranchers in the Okanagan Valley are eliminating waste, and making vinegar, cider and apple juice from apples formerly wasted.
This is a wonderful province for the tourist, yet there have been times when tourist receipts showed an adverse balance. The record shows that bridges have been built where no bridges were needed; that expensive roads were built where only a small expenditure was justified; and where excessive prices were paid for road supplies. The result is that the roads are so inferior that most motor trips from the Coast to the southern interior are made both ways through the United States. Long ago. also, we should have reserved from destruction the outstanding groves of trees along the highways and where future highways are likely to go. Western marine scenery is served by one of the world’s best coastwise boat services: consideration of highway facilities from a utility, scenic, and nonpatronage point of view is long overdue.
Vancouver people were recently told by a great Canadian railway executive that, “We have a heritage of wealth and opportunity such as no people of our number ever held in history.” If it can be demonstrated that we have greater natural wealth than had the United States when it had our population, it will also be demonstrated that there need be no change in our railway policy.
The argument presented in this article is that our railways should be united, for the very sufficient reason that we can afford no other course. In Vancouver there have been no new schools for a decade and overcrowding is a scandal; the university is in the same position; the public library is open for only a few hours daily and standing room only is the usual condition; and our hospitals are overcrowded and burdened with debt. All this is evidence, not of wealth but of poverty. Yet we maintain three palatial railway stations in Vancouver, with accompanying trackage, for about twenty-five trains daily. Compare this with the Waterloo station in London, which alone handles 1,500 trains daily. We have also closely parallel trackage for the 250 miles to Kamloops. One station and one railway is all we need. Take up the tracks on the other grade, widen it, pave it, and it will be not only one of the most scenic routes in the world, but also it will enable us to reach our own interior by a real road instead of by
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the improved Cariboo Trail now in use.
There is lots of work not only for all railway men that would be thrown out of work but for all at present unemployed. Reforestation, manufacturing, smelting, farming, construction, and road building have been referred to; we need more teachers, professors, librarians, and nurses. The elimination of railway waste will pay for much of this; and, with better facilities available, not only the tourist industry but every other industry will improve. The elimination of patronage will make available very large additional sums—and patronage will be eliminated when public opinion demands it.
How to increase Population
npO THE east of British Columbia are
the Prairie Provinces. Recent events indicate that considerable areas may have to be turned back from farming to grazing, with consequent loss of population. Possible increases to the population depend on more mixed farming, more manufacturing, and the successful operation of the railway to Churchill. There are those, even on the prairies, who see little hope in any of these possibilities. It may be desirable to have outside authorities, free from local prejudices, study the situation and report. If, with the known coal, oil and agricultural wealth, this population cannot be appreciably increased, the estimate of even twenty millions for Canada is too high.
Limited prediction only can be made in regard to the mineral wealth in the PreCambrian area north of the prairies. It can, however, be said that only a small proportion is favorable even for minerals. In Northern Manitoba, which has been prospected for a quarter of a century, the proportion is less than ten per cent. Here only one major deposit, the Flin Flon, ha been found; it is being depleted at the rate of 1,600.000 tons per year; and it will do well if it lasts another quarter of a century —a very brief period. In this operation everything is subordinate to rapid depletion and quick profit. For these reasons, the valuable sulphur content is completely wasted.
It was originally planned to work out the Flin Flon at the rate of 2,000 tons per day. The present output is more than double that figure. This rapid increase has resulted in much enthusiasm throughout Manitoba. It. is typical of the Dominion-wide enthusiasm over the recent record-breaking depletion of Canada’s mineral assets as a whole. This attitude has been referred to by a writer in the following words:
“It is a very singular fact that, among a people supposedly grounded in the rudiments of political economy, the progressive exhaustion of this mineral wealth is everywhere heralded as a triumph of enterprise and a gauge of national prosperity. The nation publishes periodically the record of the scattering of its assets, never to be regained, and waits with a smile of complaisance for general congratulation.’’
Central Canada is now mine conscious, but that famous cloud, “no bigger than a man’s hand,” has appeared. Prospecting is declining. The reason is that the discovery and examination of the rock outcrops is nearing its end; the period of mineral discovery is coming to its dose. That there need l:>e no concern for the immediate future is true for there is much ore blocked out. The immediate future will, however, soon pass and unless we can get more than we are now getting not only out of our ore but out of our raw materials generally, their benefit to Canada will be comparatively small and any appreciable increase in population cannot be expected.
The Maritime Provinces, compared with other divisions of Canada taken as a whole, have been shown to be the most densely populated section. It cannot tie said, however, that the limit has been
reached and the same procedure that has placed the Bluenose in the front rank will, if followed, improve conditions and increase the population.
Years ago Canada had a Conservation Commission. Its duties were to make thoroughgoing surveys of our natural wealth, with the idea of providing a basis on which to develop a scientifically and economically sound national life, and these duties were well performed. Much information was gathered and valuable recommendations were made. The word was sent out, however, that the commission was expensive, that it was duplicating and interfering with the efforts of the regular officials, and it was disbanded, its officials discharged, and its recommendations ignored. Time has shown that it was the genuine article that we lost. It was a bad day for Canada when this commission was scrapped, and the time has come to reverse this policy. Mr. Crerar’s recent
address indicates that he may do something along this line.
What population will Canada ultimately have? It all depends on how we develop our heritage. The oil in our lamps is running low, and we must find other sources of revenue to take the place of our natural resources as they become depleted. It has been shown how other countries have faced the situation. Plans have been suggested for Canada. There will be differences of opinion in regard to these plans, but the need for facts, co-operation, and proper planning should not be questioned. If we are to avoid stagnation or a status similar to that of Newfoundland, we must realize the gravity of the situation and face it with determination as it has been faced elsewhere and as Canadians have faced other grave situations. If we do this our copulation will not only increase but, what is more important, it will command the respect of the world.