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You’re certainly not the only one who thinks of these issues. One of the reasons I’m not planning on having children is the environmental impact (although that is just one reason). I do think that environmental issues ought to be considered whenever government policies towards families are considered. In particular, I find state sponsored fertility treatment disturbing, but I’m also bothered by policies of paying people to have children. Whenever the government is involved and the children aren’t happening naturally, it isn’t ‘a police state’ to ask these kinds of questions. Governments should be weighing up all sides of the issue before making policies, but as far as I can see, the environmental impact of children is never brought up.
I am a child of parents whose sole directive in life was to get married, make babies, go to church, and do exactly as society tells them. Only when the money ran out did they stop the baby train and realize that this approach would not bring them happiness. The result was, unsirprisingly, an overstressed and dysfuntional household. Granted, this is an extreme case, but the spirit of it is present all over: only by raising a family are you leading a fulfilling life; babies are the natural course of action for a happy couple; biological clocks are ticking, etc, etc. Concrete evidence of this is the knee jerk defensive reactions appearing on this and other forums from people who see any suggestion of scaling back our reproductive “instincts” as, at best, an unwarranted guilt trip, and at worst, an affront against nature. Weighing our drive to have children against the impact it has on the world is an exercise in civilized living, nothing more. I think adoption is a beautiful thing, and it is far too often written off as less “authentic” than having one’s own children.
I agree. But the problem is not that simple. The birth rates in most industrialized countries are dropping, which I think is very much desirable. The current increase in the world population is more due to developing countries where people don’t have access to/information of birth control or where children are needed for labor. Before we ask the whole world not to have so many kids, we have to tackle those problems. Industrialized countries with decreasing birth rates are not without problems either; the shrinking young generation can pose a problem if they are to support life of huge old generation. It is true that humans have too big a ecological footprint, but everything needs to be considered when we deal with this sort of problems. It is neither simple nor easy.
My husband and I are in our late 30’s and are not having children. In our youth, we each admit to having wanted a family. Now we cannot really explain why we’ve changed our minds. It just happened. “Biologically speaking” we’ve failed in our purpose in life by not passing on our DNA. I like to tease my husband and say I had no choice in choosing him as my husband; I joke it was his pheremones that made me choose. Yet perhaps there really is some biological control mechanism (like pheremones) within the human population that turns off the desire to breed (and pass on our DNA) once the population reaches extreme numbers. Certainly, there are too many of us.
Such lofty philosophical questions don’t concern the teeming masses in third world countries. If European civilization is too pre occupied with it’s own morals and sense of self importance to have enough children to sustain itself it will be displaced by those for whom such questions are not a distraction to the basic biological imperative. That said, overpopulation is a greater threat to our world than climate change but since politicians haven’t figured out to gain from limiting it don’t expect much to be done about it.
I understand and angree with most of your comments. I cannot deny I feel a bit like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I enjoy being a woman in this time of history, where I can be independent, study, live on my own and feel free to shape my life. However, for years I never considered having a child. Then, I changed, and I thought it would be cool to have a child but it wasn’t neccesary to have a partner. Now, things re different. I met someone, and I am in love. And for the first time in my life I have a genuine desire to share my life with him and yes, have a child. Funny, as life is, he does want us to be a long life couple BUT having a child doesn’t thrill him. We’ll see.
I think this is a very valid and real article in today’s world. I applaud the fact the media has the guts to raise it, as politians in the west seem to ignore, if not encourage the issue (for sake). Considering that China has a one child policy already in place to inhibit it’s population explosion, I don’t see why the west is able to start something similar, like limiting children to two, in order to only ‘replace’ their parents. The article did not state that we should not have children at all, only to consider our future in general, so why do people have to get so hot under the collar about ‘their rights as human beings’?
Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. I’m not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, soaring commodity prices, environmental degradation, etc. I’m talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty. policy toward population management. Our policies that encourage high rates of population growth are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy. But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.
This has always been a taboo topic for environmentalists. Personally, the thought of having a child scares me more than almost anything, but I am also 23, so that might be part of it. Regardless, I think it would probably be a bad idea to bring a child into a world that is at the best trying to reach a new climate equilibrium, and at worst, dying. I may have a child, or adopt one, or foster some who need it, but until I really know more clearly what the next 80 years will look like, I don’t think I’ll have children. ALSO: while the ideal of a more even birthrate across the world is a wonderful idea, we shouldn’t hail China’s solution as the end all be all. Forced abortions are a violation of personal health and privacy that should never be allowed. Education is the best way to a good future for everyone.
I have one against my better judgement for a large part because of the reasons stated. I’m not having another for the same reasons. People are a virus (Agent Smith may have said it in the matrix but I said it first!) and eventually we’ll kill our host. The biggest threat to the environment which sustains us is not CO2, its not GM food, and its not war, not directly. Its the sheer number of us crowding onto the planet’s surface. If we all had 1 or no kids for a couple of generations, we could shrink the population size quite a lot it would be very hard, economically for us during that period but it would be worth it for future generations. I love my son, and I love my wife. I also love my life and for the moment my job. But the world would still be better off without us.
Well done for bringing this topic to the fore. It’s nice to see many people showing support for limiting population. We need to limit population, as we are, we are practically at 7 billion people. If/when that hits 9 billion pretty much everyone will have to become vegan if we are to have enough food. A liit of two kids or less is a reasonable suggestion. Those who want more should be encouraged to adopt. This could be done easily in the UK fairly easily by alterin the child benefit system. As it stands I think you get a week for your first child then for succesive children. How about limiting these benefits only to the first two biological children? Thus incentivising smaller families.
It doesn’t much matter what anyone here thinks it is just math. Either we eventually learn to manage our population size as a species be it through economic or socialist means or we don’t. In the latter case we will suffer what biologists refer to as a ‘die off’. I personally would rather not be around if such a die off occurs, because it is going to be several decades or even centuries of the most abject misery our species has ever experienced. I guarantee we’ll all be a whole lot happier if we figure out how to stabilize our population at a sustainable level before we get to that point.
I have thought so many times about the same issue but not bothered to discuss this with other people. my DNA and my values) and a well reasoned opinion that there are enough homo sapiens sapiens on earth. I do not believe that we are already overpopulated but we soon could be just that. The irony here is that we find it absolutely easy to cull elephants in overcrowded African reserves and yet even the mere thought of burdening the earth with more cute babies is taboo. Well I suppose we should allow other beautiful things than human infants to exist on this planet especially those that do not grow uncute in about 5 years.
I don think anybody should have more than two children because the taday world population is already way too big. Porblem is that those who realize this are people from the countries whose populations are already stagnant(causing inevitable pension problems) while people from the areas of the world where the real population explosion takes place don care about this too much and are only ready (under the pressure of unbearable living conditions, I admit) to come and increase our population anyway. So no easy and cheap solution under the current order of things is available. Bleak times await us!
Hearing Ms Benn wonder aloud “how green it is” to have a child is chilling. My parents lived in a time when certain people asked each other, in deadly earnest, how “Aryan” some personal choices might be. One might turn and ask Ms Benn “how green it is” for HER to continue to walk the earth. After all, Ms Benn, with a residence of her own, undoubtedly consumes more valuable resources than an infant who simply lives with its parents. But that is what we come to when we start running life by the numbers.
We already have many, many children on this planet, and they continue to multiply. The real “ethical dilemma” is not whether to have children, but whether all the “children” receive equal treatment and access to resources. Starvation, wars, disease, serfdom, and other factors have all contributed to ensuring that the majority of “children” on this planet have a minimal impact. The real danger is when large segments of the world population gain access to more resources without the traditional “culling” effects as cynical as that sounds. So I’m not so worried about the children that trickle into already developed societies, but rather people and their children that will join it as their nations develop.
An academic said something similar a couple of years ago, I wish I had made a note of his name. It’s about time somebody brought this issue back in the limelight. Population growth is and will continue to be behind many of the worlds problems. We’re entering an age where wars will be fought over water rights, these only become an issue when you’ve got unsustainably large populations. It’s all very well this article being read by the people who visit this site but that isn’t going to affect the third world nations that are behind the rapid growth of the worlds population.
As we are allowing the populas of Africa die, (hopefully not before they have tested all new medication on them to ensure that it is safe for the white western man to take) and they inhabit the largest land mass on the plant. Room for new white westerners should not be an issue. With the USA now running the world, with their love of the death penality, and no money = no services etc the population should decrease over a period of time. It was stated that by the year 2030 we would need another planet, with africa and other third worlds populas being left to die, space should not be an issue in a few years. The USA will soon enlighten us to the WRONGS of allowing certain people to live,etc so no problem
As any Darwinist knows, the whole point of life is to reproduce to pass on your DNA. Organisms that don’t do this are, in evoltionary terms, failures. To shirk it is to fail the incredible chance evolution has given us.
If we don’t sort out our ever growing population humanly then mother nature will and it wont be nice. I’m only 23 and I would love to have a child of my own but im not going to because that would be very selfish of me because when my child grows up the planet that they will be living in is not going to be a nice place to be. People are so impatient, selfish and short sighted they forget to look at the bigger picture. You cant just take, take, take and expect everything to be ok and sort its self out, Guess what it wont. What’s fair about handing down an abused a dying earth to the next generations who wont be able to do anything because it will be to late. Was their any point in us evolving when all we have accomplished is the slow destruction of our own Earth and most of us just sat back and let it happen when we still have the power to make a difference. The Earth was doomed the minute we evolved.
we should just introduce an iq and a means test before people are allowed to have children a baby should be a privelidge that you are able to take care of if you dont have the means your self to look after then you shouldnt be aloud it. women should not be allowed more than two children in there life time. The only problem is controlling the people who fail the iq test and still try to have a baby sounds a bit harsh but forced terminations or taking away the baby at birth may act as a detterant. it sounds harsh but saving the world normally is.
You people are very depressing. having babies). Wanting to stop people doing things you don’t like a very totalitarian attitude. Also, it is amazing hypocrisy to claim that other people should be prevented from having children or more than one or two when you are also part of the problem. If you really wanted to make a difference start with your own use of resources. Try not consuming anything for a few months. It would help the environment.
I have to agree with the majority of what Joanna says. As a 22 year old with a good job I find it totally astounding that before buying my Golden Retriever I was vetted, quizzed and inspected to within an inch of my life quite rightly so I believe. But yet if I were to pop out two or three children and expect to support them with benefits, society wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Perhaps the answer to our population problems would not be to judge every parent that desires a large family but to simply ask people to live within their means. I find it hard to stomache some of the comments stating that to have have three children is plain selfish when on the same website there is an article about a three generation family living under one roof none of whom have worked a day in their life. I think these are the cases that should be branded as ”selfish”.
I do absolutely agree. And to comment the funny question posed to us readers there is no such a thing as an “instinct” to have babies. Society requires it, and we are brainwashed into not seeing the personal and social disadvantages. That is, the crazy functioning of our current socioeconomic system requires growth, that’s why “environmentalist” associations, who are taking advantage of the same system, do not spend words on this very important issue. And religions are thinking with Middle age concepts, they simply do not imagine that they must evolve, too the “Truth” they believe is ever lasting. Thanks for expressing these heretical and wise opinions.
The fertility rate for the UK is dropping, not increasing. The increase in population is not because people are generally having more children in this country, it’s because of immigration and global population shift. The population is also gradually growing older, by which i mean older people make up higher and higher percentages of the population. You might want some of these apparently unnecessary children to become part of the workforce and make sure you can retire before you’re say, ninety. People are living longer and longer because of great advances in medicine. If some of you are really serious about ‘population control’, why don’t you go around encouraging some of the retirees to off themselves? Probably because that’s the kind of thing a sociopath would do. So! You ‘population controllers’ out there, you can’t touch our senior citizens because they are our heritage, our family. You can’t touch the youth, they are the future, and ones who will have to clean up this mess. So i guess that leaves a nice big chunk in the middle? Go nuts. Also, I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned this, but population density is directly correlated to environmental impact. The Uk has one of the highest population densities on the planet, but you wouldnt ask people in London or Manchester to ‘spread themselves out a bit’, would you?
It is appalling to read some of the comments here. Such a typical Westerners’ attitude: let’s eliminate anybody who threatens MY comfortable and completely wasteful lifestyle, and force others to do the same. Those population control “imposers” should remember that their own “child free” culture is dying out. And by the way, it is the degree of their own waste of resources that is causing most world problems, and not the size of the world’s population. So maybe it’s time to stop being hypocrites and changes themselves, instead of trying to change others.
I don’t know what the acceptable (to the majority) solution to population control is, but I do know that if the wider population made a concerted effort towards sustainable living, there may be a time buffer in which the population problem might be able to reach a happy equilibrium. Governments need to stop pussyfooting around and start make the tough decisions, putting serious money into sustainable practices such as renewable energies this has such longer reaching benefits than simply reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Most people with a smallish patch of land could easily grow a reasonable amount of their own vegetable needs, reducing the cost and energy required to transport a piece of brocolli that finally makes it to your table! Recyling, better infrastructure for bicycles, government incentives to help people adopt new, sustainable ways of living . sounds like a greenie’s rant, but it’s the way of t