Social Question

Corless's avatar

Should we be trying to cut the human population?

Asked by Corless (31points) January 3rd, 2010

Should we be discouraged from having too many children (over 2) and should governments try and stop people from having three or more children?

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90 Answers

Gadgetmo's avatar

Maybe… But I’m sure people would get round this, and they wouldn’t be allowed to kill the children or take them away or anything.

Gadgetmo's avatar

The government can’t suddenly start chucking people into volcanoes

Grisaille's avatar

Governments? I wouldn’t go that far… yet.

I’m certain financial incentive, relief or benefit would work just fine.

In fact, I take those two lines back. I’m relatively ignorant with regards to overpopulation. I’m submitting this purely so I can follow the discussion further – I find it quite interesting. I have no idea why I’m not just deleting it and “following” it. I’m sleepy and delirious. Shut up and leave me alone.

lovemypits86's avatar

i think they should big time

eponymoushipster's avatar

just below the mason-dixon line.

ccrow's avatar

Aw, @eponymoushipster that’s just mean…

lovemypits86's avatar

i argee with you. that’s is mean i reside in south carolina

ragingloli's avatar

To 0, yes. So we can finally take back our planet.

bunnygrl's avatar

Very definitely. I truly believe that its overpopulation, not climate change or global warming that is the real threat to the planet. We are living in scary times.
hugs everyone xx

JustPlainBarb's avatar

People should just have the number of children they can independently support emotionally and financially and then we wouldn’t have so many problems. People have more kids than they can handle and then expect “society” to help them raise them.

UScitizen's avatar

Only if we start with the bastard in the next cube….

CMaz's avatar

This all sounds great. But how do you regulate ones right to procreate?
At least in this country.
It seems when people do not have much, the one thing they can have are children.

The wealthy, can afford it.

The middle class, seem to budget for it.

The poor, its all they can have. So the take it.

Corless's avatar

If we educate people they will have less children and if the government doesn’t help they they will be less willing to have kids.

eeveegurl's avatar

A chart of population growth. So, yes. In my opinion. I stand on neutral ground when it comes to government interference, having spent some time in China, and seeing everyone attack the Chinese government for the one child policy.

Having recently watched the documentary, Collapse, I have stronger feelings toward this than I normally would.

CMaz's avatar

@Corless – I am with you on that.
As long as education means bringing people to a higher standard of living.
The more we make the more we want to keep.

I do not really care what you teach a population about birth control.
We all want what we can not have.

So before we can correct over population, we really need to eliminate poverty.

CMaz's avatar

“if the government doesn’t help they they will be less willing to have kids.”

Mankind had no problem procreating in the past without government intervention and means.

We are a rather resilient species.

Corless's avatar

You have to remember about how people expectations change. People want to do a lot more than they did before and will not be able to with too many kids.

Qingu's avatar

I think we absolutely need to limit our population. Overpopulation is the fundamental problem with the world today (along with religion, which tends to feed the overpopulation problem with “go forth and multiply” morals).

I don’t think the governments need to get involved. I think, actually, the problem may well solve itself. Look at the birth rate in “developed” countries. It’s negative in some places in Europe, and this is even taking into the account the high birth rates of religious immigrants.

I think it’s mysteriously comforting that as societies develop economically and technology, their cultures and morals seem to change “automatically” so that people just want less kids. That’s a good thing, and something we should try to engender nonviolently in the less developed world.

CMaz's avatar

I love a steak. I love eating in a fine restaurant. Driving a new car.

But you know what. I will walk and eat out of a dumpster if I have to.
Because I WANT to survive. Since that is all I can have.

Expectations are nice, but they do not provide much.
All it takes is an erect penis and a wet vagina. Something most of us have, no matter how much or little we make. Truly the great equalizer.
Worse case scenario is you will have to survive.
Story of mans actions.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I thought we already tried that in the 20th Century, with a few Holocausts (Armenian, Jewish, Gypsy and Cambodian), a couple of World Wars, a huge Ukrainian famine, and forced abortions for many Chinese. There were probably several other population-limiting initiatives that I’m forgetting.

I’m more in favor of a market-based solution. If you have more kids than you can afford, then my modest proposal is to… turn them into Soylent Green.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

What we need to do first, at least in the U.S., is to quit coddling the religious right and start teaching comprehensive sex education to kids. No more of this abstinence only crap. It doesn’t work. How many more studies do we need?

Secondly, we need to improve access to birth control for those who want it. There are people who really don’t want to have kids, but can’t get birth control.

Sandydog's avatar

People in less developed countries want more children because of the mortality rate and because they need more children to work for survival purposes.
Most of the worlds problems are caused by the “consumer Society” where people live to buy and consume, and the greatest consumption comes from the developed countries.
There is no simple or easy solution.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Actually, @Dr_Dredd, shouldn’t Immaculate Conception have taught people (True Believers, anyway) that abstinence doesn’t work?

daemonelson's avatar

I reckon so. All of this “Oh, but the world has room for 10 billion people.” bullshit really gets on my nerves.

I have no issue with people wanting to have more than 2 children. I just think they should be taxed accordingly for doing so.

eeveegurl's avatar

@CyanoticWasp – I don’t mean to be a stickler for these things, but FYI, the immaculate conception refers to the conception of the virgin Mary, and not the virginal conception of Jesus. link :)

ubersiren's avatar

Nah… The Earth has enough physical space to place many more of us, and it contains enough natural resources to sustain us. It’s how we’re living that leads to poverty, homelessness, poor education, and hunger, not overpopulation.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It will happen whether we do anything or not; disease, famine, warfare. Certainly no government should be encouraging population growth: all tax deductions, incentive payments, etc. should go.

Maybe some kind of a cap-and-trade scheme similar to carbon credits? Each person having the right to reproduce him/her self. If a couple has two children, for example, and wants to have another they would have to buy the right of someone else on the open market. The poor would tend to have fewer children as they would tend to sell their birth rights to get out of poverty (buy an education, etc). The issue is enforcement. A person could only sell his/her birthright if they are irreversibly sterilized. Heavy fines for violators but certainly no forced abortions or anything like that.

LostInParadise's avatar

Overpopulation is definitely a problem, though I am not sure of the best way of solving it. Perhaps we could start by stating that it is a problem and to request that people limit their family size. This, of course, would not be a solution but it would at least be a start.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@LostInParadise Just getting agreement that overpopulation is a problem is a major first step. @ubersiren We have lots of space, but the limiting factor is arable land and water resources.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

As regards arable land, the Japanese have the right idea. No construction of any kind on arable land. That is for farming and no other purpose.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I don’t think population growth rates can be reduced by policy or self restraint. That is fighting a very basic natural instinct. It will happen through disease or war, or probably both. Not a pretty picture.

Futomara's avatar

The world population remained steady, at around 1 billion people for several thousand years. It was the discovery of oil that created the population bloom. We have since reached peak oil and as the supply dwindles away, so too will the population return to around 1 billion people, as will our way of life change.

jca's avatar

i work in a public assistance office (in other words, county government “welfare” office) and we used to say “look at these people in the lobby, they’re not worried about only having what they can support. they have 6, 7, 8 kids each, and we (the educated workers) have 1 or 2 because that’s all we can support.”

we can try to control our population in this country, but what about third world countries? how would it be done? enforced abortion? enforced birth control? how can you make and ensure someone is taking birth control? higher taxes for people who have more than the maximum? what about the people that could not pay the tax? who would absorb that?

i saw a documentary on China and because of their child limit of 2 (or 1?) they have a problem now with too many men and not enough women, they have a problem with girl babies being left by the side of the road and ending up in orphanages or being murdered, and they have a problem with kidnapping. apparently the wealthy get around the population maximum. it was a very interesting documentary about the unintended consequences of having a child limit.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Futomara Not oil but the Industrial Revolution. The curve started ramping up in the late 18th century.

eeveegurl's avatar

@jca – Yes, the issue with too many men and not enough men is partially due to the one child policy, but the real factor behind that issue is the cultural value they place on the male gender. Educating the people to understand that men and women are equal would definitely help with that gender inequality (in numbers).

But I completely agree with you in that education has helped people realize why not to have so many children.

jca's avatar

@eeveegurl : i think the value they place on male gender is for two reasons: to carry on the family name and to help with farming.

benjaminlevi's avatar

Of course we should. We cannot support an exponentially growing population forever on a planet with finite resources.

eeveegurl's avatar

@jca – Yes. And that’s partially the reason why the older generation (my grandfather’s) had so many children. The more children they had, the more that could help them out financially. These days, having more children is a financial burden rather than an asset.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@eeveegurl With the shift from a rural to an urban population base, even in the developing world, children are no longer being viewed as an economic asset. A comprehensive system is needed to force parents to support and educate their children with strong penalties for non-compliance.
@jca China is still tinkering with their policy. Right now it is one child per urban couple, two for rural couples and three for “ethnic minorities”. One problem is rural people, with their two children are moving into urban areas, causing resentment. The rich are finding ways around the policy, but coveted Party membership is closed to them if they do.

casheroo's avatar

As @Qingu said, the numbers in developed nation (the US included) have drastically dropped over the years.

Other countries have this as an issue, and I suppose we could possibly intervene with education…and I know any time we get a republican president, they cut off funding to any medical care in other countries that provides abortions (Obama changed that) so people who actually need and want abortions should have access to them, instead of being forced to carry baby’s to term.
I don’t think there should be any sort of limit, especially in the US. It wouldn’t be feasible at all.

JLeslie's avatar

I am not worried about over-population as a whole, but I am worried about people having children who cannot take care of them. An acceptable amount of children varies from one location to another even within the US, let alone the world. Of course this is my own judgement on things, but out in the country, on farms, even in the US it is likely more acceptable to have a large family. As long as everyone can eat, live safely, and have an opportunity for education it is probably ok. In the inner city where people live in the ghetto in danger and children are dropping out of high school and eating only because of food stamps, in unsafe environments, not so good.

The irony is the people most educated with the most money, all over the world, are the ones most likely to have fewer children as stated above.

I think you can pay people not to have children, I think it would work. I want to pay girls to get through high school without having a baby. I agree with @Dr_Dredd that we have to stop this bullshit of not teachng young people about birth control.

I also agree with @ChazMaz that poverty is a big problem that is all tied up with this birthrate issue. It’s like a chicken and egg situation. Poor people have children they cannot care for and those children are more likely to be poor. Of course there is poor and there is poor. Probably having an intact family (I know I am sounding really conservative here) plays a big part in whether the children have a chance of being prosperous functioning parts of society.

But, as I said in the beginning, I don’t think overpopulation in the broad sense is a problem, I thnk we have enough resources to support billions more people in the world.

syzygy2600's avatar

Just among murderers and rapists.

Siren's avatar

No and no. Climate change is not caused by overpopulation, but by idiots like us who drive everywhere, because we can afford to, not some poor individual driving his donkey. The most populous continents are the least polluters. That world is overpopulated thinking is drakonian and orwellian (and ignorant! in my opinion).

@syzygy2600: I like your response too.

Siren's avatar

Furthermore, the beef industry is a HUGE polluter, and who is eating the most beef on this planet? Americans. Go figure.

bea2345's avatar

Improve the standard of living and the birthrate will fall. A simple thing like access roads and a public transport system will change a nation overnight, because of improved opportunities for jobs, education, etc. It is just possible that measures to control population by direct means are going to fail.

JLeslie's avatar

I want to slightly change my answer from using intact families because as you know I am fine with gay parents, and I do not think divorce is a bad thing, and if a single person has a plan I am fine with that too. I just look for some sort of plan or intention, rather than just having a baby like it is an accident.

Siren's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: Very good points you made in your comments about wars and forced famines.

Let’s face it: who are we talking about that should not have children and who tend to have more children in this world? Answer: the poor(er) and the (more) downtrodden. So, let’s stop them from procreating, ya?

JLeslie's avatar

@siren You sound offended by the idea that maybe some people should not be having so many children? One has to ask why are the poor having 7 babies when the middle and upper classes are having 2? Of course this is not true of all poor families or all middle class families. I guess my question is for those poor people with all of those kids, are they ok with their circumstance and the circumstance their children are in? Or, are they just producing children because they have sex and have babies with no thought at all to the consequence?

Siren's avatar

@JLeslie: Of course I am offended! I am glad you picked up on it. I think it’s utterly ridiculous, if not outrageous that anyone of us feels we have the right to tell a couple they cannot have a child, or how many. Is it not one of our most basic of human rights?

There are all kinds of arguments you could make for “population control”, such as over-run welfare programs, world pollution (a big joke, that one)...heck I could even come up with a couple. But are any of them valid? It behooves me that just because some people are satisfied with a few (or one, or no) children, they think others should think like-mindedly. But get over yourself! If you want a small family, good for you. But don’t dictate to others, in your country or all around the world how many children they can have.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t think it’s necessary yet, but when the population of NYC hits 40 million and California hits 180 million and America hits 1 billion, maybe we can start thinking about it. But even then, people will be all about “don’t tell me what to do!”, so I don’t think it’ll ever work. Didn’t anyone see Soylent Green? There’s nothing you can do to stop overpopulation and we’ll just have to deal with it.


Would you support telling people how many kids they can have if overpopulation ever became a real problem? If there was no more room for houses, if food was running low and people in developed countries were beginning to starve? Would you support it then?

JLeslie's avatar

@Siren I would never be in favor of the government limiting how many children someone can have. I am again asking if the poor people with a bunch of children intended to have all of those children and if they are glad they had them all? Having so many kids can keep you poor or throw you into poverty depending on the circumstance.

Also, there are plenty of people who are not poor who should not have as many children as they have, it is not just the poor.

Siren's avatar


One has to ask why are the poor having 7 babies when the middle and upper classes are having 2

My opinion: who’s to know why? One could argue that the rich, middle and upper classes are selfish and don’t want the mess and financial worry of having a larger family (and want to enjoy their country clubs more) and that the poor are more concerned about their children have siblings that can support each other emotionally and perhaps financially in the future and not have one lonely child without a sibling. Also, in many cultures and in the past, a larger family includes/included an extended family network of “Grandma” and “Grandpa” instead of kicking them to a senior’s home when they got to be too much of a nuisance.

But, again, those comments would be biased and a generalization, right?

DominicX's avatar


So when a family is so poor that they can’t afford to feed all their children, that’s being selfless? I’m not following, to be honest…

Siren's avatar

@DominicX: Doesn’t every individual on this earth have a right to have offspring? If you were denied this right, right now, wouldn’t you want to jump out of your chair and start a riot???

I don’t think a poor family set off to have a family thinking “well, we can’t feed them, but we’ll be able to look at them all we want”. Everyone has a dream, and I could be wrong, but I’m guessing they figured they wouldn’t be poor their whole life, that their situation would improve. Weirder things have happened.

Can’t poor people dream too, or is that prohibited?

JLeslie's avatar

@siren Well, extended family and what we do with the elderly is a different issue, and I would agree in the US more than other cultures we tend to be more separated from out extended families, but not always true. And, yes, we are speaking in generalizations, that is the only way to have this discussion. I am sure there are poor people with 7 children who care for their children well, but we are not talking about them, or I am not. I am talking about people who have children when they cannot afford to feed and cloth them. I am talking about teen girls getting having babies when they have not grown up themselves. I am talking about having a baby by PLANNING it. Not leaving it up to chance.

I don’t see anything wrong with people deciding not to have kids because they want to be “selfish” as you put it. Would it be better if these selfish people have children? Or more children than they are willing to care for? Or, do you think everyone should just have all of the children God blesses them with, and deal with the consequences?

JLeslie's avatar

@Siren No one is denying anyone the RIGHT to have children.

Siren's avatar

I think that is the point of this thread JLeslie. The question is:

“Should we be trying to cut the human population?” Apart from mass murder, I believe we’re talking about limiting births through government control.

eeveegurl's avatar

@Siren – I don’t think complete government control is what @Corless (or others) had in mind. The question was phrased with the word “discouragement”. In the same way that the government doesn’t necessarily BAN smoking habits, they do “discourage” it by implementing certain measures.

rawrgrr's avatar

The government is already trying to reduce the population everyday.

Swine Flu

DominicX's avatar


I would react that way right now because overpopulation isn’t a threat now. But if it became dire enough, I would have to sacrifice it. It may be my right to have children, but it’s also people’s right to live and if overpopulation is making it difficult through food shortages, living space shortages, pollution, what have you, then I may want to not make things worse. That may never happen, but it might. And if it ever did, I would not want to contribute to it.

(My family has 4 kids and I love it. But that might not be such a good choice to make in a truly overpopulated world).

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Siren Why do you describe world pollution as a “big joke” when it comes to population control?

Siren's avatar

@eeveegurl: You forgot this part of the question:

“and should governments try and stop people”

I’m responding to the question and offering my opinion. If it were worded differently, I would have responded differently.

What’s the difference between a government “discouraging” and “stopping”? Sounds pretty vague to me. How about: the government will gently discourage us from having 3 or more children by gently incarcerating the offending parents or taking the children away to help harvest our crops for future export purposes”.

JLeslie's avatar

@Siren I agree the question is should we limit the population and I say NO in terms of the government doing it, but I do want to find a way for people to make better decisions in terms of procreating. As I said above, some of it seems to wrapped up in the poverty cycle. There is no denying that generally the better educated and prosperous a population the fewer children they tend to have as a group.

JLeslie's avatar

@Siren Discouraging might be like I said above, paying teenagers to get through high school without having a baby. Stopping would be making it illegal to have a baby. No one wants to make it illegal.

Siren's avatar

Sorry all, I have to go. I think I’ve said all i wanted to say on this thread anyways.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

In areas where the population isn’t healthily supported by resources then yes, humans should curtail their breeding. China had a great system of achieving this- the first child is supported by the govt. but any extra ones are on the tab of the family. I’d really like to see that here in the USA and hear less complaining by parents about how expensive it is to raise kids, feed them, outfit them with gadgets and pretend their actually going to pay to send them on to higher education.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence, how does Manhattan Island have the resources to support the population that lives there? The answer is that it doesn’t. Neither does Los Angeles, Chicago, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or nearly any other large city. What they have is economic systems that support them (and infrastructure and law to support that system of production, distribution and trade).

And the idea of having the government support our children I’ll let pass with no more comment than “not any of my kids, thanks”. If you thought it was expensive to raise kids yourself, wait until you see how expensive it is when it’s “free”. (Okay, I couldn’t resist that one.)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: I agree and that’s why I say I wish we had more concientious breeders in the USA, a country eating up the resources of other countries in order to perpetuate the “Land of Plenty” facade.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence, I think you’re still missing my point: at least until fairly recent times have also produced most of the world’s wealth. By that I don’t mean “dollars” but the material goods and services that people want. You can argue whether the stuff we produce and want is good or not; that’s a philosophical question. But capitalist systems produce most of it, in any case. The Earth is far from running out of resources; we could produce a lot more. Again, I realize that the system is finite; if we add X numbers of new humans, then we’ll probably cause Y declines (and extinctions?) of other species.

casheroo's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence I wouldn’t say China has a great system…unless you consider forced abortions great….

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@CyanoticWasp: My feelings are we could all be a lot more responsible with consumption, conservation and restoration alongside what we import and export.

@casheroo: The forced abortions aren’t great, you’re right on that.

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t think there is anything inherently bad about having a large population. What’s important to me are specific consequences of that large population: do we have enough resources to support that population, and are we able to efficiently deal with the waste generated by a population that large?

Right now, we definitely have the resources to support the number of people on earth, but the resources are extremely poorly distributed. About half of all the food produced in the US is thrown away as garbage. We have enough food on the planet to feed all the people on it, yet over a billion people (that’s 1,000,000,000 people) go hungry every day.

In order to produce this massive overabundance of food, we are pumping farmland full of nitrogen, which is having a cascade of disastrous consequences on the environment, and building factory farms to support our meat consumption. Among (dozens of) other problems, these forms of large-scale agriculture are significant contributors to global climate change as well as “dead zones” in the ocean—areas that have been so covered with algae that all the oxygen is gone and nothing else can survive.

The problems of producing and distributing resources (food, clean water, shelter, energy) are integrally tied to the disposal of waste generated by production and overproduction of them. It seems clear to me that we need to focus on finding ways to live sustainably—using nitrogen-based fertilizers to create a massive overabundance of food is not sustainable because of the (literal) downstream effects of disrupting the nitrogen cycle. Getting meat from factory farms destroys our land, air, and water.

So the problem isn’t the quantity of people or the quantity of food—the problem is the way in which we produce the food. If we can find a better system—a sustainable system—many of the environmental consequences of large-scale food production disappear.

My preference would be to focus on developing these sustainable forms of agriculture rather than trying to control the number of offspring people have.

perceptions_now's avatar

The Greatest Story Never Told

It is being said that economic recovery is at hand and we will shortly return to “normal” rates of Growth.

That said, we should consider what “Normal, Exponential Growth” means over time.

As an example, a 3% growth, means that “consumption” of Global resources will double after only 24 years.

Alternatively, if we use 10% as the economic growth rate, then “consumption” of Global resources will double after only 7 years.

A prime example of the dilemma we face is Energy!

Even at 3% growth, Oil production would need to rise from 85 mbd (Million Barrels a Day) to around 170 mbd by 2034. At 10% growth, Oil production would need to rise to around 300 mbd (Million Barrels a Day) by 2034

The reality is that Global production has been stuck on a plateau around 85 mbd since 2005, it shows little signs of rising above that level, but there are signs that production has actually commenced a long term Decline.

Given where we are in “the cycle”, there are two major things we can not afford -
1) A continuation of “Exponential Economic Growth!
2) A continuation of “Exponential Population Growth!

By the way, for those interested in “hockey”, the Population graph shown in the above link does look like a “hockey stick”.

Exponential Growth Link - economies-are-growing-exponentially-which-is-the-root-cause-of-resource-strain-1

Related Links -
Dr. Albert A.Bartlett – Arithmetic, Population, and Energy D2AA54&search_query=Dr.+Albert+Bartlett%3A+Arithme tic%2C+Population+and+Energy+Parts+1–8
The Crash Course – Chris Martenson

Unlike the bible, this story is not a matter of faith?
Unlike Climate Change, it is not complicated or subject to tricky e-mails?
This is basic maths!

Why do we never hear this story?
Ask your Economists & Politicians!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@perceptions_now, these arguments against continued growth have been made since the dawn of economic thinking. They’ve always been invalid, and still are. Just watch and see.

perceptions_now's avatar

What China Can Learn From The Fall Of Japan’s Nikkei
Japan’s Population Bombs

But the most fundamental factor in preventing any future resurrection of dynamic Japan is its changing population. Already, one out of five Japanese is 65 years or older, a share not surpassed by any other nation. Barring an unprecedented turnaround of demographic fortunes, Japan’s median age will reach 50 by the year 2025, when nearly one out of every three Japanese will be over 65. And by 2050 there will be more very old people (one out of every seven Japanese will be 80 or older) than children (newborns to 14 years of age). That state of demographic affairs would be the first in human evolution as there has never been a society where octogenarians outnumber children.

Aging is not Japan’s only serious demographic challenge: the country’s population has already begun to shrink. As this combined aging and shrinking process continues, Japan’s age-sex population structure-which had a pyramid shape typical of a vigorously growing population after World War II but now has a barrel shape indicative of an aging society-will assume a cudgel-like shape and the total will decline significantly: forecasts predict a population of about 121 million people by 2025 and about 100 million by 2050. This means that Japan could lose a fifth of its population in less than half a century (an equivalent of losing 60 million people in today’s United States) and that by 2050 it may be less populous than Egypt or the Philippines.

Whatever the eventual total might be, Japan is on course to become the most aged of all aging affluent societies, and given its traditional reluctance to allow even moderate levels of immigration it will also have an exceptionally challenging time coping with the consequences of a major population decline.
Link -
The good news for Japan was that the rest of the world was still growing, economically, until recently.
The bad news for the rest of the world is that almost all nations, including China, are now repeating what Japan started 20 years ago.
This is no longer a matter of choice, fertility rates have been declining for decades and can not be raised again, as the carrying capacity of the planet has already been exceeded, as is clearly shown by the exponential decline of our Global resources.

We have two major choices ahead -
1) To accept a relatively temporary lowering of economic expectations (30–40 years) and continue to allow the Aging process, without starting another Baby Boom.
2) Raise the Fertility rate again and start another Baby Boom, which will ensure that Global resources decline at an astonishing rate.
This course may restrain the immediate rate of economic decline, but it may also ensure the extinction of the human species!

JLeslie's avatar

I thought China actually penalized people for having a second child (I think there might have been exceptions in the countryside). I never heard that they, the gov’t, paid for the first born? I don’t agree with either practice whichever is true.

@Siren Not sure if you are still on here. You said I don’t think a poor family set off to have a family thinking “well, we can’t feed them, but we’ll be able to look at them all we want”. Everyone has a dream, and I could be wrong, but I’m guessing they figured they wouldn’t be poor their whole life, that their situation would improve. Weirder things have happened. Can’t poor people dream too, or is that prohibited?

Well, yes, of course poor people can have dreams and goals. I would say maybe if a person has a plan to get out of poverty they should pursue that for a while BEFORE having children. Once you have children it will be harder to climb out. Some people will always be below the poverty line, and I would not want to deprive them of children. But, I do think there are a bunch of people who do not THINK at all whether they want to just look at their children and dress them up like dolls, or whether they can feed them, or whether they have dreams of their child becoming a doctor, you pick. Of course many below the poverty line are hard working, loving people, who will raise wonderful children. But, I do judge if they have bunches of them while on the dole. It simply is wrong to ask society to support so many children. We do it as a society, because not helping the children once born is worse, whether it be because we feel compasion for the children, or just plain logic that it is better for society to educate and keep these children safe, most people resent it.

lillycoyote's avatar

Zero population growth is a great goal, but in the end, it’s oppressive to try to force people to only have a certain number of children. It’s kind of a basic human right, reproduction. And there are a variety of reasons that people, in different parts of the world, and from different circumstances and different belief system, different educational backgrounds and different economic circumstances have more or fewer children. It’s complicated.

perceptions_now's avatar

Don’t worry about ZPG, we are already looking at NPD+ (Natural Population Decline + a little extra from China.

The fact is that many countries have had a declining Fertility rate for some 40 years, naturally and China introduced their one child policy around 1970, thus reducing the expected Global population further.

In terms of basic human rights, it does get complicated, because if we didn’tt stop the exponential growth, then we would most certainly take away one of the most basic of those rights, from Billions of people, that being the right to life!

There is already far too many people on this planet for the planet to sustain over a lengthy period of time.

We have choices to make, which can not be avoided by politicians looking only at the next election.

Choose wisely!

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, we should. By eliminating poverty and offering good education to every citizen of our planet.

JLeslie's avatar

@perceptions_now Who do you mean when you say the right to life? Do you mean people have a right to self determination and if they want to have children they can have as many as they want? Or, are you assuming we are talking about aborting fetuses to control the population? I don’t think anyone on this thread is really talking about abortion (and especially not talking about forced abortions), we are talking about purposeful reproduction, using birth control in the first place if you want fewer children.

ultimatestar's avatar

not ‘trying,’ succeeding.

perceptions_now's avatar

Who do you mean when you say the right to life?
Life, in a Global sense, is seldom a matter of right or wrong individual choices, because the mix depends on a myriad of differring perspectives, it is more about getting the total balance right!

A large part of the balance now, as distinct from a 100 or 200 years ago, is arriving at a real, sustainable carrying capacity of the planet, for the human species.

Regrettably, it is likely that we have already exceeded the numbers where our only planet has the capacity to sustain the current numbers, in the manner we are accustomed to, for any length of time, let alone any long term expansion of the existing numbers.

Why that is the case, is perhaps a matter for another discussed, but a good place to start any such discussion would be that future production/supplies of Energy & Food are guaranteed to decline, over the short to medium term.

That said, a continuation of the existing Fertility rate reductions, particularly in some parts of the world, would ensure a Decline in total Global population starts within 20–30 years, without the necessity for any forcible abortions.

So, providing politicians don’t go for another baby boom (just to get re-elected), to offset the inevitable economic decline, due to the Aging Global Population and the reducing Growth rate of the Total global population, then everything may work out ok?

However, what I meant by my comment -

“In terms of basic human rights, it does get complicated, because if we didn’tt stop the exponential growth, then we would most certainly take away one of the most basic of those rights, from Billions of people, that being the right to life!”

is that, if we don’t choose wisely and we continue to Grow the human Population, beyond the planets capcity to sustain us via our Energy, Food & other needs, then we will consumme ourselves out of existence and into extinction.

In that manner, the “right” to new life may finally be at the cost of Billions of existing lives, if the right to balance can not be achieved!

My choice would be to achieve the right balance naturally, but if that does not make the needed balance & reductions, as required, then we could need to restrict families to two babies, not the 5 or 10, which still happens.

As indicated, I am happy for the balance to be sought by means of “self determination”, but if “self determination” means the extinction of the human species, then some of “our rights”, may need to be scaled back!

perceptions_now's avatar

these arguments against continued growth have been made since the dawn of economic thinking. They’ve always been invalid, and still are. Just watch and see.
Since I was not there at the dawn of economic thinking, I will leave commeting on what they may or may not have thought.

However, if you didn’t yet take the opportunity to look thru the information at the websites of Dr Albert Bartlett & Chris Martenson, then I think you may realise that we are no longer at the dawn of economic thinking.

In fact, we at now in the twilight stages, where continued growth in Population, Energy production & Food etc, just will not be possible.

By the way, this is not a position that I have always held, but more a position I have been convince on, over more recent times, arising from my own investigations of funding my retirement and where to put my retirement funds!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@perceptions_now I understand, and as I say, you’re not the first to embrace Malthusian economics. And his predictions of “unsustainability” weren’t the first to be discredited by events, either. A lot of Jimmy Carter’s economic planning was based on the same type of dire predictions of the Club of Rome in the 1970s… and they were just as wrong.

I’m not saying that the Earth’s resources are infinite, but the finite limits that some see now are… only what “they see” now. We’re nowhere near the limits of what is possible or potential growth.

LostInParadise's avatar

@CyanoticWasp , We should seriously consider the possibility that we are on a path that is not sustainable. It is not just energy limits. There are limits to the amount of fresh water and arable land. We have become dependent on coal and oil for fertilizer as well as energy. It is time to think about cutting back.

jca's avatar

what is a practical way of enforcing this? it would be best not to involve money or taxation since a large portion of the world is poor.

perceptions_now's avatar

We should seriously consider the possibility that we are on a path that is not sustainable. It is not just energy limits. There are limits to the amount of fresh water and arable land. We have become dependent on coal and oil for fertilizer as well as energy. It is time to think about cutting back.
I thought you may be interested in the following -

Why ‘peak oil’ collision provides opportunity for bold invention

ONE day, oil production will begin declining. The world’s drivers and transport operators and airlines, not to mention fertiliser, plastics and pharmaceutical manufacturers, will file their usual orders – only to be met by suppliers saying: “Um, sorry, we can only meet part of that order.”

Imagine the panic. Imagine the shock to markets. And imagine if that moment were to come not in 2130, or even 2030, but in 2013?

Some extremely influential figures doubt it can be: the head of Total Oil, Christophe de Margerie, doesn’t see global oil production ever exceeding 89-million barrels per day.

Peak oil warnings started gaining worrisome credibility when, in November 2008, the IEA sharply revised its projection for the annual rate of decline of output from existing oil fields, from 3,7% to 6,7%.

“We’ve got to be ready for a world with permanent $100-a-barrel oil. Oil is going to become too precious just to burn in cars. Oil is the source of our fertiliser, of our pesticides and pharmaceuticals, of most of our furnishings. It is the lifeblood of civilisation.”

“The problem is quite a lot of public servants ‘cried wolf’ about this in the past – but eventually the wolf usually does come to the door.

“I’m not a doom-and-gloom merchant, I’m for doing things. If we can build a carbon-composite spaceship that is a 1000 times more efficient than current ground-based rocketry, I think we can solve the problem of peak oil.”

‘Some predict that we’d face the prospect of global oil apartheid, where rich countries may corner supplies – and poor countries would be left lurching’.
Link -
A little tongue in cheek comment about building rockets & solving Peak Oil!

dabbler's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land ”@Futomara Not oil but the Industrial Revolution” That is correct, but @Futomara is close, it was coal that got the Industrial Revolution going, and that kicked our population into overdrive.

@mattbrowne has a bead on it : “eliminating poverty and offering good education to every citizen”. Prosperity, but especially equal opportunities for women, and health care for everyone especially the poor, causes whole populations to stop having desperate numbers of children. Well-educated societies so far have tended toward those conditions.

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