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One Planet chat
The UK and global populations are double what they were fifty years ago, and they’re still growing – they’ll be significantly higher in 40 years time.
We should reduce wasteful and damaging consumption as individuals, but this will have a limited impact if population numbers keep increasing in the UK, the US and developing countries which are rapidly industrialising and urbanising.
Many women in developing countries don’t have access to affordable family planning. Should there be better aid funding of this, especially by the US? In the developed world, should we make an individual commitment to “stop at two”?
see optimumpopulation.org for some interesting analysis of environmental footprints and sustainable populations
Oh my, are you a parent? I can’t think of anyone who would welcome something like the Chinese regime where I have heard they are limited to 1 child. And as girls aren’t valued as highly as boys there are fetal sexing tests available, and the % of boys born FAR outweighs the % of girls born(I have only seen this on TV and in articles, so have no definitive proof of these claims)
Also, are you sure of your statistics? Surely immigration accounts for some of the UK population increase?
It’s a very personal thing, having children, and I would be very uncomfortable in a society where such a personal thing was controlled. It should be the individuals’s decision.
I don’t want to sound mean, but please read before you write. How does my “Stop at Two” become your limited to one child? How does my individual commitment (i.e. entirely voluntary) become your controlled? Immigration does account for about half of the current UK increase in population. But they come from countries where the population is increasing rapidly through high birth rates, so my argument still stands. Yes, gender imbalance is an issue, which is why we should promote gender equality and also say “Stop at two”, not “Stop at one” And yes, it should be the individual’s decision. Currently, it isn’t in much of the world because of the lack of access to affordable family planning.
O.K., you got me, I’m doing this at some early hours in the morning, and not paying attention to the details.
However , my main point still stands.
I don’t know anyone who would be comfortable living in a society where the number of children you have is governed by someone other than yourself.
If what you say is true re. no access to birth control, then, a campaign to make birth control available to all is a much more acceptable solution.
Perhaps you might like to consider why only one person has responded to your proposal.
It may seem like a “logical” idea, but it intrudes on basic human rights, and as such is worth ignoring.(communism also seemed llike a good idea at the time)
Still, let’s remember we’re all on the same side. Go for it with a” birth control for all “campaign.
I respect your commitment to trying for a solution.
M : )
I’m new to this site, but I couldn’t help spotting this discussion, particularly as I read an article on this precise subject on The Independent website a few days ago (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-are-there-just-too-many-people-in-the-world-828254.html)
I agree with eclipsed that a society where the number of children we are permitted to have is controlled by government is not the sort of society I want to live in. However, there does seem a basic mathematical and ecological logic to the argument that as the population rises, the planet at some point will not be able to provide enough resources for everyone. A population must be in balance with the resources available to it – something which the western world is certainly not achieving.
I think the argument made in the article is a good one – research shows that as poverty decreases, people tend to have fewer children, and education about contraception, particularly in Africa, isn’t primarily an issue of reducing births but reducing AIDS. Theoretically then, if we can reduce or eliminate poverty, we might begin to see an end to unsustainable population increases. That’s a big if, I know. Eventually, population will have to stabilise at a level that the planet can sustain – either that or we’ll have to go looking for a new planet to put people on!
I don’t normally join online discussions, but just had to this time to say:
Simonr is NOT suggesting that the number of children we have is controlled by someone other than yourself!
He in fact asks:
“In the developed world, should we make an individual commitment to “stop at two”?”
I do think that we should make an individual commitment to stop at two. I haven’t yet started a family though, so I can’t say how I might feel if I had children (when I was young I wanted 3 or 4 kids).
With close friends who have 4 young children, I accept that it is a personal choice. But I do believe that if we talk more about this – as well as about flying abroad, chosing the food we eat more carefully, etc – then more people will begin to feel that it is worth making the choices that help to protect our environment. (ie, the more these choices are discussed and become mainstream the less you feel that you are a drop in the ocean).
I have to admit that I speak as someone who still has a great deal of adjustments to make to their lifestyle to live in an environmentally sound way.
I think we all need to take a second to stop and think about the bigger picture here. It’s no good people thinking “I’ll have as many kids as I want” because it’s just short sighted and selfish – the earth simply cannot sustain the current population without causing massive damage to our ecosystems – FACT and people need to get that into their heads.
population increase is definitely a problem especially if individual consumption levels are as they are in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and the Middle East – in the region or 3 to 5 planets!
But withholding the creation of new consumers won’t absolve the fact that we – the living – are consuming more than our fair share.
Global population is set to stablise in the region of 9 billion – 2.5 billion above our current rate…
but even if we were able to stop anymore population increase there are still several billion people living in countries that are starting to join the consumer treadmill – and will very quickly begin to consume at a level much closer to what we do here in the UK.
Whilst we must all become more conscious about the amount of children we have in the west, we must also discover a way of life that requires far, far, less resources to sustain it.
i have 4 children and my footprint is way below anyone elses. I am bringing up my kids the same way i was brought up, to respect the world we live in and all that share it. We don’t have fancy tvs and must have gadgets, but we want for nothing. we grow most of our own food, buy second hand, use the freecycle sites and reuse what we’ve got already. I know plenty of single people or couples who buy for the sake of buying the latest gadgets and get rid of the out of date ones. I’m extremely proud of my kids when they tell other kids and their parents how we live, their friends are all for it, but their parents are horrified at the thought of having anything second hand let alone anything else. So who’s doing the more damage my family or a gadget geek?!
I really admire your low footprint. It does show your respect for the world. I suppose the point I was making is that we are now better at limiting wars, disease, famine, accidents and most other causes of early death. If we all have four children, the world population will double every 30 years, soon exhausting all the planet’s resources and species, no matter how low our footprint is. And, if we’re honest, I don’t think you can rely on your children and grandchildren to live in the way you do.
I agree with you about challenging wasteful lifestyles, but it’s too late to say it’s either/ or, given climate change and biodiversity losses. We really need live in a ecologically aware fashion and limit the growth in population numbers as well.
How many people lost their lives in China and Burma? How many wars has their been in our life time, compared to our parents? Disease and famine are still a major cause for concern in Africa. These things have not afffected people in England, or have they just made people feel guilty? Its never too late to do something about climate change and if I’ve educated my kids in doing their bit and therefore educating others, then I’ve done more than the average person. People are not going to stop having children, and if they are told to have only 2, what happens to the third child? I don’t want to see children “dumped” by orphanage doors, cause that is what is happening in China. Although they strongly deny it. Are you a parent?
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