Why Have Kids?, 31°

It's not as homo sapiens is an endangered species. Why do people have this need to have not only one kid, but a whole housefull of them? Do you think that's an extremely selfish choice that only harms the rest of the world and future generations? Why shouldn't we ban people from using infertility clinics? The biggest problem the world faces is human overpopulation, because there are not enough resources to go around. Quite frankly, shouldn't all nations adopt China's one child policy or at least give out free hysterectomies and financial incentives to those of us who choose NOT to have kids? What do you think?

27 replies

C Robb W. 429°

I'm going to stir the pot a bit. If we can agree that free birth control is a good idea, at least I think we do, how do we feel about IVF? A good friend of mine spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on IVF, jacked herself up on cancer causing hormones, failed multiple times, and finally had a lovely little girl. She is a great mom and I am so happy for her. Almost none of it was covered, no socialized health care to pay for it and in that instance I can almost agree with it. But what about NHS coverage for it? Should it only be available for the rich? That would certainly reduce it's incidence but is that ethical?

So should we be encouraging, even incentivizing over population?

Maybe as we overcrowd ourselves on this small planet we are developing/evolving traits that minimize our numbers. On the other hand it could just be a result of our increasingly polluted personal environment as in toxic skin care (I found a known carcinogen in my supposedly natural shampoo today), toxic diets (genetically modified high fructose corn syrup poison), toxic water (anyone for a nice glass of iced perchlorate). Just how many endocrine disrupters can we consume before we become impotent and barren?

It is looking likely climate change will do a far quicker job of reducing our numbers so the point is academic but just for discussions sake, what do you think?

Written in October 2008

Charles M. 110°

C Robb W: It isn't so much the IVF that is the problem, it is that the IVF can only be afforded by the very affluent who are the biggest consumers.

IMHO, medical intervention is overriding natural selection meaning that we need more and more intervention to survive. The sheep farmers in my area will cull from their flocks any ewes that needed help with delivering lambs. And they will automatically cull the lamb too. Why? The lamb is more likely to have delivery problems itself and the farmer does not want to breed that into the flock. In nature, where there is no intervention, the ewe would have died in the birthing process. The farmer is just doing what nature would have done.

Every time we intervene in a delivery or with IVF or whatever we're making a more sickly species.

Now it is very hard to consider this at a personal level because we all are, or know, someone who would have died without medical intervention.

In my case, my whole family (both parents, myself + both siblings) had rather complicated appendix issues that required surgery beyond a "normal" appendectomy. Without that surgery we would have died. But, had nature intervened earlier (ie. a few generations ago) we would not be here nor would we be passing that on to future generations.

Us humans are incredibly adaptable so I doubt that climate change will kill us (even if you believe the most extreme numbers). We produce many times more food than we need. Halving the food supply would leave us with more than plenty.

It is ourselves that are our biggest problem.

Written in October 2008

C Robb W. 429°

In the UK IVF is available on the NHS so it isn't just available to the rich but your point is well taken. I agree that we are interfering with natural selection. I don't believe climate change will kill us off, just reduce our numbers in much the same way a policy of population reduction might.

I see no reason to believe equitable sharing of the planets resources will increase in a resource constrained world. Halving the food supply, a likely scenario in the next 20 to 30 years, will starve those who can't afford it.

It is truly ourselves who are the problem.

Written in October 2008

Dimitri F. 100°

Why have kids? Wy not? The people who have kids get to extend their gene's life span and the ones that don't procreate simply don't...
I don't think over population is a matter to be controlled by us as much as we ought to control nature. I think what we - the over populated - perceive as a problem is a function of our tendency to want to control and play with nature's regulatory mechanisms like natural selection. Of course it's a difficult topic, socially and spiritually speaking, but one can probably acknowledge that our advances in artificially prolonging the lives of humans that would otherwise (under natural circumstances) not live on or our ability to artificially influence the possibilities of how people procreate (like in vitro etc...) who would otherwise not be able to, would have something to do with the population situation at hand today.

And to me it appears that it's less a matter of numbers but more a matter of quality of civilisation.
We all know that the planet could easily sustain us today if we would let it. But we don't. "We kill the goose that lays the golden eggs", we trash the resourses. No wonder that eventually we'll end up hungry.

Written in October 2008

C Robb W. 429°

I think we need to look at the idea that is blithely tossed about that the planet can support such huge numbers of us. That concept can only be supported when looking at individual systems in a rather reductionist way ie, agricultural output based on current models of production can support X amount of people. This fails to take into account that current models of production are a huge part of the problem with degradation of our eco sphere. This is true of any system you care to look at, housing, transportation, communications, etc. If we want a rich biodiverse planet that can sustain us and all the species we depend on there is no alternative to population reduction.

Even if there were a solution it would depend on a radically different model of existence. We need to face up to the fact that the corporate model of exploitation is currently in control of our fates and due to the very nature of corporate profit making motive the kinds of shifts necessary in the systems upon which we have come to depend are unlikely to say the least. As a result the most likely scenario is that we are not going to make the changes in time and climate change will do the job for us. The planet is self correcting, it has completely collapsed before, losing 95% of its life due to climate change very similar to what we are seeing the beginning of now. There is no reason to believe we are somehow special and will be saved from the effects of the mass extinction event we are bringing on.

Written in October 2008

Charles M. 110°

The models of production and consumption are intertwined.

In 1861, a Dr Gattling was very sickened by seeing dead and wounded and invented the machine gun. with the idea that by using machines fewer soldiers would be needed to create the same amount of fire power, thus fewer soldiers would be on the battle field to get injured and killed. Thus, his reasoning went, the machine would save lives.

Of course, what he failed to appreciate was that the military did not think of spraying the same number of bullets with fewer men, they thought of spraying more bullets with the same number of men. Thus, the fine Dr Gatlling ended up killing and maiming more soldiers than before.

The problems of this earth are caused less by over population than by over consumption. We have more obese people than starving people. Economics are based on driving up consumption and production rather than producing "enough".

In fact, people don't eat enough to keep the agricultural machine happy and ways are found to increase cinsumption. Much of the food on the planet is wasted in producing "higher value" products. Grains and legumes (themselves great foods) go into feedlots to produce meat, to distilleries to make alcohol for human and vehicle consumption. For every food unit that goes in, only a small fraction comes out.

That just looks at food, but the same applies almost everywhere. The drive for growth sees huge increases in consumption in all sectors: in the last 100 years in the West we've seen average house sizes increase dramatically (while family sizes decrease); water use has gone from a few gallons per person per day to hundreds of gallons per person per day; air travel is an everyday occurrence, etc etc...

It might seem reasonable to try reducing consumption by reducing population. In truth though, that will not fix the problem any more than Gattling did with his machine. All we will see is that consumption continues to grow as the small number of people become more consumptive to keep the corporate growth machine happy.

It is pointless trying to address population numbers, etc etc unless the whole economic foundation is corrected first.

Written in October 2008

Dimitri F. 100°

Interesting. I Agree. The number factor is measure for a symptom, not the cause. But population numbers are part of the feedback loop of any species' development. At least numbers can serve as a measure, a thinking aid. Like so many symptoms, over population appears to some of us humans of the consumer and producer congregation as what needs to be fixed. Just like climate change... or global warming or the pollution problem or disease etc.

Maybe there is access to causing desired change in what we individually DO rather than opinionate. Maybe leadership begins with what we put into our mounths rather than what comes out of it? Maybe the climate to be actually changed is something like the "internal" climate of us humans on a grand scale, namely our attitude toward embracing a responsibility for the effects our (personal) choices have "down the line" in the system.

A bit like playing chess. The more sophisticated the player, the further ahead she is capable of predicting possible moves and outcomes thus being able to adjust her decisions accordingly.

Instead of putting our focus into fixing the symptoms we can use them as measures to monitor our progress in changing causes. As Bill Mollison has said: "there are no problems - only solutions"

In a system like the food economy for example, one could use the physical health status of a population as a measure of their ability to maintain a sustainable "climate". What I mean by that is that a sick people is a bad climate manager...

So, a people who are used to use their SUVs to get some degraded and highly refined "food" from the supermarket, grabbing some burger 'n fries "for the road" and some xenical on the way back to their coutch (where they then consume the chips while enjoying a reality TV show) are hardly a people who would make good climate managers as there probably is not too much awareness abot such a thing as "the environment" anyway. However, we could learn a few things from the farmers who know how to fatten poultry in captivity.

As to the notion of letting Nature do the regulating, well that's probably the default setting anyway. It might be the question of learning how to ride out the likely adjustments nature must make to re-balance the whole global climate system. Whether humans are part of the future biological landscape or whether we join the dinosaurs in heaven will remain to be seen.

Written in October 2008

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