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To think that most people don't take the impact on population and the environment into account when deciding how many children to have?

(64 Posts)
12ylnon Tue 05-Feb-13 17:48:46

A couple of things have made me think of this recently, and i wanted to gauge people's opinions on it.

I was watching Food and Drink yesterday evening and there was a very interesting piece about food shortage and the population of the world reaching 9 billion by 2050. He was saying it like it was big news, but we've known this for years and have turned a blind eye. I find it scary.
I've also been reading a blog that's written by a woman who has 'turned their fertility over to god' and chosen to not use ANY form of contraception with her husband. She's on child number 3 and in her mid 20s.

Now, I'm pregnant with my second child. I've had the view that i would only ever have two children since i was about 15, as much as i would like lots (and trust me, i would like lots!). Luckily i met someone who felt the same way as me.

I hold the view that i should only have enough children to replace me and my partner on this earth and feel this very strongly about this. Thats not to say i would ever try to impose my views on others, as i very much have an 'each to their own' attitude towards these things, but i really can't help but think sometimes that people just don't factor in the strain population has on the planet when it comes to thinking about their own families. When you hear people talking about having a third, fourth or fifth, the questions always are 'can we afford another, can we afford to get a bigger car/house, will we have the time to care for another?' but never 'what impact will this have on the planet as a whole'.

Do you think this is something we should be thinking about? Would it make a difference to the decisions that you'll make? I would love to hear what people think about it.
And for the love of god, let's keep it civil smile

I've shoved the links to the blog and the 'Food and Drink' program at the bottom.
(article starts at about 11.50 mins)

chandellina Tue 05-Feb-13 20:22:20

London is only barely in the top 50 cities for population density. The South East would rank around 26th for population density if it were a country.

MummytoKatie Tue 05-Feb-13 20:20:53

Then again in the Uk we also have an aging population problem so maybe we should all be shoving out as many as possible in order to fund us all in our old age.

Personally I agree with the poster upthread who said that the most important thing would be worldwide access to reliable contraception.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:01:12

I do think it is worth considering and I agree that beyond two seems irresponsible to me (that's my gut feeling). I feel quite horrified at people carriers and other enormous gas guzzling vehicles.

. However, I think if anyone was that bothered, they shouldn't have children at all, and clearly this is unrealistic as no one is that selfless! It could be argued that a family of 6 could live economically by sharing and reusing resources, not buying as many goods etc - as BikingViking says.

And could it be argued that people living alone is very wasteful?

stickygingerbread Tue 05-Feb-13 19:59:15

yabu the problem of the 21st century will be the pressures aging and declining populations put on welfare states that were created when populations were young and growing. Decline has momentum so worldwide the population is likely to go much lower before evening out. One projection I read, based conservatively on current total lifetime fertility rates (which are actually still dropping - not factored in), has the earth revisiting 2.5B population in about 150 years.

What you or I do will not make a difference to the overall trend.

sub-replacement fertility

Moreover, while some jet about their many properties in private jets, I won't be concerned about my extremely modest carbon footprint.

lljkk Tue 05-Feb-13 19:52:43

Do you think this is something we should be thinking about?

No, because there are more productive ways to look at it.

The global population is increasing annual by the same number of unwanted pregnancies; make every pregnancy a planned one, the population explosion disappears.


Most women in the world STILL do not have full reproductive control over their bodies. In China admittedly, they've got very restricted opportunities. But in places where population is booming, women don't have the choice of only having a few children, or it is a very risky strategy because of high infant mortality rates and lack of pensions for old people. Sort those problems out, and again, human population would stabilise.

Abra1d Tue 05-Feb-13 19:49:06

It is extreme enough in the southeast of England--denser than anywhere else in Europe.

chandellina Tue 05-Feb-13 19:43:49

We are still only at around 1.98 children per woman, and that is only thanks to recent immigration helping boost the rate.

Population density is far from extreme in any part of the UK.

jeee Tue 05-Feb-13 19:39:06

We have 4 DC. I'm well aware that this isn't environmentally sound. Sure, I can say, 'well, I used one lot of washable nappies for the lot of them', or 'but we buy charity shop clothes' (both statements are true), but the bottom line is, four children is pretty selfish when you look at the impact on the planet.

But it's great fun.

VinegarDrinker Tue 05-Feb-13 19:38:43

If everyone thinks like that HeyHo then yes we really are fucked. How hard is it to turn off unused lights and recycle?!

HeyHoHereWeGo Tue 05-Feb-13 19:35:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Abra1d Tue 05-Feb-13 19:34:23

'chandellina Tue 05-Feb-13 19:22:51
Yabu overpopulation is far from a problem in the UK. People are not replacing themselves and we must rely on immigration to have enough workers to pay our pensions. '

Overpopulation is a great problem in the SE of the UK. And our birthrate is now at the highest rate it has been for ages.

The immigration argument doesn't wear because it is Ponzi demographics. We just create more pensioners who need funding. There are other reasons why immigration is a good thing, but this isn't one of them.

VinegarDrinker Tue 05-Feb-13 19:30:53

It is something we thought long and hard about before TTC #1 and will be another long chat prior to any potential #3. Environmental concerns affect how we live our whole life (eg we don't own a car, don't fly, are veggie, eat local etc) so that should include children.

Having said that, I'd like to see women across the world who want to prevent further children have universal access to free, safe contraception as a priority. Globally preventing unwanted pregnancies would have much more impact than a few westerners choosing to stop at 1 or 2.

StuntGirl Tue 05-Feb-13 19:24:07

It's a factor in my thinking. I'm not hugely keen on the idea of kids anyway, and the environmental/population impact definitely factors. But then I try and apply that thinking across my life anyway.

I think the OP who raised the idea of a high energy use one child family vs a low energy use 7 child family is interesting and a factor to consider. The amount of children is only part of the figures, how you and those children impact the world/resources is a bigger part.

VenusRising Tue 05-Feb-13 19:23:24

it was absolutely a consideration for us.

we considered it carefully, and have only one, and we very nearly didn't have her.

we don't have a tumble dryer, or a car, and i do yearly assessments on our carbon footprint, to minimise it.

i hardly even use caps on my computer, as you can see, just in case it uses too many pixels!! (though i am rather partial to commas and parentheses, as you can see)

seriously though, we considered it carefully, and do all those eco friendly things.

chandellina Tue 05-Feb-13 19:22:51

Yabu overpopulation is far from a problem in the UK. People are not replacing themselves and we must rely on immigration to have enough workers to pay our pensions.

In fact, fertility rates are falling all over the world, and the pace of population growth is slowing. There are real issues around food and water supplies but your choice to only have two children in the UK can only have a philosophical rather than a practical outcome.

Smartiepants79 Tue 05-Feb-13 19:22:34

It is a very reasonable point of view, unfortunately having children is always a very emotion driven descision and therefore reason rarely comes into it! wink
We have just had our second child and I can't see us having anymore. I do worry about the impact of population growth on my children's future but it is from a much more selfish point of view!

Bowlersarm Tue 05-Feb-13 19:21:18

YANBU at all, but I don't think people will suddenly become less selfish about the number of children they have in order to save the planet in the future.

Abra1d Tue 05-Feb-13 19:20:52

YANBU. OP. And the people who say, we have five children but we're oh so into recycling and hardly use our car are deluding themselves. Their grown children will need housing, transport, food, clothing.

We have two. If I had been living fifty years ago, when the population of the UK was smaller, I might have three or four.

Saski Tue 05-Feb-13 19:15:25

*It's a bit self indulgent and wanky to pose such notions in a country like the UK. You're not dealing with food shortages, with overpopulation, with the problems that come with it. You (a relatively rich person, globally) can have as many children as you like and you don't need to worry about them dying from dysentary.

It's a bit unseemly to appropriate the real pressing issues of the developing world and postulate them as esoteric philosophical problems as if they really affect you.*

Self-indulgent to consider the global effects of C02 emissions? I've heard it all now.

Saski Tue 05-Feb-13 19:12:58

I considered it. Honestly I didn't want 3 kids after having 2 and this dovetailed nicely, but I feel pretty strongly about it just the same.

I don't understand this whole yes I have 5 kids but we are super environmentally conscious. So, are you going to admonish the five of them to collaboratively produce only the footprint of 2 people? How long will this follow them? If it sounds ridiculous - that's how it sounds to me too.

I think that people who blithely have five kids should probably go and spend some time in Mumbai or similar.

MsAkimbo Tue 05-Feb-13 19:09:34


My DH and I talked about this recently. Has anyone ever seen 'The Queen of Versailles'?

poppycock6 Tue 05-Feb-13 19:09:03

OP I think you are absolutely right. We all have a moral duty to think about the planet but sadly, few people give it a second thought.

Himalaya Tue 05-Feb-13 19:08:09

The rise in population from 7 to 9 billion is fairly certain - barring some really horrendous catastrophe. It's not based on people having too many children - it's demographic inertia - so a lot of countries in the developing world have large young populations. And everywhere people are living longer. When this generation of kids grow up and have 1 or 2 children themselves (much fewer than their parents generation), and with people living longer the population will continue to rise before it levels off,

Family planning is important because its good for individuals, not particularly for environmental reasons. For the environment we've got to work out how to support 9 billion people with the planets resources.

Flobbadobs Tue 05-Feb-13 18:56:27

YANBU, she says sat in a house with 3 children in it...
But population isn't the only answer is it? People need to become more self sufficient and environmentally aware in every day life, not just quit having kids.
It's not something you can regulate properly either, China may officially limit each family to one child in some areas but it leads to many problems such as female infanticide, forced abortions, neglect and abandonment. It's not feasible to enforce restrictions in a free society nor is it morally right to do so when this can happen.

WafflesandWhippedCream Tue 05-Feb-13 18:56:12

This is something that DH thinks is important too, and is one of the many reasons why we are stopping at two children. I wouldn't say it was the main reason though!

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