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do we have a duty to think about over-population...

(20 Posts)
SoupDragon Fri 04-Sep-09 13:25:38

... or should we just have as many children are we like? Reading about the Duggars who are expecting their 19th child made me wonder.

Some people say they should be able to have as many as they like but I'm not convinced that is true. Surely we have some kind of responsibility not to over populate the planet?

Obviously by having 3 I have contributed to the problem myself albeit to a much lesser degree.

fleximum Fri 04-Sep-09 13:30:11

I think there are a number of conflicting views on this subject. Environmentalists would argue that we should limit family size to protect resources. However, in developed countries we have an increasingly ageing population so some might argue that we have a responsibility to have more than one child to prevent society becoming too top heavy. The alternative is a population where a huge number of non-working elderly are having to be supported by a shrinking group of young people.

mumblechum Fri 04-Sep-09 13:32:19

Yes, but you can't stop people from breeding like rabbits (unless they happen to live in China).

I do get annoyed when I hear people pontificating about the fact that we have to grow more food/build more houses etc because the worldwide population is going to grow by x million over the next 30 years. Surely there should be much more emphasis on contraception education.

I'm talking particularly about third world countries where people keep on having children that they can't possibly afford to care for properly. And I know that that's their culture, they "need" children to care for them in their old age, or because some of them will die from malnutrition or disease, but why not have fewer children, better resourced??

SoupDragon Fri 04-Sep-09 14:15:16

It's not black and white I guess, although the "supporting a top heavy population" slant only applies to well developed countries with good levels of healthcare etc.

I would imagine that it is an absolute fact that the earth can not continue to support an ever increasing population. At some point it's going to run out of something or other. From this point of view, it is rather irresponsible to have more than, a one-for-one replacement of the parents. You could probably argue that China has the right idea in trying to reduce population by a one child only rule - is this the future for everyone?

I'm not judging those who have large families BTW.

NeverLeapfrogOverAUnicorn Fri 04-Sep-09 14:17:07

is the planet overpopulated though?

Most of it is uninhabited.

BonsoirAnna Fri 04-Sep-09 14:19:07

Yes of course the planet is overpopulated with humans. Humans are using up natural resources at an alarming rate, resources that cannot be replaced. Eventually we will run out (of fossil fuels, fish etc etc etc).

KERALA1 Fri 04-Sep-09 14:21:16

I read the economic argument ie that you need more children to support an ageing population described as an enviromental Ponzi scheme. More and more people to buy more and more products that eventually the planet cannot sustain.

Actually currently agonising over this alot - second daughter is nearly 1 and I would love a third but feel really guilty about it. Am interested in how those on the larger families threads have squared it with their consciences...

ninedragons Fri 04-Sep-09 14:22:59

I think you could make a good case for targeting Western aid in the form of guaranteed lifetime pensions for people in developing countries who got sterilised (voluntarily) after having one or two children.

I'm sure that women living on smoking garbage dumps in the Philippines don't actually want ten children. But if that's the only way you can ensure you won't literally starve to death at 65, then that's what you have to do.

NeverLeapfrogOverAUnicorn Fri 04-Sep-09 14:23:24

Yes fossel fuels will run out - we can use solar and wind energy. so that is no problem.

fish - well, it is easy to farm fish (? is that the term? breed them in captivity for food. ) So it is certainly not inevitable that we will run out of all fish. (same for any animal that we eat. we can and do breed them for food.) a lot more land can be given over for crops, so more people can certainly be fed.

I'm not saying it is a fantastic idea to have lots more people grin. People just ruin things and cause trouble! I'm just saying that there are ways and means to provide much more.

mumblechum Fri 04-Sep-09 14:26:48

Ninedragons, that's an excellent idea and I would happily change my charitable giving to something along those lines.

SoupDragon Fri 04-Sep-09 14:39:31

"Most of it is uninhabited" No, a lot of it is uninhabitable.

I can honestly say that over population didn't cross my mind when I decided to have a third child. I bet it's much the same for everyone else.

"a lot more land can be given over for crops" Can it?? I don't think the argument about farming fish and other animals stands up wither - IIRC the "cost" of raising, say, cattle is immense (lad cost, feeding them and the fact that they're a big contributor to global warming with their farts.)

NeverLeapfrogOverAUnicorn Fri 04-Sep-09 14:51:06

and a lot of it is uninhabited but perfectly suitable for people.

for example - how much of Britain is uninhabited while so many people are squashed into the cities? I look out of my window and all I see is empty space!

"A lot more land can be given over for crops", "can it" - yes, I think it probably can. Are you telling me that there is no more land for crops in the world? Are you telling me that there are no boreholes to be dug to find water to irrigate these crops?

People need to start to think differently, imo. See that you can live differently. It may be true that we can't stay exactly as we are on a much larger scale but we can move on and live differently and the world can accommodate more of us.

Use land and resources wisely and I think there's a lot more room than people think.

GoldenSnitch Fri 04-Sep-09 14:52:11

We will only be having 2 children and a large part of that decision was to do with the environment.

The world cannot support an ever increasing human population - it's already struggling to support the current population!

2jamsandwiches Fri 04-Sep-09 14:54:01

OK, so the populations of poorer countries are growing much faster than those of richer countries.

That's not so much because people 'choose' to have 4 or 6 or 8 children, but because there isn't the concept of 'choice' - very little access to contraception, very rarely is it free. The idea that children are 'expensive' isn't universal either - monetising people is cultural...

Also, 5 Somali children use a tiny fraction of the resources that my 2 use here, despite us being cloth nappy, no car, local food types.

If there isn't, at some point, going to be a huge and hideous series of environmental and human calamities we need lots of things to happen:
- a BIG decrease in the populations of richer countries
- a BIG decrease in the resources inhabitants of richer countries use, probably alongside a fall in 'standard of living'
- a MEDIUM increase in the standard of living and resource use of poorer countries

Overmydeadbody Fri 04-Sep-09 14:54:24

I think we do have a duty to think about it.

I think some kind of licence to become a parent would possibly be a good thing too, at least to stop unwanted children being born.

SoupDragon Fri 04-Sep-09 15:43:22

Um, if you fill up all the empty space with people, where will you grow the crops/raise animals? Where will the plants be that the planet needs to breath?

"the world can accommodate more of us." There is clearly a point at which it can't support more of us. Just because we're not there yet doesn't mean we can carry on as we are. I would say we're on fairly shaky ground already given the devastation we, as a race, have wreaked on the world.

NeverLeapfrogOverAUnicorn Fri 04-Sep-09 16:06:47

grin Do you think I am suggesting we breed until we are shoulder to shoulder?

I am simply saying that we are not at capacity, not by a long shot! human wastefulness, squandering resources, selfishness, greed etc etc make things seem like we are. Like I say - if we live differently there is room for more on the planet.

OrmIrian Fri 04-Sep-09 16:15:27

There is also a quality of life element to all this. We need some open spaces, even if we don't use them. I don't want humans to be packed into all the available space like crates in a container ship. It isn't a natural way to live. The knowledge that there are green place and clean air out there somewhere, even if you only see them once in a blue moon is vital IMO. And I think we do owe some duty to other species on this planet.

Reducing consumption, accepting a lower standard of living in exchange for a better quality of life, and increasing understanding of the issue so that people choose to limit their families a little is the way to go.

SebastianneMelmouth Tue 30-Dec-14 23:55:45

Some thoughtful comments here.
Few people seem to be realise that the overpopulation warnings were relevant in the 1960's and 70's with the deadline of the year 2000.
In the '80's and '90's, the media kept talking as if the problem had 'gone away' and therefore the whole issue of Overpopulation was assumed to be sin some sense ;solved' (Overpopulation isn't 'news', it's just boring old addition).
But... the world's population has boomed pretty much as predicted and all the side-effects of it have happened - plastic gyres, water-wars, mass extinctions and massive displaced peoples. We've been dealing with it by encroaching on even more areas but we're already at way above the numbers this planet can support.
This isn't about how big a factory-farmed crate we can cram the human race into (That'd be the size of Texas), it's where all the fuel, water, food and waste management is supposed to come from and we've now reached crisis point. See the News for details.
The GOOD news is that to lower population,growth, all that has to be done is to give women access to birth control, education and the assurance that their kids will have a decent chance of growing up (If they're likely to die, people have lots of kids to be sure one will live) and one more thing ... Enfranchisement for Women.
That really IS vital.
With those, a growing birthrate lowers automatically. See Germany, Japan or the Netherlands for this happy state.
And, the less kids people have, the more time they have to love them, play with and educate them and happy kids, grow to be happy people.

Sparklingbrook Wed 31-Dec-14 00:06:23

The comments are from 2009. confused

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