Thursday, August 21, 2008

Five Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce Population

A number of ecological writers have pointed out that if we are going to stop global warming, cut our energy usage, and be able to feed everyone, we are going to have to also cut down on the number of people on the planet. This is something that makes a lot of people (including me) uneasy. It's hard to tell people that they can't have children. They tried it in China and it was a bit of a fiasco (it's part of the reason, for example, why there are so many young Asian women in the US with with adopted white parents).

But, on thinking about it further, I realized, short of telling people not to have children, there are some pretty easy things we can do that will slow down the population increase. In the vein of books like 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Planet, I am proposing five simple ways to reduce population.

1) Support increased access to birth control. Sounds simple, but things like the Catholic Church's opposition gets in the way. I can understand their opposition to abortion (I have mixed feeling on the subject) but increased use of effective birth control would actually decrease the need for abortion.

2) Support nonparenthood. Again it sounds easy, but there is often pressure to parent. Folks who choose not to have children are sometimes viewed as immature or shirking their adult duties. We need to value nonparents. Besides helping reduce population, some of them would probably enjoy helping out parents and taking some of the pressure of parenting off them. I speak from experience here--as a nonparent myself, I have helped raise other children.

3) Support same-sex marriage. Yes, some lesbians are having children, but not as many as heterosexual couples, and few gay men have an interest in having children (although many have, again, helped raise children not their own). Not coincidentally, gays and lesbians sometimes view heterosexuals as being 'Breeders'.

4) Support better education for everyone. Studies have shown a connection between education and population - as literacy and education improve, fertility rates tend to decline. (For a vivid example of this check out information on 'The Kerala Model'. Kerala, India, is a very poor region with a high literacy rate and a low birth rate.) This is probably because better educated women tend to bear fewer and healthier children than women with little or no education. I read somewhere that having women in graduate school is a major form of birth control. We also need better education for men, so that they understand this.

5) Support women having more power and influence over family size, and more power in general. Robert Engleman, from the Worldwatch Institute, has written a book called More: Population, Nature and What Women Want. In it he claims when women take control over family size, birth rates shrink. We could also support women running for political offices, since that's also a form of birth control.

Quote of the day: "'Smart growth' destroys the environment. 'Dumb growth' destroys the environment. The only difference is that 'smart growth' does it with good taste. It's like booking passage on the Titanic. Whether you go first-class or steerage, the result is the same." - Albert Bartlett
Word (or phrase) of the day: Worker self-management
Hero(es) of the day: Oskar Schindler

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this issue out Moonraven.

I will be back with some extensive comments on our explosive human procreation upon our planet. It is a global category 6 hurricane reality with me. I have lived in 3rd world countries, where birthrate and religion have not worked out very well, and poverty chaos is rampant...

And I am starting to see that kind of poverty chaos emerging within the U.S. Disturbing to say the least for the moment.

Our fundamental responsibility to creating a better world, and one that is better for new arriving children has been really disrespected greatly.

Yes, we need to evolve this awareness immensely.