Dec 052008

Planning on having kids or have kids? Wanna contribute to making the world a worse place? There are a ton of problems facing the world today and I believe that a major problem that causes a large number of these problems is…cue drum roll…human overpopulation. Currently there’s about 6.8 billion people in the world.

According to Marvin Minsky, a population of about 500 million is sustainable, less than a percent of the current population (0.07%). Garbage and waste would no longer be huge problems, our energy consumption would go way down, the standard of living for everyone would rise, very few or no one would be poor anymore, there would be a greater number of resources available for a smaller number of people, anyone who wanted to could be educated well, there would be better health care available for everyone, etc.

If the population of the world would decrease instead of increasing, it would solve poverty, famine, food and water shortages, land shortages, the energy crisis, global warming, and many other things.

Of course, I would not suggest that we start killing people, but rather that initiatives that promote not having kids or having fewer kids, such as better education (especially for women), family planning, encouraging use of contraceptives, etc be supported. This will slow down the population growth and cause birth rates to fall. After they have fallen to sustainable levels, incentives can be created to keep the population at a certain level. A birth rate of 2.3 or so will have to be encouraged. So, each couple can have two kids if they so choose, and the .3 will cover those that can’t or won’t have kids. Currently, many developed nations have low native birth rates (below replacement in some cases, such as Japan and Canada), and birth rates are falling around the world as, among other things, education improves. I’m not sure future projections of population growth take this into account, actually. The figures on population growth that I’ve heard have suggested that the rate of population growth will accelerate, however, my intuition in this area suggests it is and will continue to slow down. I’d like to see some updated figures.

What I want to suggest is that this is a trend that is already existing and I think that if you’re attempting to solve almost any of the major problems facing the world, reducing the birth rate can certainly help. So, what can you do about it? Don’t have kids, or have fewer kids. If you’re in a developed nation, than one of your kids has a much bigger environmental footprint and takes up more resources than a kid in a less developed nation.

Additionally, according to Stumbling on Happiness, married couples without kids are happier than couples with kids. Kids are expensive as hell, too. Additionally, there is an international movement called Childfree to provide support for those couples who can’t or choose not to have kids. So, do you want to have kids? Why?

BTW, apparently around 50% of pregnancies in the US are unwanted and I can’t imagine that number being much different in other developed nations. So, having kids because it was an accident doesn’t count as a reason to have kids.

Disclaimer: I am currently uncommitted to one or the other. However, let’s hear your arguments one way or the other.

  6 Responses to “The One Problem Causing Almost All the Others”

  1. Great post! I originally planned to have kids, but my husband and I have decided not to. In fact, I am so interested in the subject matter, that I am writing a book called “Kidfree & Lovin’ It”, for which I have an online survey that over 2,600 childfree and childless people around the world have taken. I would love you to take it too. Just click on this link to take you there, and you can remain anonymous if you like:

    By the way, the worldwide birthrate is going down lately (it’s now 2.61), as fewer people are opting to have children. But that’s still above the replacement rate of 2.1. Ironically, the U.S. is at 2.1, because while the educated people are having fewer kids, the immigrants are having over 3 each, making up for our decrease. One in five U.S. women are not having children now, as opposed to one in ten in 1976.

    I hope you take the survey. Thanks, and enjoy!

  2. Wonderful! Thank you for your comment. Good luck on your book!

  3. Thank you! (It’s a labor of love.) Let me know if you have any comments about the survey.

  4. Dear RT Wolf,

    I would like to quote parts of your article above in my book (Kidfree & Lovin’ It). Do you want me to credit you as “RT Wolf”?

    And, is this considered a blog, an essay, or an article? Please advise.


  5. […] on teh subject. More info here: Kidfree & Lovin’ It! I wrote a blog post on this myself: The One Problem Causing Almost All the Others | Mind-Manual There’s a number of problems involved here. For example, say you adopt a kid from a third world […]

  6. “According to Marvin Minsky, a population of about 500 million is sustainable, less than a percent of the current population (0.07%)”

    Check your math. Given an approximate world population of 6.77 billion, the percentage is 7%, not 0.07%.

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