Impact on the earth from having lots of kids?

Jakki - posted on 08/24/2012 ( 70 moms have responded )

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In another community someone posted the question "should I have a 7th child?" Nearly everyone responded very positively saying things like "if you can afford it, go ahead" and "large families are great, I wish I'd had more kids" and so on.



Maybe everyone was being polite, but no one said "7 kids - what about the impact on the earth?"



Eventually I suggested that the earth wasn't going to be an easy place to live by the end of the century because oil will have run out, and someone else said something like "where are the resources going to come from for your 7th child?".



But I was surprised how few people seemed to even consider the idea that 7 kids was an awful lot from an environmental perspective.



I know we're all parents here - but I'd be interested what the debating mums think about this question ie is there a moral issue about having lots of kids who are going to grow up and consume vast amounts of resources, and what about the life they will face as the resources become increasingly scarce?



Does it bother you, or is this something you never think about?

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Johnny - posted on 08/25/2012

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Jakki, don't waste your breath. I've gotten into this debate several times and have come to the conclusion that most parents couldn't give a rat's ass what the earth is like when their kids are older or their grandchildren are born. Either they've never bothered to think about it; they are totally naive to the significance of overpopulation on a global scale particularly related to water resources so they think everything will be just dandy; they are religious and think god will fix it; or they are just too self-absorbed to care, they want what they want.



It does bother me. A great deal. Many countries are working hard to limit their birth rates, and have come up with some amazing, positive programs to do so. Countries like Brazil have managed to lower their birth rate from the previous generation's average of 6 kids per family to less than 2 per family now. They didn't take draconian measures, they used education and the appeal of being able to give each child a better life. Yet in a few western industrialized countries, a segment of the population is glamorizing popping out multitudes of children and painting it as the moral choice. It's not. We share the globe. It doesn't matter where you live, the resources are shared.



But honestly Jakki, most people just can't get past their own desires to care about what happens to our children's future. The planet will survive overpopulation, the human race and our descendants are the ones who will suffer brutally from our hubris.

Jakki - posted on 08/29/2012

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Hi Momma - I don't know if I am missing out on the nuances of your argument - my feeling simply is that given that westerners on average use up so many resources, we certainly shouldn't be encouraging each other to have 7 of those resource-hungry critters (cute though they may be).



I'm horrified as you are by overconsumption - I can't believe that people buy huge gas guzzling cars and drive them everywhere without a second thought, put their air con on all the time, get a new kitchen because it is 7 years old, drink imported mineral water, etc etc...



I am also horrified that people do not even consider the impact on the earth of any of their decisions, and say things like "I earned it, it's my right to consume".



Each time we bring another child into the world, we need to think not only of every single thing they are going to consume during their lives, but the impact of all their decendents too!



Wow! It's too much for me...off to bed. Good night.

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I never said we were not over consuming--I completely agree with you that we are. I also never said that over population in developing countries is to blame. The OP was written by a person living in a 1st world country, so I assumed we were talking about over population in groups of people who are over consuming. In my opinion, you are correct in saying that a woman in the US having 7 kids is doing a lot more damage to the environment than a woman in Ethiopia having 7 kids. The Ethiopian mother who has 7 kids is not the issue at hand, and even collectively Ethiopian households of 5+ have very little impact on the environment and consumption of our resources. On the other hand, the US mom should think seriously about her decision to have that many children and it's impact on our resources. The 7 kids in Ethiopia are not likely to grow up and build individual homes, with 2-4 televisions hooked up to underground cables or satellites that litter outer space, electric climate control systems, and an arsenal of electric devices to do what we can do with our own hands. They are less likely to drive 2+ cars 30+ miles to work so that they can live in a nice subdivision with a chlorinated, electrically pumped pool without having to look at factories and office buildings.



I also agree that only working to control population growth would not be enough to help us with the conservation of our planet, we must work collectively on ALL issues at hand--population control in developed countries, over consumption by developed countries, renewable energy sources, and clean energy sources.



It should also be mentioned that those over consumers in the developed nations get much of their resources from undeveloped nations, stripping them of the very resources they need to develop. Basically, the US may not seem over populated when you look around, but we are, because we are using more than our fair share of resources, and when we have more and more children we are creating more and more adults who will, in turn, use more than their fair share of resources.

Lucy - posted on 08/26/2012

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Although I can understand the points of view of both camps on this one, ultimately I come down on the side of those who believe we should all consider the wider environmental impact of our family and life style, which includes family size.



The argument that if you (in general, not any one individual here!) can personally provide what your large family needs, so the problem isn't your problem, is very short sighted in my opinion. The question that we should all be asking is not what can I provide my child with today, but what will the world be able to provide for all our children in the long term?



The idea that the circumstances of someone in another area of the world is of no concern because it's not your country has always seemed like a bizarre one to me. We are all human beings living on the same small planet, and just because some of us have had the good fortune to have been born in areas with rich natural resources, I don't believe we have the right to claim those resources as exclusively ours simply on the basis of close proximity.



There is also the serious but often unacknowledged fact that many of the problems which affect natural resources in some countries (drought/flood due to climate change, deforestation to make way for industrial farming) are caused directly by their more developed neighbours else where on earth, and the huge consumer demand and industrial emissions from these over populated nations.



I come from a very large family myself, where it is the norm to have around 5/6 children per household. There were lots of things I loved about growing up in a large family, and on an emotional and personal level I would love to have carried on in the same vein, but we have bucked the trend and made the conscious decision to have only 2 children. Unless each of us as individuals is prepared to take our share of the responsibility for taking care of our environment beyond the level of our locality, where ever we may live, the huge man made problems we face will only get worse. I don't want that for my kids or theirs.

Johnny - posted on 08/25/2012

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Jakki, you totally hit the nail on the head.



And yup, I do judge the heck out of people who have huge amounts of kids. I don't really think much of it when people have 3 or 4, but over that, its really disturbing, and it doesn't matter where on this earth you live. Borders are artificial, planetary resources aren't interested in our man-made borders. We are all stuck on this rock together and the level of disregard that people have for our collective future generations is really warped. It's all about what makes them happy now. Rather sad that thinking about how their decisions could impact our grandchildren positively wouldn't make them happy. Perhaps they don't really deserve it.



There is a huge amount of research that demonstrates overpopulation as the central reason for most environmental problems, and it is causing increasing social unrest as well. Wars are already being fought over access to water. What do you think the massacres in Darfur were all about? Or do you not care about them because they aren't where you live? Yup, I judge that big time and feel no guilt over doing so.



I honestly find it shocking that someone's loud music that is bothering you right now is a bigger deal than millions suffering from drought, famine, and war in the fairly near future. Eek.

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Teresa - posted on 10/06/2012

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My first mjr in college was environmentalism and two of my professors, with kids, said that they chose only to have two kids to replace them and their spouses. SOUnds practical. Then I moved to UT where a girl I worked with was 21 and had 20 siblings with another one on the way, and yes I said SIBLINGS. There are many people that don't have kids whether they can anda odnt want to or they just can't, nd yes you can say there are plenty to adopt, but for m to tel a person NOT to have a 7th kid just becaue I thought the world was overpopulated is beyond my consience. I would not limit a couple their children just as I would not tell a woman it was her duty to reproduce. That is a personal choice and not the end all be all of the state of our world. There are many more pertinant issues to deal with concerning the state of our world other than the population. Polution is number one and no matter how many people are in the world that will only multiply. Third world countries where the population is "out of control" leave less of a footprint on our world than an average family of 4 in the US.

Jenny - posted on 10/04/2012

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I just found this thread. I'm going to post this to remind myself to read it all later.

Sherri - posted on 10/03/2012

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@Amanda other than the baby none of my kids get 1 on 1 time ever. From the moment they get up we spend time just as a family. Breakfast, homework, dinner, trips out, vacations etc. None of my children have suffered or would want it any other way. They have a ton of love and tons of my attention 24/7 to be exact it just isn't 1 on 1 attention.



I asked them recently if they could have their choice would they want to be only children or have all their siblings. The oldest 2 without hesitation said have my siblings, being an only child is far too lonely. We always have someone to hang with, argue with and help do the chores with.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/03/2012

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Yes it bothers me. I think about the effects people are putting on the earth daily. It scares me how quickly we are destroying our planet.

Amanda - posted on 10/03/2012

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i personally don't see why anyone would want to have so many kids...like i only have 2, and i find myself asking my older son to entertain his little brother so i can get some cleaning done at times. i can't even imagine having 1 more, let alone 5. people are crazy these days. I don't look at it from an environmental aspect, i look at it from a logical aspect, there is no way that if you have seven kids you can give them all the amount of personal 1 on 1 attention and time they need with you, there are times when i have trouble spending enough 1 on 1 time with my two when i have a lot of house work to do and i have to work that day...i couldn't even imagine having 7 kids.

Sherri - posted on 09/05/2012

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Nope doesn't bother me. I have 4 kids and if I could have had 12 I would have, god had different plans for us though. Large families are amazing and I can't imagine not having them.

Momma - posted on 09/02/2012

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Where is the proof that having less kids is going to create a longer lasting earth?? You can have 10 kids and consume less than someone that has 2 kids. As I have said, I know people with one kid and they consume and trash a heck of a lot more than my two child family. I am talking double, if not more. I don't get it. I don't understand why people are stuck on population. The OP was about the affects on the earth, not just population, so why is that the prime topic here? When it is not the prime issue.



As I have debated in my previous posts, ALL developed Countries have a low birth rate. Even if everyone STOPPED having kids the impact would not be much, if any. Developed Countries do not have a population issue, they have an consumption issue. Of which can be very well maintained at 7, 2 and no kids. It is disgusting how much we take for granted. Countries that are overpopulated and have more kids than the average American/Canadian/Aussie use less than 75% than we do. So again, it is not population it is consumption. It is sooooo uncommon for people to have more than 4 kids these days, in developed Countries, that a mother here and there having more is not going to cause even a flinch of difference.



It is all about consumption. If you are conscious about your usage of items and live with less extravagant means, you will be helping big time.



And I now remember why I have stayed away from COM the past few days...You can't write anything without it opening up Ad's. How frustrating!! And they keep deleting my accounts and they won't tell me why..... **sigh**



ETA:

I know that population and consumption currently go together. One boosts the other, however, it does not have to be that way. If more and more people were more aware of what they were consuming and tried like hell to decrease it, then how many kids they had would not be near a concern of what it is, today. This is what I am getting at. If one family are big on conservation and preservation, they could have 7 kids and still not impact the earth as much as a family with 2 kids that do not care or do anything to reduce, reuse and recycle. Again, it is rare for anyone to have 7 kids, now. So, I honestly disagree that if a woman here and there wants to, that they are being selfish. We do not know how they live, they may live much more conservative than you or I.



~MeMe

Jenny - posted on 09/01/2012

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I am being serious, this issue weighs highly in the con to having more kids, for me and my husband. I was speaking directly of this issue and its impact on the carbon foot print my family is making. Of course I should not now just sit back and relax, because of this one decision. I still would like to reduce our consumption in many other ways too, first on the list is getting a more economical car that uses half the amount of petrol. Sticking to 2 kids, aligns with my family wanting to be conscious about the environment, along with other decisions we make to do that.

Kathy - posted on 09/01/2012

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"My husband and I have two kids, but have been thinking of increasing that to 4 in the next 10 years. After reading all this, no way! We will definately keep it to two. There's us doing a huge benefit to the environment, without any hassel, nothing we have to reduce, nothing we have to stop consuming, I am convinced that just stopping at two will make a huge impact. " JENNY



I am not sure whether you are being funny or serious. If you wish to be environmental, you need to reduce consumption. You do not get out of this simply because you choose not to have a bunch of kids.



This thread has been interesting. I think it has been successfully argued that wealthy nations consume a lot, and that wealthy nations should not produce a lot of kids as they are high consumers (of course, sometimes we produce sufficiently few kids that we have other worries - and open the doors to immigration to compensate for this…hmmm). What has not be adequately proven (in my eyes) is that by reducing family size we will improve the earth or maintain the earth as a place for humans for a substantially longer period of time. Developed countries already have very low birth rates. It is not realistic to expect them to go lower, or to point fingers at individual women who have larger families (these families number so few in developed nations that their affect on national birth rates is barely noticeable).



There is an element to environmentalism I find quite entitled, for lack of a better word. Many of us have causes - autism, childhood obesity, poverty, cancer……People do not point fingers if you do not donate to these causes, but they do if you choose not to support their environmental cause by limiting family size. I can hear the rebuttal - that we all have to live on the earth and that our family-size decisions affect everyone. Well, the above list of issues affect everyone and if they do not affect you it is because you are very privileged and have your head in the sand. None-the-less….words such as selfish do not get tossed at people who do not actively give/support other serious issues.



Edited to add: I have no problems with people who choose to limit their family size for environmental reasons. I have no problems with asking the question "do you think you should limit your family size to protect the earths resources?" I have problems with people who point fingers at those who believe differently than them, particularly on such a personal issue as family size.

Julie - posted on 08/31/2012

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It's irresponsible. It's okay for some couples to have 3 or 4 kids since some couples don't have any kids. But 7 kids is just getting into selfish territory. Yes it puts a strain on resources which affects everybody. I don't think the Earth is in danger, it's the population that suffers.



Whether it's selfish to her other kids depends on the needs of those kids and her ability to financially provide for them, and also her parenting skills in general.

I know a woman who wants to have 7 kids who not only hasn't worked in 10 years, but whose husband is having medical problems that could disable him soon and he has a low income. To top it all, her kids all seem to have learning disabilities and health problems. She survives by child support from her three exes and assistance from the state. She complains that her family doesn't love her because they don't give her money. She's also a terrible mother in general with no parenting skills. She nurses a baby and then thinks they can teach themselves everything and it will all come in time to them. Pathetic!

Jenny - posted on 08/31/2012

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Wow, what an amazing thread, how imformative, and bringing to light an issue that most people are willing to just push under the rug.



My husband and I have two kids, but have been thinking of increasing that to 4 in the next 10 years. After reading all this, no way! We will definately keep it to two. There's us doing a huge benefit to the environment, without any hassel, nothing we have to reduce, nothing we have to stop consuming, I am convinced that just stopping at two will make a huge impact.



For example, I'm a simpleton, but some facts stood out to me. I think Meme posted something like the carbon consumption of 1 first world country person is equivilant to the consumption of 250 ethiopians??????!!! If this is true, can you not see how anybody limiting how many kids they have (while living in a 1st world country) will have a huge impact on the overal carbon footprint?



You can try and be as savy as you want, but some things are just not possilbe (not leagal even) to reduce, i.e I can not build a house of mud! Again, Meme posted some figures like she's reduced her carbon footprint down from an average of 9.8 to 7.something. And compare that to people living in overpopulated countries who have an average carbon footprint of 1.5.

Again, no amdount of recycling and reusing is going to bring us down to that 1.5 mark, but what will help is if we choose to lower our birth rate.

I get it, if someone is absolutely set on having 4+ kids, fine, go ahead and have them, but, if like me someone is just contemplating (as in, weighing up all facts and considerations before commiting to) having more kids, then here is reason to stop. Birth rate per family is directly linked to overconsumption where we live! Someone with a family of 7 who grow their own food in their back yard are still creating a bigger carbon foot print than someone in a third world country.



Again, what a humbling thread this is, just a reminder that we can never have enough, which is so humiliating when you compare what we have to those in 3rd world countries with limited resources...who are stuck living that way, in a large part because of us.

And thankyou, this has definatley put my head back in the sand, im going to try to quit whinning about not taking a proper holiday in over 5 years. So, my husband and I have been working hard, so what? The hard work we do is nothing compared to what some women in Africa have to do to provide for their families, with no end in sight. Maybe the next time Im forced to miss out on another holiday, I can think about what i'm doing for them instead of what I'm missing out for myself.

Johnny - posted on 08/30/2012

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I don't know how things are in eastern Canada, but in BC you can no longer purchase regular flow toilets. They are all low flow or dual flush. There have been a few incentive programs designed to get people to trade in the old ones. Also all shower heads and taps come only in low flow. I do think though that we do still waste an incredible amount of water here. It's hard for people to imagine changing when we have such an enormous abundance. We also don't have stormwater reclamation, as it just wouldn't make any sense for our local environment, it would cause more problems than it would solve. Most districts have sewage treatment facilities designed to return the water to the ocean or other system cleaned.



My city and a few of the surrounding ones have green bins that are collected weekly. We now have weekly green bin (composting) and blue bin (recycling) pick up and only bi-weekly garbage pick up. Our green bin is enormous, but the regularly issued blue bins are too small. You can request a second or a larger one for free though. I do know though that in a lot of the small, rural centres, it is much harder to recycle and to dispose of compost if you don't have your own land. In my regional district, we can send all electronics and appliances to recycling for free and you are not allowed to take them to the dump., But where my in-laws live, you've got to pay more to send it for recycling than you do if you take it to the dump :(



I do support the carbon tax, however, I think that unless the government does a similarly measured green tax reduction (lowers taxes on green and resusable/renewable products), then it just looks like another tax grab. And you're right. It is frustrating to be taxed extra when you don't have the ability to choose the other options. We can drive electric cars here, and our government has been funding the installation of charging stations, but it is still not feasible for most households. I could not buy one because our development is 30 years old and does not have the infrastructure for us to charge our cars, nor does my employer. And as I mentioned before in this thread, there is no public transit that services the industrial park where I (and thousands of others) work. There are also no safe bike lanes. So to get here, we are all forced to drive cars and those must be run on gas because there are no electrical charging stations.

A "green" tax initiative could be implemented to reward companies and home owners who make these changes to their facilities, like they have done with low-flow toilets and such. Right now they are just using the stick, but offering no carrot.



Just a note on the demographic shift mentioned by Rachel. This is going to be a temporary 20-25 year blip in the demographics. It is too late for people to have babies to make up for the aging population (those babies would not be working age by the time their extra incomes would be needed - they would still be dependants). There is nothing we can do now to stop that from happening. But it would be foolhardy to create another short population boom at this time which would have to then be dealt with by the next generation following. It would just be creating a cyclical population bubble that would distort resources every second or third generation. Many countries that are facing this problem, especially in Japan and Europe, chose not to encourage more babies to be born to deal with this problem for exactly that reason. Although European countries did encourage immigration, which is now causing a whole new set of problems. Canada is taking a similar approach.

Julie - posted on 08/30/2012

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Jakki- what do you think of the carbon tax? I'm personally rather peeved that whilst they tax consumers for carbon consumption, they make it virtually impossible to avoid those consumer choices (did you read about how many affordable electric car models were prevented from being marketed in Oz and considered 'illegal' when they are being driven in dozens of Western countries around the world?)...



Living now in a resource-limited state in Australia, but having grown up in Eastern Canada, I was shocked at the amount of energy and water that was being wasted back home in Canada when I went back... just the amount of water used to fill up a toilet bowl/cistern and literally being flushed down the toilet after being here in Oz for years spun me out... there are no "off" switches at powerpoints, I saw like 2 toilets with a "half-flush" option, never saw a green waste bin/collection option, the recycle boxes were tiny compared to what our households are issued with here by our councils... I didn't see one stormwater reclamation facility though that's not saying there were none... not sure how different things are province by province or state by state but I'd be curious to know.

Jakki - posted on 08/29/2012

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Good idea Kelly - if you start another threadspecifically aboutn things we should do about overconsumption - I'll come over and join in!

[deleted account]

I would HOPE that raising awareness in the general public of the problems over consumption and over population cause would encourage the populations to make better decisions concerning the way they use up resources and plan their families. I'm not naive enough to think that that would be enough, but I do NOT think there needs to be any government interference or legislation concerning family size. Government interference in reproduction has had very negative results in the past, and I feel individuals should have a right to decide how many children they wish to parent.



We can hope more and more people will make informed decisions and limit their family sizes, but it will not be enough unless we focus on over consumption too, and over consumption is an area where government regulation and legislation can be very helpful.



First off, I would put a resource tax on all goods designed to be used once then thrown out, such as paper towels, Styrofoam plates/cups, plastic utensils, etc. (about 5% of the sale price)That tax would serve two purposes--1, to reduce use (if it cost more, people will buy less), and 2, the revenue would be used to maximize the efficiency of landfills and other trash disposal systems, and to develop new technology to maximize recycling efforts, or turn trash into energy--such as the methane pipes powering several SC state buildings.



Second--very few people in my state recycle cans because it is time consuming, dirty, and costs a lot to do. In several northern states, stores are equipped with recycle centers and people pay a deposit when they buy cans and bottles. When they take the cans back to the recycle center, they get a coupon for the amount of the deposit on whatever they turn in--usually like 5cent per can. I would make those mandatory nation wide.



Third, and perhaps most difficult, I would encourage private companies to develop renewable energy and products that can use it. Efforts to do this are already underway, but they are not having a big effect because the incentives do no balance against the cost and risk involved in the endeavors.



I could think of more, but I suppose that would be better for another thread since this one does focus on population. I just don't think the government should get involved with population, other than to raise awareness, but they can and should be involved in the over consumption aspects.

[deleted account]

i never really thought about it i just dunno why anyone would want 7 kids cuz am going crazy with just 1. a certain amount of kids are necessary to sustain the future generations. i live in canada where the government is going to be facing a huge problem when my generation retires because people are having less kids. they are going to deplete the govt' retirement funds with the baby boomers and when i go to retire their may not e money (mind you we have to pay into this retirement fund now). so i would prefer people to each have at least a couple of kids so that i am not basically having my money stolen by the government

Jakki - posted on 08/29/2012

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PS Momma - I just had a thought - it's an equation which shows how both population AND per capita consumption is BOTH important on the impact on the earth.



It's simple:



TOTAL IMPACT ON EARTH''S RESOURCES =



NUMBER OF PEOPLE X RESOURCES USED PER CAPITA





So if the population is growing, you have to have to have falling per capita resource use to stay at the same level.



I think it's easier for a country to control its population growth than per capita resource use.

Jakki - posted on 08/29/2012

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Great points you make Johnny.



So...What are the solutions?



Despite all the grief and tragedy, China's population control policies were very effective compared to that of India. (nb India's population growth is still due to be growing madly by the middle of this century, while China's will actually be falling.) The problem there now of course is that not only do they have an enormous population but they have rapidly rising incomes and resource consumption - the double whammy.



So can government controls do anything about excessive consumption in the west?



I can't really see that happening - in Australia we've now got a carbon tax but I don't think the price signals are going to change people's behaviour much. People will just complain a bit then jump in the 4wheel drive and put on the air con.



So the only thing I can think of is that people might start to care about their impacts on the world. Taking COM as a microcosm of he world - I'd say there might be a few who care but a much larger proportion don't. So there's a lot of work to do!

Johnny - posted on 08/29/2012

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I think that the willingness to even talk about these problems openly and honestly would be a really good start. Honestly, this is one of the first threads on this topic that I have participated in where I haven't been accused to trying to legislate how many children people can have, impose a "Communist China" one-child policy, encourage forced abortions and forced sterilizations and the like. The vitriol that erupst the moment one mentions overpopulation is stunning.



Then when you suggest that people are overconsuming as well, it just gets better. Most people think that they have "the right" to overconsume. They've worked hard for everything they have and how dare anyone suggest that they should take less. It is very personal and the backlash is enormous. Just look at the political might directed towards discrediting those who speak out on climate change. The very same thing is done when people speak out on overconsumption. There is a movement in economics called "no-growth theory" where many people are heading, because obviously we can see rationally that unlimited, exponential growth is both highly damaging to the earth, to it's creatures, and realistically impossible to go on forever. But there has been a huge push to silence those who are researching and exploring these ideas.



So being actually willing to consider the problems, acknowledge the problems and have an open dialogue without people getting all defensive would be a HUGE start.



Many of the developing nations that have lowered their birth rates have done so by simply improving the lives of women and children. Equal access to educational opportunities, offering micro-loans to allow women to start to financially contribute to their families, making better health care for infants and children available, improving sanitation and drinking water conditions, and offering low-cost or free birth control. If women have the knowledge of how to plan their families, have economic power within the family unit, know that their babies are less likely to die from preventable diseases, and see that having fewer kids means they can give each child better opportunities, they will very often make that choice on their own and with the blessing of their families and spouse.



In Brazil, the waning influence of the Roman Catholic church, coupled with both the increase in access to electrical hook-ups in households and the following increase of television ownership in homes has been connected to their drastic generational change in fertility. It is surmised that the popularity of telenovelas which show small wealthy families who have few kids coupled with the increased participation of women in education and the economy has lead women to see small families as a preferable choice. It was made appealing and with birth control options becoming more available (along with tubal ligation), women made the choice on their own.



Every nation on earth needs to start to have a frank, honest look at its own habits. Invest more in scientific research directed towards sustainable living. And stop pretending that it's economy can grow exponentially forever. I've got to admit though, I'm a skeptic. I think it is highly unlikely that we will make the necessary changes to either our population growth patterns or our consumption habits in time to prevent a catastrophe. But it would actually be easier on us economically and lifestyle-wise, and thus more do-able, to limit or shrink our population. It is happening, but perhaps not fast enough. And there is sure a lot of resistance.

Julie - posted on 08/29/2012

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I don't think over-consumption and overpopulation are two mutually exclusive issues here.



If the global birthrate is 2.6 kids/family, then the population is still on the increase, barring some cataclysmic event that increases the death rate beyond the rate at which it is being replaced, which is not the case at this point in time.



So what's the solution here, moms? A global rationing system? One-child policies in areas with higher population densities? What changes would you make, on a global scale, or on a local level, or both, if you were able to?

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/28/2012

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Kelly - you said the USA is overpopulated. You said, you may not notice by looking around but it is. I am saying, it is not.



And it is not only Fred Pearce. In one of the articles I provided it was more than a couple of them agreeing with his beliefs/data/theory.



No, no one said over consumption is not an issue but most are stating that overpopulation is the biggest issue and I simply do not agree. Overconsumption is the biggest part of the problem and overpopulation is low on the scale. Since overpopulation is not in our 1st world Countries where there is overconsumption, it is in the developing Countries and they use very little resources. This alone, tells me it is an overconsumption issue, not so much an overpopulation, one.



Therefore, we need to stop being so greedy and help pull these underdeveloped Countries out. It is also not so much that the underdeveloped Countries are running out of resources, it is that they are severely POOR. They cannot afford their resources (and what comes with usage of them) and others are stealing it for themselves. They are so poor that they are bullied by 1st world Countries and it is sick!



It has nothing to do with a single woman or random women, having 5+ kids, here. Like I said, it is not common. I am unsure of why you don't want to believe that. A few women here and there, is NOT going to make a difference. Now, if everyone started having 5+ kids, sure, your points may be very valid. It is just not the case. I am not saying population is not a contributor.



2100 has to do with the fact that oil costs will be sky rocketed. Not because we are running out but because of how it must be drilled. A land based well costs 2 million to start up but an Ocean based well costs 200 million. So, it is suggested by 2100 the oil prices will be so high that many farmers, manufacturers and the alike, will not be able to continue. This will cause a dramatic drop in resources and will cause our population to drop swiftly. There is much more to it but I do not have time to write an essay, here. It makes a heck of a lot of sense and I will not agree that population has as big of a role, as some of you are protesting. It plays a role, sure but a very small one.

Johnny - posted on 08/28/2012

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The earth's population IS growing quite fast. Even though fertility rates have declined, with 7 billion people, it doesn't take a huge percentage of people having more than the basic replacement rate for the population to grow fast. And births far outstrip deaths, and will continue to do so even as the baby boomers age and die. We aren't talking about everyone having access to luxuries. We are all going to be fighting each other for food and water.



http://www.worldometers.info/world-popul...



We aren't talking about everyone having access to luxuries. We are all going to be fighting each other for food and water. Between 1999 and 2011 the world population grew by one billion. It took until 1800 for the entire world population to reach 1 billion. It took until 1927 for the world population to reach 2 billion. It is estimated that we will hit 8 billion by 2025.



There is NO long term knowledge of how the earth's resources will manage such an enormous population, regardless of consumption patterns. We all need to eat and drink. So far, it doesn't appear that we will have the ability to provide enough for all these people due to the already enormous depletion of water resources, let alone the additional 1 billion people expected between 2025 and 2045. And we definitely don't know what will happen as the global temperature increases along with our population.



There is a LOT of politics thrown into this debate. All sorts of religious mumbo jumbo and self interest as well. Unfortunately, there are not enough people listening to the actual scientists and researchers who have been studying this problem and warning of the problem for quite some time.



Water is the main concern:



http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/global...

[deleted account]

Meme, no one EVER said that consumption was not an issue. We all agree that over consumption is causing a strain on our resources. Where on this thread are you getting the idea that we don't believe that over consumption is a problem? It is, we know that, but it is not the ONLY problem.



Also, no one said that 1st world countries were over populated. We said that the world as a whole is over populated. That said, because citizens of 1st world countries use so much more of our resources per person, controlling our population is very important. It is important that we do not become over populated, which is where we are headed at the moment unless people do consider the impact their children have on the environment and continue to reduce family sizes.



And yes, people do die, and we do have a lot of elderly, but we do not have as many elderly dying as we have new births each year, thus, unless people start to die at a higher rate than people are being born the population will continue to hold steady or grow. We are growing more slowly, but we are still growing. NOTHING says otherwise.



As for the population crash in 2100, Fred Pierce is the ONLY person who asserts that idea, and his assertions are based on very shaky predictions. Sorry, but I don't give him much credit.

Sarah - posted on 08/28/2012

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I am the oldest of 5 kids and I love it. My four bros an I are close an so are my mom and I. We were pretty poor but God provided. We never went without a roof over our heads or food in our bellies. People who think 7 kids is too many need to get over it. Just bc we didnt always have cable or brand new clothes doesnt mean we were bad off. We werent bc we had love. Thats all a child truly needs.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/28/2012

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I guess what I cannot and will not understand, is how population has anything to do with the 1st world Countries abusing resources. We live way out of our means. Like I said and have provided articles. Even if there were no more births we would still be in a scary position. Simply because those of us that are here now, consume more than what is required. It is not due to population, it is due to our ignorance and greed.



Also, the links that I provided and those that I have read, which included the 2012 US census, states that women in the USA and other 1st world Countries are having 2.6 children. So, yes, some are having 3 but very very few are going over and above that.



I guess, we will just have to agree to disagree. Since I am on a different wing, here. I am on the consumption side, you and others here are determined it has to do with population. Even though, 1st world Countries are far from overpopulated. There are only approx. 315 000 000 people in the USA and approx. 35 000 000 in Canada. There are approx. 4 000 000 000 in Asia and most from developing Countries, within. I am unsure of how anyone can say our 1st world Countries are overpopulated. They are far from it. However, they ARE the largest consumers. So, IMO, it is not about growth at all, it is about greed.



ETA:

And don't forget, we have a lot of elderly now. They will die. Currently, it is said, that we are not keeping up with the amount of elderly versus the amount of births. I mean, we don't just keep adding to the system. People do die out. Some (not all) baby boomers are getting old, too (1946-1964). ;)



As I have provided. By 2100 the expect a population crash. So, this shows we are not growing in mass amounts. We are slowing down, big time. However, it takes a little time, it is not something you would see overnight.

[deleted account]

There, there are some links that state that our population is growing at exactly the rate I described.

http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/global...

http://www.prb.org/Educators/TeachersGui...

Here are more links about the impact this growth has on our resources:

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/158...

http://serc.carleton.edu/quantskills/met... (Article / Teaching resource)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200... (Article)

http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/populationc... (Thesis)

http://www.actionbioscience.org/environm...

http://www.ecosensorium.org/2010/03/grow...

Effects of population growth and decline on economics

http://populationaction.org/oldmedia/Eco...



It is true that the rate of growth has slowed since the second half of the 1900's, but the population IS still growing, and if it continues to grow infinitely we will run out of resources because we do not have an infinite supply of resources. It is also true that some countries are already experiencing a decline in population, however, that decline is not enough to balance out the increases for the rest of the world.





Also, I never said it was "common" for women in developed nations to have over 5 kids, I think you have me confused with someone else there. It IS common for women in developed nations to have more than 2 kids, according to the US census, 28% of US women under age 44 give birth to a 3rd child. 36% give birth to a second child. That is over half having 2 or more kids, so the population will grow. That said, the US has ALMOST stabilized our population, but because of our high rate of consumption, we actually need a decline so that we could rely only on our own resources, rather than taking them from other places, which not only uses more resources for transport, but slows development of 3rd world countries.



The world's population is growing, there is absolutely no way to deny that, and if it continues to grow, we will run out, that is basic logic. We should ALL do our part in maintaining a constant population and working toward conservation of our resources in all aspects.



(http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files... This is a paper that looks at how removal of resources combined with population growth effects development--it is not the main point of the paper, and no true conclusion was reached on the actual hypothesis of the paper, but you can see how our (developed countries) use of resources from 3rd world countries with quickly growing populations effects their development).

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/28/2012

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Here is more info on the population growth myth. There is a lot of data out there, showing that population is not the issue. Perhaps when just thought about, population being a large factor makes sense BUT it does not hold a lot of truth.



Many of today’s most-respected thinkers, from Stephen Hawking to David Attenborough, argue that our efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will all fail unless we “do something” about population growth. In the Universe in a Nutshell, Hawking declares that, “in the last 200 years, population growth has become exponential… The world population doubles every forty years.”



But this is nonsense. For a start, there is no exponential growth. In fact, population growth is slowing. For more than three decades now, the average number of babies being born to women in most of the world has been in decline. Globally, women today have half as many babies as their mothers did, mostly out of choice. They are doing it for their own good, the good of their families, and, if it helps the planet too, then so much the better.



Here are the numbers. Forty years ago, the average woman had between five and six kids. Now she has 2.6. This is getting close to the replacement level which, allowing for girls who don’t make it to adulthood, is around 2.3. As I show in my new book, Peoplequake, half the world already has a fertility rate below the long-term replacement level. That includes all of Europe, much of the Caribbean and the far east from Japan to Vietnam and Thailand, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Algeria, Kazakhstan, and Tunisia.



It also includes China, where the state decides how many children couples can have. This is brutal and repulsive. But the odd thing is that it may not make much difference any more: Chinese communities around the world have gone the same way without any compulsion—Taiwan, Singapore, and even Hong Kong. When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, it had the lowest fertility rate in the world: below one child per woman.



So why is this happening? Demographers used to say that women only started having fewer children when they got educated and the economy got rich, as in Europe. But tell that to the women of Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest nations, where girls are among the least educated in the world, and mostly marry in their mid-teens. They have just three children now, less than half the number their mothers had. India is even lower, at 2.8. Tell that also to the women of Brazil. In this hotbed of Catholicism, women have two children on average—and this is falling. Nothing the priests say can stop it.



Women are doing this because, for the first time in history, they can. Better healthcare and sanitation mean that most babies now live to grow up. It is no longer necessary to have five or six children to ensure the next generation—so they don’t.



In fact, rising consumption today far outstrips the rising headcount as a threat to the planet. And most of the extra consumption has been in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population, while most of the remaining population growth is in countries with a very small impact on the planet. By almost any measure you choose, a small proportion of the world’s people take the majority of the world’s resources and produce the majority of its pollution.



Let’s look at carbon dioxide emissions: the biggest current concern because of climate change. The world’s richest half billion people—that’s about 7 per cent of the global population—are responsible for half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent of the population are responsible for just 7 per cent of emissions. Virtually all of the extra 2bn or so people expected on this planet in the coming 30 or 40 years will be in this poor half of the world. Stopping that, even if it were possible, would have only a minimal effect on global emissions, or other global threats.




http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazi...



ETA: So, again, it is not common for women in 1st world Countries to have more than 2-3 children. If a few random women, here and there want to have 5+, go for it. It is so uncommon, that these few are NOT going to cause a serious impact on the current resources or future ones, for that matter. It is us adults, that need to look at how we live and strive to tighten ship and use and waste less.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/28/2012

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Kelly--- I have given links that state our population is not growing as fast as you believe. Also, I provided links, that show women all over the world (even in underdeveloped Countries) are actually having less kids. It is NOT common for an American/Canadian or the like, to have over 5 kids. It used to be but it no longer is.



If you feel women are still having a crazy number of kids, please, provide some links. I would like to read them. Since everything I have read, says the complete opposite.

Lady Heather - posted on 08/27/2012

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I'll be honest and say I kind of wonder why people need to have so many kids when there are so many without a home. But it isn't easy to adopt and also - where do you draw the line? It's always going to be arbitrary. I have two kids. Is that cool? Maybe I should have had just one. Maybe I should have had none. Ha. But yeah, it does make me go hmmm...really?



Of course where I live we don't have overpopulation. So my theory is we should be taking the orphans from the crowded places and importing them here. I call it population redistribution. Unfortunately the adoption authorities are a little pickier and look at other things besides population density.

[deleted account]

No one has said, or even implied, that eliminating population growth would alone would solve our resource issues. We know it will take a lot more than that, but we cannot ignore the fact that rising populations in developed countries is taking a very big toll on these resources.



Also, you say that 7% of the world's richest are using 50% of the resources by placing blame solely on the factories and industry leaders using those vast amounts of resources to produce product, but you also have to consider all of the people who buy and use those products--if not for the consumers, those industry leaders would not be using the resources they are using. The people buying the products are just as guilty as those producing them, and I can assure you, a lot more than 7% of the population are using those products, thus they are also using the resources used to create them.



The world population IS growing at a rate that we cannot sustain (exponentially was an exaggeration) In 130 years our population doubled from 1billion to 2billion, and it doubled again from 2 billion to 4 billion in only 45 years. Now, while it is true that populations are growing fastest in less developed countries, it is important to note that the most densely populated countries are 1st world, well developed countries. This is important because it is those countries, which are most densely populated, who are using the most resources. Ergo, increasing populations there, even in smaller numbers, have a much bigger effect on our resources than the greatly increasing populations in 3rd world nations.



Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the world as a whole may not be at a point where we need to get serious about population control, but 1st world, well developed countries like the US, China, Japan, Korea, etc. are at a point where we need to be thinking about it and working to control population growth in traditionally high consumer cultures.



Sorry if that doesn't make a lot of sense, I'm sleepy.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/27/2012

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I guess all I am saying, is it has been proven that 50% of the earths resources are actually being consumed by the rich, of which account for 7% of the earths population. The rich are abusing the resources and are making it near impossible to maintain sustainability. Some of them don't even have children. When they say rich, they are talking about the 500 million people in the world that are grossly rich. Ones that have corporations that are increasingly robbing our earth.



I honestly do not believe that the few woman out there, that decide to have 5+ children are contributing that greatly to loss of resources. It is just not common in our developed nations.



Numbers have shown that even if the world stopped procreating, our resources are not going to suddenly become renewed. It is not until people learn how to properly reuse, reduce and recycle. There are still many many families that do not do any of this. They need to be educated to do so and forced. We here in Nova Scotia MUST recycle. If we don't, they will not collect our trash. They even go as far to check our bags, randomly, to ensure the correct items are in each type of bag. If incorrect items are in them, they will not take them and leave a note stating the issue. After so many occurrences, they can fine you.



Also, to note. I do not own a dish washer, I do not use our dryer, we have a high efficiency washer and I hand wash ALL of my work clothes (because they last longer), we rarely vacation (the farthest we go is an hour and a half from home - twice a year), we do not have central air or heating (we are on electric, though but are looking to switch to a wood insert), we limit our shower times and only shower every 2nd day (we alternate, so we aren't all on the same day, except Sundays) - unless it was a dirty day for some reason (I take less than 10mins, my husband the same and we shut the water off on my daughter at 20mins), we purchase all of our veggie and fruits from our farmer market down the road, we limit our red meat consumption (eat mostly chicken and fish), my husband walks our neighbourhood with our boy and collects all bottles/plastic he can find and then recycles it, we do a mall trip once a year but yes, we do have two computers and my office does have air conditioning (I can't do anything about that). I have been refusing to allow us (my husband and I) to get smart phones for the past 6 years. I just gave in last weekend. My husband IS a high consumer and I have to work HARD to keep him in check. ;)



There is more we could do but like anything, you have to allow for some backlash. One still wants to enjoy their life and have something for their hard work. We do have two vehicles but one is only driven 5000km/year and the other 15000km/year. We do have a decent size home but we redid all the windows to make it more weather proof so we use less heat in the colder months.



If we all did this and more (we as in everyone in a developed Country) you would see it drastically help. I believe consumption is our biggest issue. Our developed Countries are not overpopulated. I mean, look at Canada. We are not overpopulated. However, we are high consumers. We have something like a 7.2 rating for carbon emissions per person. Where as the USA, a person has something like a 9.8 rating. In the developing Countries, which are often overpopulated, it is far below 1.5. The problem is we have the money so we waste it....

Kelina - posted on 08/27/2012

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lol all I have to say is thank you. thank you for giving me yet another thing to worry about an research and teach my kids about. I'm having a hard enough time with vaccines right now, now you add this. gah! I think I'm doing pretty well but have absolutely no idea. as for the kids question I do think it's a personal choice but people should be conscious about sustainable living.

Johnny - posted on 08/27/2012

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In order for developed nations to limit their consumption to the extent that would be necessary not to "over-consume", they would basically have to return to the stone-age or experience a drastic technology shift in a few years. Developing nations are in the process of increasing their consumption rates, not decreasing them. Unless you are willing to give up your car, all your appliances (especially dishwashers & washing machines), your central heating, the supermarket, the mall, vacations, air-conditioned offices, computers, showers, .... then there isn't a way to lower consumption enough too make up for the diference.

Johnny - posted on 08/27/2012

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"In my opinion, you are correct in saying that a woman in the US having 7 kids is doing a lot more damage to the environment than a woman in Ethiopia having 7 kids. The Ethiopian mother who has 7 kids is not the issue at hand, and even collectively Ethiopian households of 5+ have very little impact on the environment and consumption of our resources. On the other hand, the US mom should think seriously about her decision to have that many children and it's impact on our resources. The 7 kids in Ethiopia are not likely to grow up and build individual homes, with 2-4 televisions hooked up to underground cables or satellites that litter outer space, electric climate control systems, and an arsenal of electric devices to do what we can do with our own hands. They are less likely to drive 2+ cars 30+ miles to work so that they can live in a nice subdivision with a chlorinated, electrically pumped pool without having to look at factories and office buildings. "



EXACTLY!!!. I just thought this was such an important point that it really bears repeating. When those of us in developed nations choose to have children, it impacts the resources of the planet to a far greater extent than women in less developed nations. I can tell there are quite a few people on this thread who are ONLY interested in what's "mine is mine", but for those of you who aren't, we need to remember that our kids use up so many resources that they are actually taking away from those kids who are struggling in developing nations. It may not be a direct line that is obvious to the small thinkers, but it has a clear causal effect when you look on a global scale.



I will also add that the vast majority of developing nations, especially those in South America and Asia, are spending quite a bit of effort to lower their fertility rates. They aren't doing this through force and legislation, but by education for women, micro-loan programs, better hygiene and health programs, and access to birth control. They are actually having quite a bit of success with this approach and many of these countries have succeeded in drastically reducing their fertility rates. With resulting improvements in standards of living.



Just a note to clarify the "two children per family" thing is usually because that is the basic replacement rate. One child per person. I don't personally get all that up in arms about people having 3, because some have none. But once you go 5+, the burden on the earth is significantly out of proportion, especially in developed nations.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/27/2012

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Kelly---It should also be mentioned that those over consumers in the developed nations get much of their resources from undeveloped nations, stripping them of the very resources they need to develop. Basically, the US may not seem over populated when you look around, but we are, because we are using more than our fair share of resources, and when we have more and more children we are creating more and more adults who will, in turn, use more than their fair share of resources.



I see it as a problem of being spoiled. Developed nations do not need to consume as much as they do. They have become accustom to do so and feel the earths resources are a right NOT a privilege. The USA alone consumes 30% more than their population. That is crazy. They waste so much, that these underdeveloped nations would die to have, their waste.



Yes, you are right. The developed Countries are "stealing" the resources from these underdeveloped Countries and they need a good kick in the ass for it.



Overpopulation is more of a situation in underdeveloped Countries and they still use less than 75% resources, than an average American uses. Something is seriously wrong there and I don't think it is population.



The fact is our developed nations are not overpopulated. They are overcompensating. They are consuming almost double per person, than needed. It is abuse of our environment. If they only cut back we would see a big change.



Our birth rates have dropped drastically in the past 40 years. They expect that by 2100 we will actually hit a population crash! We will be losing more than growing. However, our consumption rate will remain, if not worsen, due to ignorance of how to maintain a sustainable earth.



In these underdeveloped nations, they are starving but yet, in our developed nations we have an obesity epidemic. An average American uses 400litres of a water a day, while a person in Ethiopia uses 10litres a day (this is for drinking, washing and the sort). Does this make sense? It tells me it is a consumption issue and it seriously needs to be slowed.



However, if people can't get a grip of their overconsumption habits, than yes, bringing in more children to do the exact same thing IS an issue. It is not the issue but it is not going to help.

[deleted account]

"seriously?! i think i love my kids more than worrying about the impact my having kids will have on the earth years from now. there are so many people choosing to not have kids at all that someone having 7 kids really isn't going to effect the balance of nature!" --Candice



Seriously?! I think I love my kids enough that I care about the impact creating them will have on the environment they will have to live in. You may only love your kids enough to ensure they are alive, but I want mine to be both alive, and have a nice environment to live in, and I want that for my grandkids and great grandkids too. It is that selfish, only think about me and now mentality that has gotten us into the trouble we are in today.

Also, as mentioned before, the population has experienced a very high rate of growth over the past few decades, which proves that someone having 7 kids DOES effect the balance of nature because more people are choosing to have more than 2 kids than those who are choosing to have 1 or no children.

Candice - posted on 08/27/2012

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seriously?! i think i love my kids more than worrying about the impact my having kids will have on the earth years from now. there are so many people choosing to not have kids at all that someone having 7 kids really isn't going to effect the balance of nature!

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/27/2012

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Nope, overpopluation is not the issue, it is not a big part of the issue,it is a very small part. One that is almost not worth mentioning. Overconsumption IS the issue. Everything else, is simply a variable component and on a very small scale compared to consumption. There is plentiful data supporting this, too.



The global population is NOT growing fast or exponentially. It is a growth rate of 1.2%.



As Fred Pearce from the Yale Environment 360 blog notes, only a small portion of the world’s people are using most of the planets resources as well as producing the most of the greenhouse gases. And those are living in the West:





“The world’s population quadrupled to six billion people during the 20th century. It is still rising and may reach 9 billion by 2050. Yet for at least the past century, rising per-capita incomes have outstripped the rising head count several times over. And while incomes don’t translate precisely into increased resource use and pollution, the correlation is distressingly strong.



[…]By almost any measure, a small proportion of the world’s people take the majority of the world’s resources and produce the majority of its pollution. Take carbon dioxide emissions — a measure of our impact on climate but also a surrogate for fossil fuel consumption. Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environment Institute, calculates that the world’s richest half-billion people — that’s about 7 percent of the global population — are responsible for 50 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50 percent are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions.”



According to Pearce overpopulation in the developing countries is not the problem. Instead the increasing overconsumption among the planets 7% richest people and countries is to be blamed. And he is not alone in claiming this. George Monbiot, Europe’s leading green commentator, also agrees with this viewpoint. As Monbiot notes in a recent published article on the Guardian:



“As one the graphs King displayed demonstrated, and as the UN and independent scientists predict, the world’s population is expected to peak at around 9 billion by 2060 and then to decline to around 8.5 billion by 2100.



Of course the biosphere can ill-afford to carry these numbers, and they will load an extra 40 or 50% of pressure onto every environmental constraint. It’s an issue, in other words. But the issue?



Until the recession struck, the global rate of economic growth was 3.8%. The world’s governments hope and pray that we’ll be back on this track as soon as possible. Population, of course, is one of the components of economic growth, but the global population growth rate is currently 1.2%.



It’s responsible, in other words, for one-third of normal economic growth. The rest is supplied by rising consumption. Consumption, on this measure, bears twice as much responsibility for pressure on resources and ecosystems as population growth.”



Pearce gives even more examples of unfair consumption between the rich and poor countries:



“Americans gobble up more than 120 kilograms of meat a year per person, compared to just 6 kilos in India, for instance.”



“Just five countries are likely to produce most of the world’s population growth in the coming decades: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.”
---So is it about growth? Or is it about being spoiled rotten and overconsuming? I am going to go with the latter.



“A woman in rural Ethiopia can have ten children and her family will still do less damage, and consume fewer resources, than the family of the average soccer mom in Minnesota or Munich. In the unlikely event that her ten children live to adulthood and have ten children of their own, the entire clan of more than a hundred will still be emitting less carbon dioxide than you or I.”



Just like Monbiot and Pearce claims overpopulation is not the problem. Even if we were to get a zero population growth around the world it wouldn’t help us against the climate crisis. Instead the overconsumption among the rich few in the world is the main problem which we must deal with.



Overpopulation is only seen as a major problem because it’s the only thing we in the West can blame the developing countries for.






http://www.green-blog.org/2009/07/14/ove...



***edited to clarify***

[deleted account]

I've thought about this, and it did factor into our decision on how many children to have--it was not the only factor, and not even very high up on the list, but we did consider it.



Here are my thoughts:

The world population is growing exponentially, which is putting a BIG strain on our natural resources. At this point, I don't think there needs to be legislation in place limiting childbirth or penalizing people who choose to have more than 2 (I'll talk about the number in a sec). I also think that those who wish to have large families, at this point, should be free to do so; however, we do need to be aware of the impact that adding more and more people to the planet will have on the quality of life for our future generations, and consider that when we are choosing our family size. I think with raised awareness, families would automatically start to consider less children, and the burden would begin to lessen.



The number 2 was decided as the perfect number because, theoretically, if each couple had 2 kids, it would replace the parents without adding more to the population. Of course, this only works in theory because not everyone has children, so the population would begin to shrink. Of course, that wouldn't actually be a problem for several generations.



It is true that overpopulation is not the ONLY issue causing this burden on our resources--over consumption certainly plays a big part as well--but it is a big part of the issue, and we cannot resolve an issue without considering EVERYTHING that is effecting it. Basically--we can all do our best to consume as little as possible, recycle, reuse, and work toward renewable energy, but if the population continues to grow at the rate it is, all of that effort still will not resolve the issue of our dwindling resources.



Actually, our resources will eventually run out, no matter how much we try to conserve and limit our growth, but by doing the best we can to conserve, we can insure that they will last longer, and thus the world will be pleasant for more of our future generations. I don't suppose many poeple care what happens to their grandkids' grandkids, but I do, and I think we should.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/27/2012

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I am in the mind set, that yes overpopulation is a factor but the climate is more of an issue. Greenhouse emissions is a large contributor, to our climate changes and these are due to overconsumption NOT overpopulation. Does population numbers contribute to how much is consumed? Yes. Is it the be all and end all? No. It is a small factor, actually, a very small factor.



Overpopulation does not mean they are over consuming. Our problem is consumption and the USA is the biggest factor in this area. Due to the demand of materials, places like China are the largest greenhouse emitters in the world. Since China is where most products are manufactured and then sent to the USA for sale. USA is the largest consumer in the world and they are the largest waster's, too. They over consume and over waste. However, they are not the only ones. Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia are large contributors, too.



So, I am unsure of why a woman wanting more than 2 kids is an irresponsible thing to do. If she is going to be responsible with her resources and takes high action in how her and family contribute toward keeping the world a resourceful place. Since, as I have already stated. There are families of one child, that waste a hell of a lot more than some families of 4.



I am also curious to why you come to the number of---I don't think that ANYBODY in the world should have more than 2 kids at this stage in the game.---Is this because you will have two soon? Why not one? I would think one would make more sense, or none.



It has been said, that even if the world stopped procreating right now, there is still so much consumption that it would probably NOT help to have no more births. We would still be in or close to disaster. Now, of course it isn't going to help to have more but it probably will not to stop bearing, either. It has been said that many of these scientists that say it is overpopulation and control is required, are being overly optimistic of how much it would actually help.



It’s worth considering, especially in light of the fact that, somewhere in the world, the seven-billionth person was just born. In my lifetime, the human population has more than tripled. (I know I’m guilty of contributing to the boom.) But is overpopulation really the problem it’s being made out to be? And if so, what can we do about it?



First, supporting more people on a finite planet with finite resources is a serious challenge. But in a world where hunger and obesity are both epidemic, reproduction rates can’t be the main problem. And when we look at issues that are often blamed on overpopulation, we see that overconsumption by the most privileged is a greater factor in rampant environmental destruction and resource depletion.



I once asked the great ecologist E.O. Wilson how many people the planet could sustain indefinitely. He responded, “If you want to live like North Americans, 200 million.” North Americans, Europeans, Japanese, and Australians, who make up 20 percent of the world’s population, are consuming more than 80 percent of the world's resources. We are the major predators and despoilers of the planet, and so we blame the problem on overpopulation. Keep in mind, though, that most environmental devastation is not directly caused by individuals or households, but by corporations driven more by profits than human needs.



As people in developing countries demand more of the bounty and products we take for granted, environmental impacts are bound to increase. The best way to confront these problems is to reduce waste and consumption, find cleaner energy sources, and support other countries in finding ways to develop that are more sustainable than the ways we’ve employed—to learn from our mistakes. Stabilizing or bringing down population growth will help, but research shows it’s not the biggest factor. A United Nations report, The State of World Population 2011, concludes that even zero population growth won’t have a huge impact on global warming.




http://www.straight.com/article-519421/v...



And before anyone says, "well the OP was not about overconsumption", I will say, yes it is. It is about how more children brought into the world affect the environment. And my stance is it doesn't, not as much as some think it does. The current living people are wasteful. It has a lot more to do with waste and purchasing more than required, than it does for a regular woman to have 7 kids.



ETA:

edited for clarification

Krista - posted on 08/27/2012

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I was also speaking of Canada having ample water, we have not been stupid with it, as some places. I do not agree, that we should all be responsible for others stupidity. I just don't.



That'd be all well and good if Canada wasn't actually part of this planet.



But it is.



When the entire GLOBE is running out of fresh water, don't you think that the people who still have some left should try to be prudent with it? It is naive to think, "Well, we have lots of fresh water, so what me worry?" We won't have much fresh water left if the rest of the world runs out of it, and demands ours at gunpoint.



And part of being prudent with our resources (be they water, land, what-have-you) is to do your best to not contribute to overpopulation.



Do I think the government should control population? No. As I said earlier, you have the right to have 14 kids, if that's what floats your boat. But that doesn't make it the responsible thing to do. And i'm not just picking on North America here. I don't think that ANYBODY in the world should have more than 2 kids at this stage in the game.

Kristi - posted on 08/27/2012

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To be honest, I never really thought about it. We recycle and reuse but I honestly never thought about it beyond that. I was curious about this debate from the title, as one of my good friends has 8 kids (current ages 23-6) and already has 5 grandchildren and 1 one the way. The first 5 are from teen moms, so undoubtly when they grow up and find "true love" they will have more kids. After reading this, I have an all new concern for proper birth control.



I have been a "here and now'er" forever. Not because I don't care but because I've been so wrapped up in surviving "myself," literally. I've been learning how to stay here and now because I never learned how when I was a teenager. It has been extremely overwhelming for me to think about "tomorrow" for the majority of my life. However, as I read through everyone's comments, it became obvious that I need to at least look at tomorrow.



I would like to live long enough to see my great-grandchildren, like my siblings and I as well as my children have. I definitely don't want to see them living in a dirty wasteland fighting for water. (I don't want to live like that, either) That is an awful thought but as "you" have pointed out, it is on it's way to an awful reality. I am definitely going to look into ways that my daughter and I can become more environmentally friendly.



Thank you for the wake-up call.

Johnny - posted on 08/26/2012

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Just to answer the question Kathy, I spend quite a bit of time dealing with and working to limit our family's consumption. We have only one car in our family, and when we purchased it, fuel economy was our top priority. My husband takes the bus to work and I must drive because there is no public transit to my job (in fact, that is one of my primary motivators in my search for a new employer - so that I may switch to cycling or transit). If I can accomplish that, we would probably end up driving a vehicle maybe once per week and for our annual trip to visit the in-laws. While we wish to vacation to places like Mexico and eastern Canada, we are seriously considering giving that up because of the enormous damage of flight to the environment. We eat locally to the best of our ability and we stopped eating red meat (cow, pig, buffalo, etc) last year. We consume a locally raised chicken and locally harvested seafood about once per week. We also have our own garden and share fresh produce and canned goods within our extended family and with our neighbors. There are no locally grown grains, aside from a small corn harvest, so unfortunately my rice and quinoa are indeed imported. I buy nearly all my daughter's toys at garage sales (and also many my mother kept from my childhood). We will pass those on to others or sell them at garage sales when we are done. Our family goal is to produce less than 1/2 a bag of garbage per week. Our current struggle is replacing paper towel with reusable towels. We cloth diaper and use cloth wipes. We set goals every few months for how to become more cautious about our consumption.



So yeah, I don't sit around pointing fingers until I have looked in my own home.



Over consumption and over population are both enormous problems. Frankly, when I see the amount of crap people buy, it chokes me up even more than when I see someone overpopulating. I would be the last to deny that over consumption is a huge part of the problem, but this thread wasn't about that, was it? I will say though, that over consumption combined with a growing population in North America is way more harmful than overpopulation in nations that consume a fraction of what we do. When a woman in Canada has 7 kids, that's sort of like a woman in India having 21.



Also, my point about the war in Darfur is that lack of access to water due to increasing drought conditions is leading to many wars and conflicts. I am well aware that not all of these places have dense populations and that is TOTALLY missing the point. I think Lucy and Jakki have addressed the reasons why what we do impacts the whole globe.



"When it comes right down to it, I am more concerned with my children and family (and all humans who live today) than the long term future of humans on earth. "



This is not about the long term future of humans on earth. This is about the next 100 years. The years in which your children and grandchildren will be alive. The years where this country will be under enormous pressure (and not all of it friendly) to sell or give away it's water and other resources. To accept larger numbers of desperate refugees who will be fleeing areas that are no longer viable to live in due to rising see levels (like the entire nations of Bangladesh & the Maldives), or due to increased drought. We are already see the impacts of our over consumption of water in North America where the vast midwestern aquifer is virtually dry and the breadbasket that is central North America is grinding to a halt. The western half of Canada is using a great amount of it's water reserves for industrial mining and oilsands production rather than for growing food. We are abusing our resources in order to supply the vast population of the earth, and as that population grows, we will be under greater and greater pressure to extract what we have left and our grandchildren will be left with nothing. So if you are concerned with your family, this is a problem that should make you think.



Access to fresh water is going to be the number one concern in the coming decades. Water for growing crops, extracting resources, and for human and animal consumption. It will impact every aspect of our lives. This is not something that isn't going to happen until the sun goes super nova or the Milky Way collides with Andromeda. It is something that is happening now and is getting worse. It's not about the human race dying out, but it is going to cause enormous pain, suffering, death, war, famine, and depopulation. Wouldn't we rather halt our growth now than have it forced on us brutally by a limited and over-taxed earth?





http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2...



http://www.motherearthnews.com/Rancho-Ca...



http://www.squidoo.com/OverpopulationGui...



http://www.independent.co.uk/environment...



http://www.smithsonianmag.com/specialsec...

Lucy - posted on 08/26/2012

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Kathy- The issue for me is that the global problems we have already created are having an increasingly negative impact on all of us now, and will continue to do so in the very immediate future. I can understand your point about focussing on your own family, I think all of us who are parents can empathize with that, but from where I'm sitting considering the ways in which all of us can improve the environment we all share is doing exactly that. When I talk about the long term I don't just mean 1000 or 2000 years, I mean the next couple of generations. In other words our own children and grand children.



I certainly don't think that the survival of our species or the continued viability of our planet as a place which supports life hangs soley on the issue of family size, but I think controlling it is as important a part of the solution as other now accepted measures most of us try to participate in such as recycling, reducing emissions, saving water etc.

Kathy - posted on 08/26/2012

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"The question that we should all be asking is not what can I provide my child with today, but what will the world be able to provide for all our children in the long term?" LUCY



When it comes right down to it, I am more concerned with my children and family (and all humans who live today) than the long term future of humans on earth.



Ultimately, people will die out. Almost also species have. The earth will go right along until the sun explodes. We might die out in a 1000 years from overpopulation, we might die out because somebodies hits the big red button, a giant meteor could hit us, ice ages….yes, I will keep an eye to how my choices impact the future, but I live now and will do my best to live joyfully and help fellow humans in the present.



I am not overly wasteful or materialistic, I do my part in many ways, but it is not going to extend as far as pointing fingers at those who have large families.

Kathy - posted on 08/26/2012

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"Johnny clearly wasn't pointing the finger at anyone in particular - I believe she's saying that the more children we give birth to, the more pressure on world resources, the more tension which leads to conflict like the one in Darfur.



Is there a point in this chain of cause and effect that you dont agree with?" JAKKI.







I think the reasons for conflicts overall (Not just Dafur) are very complicated and do not only relate to overpopulation. Honestly, if we are looking at todays society and our history, I think overpopulation is not and has not been a major factor in drought, war and famine.



Take a look at this population density map:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_...



A lot of countries with high density population are actually fairly nice to live in - Japan, South Korea, much of Europe…..



Indeed, Dafur in the Sudan is not heavily populated.



So, to sum up:

-I think it is a good idea to work on high birth rate. Many countries which have a high birth rate also have lots of poverty, high infant and child mortality, etc, etc. We know that helping to decrease the birth rate leads to a higher standard of living. Thus, I think working towards decreasing birth rate in some countries through education is a great idea. I like it mainly from a humanitarian standpoint, the environmental impact is secondary for me.



-I think the overall birthrate of a nation is important - not individual ones. Really, a woman wanting 7 kids does not bother me, and is not going to contribute to a nations birth rate. You could say - "but wait! What if everyone did that?" - but that is not what this post is about. It is also extremely unlikely in most developed nations. This post is about an individual woman wanting a 7th child.



-the current causes of war, drought and famine are not highly linked to overpopulation. It would take an essay to write about all the causes of war, drought and famine, but overpopulation would not be a dominant theme.

Momma (MeMe) - posted on 08/26/2012

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To each is own, in my mind. I like to live and let live. All the drought, famine and sort, leave me feeling terrible. We do our best as a family to reduce our consumption and waste but we could probably do more. However, I also believe in enjoying the life we are given and so we do and we always will.



These places were there is drought, famine and sort, the Governments need to be doing more, too. Most of these places are underdeveloped and poor Countries and are often left on their own. If I had billions of dollars, I would help support them as much as I could. I don't but I will be damn sure to ensure my family has a good life. You're only here for so long and it is short. To stress myself out and watch everything we do, would be ridiculously unpleasant. I had kids so we could enjoy them, not so we could be robots.



I honestly believe that over-consumption is a way bigger issue than over-population. In many 2nd and 3rd world Countries they are over-populated BUT they are definitely NOT over-consuming. Unless we want to talk about China! Now they are over-populated, over-consumers AND they do not recycle anything. Maybe they need a talking to!!



I think one needs to look within their own home first and do everything possible to make the world a better place from their own corner, if it means that much to them. Judging isn't fair, you have no idea how they live. They just may consume less than your 3-4 person family. How do you know they don't? Just because they have more members to their family, does not mean they are going to consume more. It is all relative to how they live.



If a woman wants to have 5+ kids, that is her choice. It seriously is not that common, anymore. People with 1, 2 and 3 kids can consume A LOT of crap, too. We have become a very tangible and materialistic generation. My neighbours for instance, they often have 5 large garbage bags every two weeks at the curb and their green bin (of compost). They are a 4 family home. We are a 4 family home and we have 1/2 a large garbage bag. Honestly, it is more about education and getting the lazy bastards to smarten up and take care of their own, which in turn will help the environment.



You know, my husband and I work our asses off to make excellent money. We do this for our kids. We want our kids to grow up without needs not being met. We seldom over-compensate but we do sometimes. We do this because I was once extremely poor. When I had my daughter I worried all the time of how I was going to buy food and pay my light bill. There were times when I could not. We used the food banks on several occasion. We lived in several places for the first 2 years of her life. Now I am in a spot to provide without any concern, ever. I will continue to do just that. We are not going to suffer or scrim down because there are others parts of the world that are poor or suffering. I feel terrible for them, I really do. I know how it feels to have nothing, not even a home or bed to lie in. We do the best we can to contribute, including teaching our kids but if we wanted 5+ kids, we would do so and the environment would not be a deciding factor. Our ability to provide sufficiently for them, would be.

Jakki - posted on 08/25/2012

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PS I wanted to add that I like your list of things that we should be all doing that reduce our footprint.

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