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Would you stop having kids to save the planet?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Featured Debate 30

 

We've talked some about overpopulation, etc. in Featured Debate 14: Should governments limit population growth as well as in the Least Green Thing You Do thread.  But let's get right down to it....

 

Personally speaking...would you stop having kids to save the planet?  That's right, you personally.  And would it do any good?

 

 

[Disclaimer: We at Huddler do not necessarily think that having kids is the opposite of saving the planet.  We are aware that the phrasing of the question may be somewhat leading.  But it's really just meant to stimulate conversation.  So let's remember not to attack anyone's personal choices.  Let's keep it nice and friendly, k?  K, good.]

post #2 of 29

Well, I haven't started, so I can't stop!

 

Personally I do think that overpopulation is one of the key contributors to most of our environmental problems, and thus I'm going to try not to contribute to it.  I don't think we'll have more than one kid (and possibly zero), and I'd consider adoption if the time comes where we're considering having a kid.

post #3 of 29

My answer? No. I'm not always 100% sure that I want to have children, but I do believe strongly in my right to do so. Also, if everyone stopped, that doesn't really work either :)

 

This also brings to mind a story from Beijing. I went on a tour of the Great Wall and our guide was a neat guy named Ning (I'll upload a video of him ASAP.) He was talking about how he got into his line of work and what his life is like. He mentioned the governmental restriction that families can only have 1 child each, but it wasn't said with regret or anger, he simply said that the Chinese people know it's what is ultimately best for the their families (because most are poor and properly raising children is not cheap no matter where you are,) and best for the country. He understood that resources are finite and he claimed that his countrymen feel the same way.

 

It was very interesting. Maybe he was just putting on a happy face for the crowd, but he certainly didn't pull any punches on other topics.

 

Anyway, for the debate - no, I wouldn't. I'd hope that my family and I can contribute more to the solutions than the problems.

post #4 of 29

I think I've already outed myself in Debate 14, but yeah, I'm hoping for 3ish kids.  And I'm studying to be a teacher, so that will give me umpteen more.  I realize that this is making a big environmental impact, but I'm with deej in hoping that by going into this eyes wide open, we can minimize the harm and increase the good.  I'm out to raise my liberal army! :)

post #5 of 29

I think we all know where Mike Judge stands on this one; I submit, for your consideration, the introduction to Idiocracy:

 


Edited by frank - Tue, 19 Aug 2008 23:41:24 GMT
post #6 of 29

I made the decision to remain childless twenty years ago.When my parents started bugging me, I just pointed to my younger brother ;)


Edited by petera650 - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 16:14:37 GMT
post #7 of 29

I wouldn't not have kids to save the planet, but then I don't believe that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for global warming either, so having more kids doesn't ruin the earth IMO.

 

Now, I don't even want kids right now, but in a few years I may, who knows?

 

As for the Chinese thing, that's great they are trying to deal with their population issues, however they have now created a new problem. The 4-2-1 issue, right now there are 4 grandparents, being supported by 2 parents, who are also nearing retirement age, who will then all have to be supported by 1 grandchild. Whether directly, or indirectly via their communist system. China is going to have a major shortage of workers in the next 40 years; that's going to hurt their economy a lot.

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

I wouldn't not have kids to save the planet, but then I don't believe that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for global warming either


 

...must....resist....temptation.....to......go.......off.........topic..............!!!

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

As for the Chinese thing, that's great they are trying to deal with their population issues, however they have now created a new problem. The 4-2-1 issue, right now there are 4 grandparents, being supported by 2 parents, who are also nearing retirement age, who will then all have to be supported by 1 grandchild. Whether directly, or indirectly via their communist system. China is going to have a major shortage of workers in the next 40 years; that's going to hurt their economy a lot.

 

Wow, this is a super interesting flip-side to the otherwise beneficial (in terms of overpopulation) impact of the government's restriction on child-bearing.  I hadn't thought of this!  It's especially important to consider given the cultural tradition of children supporting their parents, and the way their retirement is set up (that communist system you refer to -- they tend to receive very early and generou retirement packages).  How are corporations going to support all of these retirees with a shrinking workforce?

 

Interesting...has there been much public debate over/interest in this issue?

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

As for the Chinese thing, that's great they are trying to deal with their population issues, however they have now created a new problem. The 4-2-1 issue, right now there are 4 grandparents, being supported by 2 parents, who are also nearing retirement age, who will then all have to be supported by 1 grandchild. Whether directly, or indirectly via their communist system. China is going to have a major shortage of workers in the next 40 years; that's going to hurt their economy a lot.

 

Again, not to get too far off topic, there is another interesting issue in China which I studied briefly back when I was in school.

 

So the one-child policy has had pretty significant implications for sex-ratio imbalances (a.k.a. China's missing girls or infanticide of [or sex-selection against] baby girls).  But now...another issue is coming up.  I mentioned it briefly in the "Should governments..." thread.  I'll go into a little more since we're talking about China a bit.

 

It's called the "bare branch" phenomenon.  Basically, there's a generation of young men who are coming of age in China....who will be unable to find wives.  There just aren't enough women to go around.  So there are these men...they are bare branches.  They are members of the family tree with no chance of bearing fruit. 

 

They have no hope of having children and keeping their family line going.  That means their actions have no consequences for their future generations.  So some of these bare branches turn to violent crime and gang formation.  And that can lead to social instability.  Here's a pretty interesting article from the Washington Post about it.

 

And of course...what about the nations with decreasing populations?  The countries that give away prizes for the first baby born in the new year (I think Russia did that)? 

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterA650:

I made the decision to remain childless twenty years ago.

Edited by petera650 - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 16:14:37 GMT

I never thought about it being born in San Francisco but growing up 75 miles away.  Reality grew evident as this 'artist colony' sprawled and sprawled.   In 1971 I had enough!  No kids - period!  On a very hot day in 1985- visiting San Francisco financial district at 5:15 / my choice in 1971 was graphically pointed out to me.  Thousands of people were going home- shirts off- several blocks of sidewalk; a massive snake of human flesh. 

 

My decision hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was the correct one then,now, and in the future!  It's not really a 'green' thing... or a 'me' thing...  More like a 'Future Shock' thing!!!

post #12 of 29

Okay, I really don't want to offend anyone so take this as you will.  I grew up in the outskirts of the biggest city in Arkansas: Little Rock (pop. 170,000 -at the time).  Bible belt, narrow minded area, (and no joke, just 5 miles away from the KKK headquarters).  I was lucky to be an odd ball in that area, I grew up going to a private school in town and was not exposed to the culture of the people living around us when I was very young.  I am not trying to be stereotypical but I have also noticed in areas like this, a certain ignorance towards environmental and especially global issues.  Here is my point:  if I choose to not have children because of the global issue of overpopulation, then my values in a sense end with me.  If everyone else around us, people who do not care for the global situation, believe that they should have infinite numbers of children, then they continue to spread that mindset to the next generation.  Who in that generation will be there to fight for our cause then?

 

I find myself fighting so hard to convince people that there is a serious crisis going on on our planet, and most people don't want to know or believe it exists.  Because this fight is so great, it makes me want to do my best to teach people.   I realize that there are other ways to spread the information, but I just can't get rid of this fear that if we give up the chance to raise our own children to live with care, then no one will be there to continue our legacy.  Clearly, someone along the way influenced me, I did not get my world view from my parents at all, in fact I am the one changing their world view, but I think this an exception not a rule.  (Although, our family is slowly shrinking already just from generational differences, I have one brother, my parents have 4 siblings each, my grandparents had as many as 12 siblings each)

 

That being said, I have considered adoption.  I am not ready at the moment for kids, it will probably be another 3-5 years, but I will continue to be troubled by this decision until then.  I also have the mindset that with 2 children, I have replaced myself and my partner, and therefore have not added anymore lives than will be taken out when we die. 

(Of course that theory doesn't work because of the much larger families that exist, but I feel like at that point I have done my part, and we just need to work on convincing others to do theirs.  I realize that having children is a right, and I don't necessarily think that the government should be telling you how to raise your family which is why I think we need to do it through education.  But in all honesty, there are too many religions that do not allow the use of birth control and I don't think people will be willing to go against their faith in some cases.)

 

Conclusion:  Yes I will control my number of children in hopes of making a tiny difference in the issue of overpopulation, and depending on my future decision, possibly only adopt children who are already here.

post #13 of 29

This is a little off the main topic....but here goes anyway.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mattress:

 As for the Chinese thing, that's great they are trying to deal with their population issues, however they have now created a new problem. The 4-2-1 issue, right now there are 4 grandparents, being supported by 2 parents, who are also nearing retirement age, who will then all have to be supported by 1 grandchild.

 

Although this is obviously less extreme than China, you hear about this idea that the current population needs to have more children to save social security here, or similar ideas in other Western countries.

 

The answer can't always be have more children!!  There is going to be a point, how far out is debatable, but still, a point where the Earth can't take anymore.  Maybe it's 3 times our current population, maybe it's 50 times or 1000 times our current population, but eventually you would reach the point that humans are packed in like sardines and there is no room to grow food.  We need to be able to take care of the elderly with a no growth or a slightly negative growth population too. 

 

So- no, I will not stop having kids to save the planet (as said earlier in this thread and elsewhere), but I will not have kids to save social security either. :)

post #14 of 29

I would not.  I am not having any more either as I have had all my kids (3).  We were blessed with a daughter, and had a little trouble with getting pregnant for a second child - ended up pregnant with twins - so, thus 3 kids.  We were shoot'n for 2, but that's how it goes sometimes...

 

There is more to kids than population statistics.  There is an unconditional love in a healthy home that is indescribable unless you are a parent.  Your children also can continue your values in whole or in part to the next generation and their kids.  If all the "green" folks stopped having kids - in about 50 years, no more green movement...  Not good.  We need kids to pass on what we have learned.  My kids are quite green and will carry on the movement for me...

 

Adoption is always a wonderful choice if you don't want to have your own.  There are around 100 million (yes, 100 million), orphans in this world - a horrible statistic - and they really need homes.  God bless all that adopt!

 

As far as the economy, it is a pickle we are in... In order for it to "grow" we must consume more and more every year - if we consume less, as we should, it can't grow.  hmmmm.  At the same time, if our population plateaus and begins to shrink a little - as I hope it would - it has a serious negative impact on that same economic growth, tax revenue, and social security $$$.  We have shot ourselves in the foot with this.  Look at the debate regarding the baby-boomer generation hitting retirement.  Social Security funding is seriously strained over this.  It is the same situation if our population declines.  Problem is, we need to consume less AND lower our population in order to really save the human race (the planet ultimately does not need to be saved - this rock has seen far worse...).

post #15 of 29

No.  We plan to stop at 2, but that decision does not have anything to do with saving the planet...more like our sanity & wallets.  ;)

post #16 of 29

Good question.....No I would not stop having children to save the planet, they are WAY to cute!  I agree that if we all have the insight to look at the big picture and start preventative measures to help the earth then our children will carry those values into their generations.  The more of us there are the more of them and so on and so forth.  I think there are more people now that are sensitive to the issue that future generations have the possibility of literally reversing the damage our generations have created.

 

However....I do often contemplate not having more children (I have 1) due to the fact that I worry if there actually will be a future or a planet for them.

post #17 of 29

I'm with a lot of you all about living a sustainable life.  But, I just can't shake off the bigger problem this thread is eluding to, population control.  I just can't see the light at the end of this tunnel.  Where the hell are we going as a race??  It just seems like an unstoppable natural force...

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2004/nov/11/thisweekssciencequestions1

 

With fertility clinics business booming, another issues arises, human value.  Pretty soon, we will have babies like commodities.  Human life will be nothing more than an objects, where you can pick and choose if you want a blue eyed or brown eyed, tall or short, smart or mediocre babies (genetically engineered babies from fertility clinics).  Human life will lose all value.  How do we combat and control such a natural force in a diplomatic manner??

 

Current world population is now over 6 billion people not 5 billion...Jesus...  What will be the consequences and at what magnitudes?  Sounds like a perfect situation for a plague outbreak.  The human population seems like an endless source of food for a microscopic animal...  

 

The only way I can see that can combat such a natural force is with human natural of selfishness, Selfishness of self.  Promote a child-free lifestyle.  Even this I'm not sure what the consequences are...


  

post #18 of 29

Nope, we're not having any kids... I like to think of it as carbon trading.  Now I can both financially and environmentally afford that HumVee :D

 

Obviously, in the future we'll all have to self-terminate at the age of 30 (like in "Logan's Run") in order to remain within our lifetime carbon budgets and solve the pensions crisis.



 

 

 

 

post #19 of 29

i decided 30 years ago not to have any. i have a friend with 3, she has my quota by arrangement. as for spare men in china, they have to just deal with it. were there gangs of out of control spinster aunts tearing up the place pillaging and raping and causing mayhem after the great war? no indeed, they restrained themselves, no matter how miserable and frustrated they where. get a grip men! if they are rich enough they could buy in women from bangladesh, burma or nepal as usual.

post #20 of 29

So let's be sure what we're talking about.  More people equals more demand on resources.  For me it's that simple.  Part of the global environmental problems are due to overpopulation.  Certainly two people use far less than four.  A family of four uses less than a family of six.  Simple math, I think.  I've never understood the last Pope's decision to make a statement about environmental stewardship and then deny his faith followers the right to use birth control.  When I was a teen (1960s) I thought it was a romantic notion to have 6 children.  When I became an adult I saw that exponential population growth was a global problem and I would stop at two. I would not make any other decision if I were going to have children today.

post #21 of 29

Well if you're going to limit population by birth then why not by death?  I mean 30 years ago the average life span was shorter.  Infant mortality rates were higher. There weren't as many people for this planet to support because natural population controls weren't being tweaked by modern science.  It just seems that if you are considering the possibility that governments (well mine anyway) are in control of reproduction then they should also consider the people who AREN'T dying but naturally would.  What environmental impact does that have?  What kind of rights does that infringe on?

 What I have discovered is that my family, at least, has managed to be pretty green and live sustainably my entire life (24 years).  We don't use paper plates, napkins or towels, we compost, recycle like crazy, reuse like crazy, grow our own vegetables, keep several rain barrels to water with, drive low emission cars with good gas mileage (can't afford a hybrid yet), carpool, walk if we can, etc.  That being said it would still take 4 planets to sustain me alone.  Most people need 12 or more.  So all in all I'm doing well and it's only making a small dent in my footprint. But we'd have to take the planet down on average to 1/12th of it's current population in order for people to continue living the way they are and that doesn't seem like it could actually happen. It's going to take decades to get everyone on board with the lifestyle changes necessary to protect and prolong our natural resources but it seems like a more practical and effective solution than population limitation.

post #22 of 29
There's a new post about this topic posted today; Having a baby is not bad for the environment - which made me think of this thread. This was posted over at Inhabitat's Facebook page and plenty of folks want population control and less "out of control breeding" but to me it's tough to draw that line. It's an easy argument for those of us already living here because we're well, already here. People say stuff like, it's selfish to have babies or that we should promote a child-free lifestyle but we can only say that if we're here, which means we were babies once too.

Overall I think having kids is the least of our eco-worries and maybe a solution, not a problem. For example, my son is way more eco-friendly than I was at his age, and he'll grow up (like other kids being raised green) to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's like teaching language. It's hard to teach an adult, but easy to teach a kid. Maybe we should focus more on how we raise kids rather than if we have them or not.
post #23 of 29
I believe WC Fields once said, "anyone who hates kids & dogs can't be all bad'. 

Guess he was ahead of his time?
post #24 of 29
I agree that kids these day seem to be more eco-friendly at a young age, but I have also made another observation.  After about the age of 8-12, regardless of their environmental viewpoints, children start to become preoccupied with other things they consider more important, and the hormones are kicking in (which inevetibly in some cases leads to breeding) and they start to lose that aura of green that they used to have.  Sports and grades and that first shiny car seem to cancel out the ideals they had as young kids.  And just like the adults, their stress and hurry starts to lead to seeking convenience over environment.  And an exponential growth in beings seeking convenience just doesn't look good any way you look at it.

I think we should avoid that mentality that surely the next generation will be better (not saying that anyone here has said that - just trying to clarify that we need to avoid that at all costs).  I think we can hope that our children are "getting it" better than we did, but that seems like a risky bet, and by the time we realise it wasn't accurate, it is too late.

I think it is a matter of responsibility though, I am not saying the gov't should step in at this point, but it should be a personal choice.  I have to admit I love my entire family, but I roll my eyes every time my cousin arrives at a family event in a huge yukon because it is the only vehicle he can fit his kids into. 
post #25 of 29
No I would not stop having kids because saving the planet and procreation are in no way linked, it's the mess we are making with the materials at hand that is harming the Earh, if we choose to take this route then we would be living the fiction that was portrayed in the movie Children of Men, if thats to be our future I don't want to see it.
post #26 of 29
No I would not stop having kids because saving the planet and procreation are in no way linked, it's the mess we are making with the materials at hand that is harming the Earh, if we choose to take this route then we would be living the fiction that was portrayed in the movie Children of Men, if thats to be our future I don't want to see it.
post #27 of 29

What works better for the planet's future?

 

No children?

 

How about more caring, educated children who wish to continue in cleaning up this heaping mess their former generations have made on this planet?

 

How about caring, educated children who look for new ways to live harmoniously with the planet?

Education and compassion are the key, not necessarily numbers.

post #28 of 29

Don't think it's wise to have kids on an over populated planet - babies do not after all ask to be born - so for what reason would you want to add to the burden of the planet ???

post #29 of 29
What does it mean to save the planet? We produce to live better according to the modern standards. Just think about the gold, the stones, the oil, and the trees and so on. We are using them since centuries for whatever we want. I doubt we are going to stop digging, cutting and building for the sake of the planet. So, I don't think that we can save the planet. We are part of it and it is natural for us to have kids.
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