On air: Would you stop having kids to help the environment?

An editorial in the British Medical Journal argues that if you live in the developed world you should stick to two children for the sake of the environment.

John Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London, will be live on the show to explain why. Do you agree with him? Would you be prepared to compromise on the number of children you have?

Should the wealthiest in the world stop having kids? Indeed, would it best if we all kept to 1 or 2 per couple? Or does the fail to take into account religion, culture and every person’s right to have as many children as they like?

235 Responses to “On air: Would you stop having kids to help the environment?”

  1. 1 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 14:58

    Should the wealthiest in the world stop having kids?
    Hasn’t there been numerous studies that have shown that as wealth increases, the amount of children had decreases? Why then should the wealthiest stop having kids?

    I don’t want more than two any ways, in fact I’m sure my first will be overwhelming haha.

    I agree with limiting children on the basis of environmental concerns. Some people are too selfish to care to do so though.
    Tragedy of the Commons.

    The metaphor illustrates how free access and unrestricted demand for a finite resource ultimately structurally dooms the resource through over-exploitation. This occurs because the benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals or groups, each of whom is motivated to maximize use of the resource to the point in which they become reliant on it, while the costs of the exploitation are distributed among all those to whom the resource is available (which may be a wider class of individuals than that which is exploiting it). This, in turn, causes demand for the resource to increase, which causes the problem to snowball to the point in which the resource is exhausted.

  2. 2 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 14:59

    Why is there a “right” to have as many children as you like, especially if you cannot afford to even feed yourself, let alone your 10 children.

    I think the reality is that people are too selfish, to entitled and will do whatever they want regardless of whether it would be better for humanity. The fact is, if the world keeps on expanding in population, we will run our of resources and will have wars over resources.

  3. 3 Dan
    July 25, 2008 at 15:15

    I do not think that there is a direct relationship between the number of children a couple has any environmental degradation.
    While I do not believe in any of this Global Warming nonsense we do have a responsibility as individuals and as a society to be good stewards of our environment. Thus, if we have a large family and we teach our children to be good stewards of the environment we are IMPROVING the environment.

  4. July 25, 2008 at 15:19

    I have two children and would prefer that we don’t have more, but I don’t think this kind of mandate makes any sense. Brett is also right, that in general trends show that as education and wealth increase, the birthrate decreases in similar proportion.

    I think that our world needs people with their minds and hearts in the right place even more than we need environmental change. So can we just legislate that bad parents who will raise children that impact the world negatively should not be allowed to have children? Obviously not. Otherwise, I think to even discuss managed child-bearing is a non-starter.

    Incidentally Steve, how does your opinion that people should have less children jive with, I would guess, a pro-choice opinion? So abortion should be solely the choice of one of the lives in the “family” equation created by pregnancy, but people should not have the “right” to have as many children as possible? All logic in that direction sounds frightenly like a soft beginning to fascist reasoning. How great a leap is it from this logic to pondering about just WHICH children deserve to come into the world based on race, religion, economic class, disability, etc.?

  5. July 25, 2008 at 15:20

    Oh give us a break! This is a disgusting idea.
    This is insanity!

    Actually words defeat me right now, I have to collect my thoughts on this New Terrorism.

    So we can’t have kids anymore hey! What a nice planet!



  6. 6 Melanie Chassen
    July 25, 2008 at 15:22

    A professor once told me that all future wars in the world will be fought over resources like fresh water, agricultural land, and food. Before I continue, I’ll be fair and state my background: I have a degree in environmental studies and have almost completed a masters degree in environmental management. I am not a hippie (haha). However, despite my awareness regarding environmental issues, I do not think that anyone has the right to control how many children people have. I know that, in general, people used to have more kids to ensure that some of them would reach adulthood. In developed nations, this is no longer the case with the advancements that have been made in medicine and technology. I watched a movie in a ‘development and the environment’ lecture where a couple said they felt it would be “socially irresponsible” of anyone to have more than one child (to control world population demographics) or at maximum, two (one to replace each parent). While I wholeheartedly agree that population is becoming a huge burden for the planet, I have my doubts about how formally limiting the number of children one can have could come across as anything but a limit to one’s personal freedom. Suppose the limit was two children. Let’s say a couple has had their first child and is pregnant with the second. Instead, the woman gives birth to twins or triplets (for the sake of argument let’s say no fertility drugs were at play here). What happens then? How could this problem be approached in such a way where people do not feel like one of the most personal choices they have in life (to have children or to not) is being taken away from them by an authoritative body? (instead of say, someone being infertile). How could this work ?

  7. 7 John in Salem
    July 25, 2008 at 15:23

    This is another case of arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
    There are roughly 250 births in the world every minute right now and the death rate is around 100 a minute. Does Professor Guillbaud, or anyone else for that matter, think that limiting the number of children to two is actually going to make any meaningful difference at this point?

  8. 8 mubarak ssesanga
    July 25, 2008 at 15:23

    Why not begin with reducing emissions, before we can think of limiting children ? Some of these things will never be applicable.Anyway, if we keep the environment so dear who will stay on it ??

  9. 9 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 15:25

    @ Keith

    If it’s fascist, then you simply have to be against banning smoking in public, you hav eto be against any other form of licensing. The fact remains, stupid people have stupid kids. Stupid people harm other people. Growing up, my best friend’s father was killed in a car accident by a complete moron. He’s dead becuase someone else was stupid. When lives are the line, you lose your rights. Sorry.

    Again, how can you justify any other licensing then? The entire children thing is childish. You want something just because you can? That’s an argument a 5 year old makes, not an adult. The argument always goes “I should be able to do whatever I want! You have no right to tell me what to do1” like a little child would do. However the stakes are greater when any idiot can have children.

  10. 10 Robert
    July 25, 2008 at 15:25

    It is difficult to make laws to cover such things and the honour system won’t work.

    If people are serious then you have to use economics. Make the prices of items related to the enironmental impact that they have. Then people can make an informed lifestyle choice. If, when the enironmental consquences are factored directly into the cost of each item rather than the blanket cost of general taxation, you still want and can afford to have kids then so be it.

  11. 11 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 15:26

    @ Malc

    The world would be nicer without kids. That is unless you enjoy screaming babies, vomiting on you while you’re on an international flight.

  12. 12 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 15:41

    @ Robert:

    Make the prices of items related to the enironmental impact that they have. Then people can make an informed lifestyle choice.

    But people don’t even make those choices now. Look at the welfare system and government support with regard to children. People are either making the wrong choices, or allowing the choices to be made by chance, ignoring their economic situation and then relying on society to take the burden if/when they can’t support the choices they make.

  13. 13 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 15:45

    @ Brett

    That’s my point, we allow stupid people to have kids, then we, as the taxpayers, have to fund the stupid choices, enabling them. How many other situations do you enable people like that? Do you see junkies on the sidewalk and give them heroin? I have to pay the price for other people’s stupid choices. And I’m tired of it.

  14. 14 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 15:55

    I agree with Malc Dow, this is a disgusting perversion of the socialist media, of which BBC has become a part.

    I will not sacrifice the propagation of my family, my culture, my country for the sake of the third world.

    It is THEY who should be limiting their reproductive acitivities or stop having kids altogether.

    They are draining the resources of civilization, breeding desease and poverty, from which they clamor for the West to rescue them.

    If we are to choose between the destruction of the West and the third world, then we must choose the third world.

    We are the essence of civilization, they are, as much as the liberals on here do not wish to here, only suck our blood.

  15. July 25, 2008 at 15:56

    World population can’t multiply indefinitely. There should be a limit to its growth so that it can fit the limited resources of the earth. Even the current population can use up the available resources in a short time, causing huge environmental disasters, if the current consumption is tripled or quadrupled.

    It is not enough to have a stable population, but also the mechanism to make each individual aware of his or her responsibility to the planet. This can be achieved if we stick to our basic needs without greed.

    In Africa, there are many (poor) families with many children. These are not the cause of environmental problems. It is the rich in the developed countries that cause them these problems – for example- through illegal and excessive logging.

    The current population can save the planet by being more environmentally aware and by using product that are environment friendly.

  16. 16 Bob in Queensland
    July 25, 2008 at 15:58

    The irony of this editorial is that, overall, the birth rate in the “rich” parts of the world is already below the “replenishment rate”. The reasons behind this are likely nothing to do with the environment but the end result is that Prof. Guillebaud is “preaching to the choir”.

  17. 17 Melanie Chassen
    July 25, 2008 at 15:59

    @ Steve

    There may be certain things about children in their infancy that you dislike – crying, changing diapers, annoying children that ask ‘why’ to everyone. However, these children grow up, and many of them become the intelligent individuals that we see here on this blog. There are no adults that shape the world without children. The world would be a terrible place without them, despite all the inconveniences they may cause.

  18. 18 Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 16:02

    How about education as answer. Since there’s SOOO many stupid people out there, as Steve so loves to point out, how about we put the effort and resources that we would put into the regulation of childbirth, into education? Why not teach people how to be environmentally aware so that we don’t have to start having wars over resourcses. Like Oil. Like that war that’s happening in Iraq. Right now.

  19. July 25, 2008 at 16:03

    Of course not, stopping having children will only help the radical environmentalists they are trying to control our lives. All that global warming talk is a big scam and hoax created by Al Gore and his alike. People and carbon is not responsible for any change in the climate, it is all natural and a cycle that happens every some hundreds of years.

  20. 20 1430a
    July 25, 2008 at 16:03

    hello WHYS,
    Well i would surely not want more than 2 kids!.
    But taking in account the western society,their population is decreasing day by day.so i think they should recosider their family planning policy.That is because they need someone(heirs)to continue their long built fortune they cannot depend on 1 or 2 sons.
    Abhinav Khanal
    Nepal(now Bangladesh)

  21. 21 Robert
    July 25, 2008 at 16:08

    @ Steve

    Thats the problem with the current system. We don’t see the true cost of anything because of the blanket taxation we pay. Another example is that oil actually costs more than the $130 a barrel to produce when the security provided by governments is included.

    Until pricing acuretal reflect the true costs of everything we end up making bad decisions because we can’t fully evulate the impact we have.

  22. 22 Rufaa Sheikh in Mandera
    July 25, 2008 at 16:09

    Stop having kids? What is the world coming up to? While the develpoed world may be thinking of this the feeling here in Africa is absolutely different. Conservative families are even scornful about the idea of family planning leave of stopping to have children. The fertility wheels will be turning as long as they are to active. Children in the African society are seen as a treasure and more children means a blessing. If we stop having kids humanity is likely to become extinct and we may fail to continue this life that we are struggling to to protect. Or scientists will curve alchemic powers to postpone death for those who already exist? I entirely doubt. Everything goes in God’s plan. If we are desired to protect the environment we have respect measures designed to do so instead of interferring with continious cycle of mankind as we know it.

  23. July 25, 2008 at 16:09

    I Think Having Children is one of the most important factor in the world.For me it will better for me if God’s Gives me as many Children’s as He can and Put’s me in the worst Environmental Conditions!…
    As Much as I wanted to say more,let me keep it as short as that to a bide by the current rules of WHYS.

  24. 24 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 16:09

    The arguments against are: i should be able to do anything I want, you have no right to tell me what to do.

    the arguments for: there simply aren’t enough resources. there will be wars, and many, many people killed over the limited resources

    The choice is pretty clear to me. You’re saying tha tyoure selfish needs are so great you’re prepared to fight a world war over it? so you can do whatever you feel like doing? THERE SIMPLY AREN’T ENOUGH RESOURCES.

  25. 25 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 16:11

    @ Chicago

    Because the wnating children mentality is from selfishness, and no amount of “education” is going to change people, because they will still have the entitlement mentality. And there will be stupid people. I cannot tell you how many people I knew that are now dead becuase other people are stupid.

  26. 26 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 16:16

    If we limit our birthrate, who will provide the food to poor starving africans?

    I’m going to go a step further and propose that we send everything we do not use for survival to africa while not having any kids. The ultimate penanse for an ultimate sin: being born, raised and living in the West.

    Besides, Africa deserves it. It has such able leaders and an industrious and hard-working populace. It’s only the west who are keeping them uniting into the United States of Africa. hahahaha

  27. 27 Katherine in Cleveland
    July 25, 2008 at 16:16

    When I was ten years old, my teacher explained the notion of Zero Population Growth and showed us how the world’s population would expand beyond our capacity to feed them if growth kept up at current (1973) rates. I made up my mind at that moment never to have children…and I never have.

    Unfortunately, my generation didn’t always listen to its teachers. Three, four or more children now seems to be the norm in the U.S. A woman here in Ohio even deliberately carried sextuplets to term two years ago. Heaven help us all if people around the world start following suit.

  28. 28 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 16:18

    @ Hiam Chipman:
    Of course not, stopping having children will only help the radical environmentalists they are trying to control our lives.

    So you are denying the fact that there is a finite amount of space and resources available to a population which you infer has no maximum number (that we need to address)? Or are you just hoping that things will ‘work themselves out’ naturally?

    Those churning out baby after baby are affecting the lives of those who don’t do the same either by the support that is required socially, economically, by further consuming finite resources, or environmentally. So in actuality those populating the world are having quite an impact on those of us who are not.

  29. 29 Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 16:19

    @ Steve

    How do you propose that we qualify stupidy and then eradicate the problem? Mass genocide? Selective breeding?

    I cannot tell you how little I care that people you know died becuase of your perception of stupidy. If you have a point to make, please do so, otherwise leave your vague ‘examples’ out of the debate.

  30. 30 Melanie Chassen
    July 25, 2008 at 16:20

    @ Steve

    I don’t think this argument is as black and white as you are presenting it to be. I agree that resources are disappearing and there should be beneficial way to reduce consumption. Isn’t the reduction of consumption what is really important? Finding alternatives is great, but it feeds the habit we humans have of over-consuming. Nothing is that black and white when it comes to children. I think it is a fair generalization to say that children born into wealthier families will consume more resources than those born into less fortunate families. One might even argue that one child in a wealthier family could consume the same as two or three children in a less fortunate family. So perhaps limiting children isn’t the problem at all. Maybe the education that is really needed is about limiting our consumption of resources.

  31. July 25, 2008 at 16:22

    One child, two children, more or none at all. This consideration is ridiculous. There are plenty of more urgent environmental issues to resolve than pondering on this proposition. If the “free markets” of the world were actually unburdened with interventionist and protectionist laws, competition would have afforded the consumer with alternative and perhaps cleaner fuel sources long ago (just one of many examples).

  32. 32 viola
    July 25, 2008 at 16:27

    National Public Radio from the U.S. had a conversation on this with Paul Ehrlich, who has written a book about the subject.

    Some points from the program:

    l. Contraception and family planning, not abortion, are key.
    2. Social programs to make large families unnecessary are key.
    3. The education and empowerment of women is the single most important and most effective way to curb population growth
    4. Population growth all over the world, not just the developed nations, must be controlled
    5. A different model of capitalism must be found that doesn’t depend on population growth to keep the engine running
    6. Immigration must be controlled.

    A point I would make: If developed nations voluntarily limit their own populations, they will eventually be overrun by nations that do not, who choose to use their people as weapons to attempt to gain power over other nations. An example is Israel and Palestine. Whether developed nations that choose to limit their populations can maintain the edge through technology remains to be seen.


  33. July 25, 2008 at 16:31

    steve July 25, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    @ Malc

    The world would be nicer without kids. That is unless you enjoy screaming babies, vomiting on you while you’re on an international flight.

    This is a gross.
    It’s not even funny.



  34. 34 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 16:36

    For those against directly interfering with peoples ‘right’ to have kids…

    Maybe we should let anyone have as many kids as they want…

    But lets stop funding and supporting the baby making; No more increased welfare checks for poor parents, no more foreign food aid to countries with hungry children, no more financial aid. Go have all the kids you want. And use the resources you have at your disposal to provide for them.

    Maybe then population growth will even out when people realize that often, without the help of society, government, or other forms, their irresponsible baby-making would not be ‘sustainable’


    Unfortunately the social impacts of such a plan would be devastating not only to the poor kids whos parents didn’t think before they acted, but also for the society which has to deal with a population that feels like no one will help them.

    If you can’t support your population or children with the resources you have at your immediate disposal and those available through income, you have no place bringing more life into this world until you, as a parent, can provide for them. But keep in mind the resources available to everyone are finite 😉

  35. 35 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 16:37

    @ Malc

    Yes, I know it’s gross, and it’s not funny. But it has happened to me.

  36. 36 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 16:39

    @ Chicago

    Do you consider drag racing, especially on the wrong side of the road to be something other than stupid? My friend’s dad is dead because some moron was drag racing, on the wrong side of the road, and hit him head on, killing him instantly.

  37. 37 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 16:41

    Limiting having children seemed to work for China for awhile – if you ignore the whole m/f gender thing and infanticide thing. That’s a ‘success’ story. Sort of.

    I sort of have to agree with Steve on this one… we can all think of people who, for whatever reason, should not have children. Case in point: according to some people in the US, a methamphetamine-addicted woman and alcoholic, sexually abusive man have more of a RIGHT to be married, have children and get all the tax benefits that go with them then say two men or two women that would raise a child in a loving nurturing environment. Or a practical example: we can all think of single parents that do not have enough income to provide for themselves, but have 3 or 4 children. What kind of environment is that for a child to grow up in? Is it really a place you want a child?

    I’m borrowing this next idea from Dilbert creator Scott Adams. I think it was in one of his books.

    A licensing system might not be too bad. In order to have a child, you must first take a test. It will be about as challenging as getting your learner’s permit for a driver’s license, but look at how many people that weeds out. Making a baby is the world’s easiest thing to do. Raising a child is one of the hardest. There are tons of people on both sides fighting to protect the rights of the child. Shouldn’t due consideration be given to the environment into which a child is born and the quality of the parents?

  38. 38 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 16:42

    @ Brett

    There would be nonstop whining if we stopped enabling these people. They feel entitled for other people to fund their poor choices. The whining would deafen us it would be so loud. So we’re going to continue to enable poor decisionmaking. You might as well give heroin to junkies on the street, and teach lockpicking skills in prison.

  39. 39 Melanie Chassen
    July 25, 2008 at 16:45

    @ Shaun,

    I agree with what you’re saying -there are some terrible parents out there. BUT, who gets to decide what makes a good parent and what doesn’t? What about cultural influences on raising children? I don’t think it can be generalized into ‘good parents’ and ‘bad parents’ as easily as that.

  40. 40 Julie P
    July 25, 2008 at 16:46


    You are correct. The west has been at a replacement rate for some time. It is my understanding that population growth has been largely because of immigration. I have read on more than one occassion on the BBBC where the birth rate v. death rate in some European countires is so low that entire villages will be gone if people do not start having children. I even remember an article or two where people were being offered incentives to have children because of the latter mentioned situation, or others like it. I agree this person is singing to the choir, it may be a different tune for some, but the melody is the same.

  41. 41 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 16:48

    Hi WHYSers!

    We can all have as many children as we would like. Indeed, millions if we so choose. However, there has to be room for common sense and practicality. As one who has doubts about the ‘naturalness’ of wanting to be a parent, I endorse any position that puts a lid on how many children people can and ought to have. Way beyond the religious and other factors there are practical considerations of quality of life and affordability. I wonder what is to be said for that?

  42. 42 Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 16:52

    @ Steve

    No, I consider it to be incredibly stupid. I lost a good friend of mine last week when he made the stupid choice to street race (drag racing is done on a track). But I have a news flash for you. People are going to die anwyas. If it wasn’t the street racing that killed your friends dad than it was going to be something else.

    I am being deliberately antagonistic because you are not answering my question. Stupid acts are different than stupid mindsets. You can be a very smart person and still say and do stupid things. If the root cause is stupidity and selfishness how do you erradicate that problem?

  43. 43 nelsoni
    July 25, 2008 at 16:52

    Most people who have large families are those whose have no gainful employment so they turn to procreation as a favorite past time. Keep people gainfully employed and they will have other things to keep their minds busy instead just producing children.

  44. 44 Will Rhodes
    July 25, 2008 at 16:56

    An editorial in the British Medical Journal argues that if you live in the developed world you should stick to two children for the sake of the environment.

    I would mail you today Ros to get on the show but I won’t be around to take your call. The reason is this is completely bonkers, mental, frigid and idiotic thinking!

    The environment is effected by the over use of fossil fuels – what is this gimp saying – that if we in the west have fewer children we won’t use SUVs?

    Again, I bring the thinking back to some rationale – it is people like British Gas, BP, Shell, electricity power stations etc, etc, etc that is causing these problems – the problem being with pollution and not global warming. Make THEM invest in renewables. That would make some sense!

  45. 45 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 16:59

    @ Melanie

    Understandable, but like I said: It wouldn’t be a 3-hour university doctoral thesis exam. It would have questions like:

    1) Your child fails an exam at school. You:
    a) Hit him for being a failure
    b) Try and help him with schoolwork
    c) Put him on Ritalin because he clearly has ADD/ADHD

    2) An acceptable name for your child is:
    a) Steven
    b) Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii
    c) Optimus Prime
    d) Big-ears

  46. 46 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:01

    @ nelsoni,

    I am happy you said it, though there there seems to be an inherrent judgement somewhere in there.

    Truth is, I think people need to be educated that ability is not destiny. Not because you can means that you ought. One has to be realistic.

    After all, one can have sex and not necessarilly procreate. The problem sets in where people feel that sex is purely procreative activity, not acknowledging tha they also receive pleasure from it, in the first place. What are the goals of human sexuality? I would like to know.

  47. 47 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:06

    @ Will,

    If I could just step away, for a minute, from the obvious vlaue of your point in relation to fossil fuels, I would be interested in knowing what are the real implications of restrictions of this kind? And, I am not suggesting a Chinese style (no dis!) limitation on families, but rather a serious education programme that pushes smaller families as one of the ways of reducing environmental stress. What could be so wrong with that?

  48. 48 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 25, 2008 at 17:09

    You asked:
    “Should the wealthiest in the world stop having kids?”

    I think is just the opposite, the poorer in the world should stop having more than one or two children.

    I have the idea that in developed countries the birthrate has fallen, even in some countries it is “negative” (more deaths than births). On the contrary, in developing countries, the poorest people are the ones that have more children.

    For instance, the average of children per family in my country is around 2.5 . But the average of children per family among the poorest part of the population is 5. Obviously, this only perpetuates the cycle of poverty. And I have to point out that the reason why poor people have more children in my country than middle class or wealthy people is lack of education and lack of access to contraceptive methods (not because they want to have more mouths to feed).

    In terms of environmental issues, I think there are other ways to reduce the “child footprint” in the environment, most of these involve education and commitment.

  49. 49 victork13
    July 25, 2008 at 17:11


    People should be able to have as many children as they (not the state) can support.

  50. 50 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 17:19

    @ victork13:
    People should be able to have as many children as they (not the state) can support.

    Therein lies the problem… People should be able to have as many children as they (not the state) can support

    But people are having more children than they (not the state) can support with the resources they have.

  51. 51 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:21

    @ Brett,

    Agreed. Agreed!

  52. 52 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 25, 2008 at 17:22


    I completely agree with your comment. Well said.

  53. 53 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 17:23

    @ Brett

    that comes from entitlement mentalities and people enabling them to make poor choices. If they know they’re going to bailed out, they will keep on doing it.

  54. 54 Melanie Chassen
    July 25, 2008 at 17:26

    @ Shaun,
    Questions don’t make people. A doctor can ace his medical exam but still not be as good a doctor as his colleague because his bedside manner is terrible. People can easily dupe a test; give the answers you want to hear and still go on making bad decisions. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case, parenting tests (which, although I see your point, I think would fail miserably).

  55. 55 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:31

    @ Steve,

    I must admit, we are going to have to agree on this one. Totally. I say push a public education programme that teaches the virtues of a smaller families. There could, in my view, be nothing essentially wrong with that. (I hope!). Enforcing smaller families, however, is another matter all by itself!

  56. 56 nelsoni
    July 25, 2008 at 17:33

    @ rawpoliticsjamaicastyle

    these people I am referring to are mostly uneducated people

  57. July 25, 2008 at 17:35

    I am an African and i know it is perculiar to our society but i think it is also the product of ignorance. While it is true that we need to satisfy our sexual desire but not at the expense of society. Satistics has shown that many of these children end up being wayward and eventually indulge into all sort of crimes. I think it is prudent that we practice birth control through family planning. Our society will be even more safe if we have less number of children before the excess baggage ends up in projects and haunt us.

  58. 58 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:37

    @ nelsoni,

    Well, here is an ideal opportunity for the state to widen these services in the interests of environment. Notwithstanding the value of Will’s points above, there is merit in actively teaching people about the virtues of smaller families in terms of the stress that they can place on the environemnt, whether from consuming too much – food, electricity, water, etc., or simply from having too many bodies cramped in small spaces.

    Educated or not, the state has to also see as part of its responsibility to need to constantly educate/ remind/ cajole/ make aware, those who will act in this way.

  59. 59 viola
    July 25, 2008 at 17:44

    Here’s one to think about: Some futurists are saying that science is getting close to cracking the aging/death thing and that it will not be far in the future when the planet will be full of people who neither age nor die, making babies unnecessary.

    Will that be a loss? Will it be good from an evolutionary and survival of the species standpoint?

    @Steve: It may be a cliche, but you will not understand why people choose to have a child or children until you become a parent, at which time you will find yourself much more tolerant of babies and children. I do sympathize with your viewpoint somewhat. As an elder, I personally find shrieking, which my granddaughter is currently enjoying to the hilt, to be very painful and I have to draw on all my own memories as a mother of babies and young children to keep my equilibrium when I go to a restaurant or a store and am assaulted by that incredible noise, which is acceptable in a baby or toddler but not in a child who is throwing a temper tantrum to get his or her own way and the parent is afraid to discipline the child because then the child might not love the parent.


  60. 60 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 17:47


    I didn’t read all of the above posts, but one thing that came to my mind was this: has anybody looked at reproduction rates in the Western societies? In most of them, it’s well below 2.0, so the population isn’t even replenishing itself. So in my opinion, it’s absolutely unnecessary to shout “Have less kids for the environment”, when exactly that is already happening.

    I agree that a Western child has a big ecological footprint, I just need to look at the big pile of plastic toys in my son’s bedroom, but he’s a single child and the chance that there’ll be another one are slim.

    As to the “sense of entitlement”, that’s simply in our genes, that we want to reproduce, that’s what kept our race alive since the first monkeys left the trees.

  61. 61 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:51

    @ Katharina,

    I like your point about the ecological footprint. I wish some more could be said about that, as it opens up another layer of the discussion. Thanks for that.

    As for your rebuttal of the “sense of entitlement” comment from Steve, I disagree. There are contraceptives as well as responsible decision making about how one uses one’s sexuality. The notion that we all want to be parents, then, is not quite accurate, in my view.

  62. 62 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 17:51

    Would you stop having kids to help the environment?
    What an hysterical response to a perfectly manageable problem.
    People in civilsed developed countries should have more children.In Finland PEOPLE ARE PAID TO HAVE CHILDREN and receive a lot of child related benefits.

    In India people are encouraged to have only two children and are paid to have vasectomies(not always successful,20 years ago in my village two men still managed to father children after the snip,nowadays they would be financially compensated however),also access to some jobs are denied if a person has more than two children.

  63. 63 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 17:53

    In fact, I think most of us are basically pressured into the notion that we are supposed to be parents. That does not speak whether we want to have sex, though. It is what happens after the consumation of these desires which is the rub. How can we rethink questions about sexuality? Must it always result in procreation? And, do we even want all these children, anyway? (I know, I am going to get in trouble for that last comment!)

  64. 64 nelsoni
    July 25, 2008 at 17:54

    @ rawpoliticsjamaicastyle

    People are limited by the knowledge they have. The best the State can do is to teach people the benefits of having small families are sincerely hope the cultural and religious factors does not stand in the way of these efforts.

  65. 65 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 25, 2008 at 17:54

    I personally do not want more than four children. However, I would only have children if I could afford them. I would not consider the environmental effects of having more or less children. If you can afford 10 kids, I think you should be able to have 10 kids but you should not have more than 10 kids if you can’t afford them. I am not fond of people that have several kids but expect the government to pay for their kids. I would perfer people have abortions than have kids that can’t support, especially since everyone does not make a good parent.

  66. 66 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:00

    @ nelsoni,

    Agreed. Agreed! In fact, I was even thinking of co-opting religious and cultural leaders in this discussion in terms of the public education.

  67. 67 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:00

    I am surprised that no on here has even looked at the great experiment that China has done. For years China has had a one-child per couple to decease the number of children because their country was growing at an alarming rate and their resources would not keep up. Now, after years there are several issues:
    1. Since male babies were preferred there are no women for the Chinese men to marry or have children with.
    2. The workforce is going to be less in years to come. When combined with the reason above this trend will not turn around quickly.
    3. When disasters hit, people die. Now we see the fall out from the earthquake this year; where many parents lost their only child and cannot have anther due to their age.
    Just some things the think about.

  68. 68 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:04

    @ Angela Davis in Washington D.C.

    You make a solid point, however, I wonder how might we consider this in relation to Katharina’s point about the ecological footprint of children/ people in the West? Is it the same or different from those elsewhere? Is the sheer number of bodies in one place the same as the sheer number of resources used by one body in another place? America, after all, is said to use 1/4 of the world’s energy, even while some argue that global warming is largely overstated. What then?

  69. 69 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:04

    @ Viola

    But if they can ban smoking in bars because smoke bothers some people, why cna’t they ban screaming kids in public? I don’t care if I’ll understand later. I don’t do things and then subject other people to face the consequences of those choices. it’s not my fault you decided to have a kid. Why did I have to pay for your decision to have a child and have a child screaming and vomiting on me? Why do I have to pay the price for your decisions? Do you see? If you have kids, you’ve lost your right to go out to dinner unless you get a babysitter. If you have a kid, you’ve lost your right to fly. If you want to do those things, don’t have kids. But don’t expect to make other people suffer for your choices. It shouldn’t be me that has to listen to the screaming, it isn’t right for you to ruin my flight, or my dinner. You should have though of that before having kids, rather than make me pay for your choice that I had no say in.

  70. 70 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:05

    @ Thea
    I did…..

  71. 71 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 18:05

    For the most part, in western society, the answer would be no. Many people divert criticism towards 3rd world nations and their large populations often ignoring the point that resource consumption per person in wealthier, smaller nations far exceeds that for poorer ones. Easier to point the finger elsewhere and more arrogant to feel that no one shall tell us how to plan families.

    Western society is selfish and has become accustomed to its wasteful lifestyle and would rather put stock in some nebulous belief that science and technology will deliver answers to environmental problems rather than reduce overall consumption right now as a direct and simple solution. As long as something comes out when you turn on a tap or flip a switch, then there is no real thought for the future. Only when the crunch comes will we scramble for any measure to help ourselves. People will separate their glass from plastics or put newspapers out for kerbside collections, better yet change a few globes and feel good about themselves, but if they have to make tangible sacrifices that impact on their comfort then that is one step too far.

    Here the suggestion was made that a levy be imposed for the environment and charges for plastic bags and the comment pages of daily papers were full of irate people threatening to boycott supermarkets that would do so along with protests against the government for suggesting a surcharge for the environment. It is amazing that for so long before plastic bags were common people could lead productive lives and shop easily using few carry bags, often paper, or supply their own bags. It is not impossible to do regular shopping with no inconvenience and avoid plastic bags, yet for many people it does seem so.

  72. 72 ryan
    July 25, 2008 at 18:07

    I agree completely. I had a vasectomy to ensure I will not add to the world population. Having more than 2 kids in the First World societal framework is purely selfish. Kids were necessary in rural communities to ensure the livelihood of farming communities – a non-issue in the urbanization of the world. Live within your means, and think about your motivation to have children before doing so. Go population control!!!


  73. 73 Marisa
    July 25, 2008 at 18:08

    I only have one child, and that decision was motivated mostly by personal preference, but also by a desire to reduce my impact on the planet. I wouldn’t want to live in a society, like China, that dictates people’s reproductive choices, but I also think individuals should take into account the effects of their family size on the planet.

  74. 74 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:08

    @ Thea Winter – Indianapolis, IN, USA,

    Actually, I did allude to the Chinese example, though not in the same way you have done above. Like you, I am curious to know what a push to reduce family sizes might actually mean in real terms, especially in relation to your points.

    I, of course, have to confess my biases in terms of this notion that we all, naturally, want to be parents. As a result, I am prepared to entertain any discussion which challenges that assumption…Great suggestion!

  75. 75 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 18:08

    Thea Winter:
    1. Since male babies were preferred there are no women for the Chinese men to marry or have children with.

    Wrong, there are less women to marry.

    Furthermore the result of choosing men over women is a problem within the society and the sexism that exists where men were thought of as providers and thus more sought after as children. Is the problem then the limit on children, or society and their sexist preferences?

    2. The workforce is going to be less in years to come. When combined with the reason above this trend will not turn around quickly.

    Well if your goal is capitalism, this would be a problem. However, fix or alleviate the problem posed by the need for constant growth and you very well may be on the way to addressing why the need for an ever growing workforce is not sustainable practice in the long run.

  76. 76 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:08

    No I would not stop having kids to help the environment.
    However criminals(and former criminals) and the handicapped should be implanted with contraceptives until they can prove that they are capable of acting like a responsible parents.
    So when do these new rules about essay writing come into effect ,are they more like guidelines .
    There is some verbose rambling on this topic today ,worthy of the new york times,that’s an insult by the way.
    OVER TO YOU have a character limit ,why not give that a go.

  77. 77 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 18:09

    The worst reason out there for not halting increasing populations in nations is that it will harm the economy. It is ludicrous to think this as once you have consumed your resources or ruined your environment then what economy will you have then? Somewhere along the line you have to bite the bullet and get that reduction in overall population. Short term pain for the economy but in the long run it will serve us all.

  78. 78 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:10

    How refreshing! This doctor guest sounds so sane and rational!

  79. 79 Jens
    July 25, 2008 at 18:10

    it’s a two side sword.

    we aited to have kids to be able to afford them, now it might be too late and that makes us sad. however, at the rate the world is going i am not sure we need more people on it. the proble is that the responsible people are excluding themselves from the gene pool and it is the irresposnible, we life of welfare and multiply like rabbits that pass on their genes. what a happy world this will be in future……..full of ……

  80. 80 selena
    July 25, 2008 at 18:10

    Oops! Your guest is just too perfect!

    Time to stop now!

  81. 81 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 18:11

    You know what? Why don’t we start euthanizing people for the sake of Al Gore’s dream to become a president and get another medal.

    People like Gore and that “professor” are absolutely nuts! Having grown up on the backs of the Africans, and having spent his time as an academic, he dares tell us what to do.

    Perhaps he should consider his carbon footprint, and commit suicide.

    And for those in the third world agreeing with his views, you should start thinking about that too. Because you bring more harm than anything else to this “finite planet”.

  82. 82 Dee in Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 18:14

    Yes, selfish people must stop having so many children. Two should be the maximum and ONLY if you can afford them.

  83. July 25, 2008 at 18:15

    Should we insinuate from John Guillebaud’s editorial that the extra kids of today are the monsters of the future as they will ravish the environment?

    There is an old maxim which says, ” Our grandparents left us a safe environment, what environment shall we leave our children?”

    With the ageing and falling population in many countries, children are still needed. There are countries like France http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5079140.stm that provide material incentive to parents to have more children.

    What is needed is to create an environmental and population balance for plants, species and people can live in harmony.

    Considering kids as the future trouble is like seeing them as time-bomb that should be stifled in the womb.

  84. 84 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:15

    I have a question for the good doctor. How well has his family planning strategy been received by different devoutly religious couples?

  85. 85 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:16

    @ Steve,
    You are not thinking correctly. You have to understand that children do more them scream and vomit. I do not have any children however; I do a lot to bring them up. I teach Sunday school, work with the youth, and help out at summer football camp. They keep my young because I have to keep up with them. I think you need to spend more time with them.

  86. 86 Alison
    July 25, 2008 at 18:16

    I think the rich in the west should stop having so many kids. We already know that we are stretching our resources to the max. It can be argued that all civilizations before us succumed to the same issues we are seeing: overpopulation and resource overuse. Add an unexpected climate change to that already fragile balance, and society begins to unravel as people fight for resources.

    But I also agree that this should be through education and local programs. (funny I was accused of being selfish on this blog about a month ago for choosing not to have kids). I don’t think people really want the federal government involved in their family planning. If we give the feds the right to regulate that part of our lives, you have to ask yourself, what’s next?

  87. 87 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:17

    I would like to have Professor Jones the geneticist on the show as well,or even Desmond Morris the antropoligist to give a counter viewpoint.

  88. 88 Nate, Portland, OR
    July 25, 2008 at 18:17

    I strongly agree that population control is essential to prevent many sorts of misery due to (relatively) scarce resources. I strongly disagree with any mandatory China-style restrictions. I might be ok with tax incentives for smaller families.

    But as Steve and perhaps many others have pointed out, the developed world largely has a below replacement fertility level. Unfortunately, well-below replacement fertility causes its own problems, many of which ammount to not enough young to both maintain a vibrant economy and care for the eldely. One result is allowing more immigrants from high-birthrate countries in to make up the difference.

    In the best case scenario these immigrants are able to assimilate, and thus quickly develop into developed world consumers. In fact, in my neck of the woods the most egregious, environment-be-damned consumers are high tech workers from India and China (my wife is an Indian immigrant, and its as much her disgust as my own I express here). On the good side, they tend to have just 1-2 kids. In the worst case scenario these immigrants are unable (or unwilling) to assimilate and become a bitter underclass with a continued high birthrate (seems more of a problem in Europe).

    In the interests of keeping it brief, I’ll just say I think a developed-world policy of reducing population needs to be combined with firm control of immigration and re-structuring of those welfare states that encourage healthy people to retire for 20+ years on the state’s tab. I’d also like to see major technology transfers to reasonably stable, humanely governed developing world countries so they can jump straight to clean energy and the forces that produce smaller families in the devloped world can come into play.

  89. 89 Livia
    July 25, 2008 at 18:19

    I have always dreamed about having many children (5 actually), at the same time I am well aware that we have an overpopulation problem today – on top of the environmental issues. We have to take the necessary steps to have to save our world or our children will not have a place to live in the future.

    This is how I would solve my dilema. I would agree to have no more than two children of my own, but I think I should be allowed to adopt more children if I desire a bigger family. I think this would benefit all.

  90. 90 selena
    July 25, 2008 at 18:19

    It seems to me we are always trying to fix something. I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to play God?

  91. 91 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:19

    If the human species could be improved by Eugenics maybe that would put less of a strain on the planet.

  92. 92 Marisa in Portland, OR, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:19

    What about tax disincentives for having more than two children? In the US, you get tax benefits for each child. It’s worth discussing whether you should start incurring penalties for burdening society with more than two kids.

  93. 93 crazyfingers
    July 25, 2008 at 18:20


    This is just common sense. Too many people equals diminishing resources equals all kinds of trouble. Read Humankind by Peter Farb – old hat, all of this. Question is – do we have the right to limit propagation?

    Well, we are limiting propagation by not limiting it. Seen the pictures of Darfur lately?

  94. 94 Rolf Kausemann
    July 25, 2008 at 18:21

    While I think the approach of limiting the population of wastefully and destructively consuming people is reasonable, it seems a bit silly to not look first of all at the more important and wider point of limiting consumption in EVERY aspect of lifestyle.

  95. 95 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:21

    @ John_Crichton,

    A funny, though curious post.

    From where I sit, I am certainly not suggesting euthanasia, as in, I am really ivery nterested in knowing what are the implications of large population sizes relative to environmental stress? Whether Al Gore and others wish to commit suicide, or whether this is a case of being too privileged for the sake of it, I think, escapes the point altogether. What is inherrently wrong with having less children? A

    bdelilah makes an interesting point above about balance. My view is to challenge the assumption that every sex act must have a “naturalised” consequence of an offspring.

  96. 96 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 18:22

    The professor has an incredibly strong point and well thought out argument, one of the most solid ideas I have heard on air in a long time.

  97. 97 Kalai, San Francisco
    July 25, 2008 at 18:22

    Grow existing poor children; why create new ones?

  98. 98 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 18:22

    Look at the reaction of being told in some countries you cannot smoke in public places anymore. Do we really think that people will react better to a suggestion they should curb their resource consumption by limiting offspring?

  99. 99 L. Walker
    July 25, 2008 at 18:23

    thank you John Guillebaud for looking into this taboo.

    i can’t say i’m worried. with AIDS and H5N1 and the new super bugs, the earth will soon take care of itself.

  100. 100 Justin from Iowa
    July 25, 2008 at 18:23

    Well, look at it this way. If you don’t stop producing more than 2 kids, then the rabbit effect will take effect.. huge population followed by huge die off. Because, I’m sorry this is to the third world countries and cultures which want more than 2 kids… You are going to be the ones dieing of famine, and you are the ones without the power to force others to give you food.

    So your choices are, have fewer kids now and ensure those childeren you supposedly love and treasure have a chance at living a good life, Or have as many kids as you want (4, 5, 6, whatever) and gaurantee SUFFERING AND DEATH for your childeren.

    So, make your decision, but when you choose wrong, don’t cry to the world to save your next generation.

  101. 101 Elizabeth
    July 25, 2008 at 18:23

    I read that the population will probably even out around 2050 or so regardless of what we do. This, anyway, is the prediction of some population scientists, based on our population growth curve. So, assuming that nature will take care of us in a few decades or so, I want to have as many of my genes out there as possible when we get thinned out. Of course, if we ALL used family planning, then having more children would be unnecessary. But I don’t think that most people will.

    I realize it is extremely selfish and pessimistic to take this angle, but this is natural selection. We live a very modest lifestyle and at present we only have one child. But in 2050 I want as many of MY genes out there to take up the limited space that there will be. If I have four kids now, even if they only replace themselves, that still means twice as many of my people as my peers’.

    I agree with the fact that we need to even out the population, but I disagree that it is in my interest, personally, genetically, or in evolutionary terms, to limit my family’s size.

  102. 102 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:23

    @ Thea

    “You have to understand that children do more them scream and vomit.”

    Sorry, when I’m on a plane, all they do is scream and vomit and make the flight miserable for everyone else. I don’t get to see them at church, or playing baseball, i see them on the plane, and they make my flight unpleasant. Would you have a problem with me lighting up a cigarette on a flight? Yes, and it’s only a mere annoyance, as you’re not going to die from it, but it smells bad, and would annoy you. But we’ve banned smoking on flights. Why not ban children? They are annoyances. I’m a paying passenger. Why would I pay to be annoyed and inconvenienced and have my clothes ruined? I also have a hearing problem and the shreaks they make hurts my ears, sometimes very badly.

    I am not paying for something for someone else’s volitional choice to make my experience unpleasant. I don’t blast my radio, I am not smoking, yet you’re affecting me due to your own selfish reason. Again, why should I suffer for your choices?

  103. 103 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:24

    @ selena

    Is it ‘trying to play god’ or are we trying to find a solution to a legitimate challenge? What was the statistic they said during Live 8? One chlid dies every 3 seconds? There’s one. There’s another. There’s another.

  104. 104 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:25

    For those not in support of population control, how many deaths are acceptable to you in the inevitable wars in the future over the limited resources? Perhaps if it were less than 10,000,000 dead it’s not so bad? Seems to me, the people who are in support of limiting population expansion care more about human life.

  105. 105 nelsoni
    July 25, 2008 at 18:25

    @ Thea Winter – Indianapolis IN, USA

    I feel that China’s method of population is a fundamental infringement of human rights

  106. 106 Charles
    July 25, 2008 at 18:26

    In the USA, one step toward family planning would be to reexamine the pro-natialist policies already in place. Example: The income tax allows a substantial deduction from taxable income before assigning tax liability for each child. That could be changed to allow the deduction only for the first two with, possibly a reduced deduction for a third, but non thereafter. Small change? Yes, but one that would reming a family each year of the consequence of addition children.

    There are many other examples.

    By the by, I think the replacement ratio for each fertile woman is nearer to 2.3 than 2.1 children.

    And: women, and their needs and responses are much more important than that of the males of the species. They need to be more in charge of policy on sex education and natality.

    Chuckwallah from Texas, USA.

  107. 107 KS
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27

    In Mexico.
    we have 2. Enough.
    calculated carbon footprint 1 ton. bike / walk.

  108. 108 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27

    Steve, the most fascinating thing about you is how you can rant about how selfish other people are and then show that you’re not one inch better than them… So we shouldn’t have children because that might discomfort you on the plane, but if we have an abortion because we don’t want the child for whatever reason, we’re selfish and irresponsible. Thanks for clarifying this.

  109. 109 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27

    It’s the third world which needs to stop reproducing. They have the highest birthrate anyway.

  110. 110 Alison
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27


    If we stopped trying to play God, we would not have women who would otherwise not be able to have children, taking fertility drugs that allow them to have sextuplits. So I think that may help the situation.

  111. 111 Jaimee
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27

    I work with low income men living and working in Brooklyn, New York in the US. This population has far more children on average than middle income or educated individuals in the same borough. I do not have one client who has less than 4 children.
    The rub is that these individuals are also less likely to support their children, leaving it to the government to pay and support them and they continue to have additional offspring.

  112. 112 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:27

    John Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London ,should pop over to Kings or the LSE and have chat with the nice people in the Geography depts who might be able to flesh out with facts some of the feelings and emotions he is having about saving the planet in the face of impending risks and disasters ,caused by human existence on planet earth.

  113. 113 Jaimee
    July 25, 2008 at 18:28

    What I wanted to add is that these populations are more concerned with their day to day lives and getting by than they are with the environment.

  114. 114 Annette
    July 25, 2008 at 18:28

    I agree that people should replace themselves if they want to, and then quit having kids. I have felt this way since I was old enough to bear children.

    In my opinion, people living a western lifestyle assume they should be able to consume as much as they can afford to buy no matter what the result is for the whole world. Resources are finite and just because my daughter was born in the United States she consumes more than other kids born in other countries. My husband and his first wife had two children, adopted one more and fostered 40 others. My husband and I had one child. I never considered having more than one.

  115. 115 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 18:28

    Caller Kristen just said she is aware of the environmental cost of her soon to be third child… and strives to do things like drive a smaller car. It is that type of thinking that makes people feel good about themselves that they are contributing to the well-being of the world. Oh come on, driving a smaller car! Is that your best effort?

  116. 116 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:29

    @ Brett

    True dat. I did a double-take when I first heard it. Contrats to WHYS on the quality of their guest today.

  117. 117 Mostafa
    July 25, 2008 at 18:29

    Alexandria, Egypt

    I am in the Middle East, 31 years old, Married and got a good Job, but still too afraid to have a kid.

    For this area I guess none is the best solution, until I am able to get out of this area and have a proper life some where else.

    As it is already very hard to have a proper life in a country in the Middle East with risks of Poverty, unemployment, dictatorships, wars , Terror, Economic crisis.

  118. 118 Ryan
    July 25, 2008 at 18:29

    I agree that draconian polices will not solve the problem of the global virus that is the human race without causing other social probblems. I believe what we must do is stigmatize having several children. We need to implant in peoples heads that having many children is selfish, not something to be celebrated as my local newspaper did a couple months ago when it ran a story about a couple with TEN biological children. They were presented more as self-LESS rather than self-ISH. I have always thought that the decision to have children is both selfish AND selfless but as the number increases well beyond two (or even three) parents should feel shame.

    Personally, I have two wonderfull children, ages 5 and 8, and I plan on having no more. The impact on the globe was certainly one of the facors I considered when planning my family. Perhaps my wife and I had an easier time making this choice since we do not have religion telling us how noble it is to multiply. Churches that preach high levels of procreation are a large part of the problem.

  119. 119 Kevin in Paradise
    July 25, 2008 at 18:30

    I am appalled that many seem to view Professor Guillebaud’s advisement as mandate. Please listen. That is not what I am hearing at all. I believe he is suggesting a voluntary approach, globally, before it is too late. Some have suggested it may be too late already. Now in my 50th year, this may not be so much of an issue for me personally. It really is about the future. As a life-long environmental advocate (personally and professionally), the trends are disturbing.

    My wife and I “opted out” on children early on, principally because of human population issues. I’m sure we would have had some beautiful children, but our lives are blissful without. We think about, and care about, the future for other people’s children. We’ve driven a hybrid for six years, and an electric scooter is our 2nd vehicle. It may not be much, but in our collective conscience, we know we’ve tried. Good luck, y’all!

  120. 120 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:31

    @ Brett,
    I should have said Less not NO. Thanks!
    The Workforce:
    Well if your goal is capitalism
    My goal is not global capitalism. However, look at how much we purchase from China. Their economy is based on manufacturing at low cost. Their economy is one of the fastest growing right now. But that will change once you have less people. The fewer people you have for jobs caused an increase in wages, causing an increase in manufacturing, then an increase in prices, and finally increase in inflection.

  121. 121 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 25, 2008 at 18:32


    I understand that one may think that four children in the US is not equal to four children somewhere else but that still would not change my decision. I also love big SUVs. I am probably a typical American and really don’t consider the environmental impact of my actions. My cousin has two kids and has a surburban. The cost of having and providing for a child and the price of gas are the only things that would effect my decision to have fewer kids or drive a environmentally friendly car. I would love to have a Tahoe but since I am not sure how high gas will be in a few years, I am going to get some hybrid car but not because I care about the enviroment. I realize some people may not agree.

  122. 122 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:33

    @ Katharina

    When I’m on an airplane, I’m not impacting any other people. I’m not fat, so I don’t spill over into their seat. I am not loud, I’m not smelly, I don’t spill my food or drinks. Is that asking too much? I especially don’t scream into people’s ears or vomit on them, yank their windowshades down, grab their seats, etc. I put on my headphones and watch the in flight entertainment.

    I share my view with the Japanese with public spaces. It isn’t for you to do whatever you want, it’s for everybody to be able to be at peace and harmony without being annoyed by others. When i was in Japan, I was taking the bullet train to Hiroshima and there was an American man, and his kid on board. The father would stand up, next to his child, who was in a middle seat, and would read, loudly to the child, annoying everyone around. One of the Japanese men sitting right there told him “this is a public place, could you please not read out loud, or at least go somehwhere else?” and the american responded “yes, this is a public place and I can do whatever I want, this isn’t a bhuddist monestary.” and kept on reading. the japanese man was referring to being respectful of other people in public. I wanted to knock out the American , he sounded like such a jerk when he said that. It’s the selfishness and entitlement mentality.

  123. 123 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:34

    @ nelsoni,

    Agreed with you on the China/ human rights issue.

    However, I think the real solution is educate people about what are the consequences of their choices and how that impacts the futures they want to live in.

    It, to me, is most disingenious for us to accept that poverty and child bearing are fundamentally tied, in the cases of peoeple in very poor societies who make these choices, and not to see that as somehow connected to sustainable development and proper environmental management.

  124. 124 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 18:34

    I can’t agree with Kevin more. Obviously no one can make a mandate on population control (except the Chinese government), but a voluntary approach would benefit billions of people in the long run. As an 18-year old, I am already planning to opt out of having children, because although there are certainly plenty of decent, loving families (such as my own), I see more people have children out of boredom or loneliness, a more selfish need than believing in family values.

  125. 125 Luz Ma from Mexico
    July 25, 2008 at 18:34

    For the environmental point of view:

    Which is worse?
    A family with one children riding an SUV and generating a lot of waste due to their materialistic lifestyle, or

    A family with three children who use public transportation and have a “green” culture (recycle; buy and consume environmental friendly products; take care of water, electricity, etc.)

  126. July 25, 2008 at 18:34

    Here is the story of a father ( from the United Arab Emirates) who already has 78 children and is aiming to have 100 (yes one hundred children)!

    Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides although he has to divorce them as he goes along to remain within the legal limit of four wives at a time.

    He will to have at least three more marriages to hit the century.

    Here is the link for full details: http://sweetness-light.com/archive/muslim-father-of-78-wants-to-father-22-more

  127. 127 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 18:35

    @ Thea:
    Their economy is based on manufacturing at low cost. Their economy is one of the fastest growing right now. But that will change once you have less people. The fewer people you have for jobs caused an increase in wages, causing an increase in manufacturing, then an increase in prices, and finally increase in inflection.

    Great point!

  128. 128 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:35

    Sure, we can have as many kids as we would like, by all means, let us go right ahead. However, there is something that we seem to have overlooked, in passing. What do we do in the case of those kids who are already here and do not even have family structures in which to grow into adulthood? What about adoption? How does that impact this discussion? Is this not an issue about developmment in all its facets?

  129. 129 George
    July 25, 2008 at 18:35

    If you can’t afford to pay for a stable, pasture and food for a horse, you shouldn’t have a horse, no matter how well you treat it. Yet, at least in America, anybody is allowed to have any amount of children their bodies allow. If you can’t afford kids, you should be put on birth control until your situation improves.

    Criminals are not the offspring of the middle class or rich, they come from those who could not afford to have that child to begin with.

  130. 130 Antoine Roederer
    July 25, 2008 at 18:36

    Hello !

    My mother was number 10 of 12 children. I was number 3.
    What if my grand parents had stopped at 9 or my parents at 2?
    Those who have a good chance to raise happy children should think and maybe have them.
    There is selfishness in not having more children sometimes.
    The planet can produce food for billions more people.
    The Pope would love this !
    Have a good life,

    Antoine Roederer

  131. 131 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:36

    @ nelsoni
    That is the issue in a nut shell. Total freedom is just that. No goverment has the right to tell us what to do.

  132. 132 bjay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:38

    Would you stop having kids to aid the environment?

    What the hell are you talking about sor – hads?!

    Your continent is aging!

    Your politicians are struggle to maintain ‘TO BE OR NOT TO BE’ professor ‘SMOOKER’.

    Our civilisation is on the ‘DECAY’.

    Europe is sinking with the old generation.

    bjay connotation with accent. hu

    ps: The war always is the remedy.

  133. 133 John in Salem
    July 25, 2008 at 18:39

    Viktor K’s comment about people having as many kids that THEY (not the state) can support is a good place to start.
    In the US our schools are supported mainly by the local tax base which everyone has to pay into regardless of whether they have 10 kids or none. Perhaps if the systems that are designed to educate 2 children per family drew the line and made people who wanted more kids pay, per child, to educate them, it might actually force some change.
    For the record – I had one child and got a vasectomy. Even back in the 70’s any other choice seemed insane (to us, at least).

  134. 134 William Wallin, M.D.
    July 25, 2008 at 18:40

    We need to learn from nature. The only thing that grows without restriction is cancer. Human population growth is like a cancer on the Mother Earth. Just as non stop economic growth is another cancer on our Mother. It is not a question of if but when. How much damage on the earth are we willing to inflict before we act.

    William Wallin, M.D.

  135. 135 Mike
    July 25, 2008 at 18:42

    Yes. Even if one has enough money to pay for many children,
    it’s not good having many children. Children grow up, they need to find jobs, they need to eat, they need to find housing. It’s doubtful that the parents will provide the food and housing and jobs to all their children for the rest of their lives. Hence poverty, illegal immigration, crime, disease. Less people in current times with the current technology would live way better than ever before. Too much people is not good.

    There’s a scientific that states that “the dumber and uglier someone is, the more children they have”, sounds rude, but it’s the truth, not even the christian church that sponsors over populations can’t deny it.

    Besides, we only live once, it doesn’t matter if we have children or not, once dead all that mattered was how well we lived and how well their children lived or will live for those who plant to have any.

  136. 136 Bronson
    July 25, 2008 at 18:42

    I completely support tax disincentives for more than two children, and a tax incentive for having only one.

    This desire for multiple children is a vestige of an agrarian time that no longer exists. The modern urban world requires small families. Better for the environment, better for parenting time, more realistic for economic costs, etc.

  137. 137 Thomas Lin
    July 25, 2008 at 18:42

    Those who still think of the number of children they’ll have as a right, in my opinion, should really check things out again with a greater concern on sustainability of the world their children are gonna be living in. Many of China’s political choices suck, but I think one-child policy happens to be a very bright one.

    I’m a college graduate just this summer, and I’m the second of the two children my parents have. It suits me just fine. And I’m not actually planning on having any children of my own; instead, I’d prefer to adopt a couple or so with my spouse (if any) in the future.

    Stop abusing this planet, ok?

    Thomas Lin

    from Taipei, Taiwan

  138. 138 Jennifer Howe
    July 25, 2008 at 18:42

    It is important to rememeber how migration will effect population, not only birth rates.

  139. 139 Gabriela
    July 25, 2008 at 18:43

    I absolutely agree with this doctor. As a single mom I feel it would not be right for me to have more than ONE child. If, in the future, I feel the need to have a bigger family I plan to adopt. There are already so many children in the world in need of a home I can’t see why I’d need to give birth to another.
    Contrary to popular belief, here in the States there is a large problem of ignorance about birth control and of children being born to families which cannot support them. I think american parents could look to adopt (or foster) from their own community if they feel the need to expand their family beyond two. Not only would that keep the population in check but it would improve the community by nurturing young people who might otherwise gravitate towards poverty, crime, etc.

  140. 140 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:43

    @ Brett,
    I do spend time on airplanes and my last time there were was a family with three children, and the were sleeping or playing nentendo. There was also a baby and he did cry a little when landing, but for most of the time he played with his mom and dad.

    If fact, I woked for United Airlines before 911 and I was on airplanes all the time. I am not sure about the flights you but I have never had that happen in all my years on planes.

    Again, you need to spend some time with children.

  141. 141 Sean
    July 25, 2008 at 18:44

    Weakening the Gene Pool

    If highly-educated, environmentally-concious people are having much fewer children than uneducated, environmentally ignorant people, do we risk weakening the world-wide gene pool? Should the smartest people in society be encouraged to have the most children, to the end of advancing the development of the species?

  142. 142 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 25, 2008 at 18:44

    The girl who called and said that white priviledge people should take responsibility and have less children is ridiculous.

  143. 143 Michael
    July 25, 2008 at 18:44


    Don’t most developed country have sub-replacement fertility rates already? While the professor is right, the more urgent problem is how to reduce the individual environmental impact which grows even much faster than the world’s population. The real pain will not be the decision to have fewer children, but to reduce individual consumption.

  144. 144 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:45

    Funny the female American guest said that white, middleupper class americans should seriously think about not having kids. Yet lots of minorities have many, may kids, and can’t afford to even care for them, so the state has to wind up doing that. Any comments on that? Do these minority children grow up to be wasteful? I see lots of luxury SUVs parked at subsidized housing.

  145. 145 RayCeeYa
    July 25, 2008 at 18:45

    I’m 28, never had children and never intend to.

    Ultimately the problem isn’t Global Warming, it’s scarcity of resources. Specifically petroleum and fresh water resources. We won’t be able to feed the billions of people on this planet when these limited resources start running out.

    We can either voluntarily reducing our population on a world scale or we will ultimately face the four horsemen.

    War, famine, pestilence and death will in the end “solve” the population problem.

  146. 146 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 18:45

    Oh anybody hear the latest comment?

    It seems we need to have less white priviliged people in this world.

    That’s right! White people are all so priviliged!

    Besides, then all the “poor people living on less than 1 cent a year” will be really happy and benefit immensely from a less developed West.

    They’ll start doing things like governing themselves, fixing their economies (Zimbabwe’s inflation for this year is 2.4 million %), electing competent leaders and stopping the spread of desease in the world.

  147. 147 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:45

    Sorry Brett, my last one was for Steve not you.

  148. July 25, 2008 at 18:45

    The environment is devastated by greed for profit and not because there are more people. In Africa many children are dying unnecessary by the millions needlessly. Africa is not overpopulated but under populated. Africa has more resources and a greet deal f fertile land than any continent in the world.

    This suggestion having only two kids will save the environment is ridiculous. It deflects the attention form the real problem. t. It is not the number of people that is causing wars it is greed for wealth and power which is he sole cause of wars. A great proportion of production in the industrial world is aimed at satisfying the desires of vanity and not needs and necessity. Shame this is done at the expense of many dying needlessly.


  149. 149 Brett
    July 25, 2008 at 18:46

    @ John_Chrichton:
    Perhaps he should consider his carbon footprint, and commit suicide.

    And for those in the third world agreeing with his views, you should start thinking about that too. Because you bring more harm than anything else to this “finite planet”.

    Thanks for re-affirming that by posting a similar request for me to commit suicide on my blog, despite me not being located in a third world country, haha.

    Suicide is hardly the answer. Though, I’m suprised at your energetic support of suicide given where your posting from.

  150. 150 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 18:46

    @ Steve (Sorry not you Brett)
    I do spend time on airplanes and my last time there were was a family with three children, and the were sleeping or playing nentendo. There was also a baby and he did cry a little when landing, but for most of the time he played with his mom and dad.

    If fact, I woked for United Airlines before 911 and I was on airplanes all the time. I am not sure about the flights you but I have never had that happen in all my years on planes.

    Again, you need to spend some time with children

  151. 151 Justin from Iowa
    July 25, 2008 at 18:47


    Childeren should not be banned from public like cigarrettes, because childeren must learn to socialize within society. They do this by being part of it. Keeping them locked up will result in socially stunted, screaming adults.

    Now, bad parenting is a bigger cause for those screaming, vomiting children than the inherent nature of children. So don’t ban the kids from the planes and public, BAN BAD PARENTS.

    When you take away their nice flgihts on airplanes, on their dining in a nice restaurant, going to the movies… because of bad parenting, maybe they will take a better job of parenting.

    Screaming children are a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

  152. July 25, 2008 at 18:48

    Yes. Even if one has enough money to pay for many children,
    it’s not good having many children. Children grow up, they need to find jobs, they need to eat, they need to find housing. It’s doubtful that the parents will provide the food and housing and jobs to all their children for the rest of their lives. Hence poverty, illegal immigration, crime, disease. Less people in current times with the current technology would live way better than ever before. Too much people is not good.

    There’s a scientific theory that states that “the dumber and uglier someone is, the more children they have”, sounds rude, but it’s the truth, not even the christian church that sponsors over populations can’t deny it.

    Besides, we only live once, it doesn’t matter if we have children or not, once dead all that mattered was how well we lived and how well their children lived or will live for those who plant to have any.
    Mike in Oregon

  153. July 25, 2008 at 18:49

    Thank you for this show topic. My 7 year old daughter announced one day that there are too many people in the world and that she would never add to the problem by having kids. Today she is 23 and is steadfast in her beliefs that the worlds population needs to be controlled . Its a no brainer. period. Of course I have my one child so its easy for me to say don’t breed. However there is no good arguement against pop control. 9 kids ??? Thats disgusting and totally selfish.

  154. 154 vijay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:49

    Where’s Pangolin.

    There is plenty of space on the planet for billions more humans.
    There is enough food to feed everybody ,there are new seeds, new agricultural machines, the potential of the earth to produce food is nowhere near reached its maximum.
    In much of the third world the land is under utilised due to lack of machinery, irrigation systems ,power ,transport and communication.
    Even in the developed world Agriculture has been neglected since just after World War2.
    Mining and commodities have also been ignored
    because there were low profit margins and declining prices.
    UCL must be embarrassed by this person,he should stick to talking about reproductive medicine .

  155. 155 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:50

    I am an only child and I would not wish that on anybody else. Because I did not have a sibling to interact with, I was very late in developing social skills like learning to share and interact with my peers. It caused me a lot of problems during my childhood.

    If I were to become a parent, I would have two children but I don’t think I’d be able to give more than two the attention and financial support they deserve.

  156. 156 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 18:50

    @ Thea

    I think you were referring to me, not Brett. But about 50% of the time I fly, I have problems. On my first trip ever to the UK, in 1996, I was flying Virgin Atlantic, and was sandwiched between TWO kids who were BOTH vomiting on me. Believe it or not, a friend of mine on that same flight had it worse. Some flights are great, especially if there are no kids. Sometimes adults can be a pain.

    I once, on United, was forced to give up my more expensive seat, and made to sit in a worse seat, so a woman can take care of her infant. Why was I made to suffer financially as well? I paid extra for that seat, and they forced me to move. Had it been a short flight, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, but this was a transcontinental flight. I also had to fight to get a refund for the extra amount I paid. Again, I was made to pay the price for someone else’s selfish decision.

  157. 157 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 18:50

    @ Angela in Washington D.C.,

    I am certainly not quarelling with peoples’ choices in terms of having children. From where I sit, have as many as you can possibly manage and afford. However, what is of greater interests to me is whether or not sufficient thought goes into the making of these decisions?

    And, by that I mean, are people sufficiently aware of their choices, notwithstanding questions of affordability, whether in terms of the cars driven or the amount of resources consumed? I also interested in how we make these “choices”, as I often feel that much of these “decisions” are enforced through a multiplicity of cultural and other regimes which dare us to question these values. That is all I saying. That the environment and the economy come up for discussion only makes the question/ discussion all the more credible.

  158. 158 G Dumas
    July 25, 2008 at 18:50

    Of course there should be far, far less people. My husband (35th anniversary this year) have decided not to have any children and have no regrets what so ever. A few of our friends (from our generation) also have decided not to have any children (and we are in contact). Most people should chose this option.

    I would go even futher and say that governments and religions should live up to their responsibilities and openly support gay people as well.

    G Dumas

  159. 159 John_Chrichton
    July 25, 2008 at 18:51


    You’re welcome! I support suicide for anyone agreeing with the professor.

    The kids you are NOT going to have, have not yet gotten a taste of life. You have.

    You’re all so selfless and willing to save the environment, why not give the unborn child of normal parents (not al gore worshipping) a chance?

    The unborn child can’t make a conscious choice, but you can. So please, take my advice.

  160. 160 Shaun in Halifax
    July 25, 2008 at 18:51

    @ Justin in Iowa

    Have a look at my first post today. What do you think?

  161. 161 Delandus Clark
    July 25, 2008 at 18:51

    I have two children and custody of neither. Even for me it is difficult to provide funds, clothing, and even personal time with my children. At this point, I cannot see the logic behind having any more children when I cannot provide for the two that I have.

    I think beyond the “save the planet” solutions for the planet, if we are going to limit the amount of children we have than I think it would be a smart idea to look at the constitution of family structure. If I was able to live with the rest of my family, aunts, uncle, cousins, etc., we could better raise all of the children and perhaps lessen the demand for children of our own and children would be better for the support.

    The village would raise the child.

  162. 162 bjay
    July 25, 2008 at 18:52

    when the primitive uneducated children from the East will over run your civilisation, then what?
    They are multiplying exponentially.

    bjay connotation with accent. hu

  163. 163 Sally in Oregon
    July 25, 2008 at 18:53

    When I was a teenager in the 1960’s, I became very interested in the “Zero Population” movement, and decided then not to have any children to do my part to spare the planet. It seems very little progress has been made on this issue in nearly 50 years.

    Maybe that’s because our politicians are afraid to speak honestly about this subject. They all talk a good game about ending global warming, but shy away from pointing out the cause: too many people on the planet. Polution-producing cars don’t drive themselves, folks!

  164. 164 k. casey
    July 25, 2008 at 18:54

    I am so glad you are having this discussion. Global warming and other environmental issues can be addressed by curbing global population. If it is not done voluntarily, through birth control it will be done through famine and disease.

  165. 165 Katharina in Ghent
    July 25, 2008 at 18:54


    I would not use Japanese mentality on trains as a symbol for doing things right, I was there and my impression was that they behave like a bunch of narcoleptics, immediately closing their eyes pretending to sleep until their stop so that they don’t have to look at anyone. I agree that many children behave too loudly and badly in public, But we irresponsible parents are not allowed to tie up our children and gag them before we expose them on trains or other public places. You can and should teach your child that it has to behave in public, but that there’s no guarantee that it won’t hurt it’s knee or that complain about its vegetables on the plate etc. You may not smell, but you’re not a saint and accidents may happen even to you.

  166. July 25, 2008 at 18:57

    I think it was the American environmental leader David Brower who said, when asked if governments or communities have any say in procreation and family size limits:

    “We have no more right to tell a man how many children he may have than we do to tell him how many wives he may have.”

    We set limits and have rules as societies decide what is needed for survival and cultural continuity.

  167. 167 Alex J
    July 25, 2008 at 18:57

    It’s interesting how people defend large families with the argument that more people produce more potential ideas for resolving our problems. That may be true to an extent, but how much more intellectual power and diversity can we achieve far beyond 6.5 billion people? We’re essentially betting that a focus on quantity instead of quality will produce an Einstein of energy and resources to save us from ourselves. That’s quite a gamble considering the risks of unmoderated consumption and population growth.

  168. 168 Jane
    July 25, 2008 at 18:58

    Listening on OPB radio in Portland OR….My only child is just 5 months old, and I would like to have a second, but that’s all. In part, I grew up in a 2 child household (because my parents felt it was socially responsible to only have two kids), in part because I think there are important life lessons to learn from having a sibling, in part because of finances, but also in part because of the planet. We recycle, we garden, we compost, we buy food locally, we use cloth diapers, and we are hoping to teach our daughter (and her potential future sibling) the same values.

    I really struggle with families who have lots of kids for religious reasons — it just seems doubly irresponsible to fail to care for God’s creation by overtaxing it, and then claiming that it’s God’s will that you do that?? Just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  169. July 25, 2008 at 19:01

    The problem is usually the dumber people who don’t have any
    education, who are superstitious, religious, ignorant or not aware
    of how the world REALLY works (No, food won’t fall from the sky nor jobs will become available by breathing wind out of their lungs through their mouths repeatedly -prayer), call it what you will.

    Smarter people will have 1 or at most 2 children, dumb, ignorant
    superstitious and greedy people will have many lots more, hence the world will
    be populated by dumber people who will continue over breeding.

  170. 170 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 19:02

    @ Steve,
    Yes it was for you.
    I am sorry you had bad flights. But maybe it is not the child’s issue. Maybe it is their parents being self-indulgent and being inconsiderate of others.

  171. 171 Jered
    July 25, 2008 at 19:02

    The issue isn’t about economics or how wasteful any particular child is in terms of carbon footprint. The issue is that we have 1 planet, finite land area, finite resources, and we are on our way to overpopulating the planet. You cannot keep cramming puppies in a kennel saying its ok because these puppies don’t eat as much as some puppies. You’re still going to run out of room to the detriment of all the puppies. It amazes me how many people just don’t get this incredibly simple idea.

    You can use any “my rights” excuse you want but you are abusing the rights and future of those children you do have if you blindly and selfishly have too many kids.

  172. 172 Elizabeth
    July 25, 2008 at 19:03

    I disagree with the argument that those of us who choose to have more children are setting our children up for a horrible future. Some people are counting on the horrible future anyway. We do not trust the rest of the people to limit family size, so we are making a concerted calculation to increase our share before we all face the same disaster.

    Are we morally culpable? I do not think that we are, because we do not have a moral obligation to decrease our chance of genetic survival for the sake of someone else’s. If there is a limited amount of food, of course I should only eat my share. But if it looks like someone else is going to eat all the food, am I really to be blamed for trying to eat as much as possible before he gets to it? I don’t think so.

    The question is whether or not you care about your own survival, and whether or not you believe that other people care more about their own than yours. If you think that both of those possibilities are facts, then you are justified in reproducing as much as possible as long as possible.

    I suppose some would make the argument that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps it is. But you will have to first convince me that everyone is going to join in the family planning scheme before I join in.

    As for those who don’t have any kids and who think the rest of us shouldn’t, either, I respect your opinions, but ultimately they will die with you, and it is our genes, cultures, languages, and lifestyles, for better or for worse, that will endure.

  173. 173 Alison
    July 25, 2008 at 19:03


    For someone who is so unselfish and cares so much about the environment, it sure sounds like you spend a lot of time on airplanes.

  174. 174 Andrew
    July 25, 2008 at 19:04

    There is plenty of space on the planet for billions more humans.
    There is enough food to feed everybody ,there are new seeds, new agricultural machines, the potential of the earth to produce food is nowhere near reached its maximum.

    You must be joking Vijay.

  175. 175 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 19:09

    @ Katharina,

    Excellent post. I rather like your comments in relation to ‘responsible parenting’. Indeed, I like the entire post, notwithstanding that I am unable, in a real way, to comment on your Japanese example. Parenting is such a serious responsibility, I wonder if some of us really stop and consider the implications of our ability to procreate?

    @ Mike,

    While, I take the merit of what you are trying to argue, please be careful that your post does not imply that only dumb/ stupid people pray. Nothing could be further from the truth. Or it might be the case that to pray, regardless, is a stupid activity, as it relates to either the environment or childrearing. Nor, do I agree that “smarter people will have 1 or at most 2 children”. At the risk of sounding tiresome, define “smart”?

  176. 176 Monica Flores
    July 25, 2008 at 19:09

    I come from a developing country and I’ve seen how hard is raising children. I was lucky to be an only child because I cannot even imagine how much harder it would have been to have brothers or sisters if there wasn’t enough resources for me. If I had to make a choice I will say that I prefer to adopt a child and help this world. Of course I have the right to have all the children I want, but I’m part of a whole even though there is always this separation between developed and developing countries. I’m a human being. I believe everyone has to contribute to our common concerns in any way. I’m at least aware of what’s going on this planet. Some people think that environment issues are not serious. Come on! Open your eyes. I’ve been living in the US for almost a year and I see how much people like plastic bags and all the comfort which represents environmental pollution. People don’t like to walk even if it’s only some blocks away. Development means damage to our planet and ourselves. Of course it’s also true that education is needed in developing countries, but when you live with $ 2 a day thinking of what you will eat for dinner you’re not thinking of family planning. People live the day.

  177. July 25, 2008 at 19:10

    One day perhaps you will be taking your only child proudly to meet your parents. Should you be on a ‘plane I hope you’ll remember your reiterated complaints about vomiting children. But perhaps by then parents will be forced to take their children on boats and trains to avoid upsetting other flyers, if you have your way
    This argument, together with your understandable chagrin at your friend’s father’s demise due to encountering a moron in traffic, add nothing to this debate and you have had more than your share of attention in this blog.

    It is to be hoped that people do not have more children than they can afford to raise, but should they inadvertently conceive (it happens), abortion is not the best solution. Children in large families share the family’s resources and therefore receive less luxuries than only children, but they often have a less selfish outlook on life, and are raised to be economically prudent.

    Children born to parents who are unable to sustain them financially have to be supported by society unless you advocate euthanasia as a response to poverty.

  178. July 25, 2008 at 19:14

    Yeah, sure, “there’s plenty of space on the planet for billions of humans”, why not make the whole planet a city?
    That’s a really ignorant comment, in order for people to survive they need to eat, in order to eat food need to be planted, (Don’t forget people eat EVERY SINGLE DAY), where do you think the food in gonna grow in a “plentiful planet FULL OF PEOPLE and THEIR HOUSING”?

    Everything looks “plentiful” until it’s empty or runs out of space.
    It’s better to prevent the “maximum reached” level, than to experience it.

    I the other hand, I would change my opinion of not having any children at all to having as many children, IF we could move out of this planet
    and somehow find a way to grow plants and breathe elsewhere.

    I bet the same people causing problems here WILL CAUSE PROBLEMS IN OTHER PLANETS once space travel becomes a reality.

    it’s all a matter of how we think and teach others to think to avoid and fix current and future problems.

  179. 179 Nik
    July 25, 2008 at 19:14

    I come from an affluent American family of four children, myself, a brother, and two sisters. We have all been raised to respect and protect the environment, and be responsible in the choices in which we make for our own lives. My brother and I have made the choice to have no more than 2 of our own children and if any more, they will be adopted. One of my sisters has chosen to not have any children and the other only one. While we have the financial means to raise more children of our own, we view the global issues of population growth and resource needs as problems that need to be addressed now, before they get any worse. It is, of course, the right of all to have a family, but being responsible in the size of the family that you choose to raise is becoming increasingly important. In the past it may have been more important to ensure success or security through having a larger family, and therefore more opportunities, but we live in a world where opportunities are more readily available for all to pursue. We simply view the replacement rate as the most responsible. I also agree with many of the other comments on this subject, in that if you cannot afford to have the children that you want, do not have them. It is much better to afford a single child a good life, as opposed to struggling with four children.

  180. 180 Alex J
    July 25, 2008 at 19:15

    Says what scientific source Andrew? If memory serves, there’s something called the law of diminishing returns. Great advances in agriculture have been made over the last couple of centuries, but that doesn’t guarantee advances will continue to keep up with many billions more people, and in a changing climate to boot. For example, a study a few years ago suggested large U.S. wheat-growing regions will shift Northward to Canada. Problem is, large swaths of that Northern territory have thin, rocky soils, if any. There’s plenty of land on Earth, but not all of it will be suitable for even our enhanced agriculture. As it is, we’re going to have to get smarter about agriculture and aquaculture. Adding a few billion more people likely won’t help matters.

  181. July 25, 2008 at 19:16

    Also, those who complain about being a single child, FIND FRIENDS!!

    I know, even with overcrowding it’s hard finding good decent people, far less a good mate for life. Shees!! So much people, yet so little quality in them.

  182. 182 Maurice
    July 25, 2008 at 19:24

    Hi Ros,

    The talk about having two children is sheer nonsense. Climate change is a real danger on the long term on human survival but trying to fix the problem with such as a proposal as having two children is out of place and in touch with the different realities in different societies around the world.

    Ask such critical issues as what amount of contribuution does Africa make in the mess there is on climate today?


  183. July 25, 2008 at 19:26

    what about the consideration of at what age people have children? People could have more than two children later in life and over a generation or two (assuming their decendants used the same approach), that group of people would produce exponentially less children than a group of people who had two children early in life.

  184. 184 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 19:30

    @ eileen:

    “Children born to parents who are unable to sustain them financially have to be supported by society unless you advocate euthanasia as a response to poverty.”

    That’s how you enable them, making th eproblem worse. What you do is warn them, if you have more children, you will be sterilized. They cannot afford to feed themselves, they rely on the state to feed them and their kids, at taxpayer expense. Your suggestion only enables them. sterilize them if they don’t control themselves.

  185. 185 Alex J
    July 25, 2008 at 19:30

    The other consideration is that water, soil, and other resources are not evenly distributed, and there will be both geophysical and geopolitical obstacles to prosperity under an unlimited growth model. Simply betting that technology will take care of all that, instead of allowing population to follow the technology, is irresponsible in my view.

  186. 186 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 19:32

    @ Alison

    “For someone who is so unselfish and cares so much about the environment, it sure sounds like you spend a lot of time on airplanes.”

    Something tells me that Al Gore spends a LOT more time on planes than I do.

  187. 187 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 19:34

    @ Katharina

    “But we irresponsible parents are not allowed to tie up our children and gag them before we expose them on trains or other public places. You can and should teach your child that it has to behave in public, but that there’s no guarantee that it won’t hurt it’s knee or that complain about its vegetables on the plate etc. You may not smell, but you’re not a saint and accidents may happen even to you.”

    But again, they aren’t my kids, and I’m suffering for other people’s bad parenting. That’s wrong. They also ruin hotel experiences as well, screaming, running around in hallways, stomping their feet. These are things i have to pay for that they ruin. Keep tyler and madison at home if you can’t control them. I shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s selfish decisions.

  188. 188 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 19:35

    @ Ros,

    I think there is an implicit suggestion in your question as well as that we would stop having children for reasons other than the environment and whether it is sufficient to use environmental concerns as a basis for such a decision. My answer: YES!!!!!

    Even though I am not a parent, I can completely see all sorts of reasons for not having kids, like the timing and whether I or not I think my self an appropriate choice for being someone else’s moral guide. I fear that not many of us are always as keen about thinking through some of those concerns when the ‘booty call’ comes a-knocking.

    What makes for good parents? Those who can have kids or those who are concerned about their fellow man, or both? Does it even have to be restricted to these options? And, if so, why?

  189. 189 portlandmike
    July 25, 2008 at 19:37

    Social conservatives in the U.S. are anxious that immigrants, legal and illegal, are having many more children per family than other groups. I believe this is also going on in England and Israel.

  190. 190 Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 19:38

    IMHO this key issue here is education NOT giving the government or any other governing force (Religion, I’m looking at you) the power to tell you how many children you can or cannot have. That is a very slippery slope my friends to erroding all of your personal freedoms. However, if you educate and actually take the time and effort to really teach people WHY having more children is a negative then people will, as we can see examples of on this very board, be more aware of their environmental impact.

    Or we can always go for these knee-jerk “solutions” like government imposed reproduction laws. Or we could always go with Mr. Swift’s “Modest Proposal”

  191. 191 Sallie
    July 25, 2008 at 19:42

    I have three children, but two were adopted. They were born during a war in a poor country. Please don’t assume a large family means more people. Anyone who wants to rear kids, who wants a big family or even one child, adopt! There are millions of orphans in this world of all ages and colors and needs. There is nothing magic about genetics or pregnancy, no difference in how I feel as a parent. There is no reason to have kids who “look like” their parents – that drives me crazy.

    One big world, everything we do makes a difference, EVERYTHING.

  192. 192 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 25, 2008 at 19:43


    I completely agree with you about the nuance that kids can be. The kids are the parents responsibility but many people are scared to discipline their kids in public or at all. I can’t stand being around people that can’t control their kids. However, some people can control their children and hopefully if/ when you do have kids you will not allow them to behave in a manner that annoys people. I have met many people who before they had kids couldn’t stand the little critters, but afterwards they expected others to deal with their misbehaved offspring. I think they forgot how annoying kids can be to others. Hopefully, you will not be one of those people.

  193. 193 Alison
    July 25, 2008 at 19:45

    I’m not sure pointing a finger at Al Gore makes your environmental impact any less, but if it makes you feel better, I’m fine with it.

  194. 194 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 19:57

    @ Sallie,

    I agree with you, totally. There are several children in the world who need love and care like those whose parents are know and are willing and able to provide this support. I say this, even with the understanding that in the society from which I come, adoption is not necessarilly an urgent priority for many people, who prefer to start their own families.

  195. 195 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 20:00

    @ Chicago,

    There is no questioning the value of the state’s role in edcuating people about what their responsibilities and rights are, including reproductive ones. I made this point earlier.

    Children have a right to be born in safe communities and societies, to say nothing of the homes they will live in. They are entitled to the very best that life has to offer. However, if parents are unable to either provide for these needs, or would prefer not to then we are slaves to our biology and that too, is a problem.

  196. 196 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 20:00

    The Holy Father (Pope) has been adamant that contraception is not in keeping with the Catholic faith. However, as a Catholic myself, I am not sure I agree with that position, though I defer to His Holinesss.

    What I am more interested in, though, is whether individual choices are shaped by concerns of this kind? That, I think is the critical issue at work in the conversation.

  197. 197 selena
    July 25, 2008 at 20:21


    Children, like everyone, need respect.

    I have just spent two weeks in an institute where there have been children running around all over the place, morning, noon and night.

    They wake me up every morning with their screams and shouts. It is absolutely exhilarating to be a part of a vibrant community.

    Perhaps you should try interacting with some of the babies. There is one here who is not quite three months old and I swear he knows more than many adults.

    If parents can’t stop their children screaming, I guarantee you can by showing them attention and respect.

    Try it next time you see a child acting up. 🙂

  198. 198 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 20:39

    @ selena,

    Great one. I am sure Steve would agree! LOL!

  199. 199 selena
    July 25, 2008 at 20:46


    Happy to see you back! 🙂

  200. 200 Chicago
    July 25, 2008 at 20:52

    @ Rawpolitics- We do have similar viewpoints on this subject and I appriciate many of the intellegent comments and thoughts that you have brought to this debate.

    I feel that much of this conversation is being lost in the government supporting families arguement. The focus of this particular discussion is the correlation between having kids and their impact on the environment. Some people have suggested that the answer to saving the environment is to mandate the number of people should have.

    My arguement is that if you educate people to understand and be aware of the evironmental impact, then we wouldn’t need such drastic population control legislation. Instead people will control their populations on their own. Just as we have heard evidence from other people on this board who were taught this and are making the choice to have none or one children as a DIRECT CAUSE of their education on this subject.

  201. 201 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 21:02

    @ Selena

    you don’t “show respect” you “earn respect” and running around screaming isn’t going to earn my respect.

  202. 202 Thomas Murray
    July 25, 2008 at 21:08

    Though I’m 54, I still entertain the fantasy that, once I obtain a good full-time job that doesn’t suck, I’d find a nice woman amiable enough that I’d want to spend the rest of my life with her, settle down and grow a child.

    But I’m waiting till I can afford it.

    My sister and brother-in-law have one son, and it’s quite okay with them.

    Though Europe’s overall population is declining (good job on that, by the way), the third world population is exploding, and in areas least favorable for food production.

    Unless you’re very very rich, In a world in which the future promises a shortage of EVERYTHING, I cannot see any other rational alternative but holding one’s family size down to one to two children…if, for no other reason, than one’s own survival.

    Regards. Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  203. July 25, 2008 at 21:09

    I don’t think that family planning or the professor’s suggested ideas are counter to feminism, like Kristen suggested. Making educated choices supports feminism. Also, even though I support the idea of encouraging families to have only two children, for some families that have a heavy carbon footprint, this may be too many. It is how I was able to justify having a second child, since we live off-the-grid. Until my children leave our home, their footprint is significantly less than other Americans. I appreciate being invited to participate in this discussion, and you can read my post from last month on the subject that prompted the invite:

  204. 204 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    July 25, 2008 at 21:51

    @ Steve,
    I was born in 1964. My understanding is you respect all people. They can lose your respect but you give it first. Try it some time!

  205. 205 steve
    July 25, 2008 at 22:08

    @ Thea

    No, people have to earn your respect, you cant just do that. It’s like with trust. It’s not something you just hand out, it has to be earned. How is it respect if it’s autoamatic? That sounds more like an obligation. That’s also an entitlement mentality. That you expect people to respect you. You have to EARN respect, it doesn’t grow on trees. Earning respect may not take much effort, but you still have to earn it and can’t just expect it. What is a screaming kid going to do to earn my respect?

  206. 206 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    July 25, 2008 at 23:12

    @ Selena,

    Thank-you very much! Been awhile, but…!

    @ Chicago,

    Could not agree with you more! The idea of self regulation is absolutely critical, in my view, in this discussion. The only way not to infringe peoples’ rights is to ensure that they know what those are and act, accordingly. There are real issues about how our consumption impacts the environment. Keep the discussion flowing, people!

    @ Steve,

    Surely, there is room for a few noisy kids, ever so often, no? I mean, children are fun, most of the times! They remind us of a time when we were not as burdened in our “concerns about the world”. So, yeah, I am all for the vibrancy!

    Parents, though should learn to control their kids. So that, we are still talking about parenting and family planning as it relates to this point re the question above.

  207. 207 parth guragain
    July 26, 2008 at 04:14

    this is very intresting topic to be talking about.these are some of the effect that planet will face if people have large families-
    1.as human will keep on encroching habitat of different spicies we will see extintion of many spicies in the days to come.
    2.we are adopting homogenous kind of lifestyle all around the world with each passing day what we will see in the days to come is nasty conflicts ih the days to copme all around world.
    3.as heath conditions all around world is improving cild mortality rate is decreasing and number of old people is increasing we will spent mre state funds in unproductive sector of society.
    4.world have very unequal distrubition of wealth and resources in world those part having resources have less population and those part of world not having resources have large population .as a result we see mass migratio from these parts as a result we are setting stage for very nasty racial conflicts in the days to come.
    5.as ore people means more cars and more industries we are walking in the track of irreversible climate change.
    6.another effect of increase in population will be is increase in number of mental illness in the days to come all around world.as population increase there will be compitition for each ajob oppurtinity that many people can cope with it.
    7these are few effect of increased population.i think world will come with

  208. July 26, 2008 at 05:33

    Rights, rights, rights! We’re so concerned about OUR rights to have or not to have however many kids we choose! Well, I say this, flip the issue around. The impact on civilization and our daily lives of a global population run amok is already visible and palpable around the world. It is tangible and visible right here in America right now. Once, not long ago, a professor set his students to an unsual task: “to sit in an open space somewhere and look to find WHAT WAS NOT THERE!”

    How does one see, much less find ‘what is not there?’ The empty spaces between the leaves of trees. A horizon empty of ‘things’ that obstruct the view. Fields uncrossed by fences. Tree branches innocent of birds. The air bereft of bird song. Shrubs free of buzzing bees. A most revealing and instructive task! Because to realize what is missing one must have known it when it wasn’t!

    Today, that is exactly what we’re up against: having to detect, to see and find and own what we no longer have, what we once took for granted and is now lost, drowned beneath the countless excesses of ‘modern civilized’ life. We’re submerged under so much triviality, our lives burdened by so many meaningless doings, do we have the inner presence any longer to notice what we no longer have? That which we have lost has been lost so gradually, its place filled with so much banality, can we see any longer the meaning and depth no longer there?

    So, about our rights to have however many children we choose, whose rights are we concerned with? Our rights to have them, or the rights of children being born into a world that can no longer supply their needs? I’d invite and urge all of us, young and less young, to pay a visit to the shantytowns of the world, to the favelas and the ghettos in the big cities, to towns and villages in the outskirts. Go, walk around and see how the children fare. How many homeless children grace the streets of London or Paris, New York or Seattle? To say nothing of the capitals and cities of Asia and Africa and Latin America!

    The crime is ours for bringing excess children into a world we have grossly mismanaged. The crime is ours for having failed and betrayed their present and their future, even as we have failed and betrayed the Earth and ourselves…, and the rights of the Future’s children before they are born.

    No! We have no such ‘rights,’ not now, not ever. All animal populations, even plants, pay the penalty when their numbers grow beyond their environment’s capacity to sustain them! Excess is whatever shape or form is never ‘free’. However we perceive ourselves, humans remain biological animals subject to the same Laws of Nature as all other living things! We are currently in violation of those Laws and have been for the past three centuries… the perils and penalties we have incurred are now close at hand.

  209. July 26, 2008 at 06:00

    The only right humans have and can rightly defend is the right to replace ourselves, period. One child per person. Two per couple. Period. There have been times in history when conditions warranted a higher birthrate. Disease. Short life expectancies. The needs of peasants and villagers and others for more hands to till the land and supply the world with food and other necessities. Those conditions no longer prevail. We’re all aware of current global conditions… no need to repeat. Examine closely any and all crises we face. Each can be traced directly to its source: EXCESS. And all excesses can be traced directly to population excess.

    Malthus’ premise and conclusion were not in error. Only his timeline fell short of what has been so. Technology has given us reprieve after reprieve, thereby submerging us in oceans of self-delusion and disbelief and effectiverly blinding us to the realities we live. We continue along this path to our great peril because, given the mindset that rules us, technology has become a central part of the problem, its potential for solutions seriously derailed. The bottom line is that no species, however, advanced it deems itself, violates the Laws of Nature with impunity. We have been doing so for several centuries… except not with impunity but rather in blindness of the road we traveled and its destination… So now, if we do not soon shift directions and get off it, we shall arrive where we’re headed and once having arrived… What rights shall we have or demand? And, of whom or what?

  210. 210 savane, nairobi kenya
    July 26, 2008 at 08:02

    I must admit the environment didn’t consciously feature into our decision to have two children: we have two children because we wanted two children.

    If you think flying with screaming, vomiting children’s a nightmare, try a 14-hour trans-Atlantic flight with screaming, vomiting, DRUNK adult rugby team!

  211. 211 balloonmoon
    July 26, 2008 at 09:02

    Yes it’s a good idea and even better than that, I think incentives should be given to encourage especially the single mothers with absent fathers who’ve been such a drain on the benefits system, producing a string a children that they are ill equipped to nurture.

    Increase Child Benefit for the first 2 Children, any more than that and the benefits decreases progressively.

  212. 212 Pangolin-California
    July 26, 2008 at 09:14

    My mother had five children the last born in 1968. Those children have had exactly five children and we are quite sure that no more are coming. I myself got clipped after fathering two.

    While I can’t say that the environment was my sole concern it was a very strong factor. As my health failed after the birth of my second child it turned out to be a blessing.

  213. July 26, 2008 at 09:49

    Why should we stick with two when you can make a whole football team..lol.

  214. 214 Rick
    July 26, 2008 at 12:18

    we never wanted children. every time we even thought about it we would go off to mackers and see some snoty-nosed little spoiled rotten 10 year old mouthing off to his parents and that would cure us for a while. then we fell in love with the 1 year old daughter of a close freind and decided that if we could have a girl, that would be ok. After 17 years of marrage we did every thing right to have a girl and had a boy of course, and another 4 years later. Then it was MY snotty nosed 10 year old at mackers and I adored the little basterd!
    They are now 14 and 18 and bring joy to my life every day.
    having your own changes everything.

  215. 215 Shakhoor Rehman
    July 26, 2008 at 12:33

    My wife and I have one child (now adult happily). The reason for that is simple: we cannot carry out God’s Will with more than that. You see it is all a matter of time. When people have children because it is the thing to do or custom and for women “fulfillment” it is a denial of being adult , a failure to act as an adult. The sight of seeing adults having to deal with a horde of blubbering blabbering kiddies is like watching someone having the life drained out of them. They cease to be adults and become the servants of stultification. They simply do not have the time to be fulfilled adults and consequently they raise unfulfilled children who become unfulfilled adults and so the cycle of denial and failure continues ad infinitum. Of course if you have 24 hour nursery facilities in your locality things are different. 99.9% of the planet does not have such facilities.

  216. 216 christine
    July 26, 2008 at 15:01

    I think too many people reproduce without thinking of why they are doing it, what the implications are, and without having a harmonious relationship with their partner. The desire to have offspring can be very selfish and some are only looking for a purpose to their lives. Giving birth is part of the cycle of life and death, and the most divine thing we’ll ever get close to, and in that sense wonderful, but the experience does not mean breeding like rabbits without consideration for the Earth. Nature has its own way to deal with imbalance, but human beings interfere with the process. We have to become wiser and look at the bigger picture.

  217. 217 steph spann
    July 26, 2008 at 15:28

    Response to the broadcast: Would you stop having kids to help the environment?

    Currently there are thousands of children who need adoptive families in the United States and all over the world. Why not provide a family and home to a child who is already a member of this planet?

    There is a misconception that adoption is very expensive. In some cases it is. However in the United States there are thousands of children in need of homes and there is little or no cost to adopt through the state child welfare system.

    We are all members of the same planet and the human race. It is beneficial to the environment and to the planet to care for the children who need families.

  218. 218 Dennis
    July 26, 2008 at 22:00

    Yes, i would stop having kids to help mother earth…

    Since i don’t have kids..

    Syracuse, New York

  219. 219 Hannah Migliavacca
    July 27, 2008 at 05:02

    Wild animals plan their number noticing environmental changes. Why can´t wild humans act more like those sensible creatures?

  220. 220 Fonjong Terence Tah
    July 27, 2008 at 09:55

    Good day Ros,
    It’s a pleasure joining you on the programme. Concerning our topic for the day, Would you stop having kids to help the environment? I feel that, having kids is a blessing from God. The couples have a great role to play. Having many children,depends on how you can afford to take proper care of them.Is not good to be poor and you go in for many children. Your children may not help the environment. They may rather become arm robbers, prostitutes or beggars. On the on the hand, being rich, doesn’t require that you should go in for many children. The question is, can you discipline them? if so, then the better.
    Couples don’t hurry in life, be patient, pray always. There is time of reap and sow. So then, if you need children, God’s time is the best. If you need many kids and your wife can’t bear you many because of poverty, please, wait for God’s time. Oneday, things may be fine and you can have many kids.
    Don’t hesitate to discipline your children while they’re still young. A good sparking won’t kill them. Don’t pet them, else you shall one day regret. Even people insult you, be a good disciplinary. This may save your children’s lives and help the environment.
    Many thanks.I wish the entire BBC team a lovely day.

    Best wishes from Cairo
    Fonjong Terence Tah
    LTBW – Worldwide programme

  221. 221 Veronica
    July 27, 2008 at 11:26

    It doesn’t say much for many of you that you can’t see the charm of a child – only the nuisance. A young child is the most perfect creature on earth – physically beautiful, honest, naturally humourous, spontaneous, joyful, and far smarter than you imagine.
    Having said that, the welfare of the planet (and so also of mankind) is obviously more important than personal freedom to do what you like.
    The citizens of the third world will never stop breeding until they achieve a better standard of living/education (I know – I see it around me here in South Africa every day), and the birth rate in the developed countries is fine the way it is.

  222. 222 Vijay Srao
    July 27, 2008 at 11:31

    No,I amd definitely not joking.
    In Europe farmers are paid not to cultivate land ,there quotas for milk production and very little agricultural research and development,therefore production can be increased.
    In North America cash crops like cotton and peanuts are heavily subsidised ,if those subsidies are
    withdrawn that land can come under food crop prodution.
    In Africa and South America agriculture is not fully mechanised nor intensive ,there is a lot of land used for livestock production and lying fallow which can be brought under food crop production.
    In India the states of Punjab and Haryana which comprise only 2% of the land virtually feeds the whole country,canal irrigation facilities have not been developed after independence in 1948 in fact they have degenerated,however irrigation through electric submersible motors has increased,there is still room for improved production,cropping intensity is 183% and could be inreased to 300%.
    You should only worry if there isn’t any investment in agriculture.


  223. 223 Jerome
    July 27, 2008 at 15:57

    I think one has to be reasonable, neither limiting birthrates or breeding like goats are intelligent choices.
    We do need to renew generations because people don’t live forever, but on the other hand, i think it’s pretty clear that there are limited resources per person that this planet can offer, in terms of space, air, water, food etc.

    It all boils down to making responsible choices, it’s essentially a change of mentality. You can have 10 kids and be the most environmental minded individual, and you can have just as well only 1 kid who consumes like all the other 10 put together.

  224. July 27, 2008 at 16:09

    Sons and Daughters
    The world is all about sons and daughters and watching them grow up. Looking around at the electrician, the plumber, the grocer, the dentist and the barber, I see them all eyeing their children and wastching them grow. The boys are given careful training to enable them to earn a living and the girls are groomed carefully to succeed in later life.
    There is little wrong with that. Two children, yes. Why, because it is impossible to care and cater for more. Don’t forget nothing comes free in this part of the world. Finding pampers and feed for the suckling, and a good doctor to vaccinate the baby, and then nurturing the toddler to the age of two is an immense challenge.
    I have found the challenge both rewarding and exhausting. All the responsibility and cost of rearing children till school going age falls on the parents. Kindergarten, primary school, intermediate school and high school cost money. The job is never finished, even after graduation, a boy or girl needs care and attention before finding their feet in the world.
    We live for children, it is an instinct, and we make sure that our offspring keep the family line going. When I look at my battered body, I am grateful and praise God to bless and keep our children. If we preserve the flora and fauna, respect nature, integrate into the habitat, we can help to protect the environment.

  225. 225 Candy
    July 28, 2008 at 05:13

    If every couple reproduces at own desire without considering the population/economical status of their country, or blindly follow the religious rules (no contraception means)on family values, then we need more farmers and scientists to solve the food crisis.

    Dr Candy Chan

  226. 226 peter mose
    July 28, 2008 at 17:53

    in reply to your piece we dont need to get more farmers or scientists the reason =
    we need more common sense ,if you let people reproduce at that rate we end up with farmers growing biofuel crops instead of food because all those kids drove cars, oh year we do.

    peter mose
    fully trackable

  227. 227 Bernie
    July 28, 2008 at 20:52

    I’m a retired college graduate who stopped at two children 45 years ago. Each of these “children” (now in their 40s) stopped at one child. I stopped at two (and am glad I did) in response to overpopulation warnings that were circulating then. The current mess is an experience in deja vu.
    An abstract from the U.S. Census Bureau stated a few years ago that 63% of women who have completed their families have zero, one or two children.
    It would seem expedient to find out why the other 37% had three or more children before involving the government. Anyway, it is unlikely that a family size limitation law would pass since many politicians have three or more children.

  228. July 29, 2008 at 10:13

    Another method of population control would be to select for male babies. This would result in the next generation having fewer babies.

  229. July 29, 2008 at 10:59

    setting a standard for giving birth is just but an evil way of also controlling the number of wives a person can have.if we only have two children,we should also remember that spinsters will be thare as it is said that women are many than males.infact,some communities would stop existing if this rationing continues due to the negative things that affect us like diseases etc.

    david lulasa(THE LAST DON)

  230. 230 Liam
    August 7, 2008 at 16:40

    Struggling Africans should use condoms and make less kids.

    They will find themselves in less of a mess and more likely to get support for their situation.

    The alternative is terrible and soul destroying.

  231. 231 seedubya
    January 11, 2009 at 00:44

    @Steve – it must be awfully difficult for you to get an airline that will take you with a chip that size on your shoulder. Why, REALLY, do you hate children so much? Is it that you realise you’ll never find anyone to have children with becasue of your painfully obvious lack of social skills and you are actually performing a “dog in the manger” scenario here? I can’t think of any other reason for the vitriol you have poured DIRECTLY on children in this forum. You really should seek some help with that.

    @ Everyone else – The population problem lies in developing countries, NOT in developed ones. The only thing shown definitively to reduce the birth rate in developing countries is the education and liberation of women. Simple. Kickstart feminist movements in such countries and you’ll turn them around in two generations.

  232. 232 Peggy Ng
    June 16, 2009 at 10:51

    I am from HK. People get used to the very convenient way of living and always ignore the importance of environmental protection. People are now starting to be re-educated with lots of commercials by the Government asking people to use less plastic bags, switch off engines when stopping the cars while waiting etc. However, of all the 7 million people in such a small place, how many of us will be able to do these? Education seems to be a very long way to go for us.

    I choose not to have kids. People in my generation are now not able to model themselves, how can our kids be taught well and protect the environment?

    I do hope that the children in the next generation, generation after next, can still have the chance to see how good the nature is and inhale a breath of air that is of the same quality with mine, though the quality that I am now enjoying is not as good as 20 years ago.

  233. 233 Truth
    June 27, 2009 at 00:45

    “why then should the wealthiest stop having children”

    The average Westerner consumes 500 times more resources than the average Ethiopian. 20% of the human population (the developed world) consumes 80% of all global resources. Thanks to the West, we would need 3 more Earths to sustain us and we cannot continue on this path for another 100 years. If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the effects of what we have produced would last 1000 more years.

    ALL humans, not just the wealthy, should stop reproducing. The wealthy to decrease global warming and the poor to decrease poverty. 2 is too much. Even 1 raises the population, considering that we don’t die off when we are born.

  234. 234 Afro
    June 29, 2009 at 20:14

    2 children is two many for two reasons. 1) The population doesn’t need to be maintained, it needs to be reduced ; to less than 1 billion. 2) Most parents don’t die after their children are born, most will live to see their grandchildren, many will see their great grandchildren. Even 1 child is too much because it would only lower the population over the course of many decades and not immediatly. If you have a child at 30 and you die at 75, the extra eco-footprint during those 45 years would have irrerversible damage, unless we go back to our pre-industrial way of life, stop relying on fossil fuels (not just cutting down on them, I mean not relying on them at all), stop factory ‘farming’ ruminants etc.

  235. 235 lily
    March 14, 2010 at 18:11

    I agree 100000000% for the saake of the enviromnt im never having one of those disgusting revolting its called babies

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