End hunger ? stop having children….

hunger 2The agriculture minister in Bangladesh has no doubt what causes hunger in her country : over-population.

The director of the UN’s  organisation for food and agriculture (the FAO) says that’s a myth.

World population is set to soar – there is no other word for it – by 34 per cent to 9.1 billion by 2050.

The urban population in developing countries is expected to rise by 86 per cent during the same period.

hungerThis report from ActionAid, sates that

“hunger is a choice we make…not a force of nature..”

and says it begins with “inequality”.

Everyone agress though, that the situation is getting worse., and breeds violence. 

So is limiting population – literally discouraging people from having children – one of the answers to the crisis ?

Here’s one reply from Ros’s daily e-mail from Isaphy in Dar es Salaam :

“We have a misconception here in Africa that each and every child comes with it a blessing and we thus tend to have a lot of children whom unfortunately we fail to feed and educate.”

108 Responses to “End hunger ? stop having children….”

  1. 1 Denise in Chicago
    October 16, 2009 at 14:54

    Yes, Yes, Yes!! Over population, especially in third world countries, is absolutey one of the causes of hunger, not to mention disease and extreme health issues. Simple logic tells you that if you can’t afford to feed your children, they’ll go hungry. Let’s give aid to those countries that offer birth control options to their citizens.

  2. 2 Kate M.
    October 16, 2009 at 15:10

    I think forcing people to limit the amount of children they have is a scary idea. It forces people to hide children or get abortions to stay within the law. Would only poor communites have to limit the amount of children they have? Where will the line be drawn?
    It seems to me that helping poor areas develop farms, skills for trade, education, and making sure the aid gets to the right people would have a much bigger impact.

  3. 3 James Ian
    October 16, 2009 at 15:15

    Um yeah!! It’s kind of a no brainer. Why would you have a child you know you will not be able to care for properly? Poor people need to stop having more children then they can afford all over the world not just in Bangladesh. Who need more then one or two kids anyway?

  4. 4 Jennifer
    October 16, 2009 at 15:40

    I think this is an excellent idea; to stop having children unless you can and will provide for them. This means teaching abstinence.

    When you try to control the population using abortion you are simply exploiting one’s circumstances. If you want to otherwise provide aid to people who do not have food; ensure that they receive it. The middle man has his fingers in the pie and is not the least concerned about those without enough food.

    What is the rationale of giving someone “birth control options” when they are hungry? Hello!

  5. 5 Kassandra
    October 16, 2009 at 15:51

    It is criminally irresponsible to give birth to a child without considering the consequences – consequences for the child as well as for this planet. This human shortsightedness has brought the world to the state it finds itself now and it will cost us dearly in the near future.
    The choice before us is a simple one – either we do something to reduce population numbers or nature will do it for us. Scarcity of resources, together with the natural damaging of the environment that human existence engenders, will inevitably exert its pressure.

  6. 8 nora
    October 16, 2009 at 15:55

    Blame the poor for hunger…I am not buying.

  7. 9 raymond dempsey
    October 16, 2009 at 16:20

    This today, is an astoundingly poor policy plan. To illustrate, let me just run down a checklist. Remember Paul Erlich and is too popular book The Population Bomb? In the first edition, he wrote that Earth would end in the 1980s because of population. Now Russia and some Scandaniavian countries are concerned about their existence into the future. They won’t, of course, be executed to death; but they are quickly going the way of the Babylonians, the Messapotanians, the Assayrians, the Sumanians, the Hitties and the Philistines. Who knows anybody who claims to be from those once proud nations? Those nations are on the shelves of history. They are pernamently “on the bench” as football players in America say.

    ZPG (Zero Population Growth) has been in effect in my US since the 1970s. We’ve not had enough children even to replace dying parents. After all the elective abortions on us, now, we are scheduled soon to be “taken over” by Hispanics, which is fine with me. They aren’t any better than the rest us; but they aren’t worse either. I, myself, believe that the ideals and promises of America will be in good hands with the new hispanics Americans to come and take over within a decade or two.

    Moreover, ever hear of Robert Sassone? Google him. He’s an attorney turned demographer. What a mess we’ve made with our opportunities — he’ll demonstrate; although the hour is getting late and it might no longer matter much now for those of us left; but you could ask him anyway, and see what he tells you. You could even share what he says with us, in this thread. eh?

    sorry about spelling

  8. 10 Ramesh
    October 16, 2009 at 16:30

    Education is the key here; if people are more educated there wil not be a need to tell them don’t have more kids.
    With education (academic and social) comes prosperity

  9. 11 subra
    October 16, 2009 at 16:46

    Very interesting question.
    But who will induce those billions of illiterate poor to stop procreation. And who will tell those who firmly believe in their religious preaching that, for every child that is born, god send its food etc.
    Now another aspect of the problem is that there is an implicit competition by some to outnumber other groups or races.

    • 12 raymond
      October 16, 2009 at 17:03

      Thanks for reminding us, Subra, of the importance of another question.

      Are we coming to the point where was say that only the rich should be allowed to have children/

      Is this a departure from our human historic principles, and of God’s principles?

  10. 13 Solomon Kaluvi
    October 16, 2009 at 16:54

    Hanger has been hoovering over us ever since, we can not stop it but just reduce it, how, I think firstly we must stop polluting the mother earth, then work had, apply modern agricultural methods.

    Malawi, my country is having plenty food, yet we are poor in almost everything, what if we were like the likes of USA……..

  11. 14 vijay pillai
    October 16, 2009 at 16:59

    If an agricultural minister form a large muslim population naions says that over populaion is the main cause of hunger ,he or she hasa the commonsense and guts to say so unlike highly paid un officials who may have their own arrogance or agenda or simply out of touch with reality and peddle their own theory like global warming is caused not by humans but by say solar flares.

    It is about time many nations which has been increasing their population with no thought to the reality and some of the the so called western nations think that they can alleviate hunger by producing gm crops and increase the food production by 10 fold.

    Dont bu arguments that one cna go on increasse the populations as has been happeing in poor muslimmnations of pakistan, india,indonesia and banglasdesh for instance.Remember banglasesh ahs more talented people and more scientific minded people than the who of FAo put together.just because they are poor doesnot mean that they have no idea of what is happening tot he world’s food production and and why the main cause of hunger in bangladesh for instance.

    Famous bangladesh scientist ,Bose was the one only scientist who won the admiration of Einstein and made sure he published a paper with Bose,famed Bose -Einstein Condensation.How many western scientists can claim that honour. Famous Chicago Tower was designed by a bangladesh engineer-architect.
    Again famous Microcredit banker,Mohammed aslo has doctorate in economics.

  12. 15 Tom K in Mpls
    October 16, 2009 at 17:03

    There are several things to back it. More mouths mean more demand. Each acre of land and water can only produce so much food. Then comes the question of distribution. Do we just put all the food in a pile and distribute equally? Historical evidence shows that people with the greatest need for food reproduce the most. In this case, the result is that the poor simply reproduce more and aggravate the problem.

    Lets look to nature. In nature, when the populations are high, you have dramatically higher rates of disease, starvation, miscarriages and abandonment. All are ways to keep populations in check. Man is trying to defy nature here. Productive cities are the most successful example. They are able to produce enough trade to afford to import what the land cannot provide. This sustainability is the measure of the worth of the system.

    Many areas currently cannot justify their system. Starvation is one proof of their failure. There are many aspects of the system to address and my three point plan covers them. Limiting births by law is a poor but practical way to ease this. The security of a stable working system seems to keep birth rates down best.

  13. 16 hawthorne
    October 16, 2009 at 17:05

    The solution to almost every problem begins with paying better attention. The masses of food wasted along with post-harvest food loss account for more than sufficient victuals to feed all the hungry people on the planet.

  14. 17 T
    October 16, 2009 at 17:11

    How exactly will you “strongly ncourage” (force) other countries to stop having kids? What about the States using up a huge (and unfair) percentage of global resources? How ocm nobody’s talking about that?

  15. 18 Peter-Chinaman
    October 16, 2009 at 18:02

    China with the largest population in the world has managed to feed her population after the devastating experiment of Mao in the great leap forward to advance industries instead of maintaining its agricultural sector cost 20 million to die from starvation. Today China was praised for its ability to raise millions out of poverty.
    This is not due to high population but the difference in leadership and policies.

  16. 19 steve
    October 16, 2009 at 18:11

    So, as the enablers do, “have as many kids as you want, evne if you cannot afford to feed them, we’ll feed them for you”. You should NOT be having children if you are not capable of providing for them. It would be like me going out and buying a luxury car that I cannot afford the gas, the payments, or the repairs for, yet expecting someone else to pay for it.

  17. 20 Elisabeth Robson
    October 16, 2009 at 18:12

    First, the woman on your show is wrong: the planet cannot currently support our population – we use about a planet and a half of resources to support this population.

    I think it is absolutely vital that people stop having children. I have chosen not to have any precisely because the planet cannot support our growing population. If each woman had only one child starting now, we could reduce the population in half by 2075 which would *SOLVE* climate change. It’s not just a food issue, it’s a resource issue and a climate change issue.

    It is absolutely irresponsible to continue to have more than one child per family. Your children will NOT have a safe and happy world to live in if you do.

  18. 21 steve
    October 16, 2009 at 18:13

    Peter, that’s not the most politically correct of names. Maybe I should call myself, steve-jewboy
    or something..

  19. 22 Jade
    October 16, 2009 at 18:13

    Some people say pooper people tend to have more kids. Is the responsible people who can take care of their own kids who have less children, because they plan ahead. Is this observation true?

  20. 23 Anthony
    October 16, 2009 at 18:15

    If we were to send Dr.’s to give voluntary sterilization to the poor, this would turn around the whole worlds food crisis after some time.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  21. 24 Jasmine, Singapore
    October 16, 2009 at 18:15

    Has anybody here heard of Thomas Malthus? In the 18th Century he drew a linear graph and theorized that because food increases numerically and population increases exponentially, the world will eventually die of hunger. Because of that, he suggested that governments produce “positive checks” by restricting population growth.

    But the question here isn’t just population, it’s about sustainable development. Though more food is being produced, not only must we produce enough to feed the world, we must not produce more than the Earth can support.

    Many studies have proven that we have sufficient to feed the world. But it isn’t just about distribution problems and corruption — the richest 20% of the world consumes 80% of the resources. How is this being consumed? Think about the conspicuous consumption, especially meat products, that are costing more to produce and depriving so many people who cannot afford it due to market forces as well.

    Studying demographics also show that birth rates are not homogeneous. The world is a patchwork of states. Even if people decide to not have children, these are often the educated and privileged from developed countries. When the bulk are hungry in the developing countries, perhaps birth control there instead of restricting population in developed countries is the solution.

    Lastly, solving hunger is nothing as simple as putting food from the rich countries to the poor. The US is the world’s largest food producer. But this country also dumps food in the poorest countries in Africa, inundating their markets with superior, cheap produce, effectively causing sustenance farmers there to be ousted out of the competition. It’s not about distribution, but how as well.

    • February 15, 2010 at 12:21

      This has got to stop.
      I think it is all proper ganda for Governments to make money on water and rate andother commodities.
      I am so angry with the fact that my daughte is not having children because she thinks that we don’t need anymore in the world and that is going to end in disaster.
      Angry mum stop frightening our children.

  22. 26 Nicole
    October 16, 2009 at 18:15

    I believe that making a conscious decision to have fewer children and the fight against world hunger are critically related in that they both reflect a deep respect for others who are less fortunate than ourselves, and an understanding of the selfishness of putting personal desires above the good of all.

    • February 15, 2010 at 12:23


      Yeah the world was flat.
      And stop frightening yourself and others in not having children.

      We shall overcome!
      There is a way and don’t vbelieve in proper ganda that government is putting out there to make money, on water rates etc.
      Leave those kids alone and don”t mess with their minds.
      Angry Mum

  23. 28 Bardly Geek
    October 16, 2009 at 18:16

    We haven’t even done the easy steps of making birth control available for those who want to plan their families.

    Given the choice of starving and
    the expectation that you wait a little to have a kid and ultimately have fewer
    rational people choose family planning.

    Our brains may be emotionally wired to
    work against what we can rationally conclude.

  24. 29 Steve R in Florida
    October 16, 2009 at 18:18

    Countries that cannot support their current populations should encourage smaller families. The problem is not European and North American countries, but the third world.

  25. 30 steve
    October 16, 2009 at 18:19

    What’s preferable, requiring people to limit the amount of children they have, or massive casualties resulting from wars fought over limited resources.

  26. 31 Raj, Jamaica
    October 16, 2009 at 18:20

    I do not agree to the statemnt to limit child birth to one; China is facing teh problem: more men than ladies.
    Parents to this date wish for a boy over girl and if you say limit to one child how you are going to work about the gender.

  27. 32 Steve Jewell
    October 16, 2009 at 18:21

    In the third world, children are not a desire, wish, hope, or aspiration. Without a social welfare system and medical care that assures those children that one does have will survive, children are a necessity. After age, disability, or injury prevent one from earning a living, support is provided by ones children. So you better have some children for this reason and many if few are likely to survive to achieve this end.

    • 33 osvaldo
      October 18, 2009 at 02:42

      That’s a conduct seen also in other species: when there’s a high mortality rate, reproduction is more frequent and offsprings are numerous. That avoids the extinciton of the species. In other cases, when there are nor many predators but the environment is harsh and food is scarce, species prefer not to copulate so often (guided by its own instinct). Maybe the second choice ir more aproppiate to avoid suffering,

  28. 34 Charley in Portland, Oregon
    October 16, 2009 at 18:21

    I chose not to have children for 3 reasons:

    1) Environmental (The world’s population has doubled in my lifetime)

    2) Economic (I’ve been poor for most of my adulthood)

    3) Emotional (I was horribly abused as a child & didn’t want to risk repeating the cycle)

    Oh, and the social pressure stopped after I turned 40 years old.

    • 35 osvaldo
      October 18, 2009 at 02:48

      Charley: there’s always a risk of repeating the same mistakes, once we grow up, but we always have the power to decide and be different than our ancient “adults”. IT’s a pity than your second reason is not followed by many others, that would avoid so much suffering.

    • 36 No Thanks
      October 21, 2009 at 03:56

      I only have two reasons;
      1) I can’t stand them.
      2) I have better things to do with my time and money.

      As for the social pressure from the others – to hell with them.

  29. 37 Anonymous
    October 16, 2009 at 18:23

    I have five children and it is absolutely not selfish to have children. I agree with your panelist who said that those who choose not to have children do so not merely for the welfare of the planet but as for oneself. It is their preference to not have children as it is ours to have children, no matter how many. You will find that people who do have children tend to not be as “wasteful” with food and other items as opposed to those who don’t have any children. One needs to look at ways we join as a whole to recycle more and to not waste food and other items. I firmly believe we need to continue to do what God intended which was to populate the world.

  30. October 16, 2009 at 18:25

    It’s about education. If people can understand that they will prosper if they have two or less children, then they will thrive, we can look forward to a healthier and happier world. However, it can’t be forced on people. It’s about education and choice.

  31. 39 Lew in Cincinnati
    October 16, 2009 at 18:26

    The world needs to address poverty throughout the gap and integrate these people. This will bring up the levels of education and therefore decrease the rise in populations. No one can dictate birth and death rates but they can complete globalization.

  32. 40 Alex
    October 16, 2009 at 18:26

    The guest Lydia’s points are based almost entirely on non-scientific and anecdotal evidence. While the other guests try to back up their assertions with hard facts Lydia is busy talking about her neighbors and likening conservationist family planning to abortion.

  33. 41 Rhonda - Portland OR
    October 16, 2009 at 18:27

    I believe population control is a must for our planet. Let’s not forget the role that organized religion plays in this problem. Until they abandon the idea that ‘children are a gift from God’ and the Catholic church stops discouraging birth control we are doomed.

  34. 42 Amy in Portland
    October 16, 2009 at 18:27

    Part of the reason we chose to adopt five children from Haiti is this very reason, overpopulation and world hunger. It’s not a perfect solution, but it resolves some of the issues that we and our kids have. We wanted a family and our children needed one because they were born in a country that is under the bondage of poverty, lack of education and overwhelming malnutrition.

  35. 43 Half-Not
    October 16, 2009 at 18:28

    Over-population is over-rated and over-blown! There are few if any people that actually don’t have children for the sole reason of over-population. Most of these people don’t want children anyway. The over-population hysteria is a terrible thing, because it weakness the environmental cause with half-baked, unsupportable ideas.

    • 44 Jenni From NW
      October 17, 2009 at 23:09

      Having children is about taking responsibility for their future welfare. What are people who are having children concerned about? passing on their genes? having someone to look after them in their old age? who looks after their grandchildren in their old age? what sort of planet will their grandchildren live in?

      None of this will matter if we don’t have enough food to feed us all. World hunger isn’t going to happen…it’s happening already in places. What is so half-baked about this observation?

  36. 45 Shannon in Ohio
    October 16, 2009 at 18:29

    Women given even rudimentary education greatly reduce the size of their families. Until men around the world (including certain subcultures here in the U.S.) stop brainwashing women into believing that they are valuable for nothing but procreation, overpopulation will continue to plague humankind. This is about basic rights for all women.

  37. 46 Dirk
    October 16, 2009 at 18:29

    Run Logan Run!!! =o)

    We need to stop trying to find ways to keep the elderly alive as the same time we reduce the birth rate.

    Religions are one of the main problems…
    -Beliefs that don’t allow sex education and birth control are a key problem.

    • 47 Denise in Chicago
      October 16, 2009 at 19:36

      Good point about keeping the elderly alive too long. It drains resources and puts a tremendous financial strain on families and governments.

  38. 48 anton
    October 16, 2009 at 18:32

    i hate people who mindless made a lot of children and after that screamed about help. It is your responsibility to look after children and if you unable to do it it is your own problem.

    If take a llok on the whole hostory of humanity we capture more and more space resources but we are Homo sapiens after all we should not spread like a disease around the earth.

    • 49 Kassandra
      October 18, 2009 at 14:26

      Completely agree with Anton; have felt the same way ever since I have understood how mindlessly people live as well as procreate. I always found it condemnable to have children first and then to impose on others in terms of help, having this attitude that others somehow are required and obligated to provide help for them.
      I do also think that we are like a disease for this earth. If we don’t become aware and respectful of nature’s laws and live in accordance with them, we are going to disappear like all the large mammals before us (dinosaurs, mammoths, etc.).

      In this respect, I found the philosophy of pre-Columbian native civilization of North America very mindful and noble in guiding human living.

  39. 50 Rhonda - Portland OR
    October 16, 2009 at 18:33

    The statement that childless couples are more wasteful is completely invalid. It is the writer’s feeble way of supporting her decision to have five children. Regardless of her supposed frugal ways, she has brought five people into the world who are using water, energy, eating foord, creating waste … who will in turn create more children. If her children decided to likewise have 5 kids, that would be 25! It is the ‘rabbit effect’ at its worst.

  40. October 16, 2009 at 18:33

    However, if you saw my brothers children, you would not have much doubt about how irresponsible it is to procreate. You female speaker might want to meet them.

  41. 52 Christina
    October 16, 2009 at 18:34

    Please don’t allow this discussion to be simplistic. There is not one reason for hunger, and it is not just over-population. The Western world has spent the last 50 years and more forcing many in the third world to stop growing food for themselves and instead to grow money crops of exotic treats for the western world. And the guest who said there is enough food for everyone here now is correct. The rich world does waste too much food, but it also manipulates prices to suit its own markets, and that drives more food-producing people into poverty. And your guest who said that AFTER women were provided education and work opportunities and health care, they THEN chose to have fewer children. And encouraging organic farming rather than letting Monsanto and Bill Gates to take over world agriculture with chemicals and more pollution would increase food yields and reduce pollution and greenhouse gases. The world has to come together and deal with all these issues at the same time in an integrated way. Birth control will not solve world political and economic problems.
    -Christina Oregon USA

  42. 53 zachariahs
    October 16, 2009 at 18:35

    This unfortunately is a question survival and the only tide that has been able to sway it throughout history is war. Previously war dictated the stronger dominant cultures just as the UK ruled with the sword so did Persia and Israel. Now it’s those Nations that feel entitled to procreate due to a declined population. But it’s only measures to restrict population such as China has done that can come close to affecting the loss previously attributed to war. So how in the UK will you tell America to stop having kids because your population needs to increase while theirs needs to decline? It’s a similar problem around the world. Can the Palestinians tell the Israelis to stop having children without inciting a war, no. Can the Tibetans tell China that they need more children while China has already tried to limit the population, no. So instead it’s a race, a population race, and face it, America has no limit in sight. It doesn’t take much to make Americans believe they will rule little islands simply by the ratio of mass. Is that the wrong strategy yes – but it’s replacing the similarly wrong strategy of fighting war – especially highlighted by the middle-east wars.

  43. 54 Jane T
    October 16, 2009 at 18:35

    I am Chinese, only child. My parents are in their 70’s and they have big families. I have over 50 cousins; many of them I have never met. Culture reality on having children in China has changed in the past decades. My family is supportive if I decided not having children; as long as I am living happily with my decision. Yes, there are too many of us in the world. Only child per family also presents social problems. I cannot really understand the need of having many children (4 or more) or large family in these days. Again, it is just my personal view on this issue.

    I agree with one the guests on the show that there are many children out there who don’t have family or good environment need good home. We go out adopt pets, giving them a good place to live and good life. Why not take in one of our own, giving them the opportunities they don’t have in life. What is the difference of sharing a happy life with your own kids or other children?


  44. 55 Bardly Geek
    October 16, 2009 at 18:35

    I don’t think the epitome of civilization is the maximum possible population that can live on just enough resources to survive.

    There is great beauty in useless art: art takes resources to produce.

    For example,
    The Tlingit and Haida and other indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest
    lived among plenty, and produced beautiful carvings
    with “spare” logs and “spare” time.
    Whatever their secret of population limitation, they had a charmed life among native Americans.

    Can we think of a great civilization composed of great squalor?

  45. 56 John Lovell
    October 16, 2009 at 18:37

    I think that the cure to population growth is easier than having one child per family. Rather the problem would be solved if each women did not have more than 3 children unless they really wanted more. So I might include a governmental program to limit fourth children in a family, But I really think that support for the rights of women to be educated and free to control their lives is the way to stop most of this problem.

  46. 57 Mayra
    October 16, 2009 at 18:38

    Hey Ross: I am an only child of my parents because I was born in Cuba and had to flee (Castro’s regime) when I was 4. When we arrived in the US, we had to start over and my mother had to go to work (which was not the case in Cuba). Many couples of that generation realized that having large families was not ok anymore. I saw this trend in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in NJ & NY where I grew up. I’ve been living in Florida since the late ’80’s and when I moved to Orlando in ’97, I noticed at my children’s pre-schools that here more families are having 3, 5 and even 6 children families. I have 2 children and have raised them by myself and know how tough it can be. I think that it would aleviate world hunger by limiting our selfishness,having less children and even in this difficult economy, we might have left over to help stop the hunger in this country and around the world. I am flabbergasted to see such large families (14 children cases) at any time in history.

  47. 58 Tara Long of Nashville, TN (WPLN)
    October 16, 2009 at 18:39

    Isn’t the highest fertility rate in the world in the Palestinian Territories? Yassir Arafat famously told Palestinian women to “use their wombs as weapons” in order to outnumber the Jews. This is not often brought up for fear of offending the “long-suffering” Palestinians.

  48. October 16, 2009 at 18:41

    The Earth has only limited resources. The world population can’t expand indefinitely. There must be policies to keep population growth under control.

    poor countries have to be realistic and consider that a high birth rate means a downward slope in poverty.

    Feeding and educating a child in a poverty stricken society is more costly than in an affluent one where things are well-planned starting from birth control.

  49. 61 Elizabeth C
    October 16, 2009 at 18:41

    I am my mom’s only child and I have 2 half siblings. I want to have a large blended family. By blended I mean I want to have children and adopt children. In my current family situation, 2 adult women, we waste more food and other resources than my friends family; they have 7 children and 2 adults. It all comes down to people being responsible and knowledgeable. The size of the family doesn’t matter much in the big picture of world hunger.

    From Cincinnati, OH, USA

  50. 62 Jasmine, Singapore
    October 16, 2009 at 18:41

    It seems unfair for the richer countries to tell the poorer countries to use birth control and have less children because they cannot afford it. It seems like after having taken the bigger portion, the richer countries now tell the poorer ones to deal with it with demographics.

    There isn’t a fully direct relationship between birth rates and resource consumption. Europe has less than 2.0, US has 1.8, Italy has 1.3, but they form the overwhelming majority that are using up the world’s resources.

  51. 63 Henry
    October 16, 2009 at 18:43

    In trying to encourage people to have fewer children there’s an important distinction to be drawn between the east and the west. In the west the birth rate is declining rapidly and places like Russia and Japan have populations that are likely to halve over the next 50 years with the average age rising. This will have all kinds of consequences for pensions and healthcare costs. I think people should be entitled to their core biological need and choose how many children they want. The key as I see it is to solve the supply side of the equation. There’s plenty of land (less than 5% of potential land for agriculture is used today), new technology and fertiliser in the world to feed everyone. One of the key impediments to food supply is actually the growing anti GM movement.

    • 64 John Lovell
      October 19, 2009 at 20:17

      Dear Henry,

      If you knew more about agriculture, you would find that good land is under cultivation now. You can put farms on mountain tops, but it is the total environment to worry about. Wild animals need land and more people use a lot more than just food.

  52. 65 Peter
    October 16, 2009 at 18:44

    Adopting a Malthusian approach to the relationship between scarcity of food and other resources is simplistic. The prevalent capitalist system is based on ever increasing consumption and economic growth even if populations were static. If world population declined the system would rely on increased consumption to survive.

  53. 66 Robyn, Lexington KY
    October 16, 2009 at 18:45

    I agree with the woman in Oregan. In the United States, single people and childless couples are looked as weird or different. I am 48 and could not have children and many people will not let you have any opinions on family or child rearing. The lady in Canada reinforced this view when she chastised childless people for driving bigger cars. Sometimes it makes you feel like a second class citizen. I think the point about trying to helping women practice birthcontrol for unwanted children would be a big help.

  54. 67 Nayan -- Canada
    October 16, 2009 at 18:45

    Traditions arise in response to realities being faced by people over time — the belief in the virtues of large families is a response in the past to high child mortality as well as to provide labour and elder care in peasant type societies.

    Clinging to traditional views occurs due to lack of exposure to different viewpoints and ways of life which in turn arises from lack of educational opportunities.

    Economic well being and education is more effective than third party rationalisation in reducing family sizes as has happened in most middle and upper class families virtually all over the world in every community and culture.

  55. 68 Cricket in Oregon, USA
    October 16, 2009 at 18:46

    I think mandated child limitations is a VERY SCARY idea.
    I am reminded of what I was taught in High School about China. They were allowed only 1 child. So in some cases, with the desperation of needing a son to help with the farming or family business, if a girl child was born she would be drowned. So the mother and father could try again and hopefully have a boy.
    I don’t know if this is still going on in China or anywhere else. But my opinion is that to limit the # of children to 1 or 2 is going to be treading on very very dangerous ground.
    For some having children is sacred…a commandment from God. For others having numerous children is a necessity…a large family business costs less to run if the employees are “family”.
    Now if someone chooses to not have children, for whatever reason, I have no qualms about their decision. I myself have one son. For me 1 is the correct #. I am not able to have more for medical/physical reasons. But I would certainly want the option to have a second if I myself were capable.
    I agree that the world is in a desperate state BUT I also think that feeding all the world could certainly be managed if the countries who have plenty focused more on the countries who have less. How much food and other resources do we Americans (in general) waste? What if the world worked together to funnel those unused or wasted resources to the countries that have such a terrible need for them??

  56. 69 Ghassan
    October 16, 2009 at 18:46


    I am from Saudi Arabia and I know a friend of the family who has 26 children from 4 wifes and he can fully support them. He is also a big charity giver, helping people all over Africa. The issue is not affordability, it is sharing resources with the needy. I don’t think we should restrict a person to a cirtent number of children, due to culture, tradition etc. If we share and consume resources equally we will not have food shortages.

  57. 70 A.J.
    October 16, 2009 at 18:47

    Having children is the choice of the woman and the potential father. However, there are circumstances where having children could be seen as selfish and irresponsible. If there exists insufficient amounts of money, food or other of those necessary requirements to give these children what they need to survive without undue difficulties, then I believe, consideration needs to be given to whether having children is responsible and fair to those children and society as a whole. If the parents are unable to properly take care of their own children, the children become the responsibility of others or perhaps die for needs unmet. That is selfish and wrong.

  58. 71 Theresa
    October 16, 2009 at 18:48

    I caught the woman from Canada’s opinion that… her child-free friends consume much more than friends with children (e.g., nicer cars and more traveling). This comment sounds absurd because it is absurd (and maybe projection?).

    In my Portland work office of 35 persons, 3 of us are child-free adults and I thought I would test this woman’s theory. For the 3 of us, we drive older, smaller and therefore, more environmentally friendly cars than family folks. Two of the 3 of us eat lower on the food chain than anyone else in the office (one of the solutions to world hunger, especially for high-meat consuming Americans). Finally, and also very importantly, we spend a great deal of our time volunteering….the folks with children, don’t even come close to our contributions in that area.

    Maybe you (Canadian listener) should reconsider the type of child-free friends you choose.

  59. 73 Renee in Oregon
    October 16, 2009 at 18:49

    Children should only be born when the children themselves have been fully educated as to what is expected of them. It should be their choice. In other words, since children are not capable of choosing to be born – they should NOT BE. Life is very, very difficult. Unless you can provide the absolute best for your child and give them as many opportunities as possible – YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Doing so is solely a selfish act.

  60. 74 Rhonda - Portland OR
    October 16, 2009 at 18:50

    Couples who choose to have large families regardless financial ability are not doing so in a vacuum. Even though I have decided to have no children, I am forced to subsidize their decision at every turn. My taxes increase to pay for welfare and education of their children. The cost of my employer-provided health care plan is increased by birth and child health needs. This is just the beginning.

  61. 75 Kathryn Anne in Trinidad
    October 16, 2009 at 18:51

    I am 26 yrs oldd and i have a three year old daughter. I provide for her very well and financially i don’t think i can afford another child. However friends and family keep saying when are you having another she needs a sister/brother!! that is the culture i grew up in but i don’t think it’s selfish to have children if you can support them what i would like to know is if all these purposefully childless ppl are contributing in any other way to ending world hunger, like donating their excess or highlighting the over poulation problem. Because if 1 generation decided to stop having children where would the next generation come from!

  62. 76 Evan (Oregon, USA)
    October 16, 2009 at 18:51

    I’m a 40-year old male, about to have a vasectomy. My wife and I do not have children. We both firmly believe that there are too many children in this world, and that it is irresponsible to continue overpopulating the planet. Virtually all of the problems (social, environmental, food security, etc) can be traced in some way to overpopulation. That, and we just don’t really want children.

    Do we benefit financially by not having children? You bet! Do we enjoy life more by not having children? Yes on that one too. Is that a bad thing? Heck no!

    Why is there so much pressure to have children when there is so much evidence that doing so is counterproductive to the health of our fellow humans and the planet as a whole?

  63. 77 Justin
    October 16, 2009 at 18:52

    As a single child, I can tell you I had a perfectly happy childhood. But regardless, this isn’t about being happy, this is about survival. The world simply cannot support the projected future population. Thinking only about your own family’s short-term needs is a recipe for disaster.

  64. 78 Jasmine, Singapore
    October 16, 2009 at 18:52

    The discussion is totally flying off the course!

  65. October 16, 2009 at 18:53

    I have to say that parents are irrational and fatalistic. They often validate their children through insubstantial factors.

    Choosing not to have children or limiting the number of children people have would benefit the food problem.

    I believe that it would be wonderful if people were not able to have children until they met certain criteria. Too many people are burdened with children too early in life, and they enter into the process without consideration toward the resources to care for them.

    To that end, it would be grand if there were an answer, but our cultures have muddled up so many simple problems that we, as humans are basically going to continue to ruin things.

    Maybe I’m just a pessimist.

  66. 80 Maurice
    October 16, 2009 at 18:53

    George Monbiot rightly points out in a Guardian article that a gas-guzzling millionaire yacht owner does more damage to the earth in 10 minutes than the average African inflicts in a lifetime.

    If a man in the developed world is using 40 times more resources than a poor man in a developing country, then he should be just as blameworthy for environmental damage as the poor man if the poor man had 39 children. Consumption of the world´s resources is done primarily by the rich, and yet it is the rich who tend to point the finger at the poor, because family size is about the only thing the rich cannot be blamed for.

  67. 83 vijay pillai
    October 16, 2009 at 18:54

    In china one child per family ran inot difficultues because of foolish thinking that a son is the one to carry the name of a family or father. why cant the women carry the father’s name. these are all foolish traditions making female infentile a frequent occurences and some female babies left in rubbish bins. Why cant the people of jamaika marry people of china? why on earth one has to marry within their community. of not much women in china due to foolish thinking that only men can arry the genes,there are more women in philipines. so intermarriage should be encouraged.

  68. 84 Lucie
    October 16, 2009 at 18:55

    I live in the Czech Republic, rich developed country in the center of europe and only rarely people have more than 2 children here. I consider having 1 my own child to experience the life sensation of conception, pregnancy, giving birth and breast feeding and the second child i might adopt. i think people really should not have large families, especially in thedeveloping world and every family in the developed world should adopt 1 orphan. i think that could very much improve the children poverty.

  69. 85 David
    October 16, 2009 at 18:57

    Of course it’s natural for people to want large families. This is just the selfish gene at work.

    This instinct is actually a good thing for a species that is struggling for survival. However the human species went way beyond this point a long time ago. Now it’s only the other species on this planet that are threatened with extinction.

    Can we as a species overcome our natural instincts for the good of the planet?

  70. 86 Mike
    October 16, 2009 at 18:58

    Here is scary hidden statistic: an aging world and the reversal of population pyramids in the future. There will plenty of food in the future as our global trend continues. Though, I seriously doubt anyone here would read this, but here goes.

    To find out more information about this scary statistic go read ‘An Aging World 2008’ report conducted by the National Institute on Aging. The future of literally everything is going to very unpleasant globally as well as quite a surprise.

    Take the quiz on page 5 and see how you did.

  71. October 16, 2009 at 19:04

    An additional point to make is that for people who are going to have a child, they should be encouraged to delay that choice.

    OK, fine, you’re going to have a baby at some point. But instead of having it when you’re 20 years old, wait until you’re 30 or older.

    If everyone did this, we would see radical reductions in population. If you’re not sure why this is true, think of it this way: between having a child at 20 or 30 means that in 100 years you’ve had either 5 full generations or just over 3 generations. Essentially, you’ve “removed” two entire generations of people. Two entire generations of resource consumers. Removed them without pain. Without harm. Not with disease or hunger.

    Women don’t even have to forgo having a child. Just wait a little longer.

    Of course, people should be encouraged and directly supported to choose to have zero children.

    PS: The guest, Lydia… why did they bring her on? She’s ridiculous and offensive.

  72. 88 Cajetan Iwunze
    October 16, 2009 at 19:07

    The reason there are too much hunger is population explosion. Some of the developing world is not doing anything to cut down the number of children they have. When they cannot feed, they think it is the responsibility of Britain and America to feed their army of population, Pakistan e.g. has the population equivalent to Africa countries put together and yet they are not making any attempt to curb the tide. It seems that the Malthus prediction has come to pass. Because what we are witnessing now is beyond human imagination, something 50years ago none of us thought it could happen. Today, when you turn on your television we hear overwhelming scientific prove that the world is changing for the worse because of global warming caused by the human action. Unless something is done now, the planet may not be able to cope; we are running out of space. If we look at the statistics, Asia has the ¾ of the world population, and their governments need to get a grip of the situation before it get out of hand. I have written extensively on this issue, “population growth” and suggested ways we can have a sustainable planet. I am happy that the world is waking up now to acknowledge it.

  73. 89 steve
    October 16, 2009 at 19:09

    1 in 8 girls at a chicago public school are pregnant.


  74. October 16, 2009 at 19:22

    My husband & I have been together 20 years and making the decision NOT to have children was one of the most un-selfish decisions. We are wildlife enthusiasts and work very hard to improve & protect their habitat. Over-population is one of the main reasons for this habitat loss, as well as a long list of environmental detriments. The comment from the woman who had 5 children & think child-free adults are more wasteful couldn’t be more ridiculous. It is because we are more conscious of reversing the damage to the environment that we make these lifestyle choices (no children, recycling, products we purchase, and the list goes on). People who have many children are taking more than their share of ALL our resources. The evidence is all around them why having (many) children is not appropriate these days, but they chose not to look at it so they can do what they want (isn’t that the definition of selfish behavior?). And what about adoption… let’s take care of the children that are already here. “Family” has nothing to do with blood.

  75. 91 Peter China
    October 16, 2009 at 20:02

    Australia with such a small population could caused so much harm to its environment , an entire continent. Its river and water table is drying up and an ecological nightmare when they introduced non native species like crane toads , rabbits, camel and dogs into the continent. Its is the poor disregard for the environment that caused the damage, not overpopulation. Food should be grown for home consumption, not for export. If every one can grow their own food they will be no starvation.

  76. 92 Tan Boon Tee
    October 17, 2009 at 03:59

    That is not a myth.

    The paradox lies in the fact that poor countries keep producing surplus children who will most likely grow up hungry, uneducated and unemployed, while the rich ones continue to cry for more babies to eventually fill up the workforce and support the increasing elderly people.

    Why not just let the excess population in poor countries move to ones that need them most? Demographers would know better.

  77. 93 scmehta
    October 17, 2009 at 07:44

    Over-population does add to the problems of any country, but it cannot cause hunger; corruption and neglect by the rulers can, and they generally do.

  78. 94 Proma
    October 18, 2009 at 07:09

    It’s impractical and ridiculous ask millions of poor, illiterate people to stop reproducing: it’s what they do, and it’s what they will continue to do until they understand the issue (which I doubt since the minister doesn’t even understand it).

    Another problem: their religion. They wont stop having babies, and they wont use contraception. The general trend is that in most of the heavily affected regions, the population is Islamic. And Islam, like Christianity, proscribes contraception. So here’s an idea: change their religion.

    So really, I think this issue is irreversible (unless of course food production increases) as the human factor contributing to the crisis is impossible to mitigate.

  79. 95 AL
    October 18, 2009 at 13:31

    We tend to forget to look at their perspective. Having children is the only joy/luxury they have. No. Birth control alone nor continuously throwing money at the problem is the answer. The world powers need to work with third world governments to improve infrastructure etc so they can finally take care of their own needs otherwise this scourge will never end.

  80. October 19, 2009 at 01:22

    To stop having children will not stop hunger. Your government should encourage self suficent, family planing so that adults will know how to space their children, education of the youths and job availability. The children of today will be the work force of tomorrow.

  81. 97 patti in cape coral
    October 19, 2009 at 13:12

    Without reading the above posts yet, I have to say I agree that there is a population problem; however, I have heard it said that there is enough food on this planet to feed everyone, so I think having too many children isn’t the culprit. Boy, we sure do like to dump on the poor…

  82. 98 Dennis Junior
    October 19, 2009 at 15:26

    Idea sounds brilliant in theory but, in reality it will not work…Because of a person’s right to have as many children they want…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  83. 99 Jessica in NYC
    October 19, 2009 at 15:56

    Great, so when the generations die out and humans become instinct, because we couldn’t learn to share the resources we have, this will prove to be the best idea put fourth to solve world hunger.

    • 100 Tom K in Mpls
      October 19, 2009 at 18:36

      Populations will fluctuate, but humans are as resilient as rats. We will not die out. Nature has it’s population controls that man is learning to bypass. We need a system to replace it. Capitalism seems to work. Those that can prosper, will.

  84. 101 Patrick Beggan
    October 19, 2009 at 17:13

    This is quite a controversial topic and reading the thread I cannot help but feel that many of the views expressed don’t alone verge on the controversial but rather go well into the realm of immorality, ignorance and inhumane. So I will just but a few of my own views out there:
    – Definitely agree that overpopulation is an underestimated issue of great saliency. We all hear of global warming, pollution etc. but the rapid growth in population particularly in regions not capable of sustaining those levels is one which will come to the fore with great ferocity.
    – Who are we to say whether or not people can procreate there is little more fundamental to the basis of life then securing the continuation thereof, not just the survival of self, but the survival of all.
    – I like the idea of education rather than prohibition – we saw where that got America with alcohol in the 1920s. There is nothing more powerful than understanding, only when you understand can you change, only through education can you understand.
    – Food production has it’s limits like all natural resources, so a growth in food-production no matter how fast or effective will at some point not be able compensate for the growth in demand and only the rich will be able to afford and the level of starvation will rapidly increase and then the time will come when the population can again be nourished sufficiently.

    And to be highly controversial and again in line with over-population; No better theory has come for the evolution and development of plants and creatures than natural selection. If those who are intelligent are those who survive and procreate (as was the case in the past) than the human race will grow smarter – if the opposite is true than we will grow more stupid. Is it the worlds greatest minds that have the most children? Think about it.
    History has proven (though on a smaller-scale) the effects of overpopulation – I need but to say Easter Island – and similar will undoubtedly come… Nature will try to create a balance and the Bird-Flu, CJD, H1-N1, etc. may be just tremors before the eruption.

  85. 102 Malcolm McMahon
    October 19, 2009 at 17:57

    The problem is that, to a poor man in a poor country, children are his pension arrangement.

    Without a large family he can look forward to neither care, nor honour is his old age.

    In a sense we have a similar problem here, but on a more macro-economic scale. You can’t reduce population by population control without throwing the age distribution out of balance.

  86. 103 jens
    October 19, 2009 at 18:02

    CDJ as a means of population control? I give you the flu, tuberculosis, the plague, HIV etc, but a rare brain disease with late onset hardly qualifies as a threat to humankind.

    i am worried that it is the intelligent people who will fade into oblivition. just look at who has octoplets, children by mutiple unidentified fathers, etc…..this is at least the case for the western world.

    in the third world many have large families as a means of social security net, which drives it’s own problems.

  87. 104 Leonet Reid- Jamaica
    October 19, 2009 at 21:13

    It is next to ludicrous for us to think that limiting the amount of children one has will stop world hunger. Even though it sounds practical, decreasing the amount of children will result in an increase in world hunger because we will simply have lest people producing food in agriculture and related industries. What should be done are proper management of the soil and the equal distribution of food among the poor and the rich. America is overflowing with food, if this food is redistributed and sent further south to south and Central America, people could possibly survive. The only way we can end world hunger is by being our brother’s keeper. Helping developing countries develop.

  88. 105 Bob
    October 20, 2009 at 03:21

    Thank you Malcolm for finally pointing out that, often, the poor have many children as a safety net – to provide for them in there old age. Just a few decades ago double digit families were commonplace in Europe and America. Population growth in the West all but ceased with increased prosperity. With state medical aid and no difficulty in obtaining food there is no need to have sufficient children to ensure that at least some of them will survive long enough to take care of you in your old age.
    A key remedy to expanding population is therefore to dramatically raise living standards in developing countries. This, of course, will initially add to environmental stress on the planet – so should be balanced by a DECREASE in living standards in the developed world.
    Unfortuantely, as is the case with nuclear weapons, the West will continue to take a “do as I say, not as I do” approach and World Have Yoyur Say posts will continue to decry the world’s poorest for being so selfish!

    • 106 John Lovell
      October 20, 2009 at 23:50

      The spread of birth control and liberation of women is ignored in your argument. And I do not think your approach will lead to a solution.

  89. 107 aero
    October 21, 2009 at 03:55

    The idea to end world hunger by having less children sunds logical, but it does not address other social, economic, demographic (just to name a few) issues. Many nation in the world have not traditionally grown enough food to feed their own population over the last 100 years. Since the age of industrilization there was a drastic move away from rural agricultural practices (growing one’s own food for consumption) to a more urban culture void of food preoduction for individual subsistance. This fact alone began to put pressure on the food resources to supply food for new ways of life; that is living in the cities. With less people growing food and popuation growing at steady rates, food supply would automatically be problematic. Consider also the amount of food that goes to waste in many developed countries. Food is not put to efficient human use in many developed countries. Too many calories, sugars, carbohydrates, fats, salts and protiens are eaten above the daily nutritional requirenents in many of these developed countries. Excesses in deitary intake can be transfered to the worlds starving population. Having less children would only create an ageing world population who in the next 50 to 100 years would hardly be able to meet the world-wide need of productivity and efficiency to feed even the ageing world.

  90. 108 Audrius Kviliunas
    October 21, 2009 at 11:18

    If there will be less birth in developing countries they can solve not even hunger problem.In developed countries where is little birth rate there are money even for disabled,temporary unemployed,pension systems,for childrens whos families have relatively less income.There are many advantages for countries who have less birth rate.Most of little birth rate countries are Rich countries and with time I believe that there will be created system where all peoples can get shelter,food,health service,education and all theese for free and even for unemployed.Countries with high birth rate never can do such money distribution-they are Poor and will be Poor until will solve birth control problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: