Should responsible couples have a baby in today's world?

Are you considering having a baby and raising a happy child? Think again. The future of Earth may not favor mankind as much as it used to.

The world’s population has tripled in the last 60 years and 50 years from now there will be a fierce competition for resources.

We’re going through the “Sixth Extinction”, very likely caused by our own species, and the loss of biodiversity is already affecting people’s lives in terms of revenues, food alternatives, etc.

Fresh water reserves are declining and in 50 years’ time water will have become a commodity.

At the present day’s pollution rate (which is very likely to increase), in 50 years’ time Earth will literally become a toxic bin.

The ozone layer continues to vanish and more and more harmful UV rays are able to reach areas that used to be safe.

Oceans used to teem with fish, mountain peeks used to be covered in woods; today’s oceans and mountains look barren and desolate. The planet’s natural resources are on the brink of extinction.

Climate change is accelerating and even if a global catastrophe does not occur in the next 50 years, local disasters will multiply and diversify.

The global village is getting crowded and political and economic crises reflect the increasingly bitter clash for resources.

Metanarratives are gone and the lack of faith and hope in a bright future will cause extremism to thrive and eventually explode throughout the planet.

What should a responsible couple do today? Politicians in my country urge citizens to have as many children as possible. “So many people have been born so far and nothing happened,” they say. So should couples just have a baby and blindly hope it will be all right?

Assuming that responsible couples have a degree of foresight and education, then YES, absolutely they should. In developed countries the problem is that the most responsible, productive types aren’t replacing themselves. Without them modern economies and societies simply can’t be sustained. The technology to deal with the problems you identify, won’t be possible.

Professor James Flynn (who ironically the “Flynn Effect” of rising IQ scores is named after) has identified this problem in New Zealand, but the trend is common across all developed countries:

The world has always been terrible. Human societies have always existed at the very edge of starvation (the trick is, of course, to be on the right side of the edge). And if you think the current political and economic crises are caused by an accelerating clash for resources, you haven’t paid attention in history class - it’s not like this constant strife thing is new.

The human virus goes on. More’s the pity, really.

Personally, I like humanity, and I want it to continue to exist.

There are all kinds of social and economic reasons why certain people go to uni and others do not beyond IQ. And, conversely, having a lower IQ than average does not preclude one from succeeding in HE, within reason. Like many things, it’s largely about hard work and enthusiasm for the subject.

To the OP, I would point out that world population is forecast to stabilize by around 2050 IIRC, and eventually may fall as much of the developing world goes through the demographic transition that has happened in much of the developed world. OTOH world population falling, in itself, won’t solve as much as many seem to assume it would. Resource prices would be lower, so, all things being equal we’d just be that bit more wasteful.

And then again it may. In fact, since the future has increasingly favoured mankind for the past 150, 000 years I think we can expect that trend to continue.

Umm, no, it hasn’t.

60 years ago was 1954. The population in 1954 was C2.8 billion. The population today is C7 billion. That is a little over doubling. Not anywhere near a tripling. There is a very good chance that the world population will never be triple what it was in 1954.

There is a fierce competition for resources today. There was a much more fierce competition for resources 100, 000 years ago. The competition for resources is provably declining over time. Not increasing.

Can you name a single person who is being affected by this loss of biodiversity? Given that the losses are almost entirely of microscopic organisms and obscure species restricted to mid-oceanic islands, I doubt that you can.

That is simply not true. It is indisputable and easily provably that more people than ever in history have access to clean water. I have no idea what a “water reserve” is, and I doubt if you do either. But if you mean a source of water that is known to be usable, then no, they are not declining, the are increasing, and at a rate far faster than population growth

But global pollution has been declining for decades. Water quality is improving. AIr quality is improving. So how can this be true?

Once again, simply not true. The “ozone layer” is increasingand fewer and fewer harmful UV rays are able to reaching smaller and smaller areas.

Oceans used to teem with fish[/quopte]

They still do.

Which is odd, since global forest cover has increased over the past 20 years.

Sure they are. And the sky is falling Henny Penny

No. Climate change has stalled for the past 12 years. That’s not an acceleration. It’s not even maintaining speed.

Sure they are. And the sky is falling Henny Penny

UY Scuti, seriously. Try doing some independent research of the facts, rather than relying on some left-wing screed you were handed at college.

The world isn’t perfect. But it’s not going to hell in a handcart either. Most things are by any objective measure. When you start making shrill statements of doom and gloom that can be proven false with a minute on Google, you come off like a guy wearing a tinfoil hat.

If you really want t convince people to think about the things that are actually wrong, then stop repeating lies about things that are not. When you do that, someone like me is going to show your audience the facts and your audience will stop listening because you look like you are utterly ignorant of the facts.

Most of your information was probably true in 1984. But that was 30 yeas ago. Before most of you readership was even born. Get some up-to-date information on how the world is today and you will convince far more people.

Is this the time of year that Malthus is taught in freshman economics?

In any case, of course we want the responsible parents to have children. They are more likely to raise productive members of society, and we need a right-side up population pyramid anyway.

The Earth has never “favored” mankind. The universe is a hostile place and for most of human existence life was a struggle and tended to be nasty, brutish, and short with periods of starvation a feature of normal life.

There has always been a fierce competition for resources.

Water is already a commodity.

Actually, in some places pollution has decreased. I’m old enough to remember when Ohio used have rivers catch fire, that doesn’t happen any more. Lake Erie has a fishing industry again.

The world becoming a toxic waste bin is not inevitable, though I expect some places will be pretty nasty I’m hoping it’s a localized phenomena.

If UV “used to be safe” there would have been no need for so many human groups to evolve dark skin.

Actually, no, mountain peaks tend to NOT be covered in woods once they’re above a certain altitude. Mountain ranges like the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, and Rockies have always had their higher peaks barren, without trees, and typically snow-covered year round.

Yes, climate change is inevitable. You know what? Climate has changed in the past, too. It will involve some ugliness but we’ll adjust.

No, a couple wanting a kid should have a baby and do whatever they can to make the world a better, safer place.

Where do you think the solutions to the problems you mentioned humanity is facing are going to come from? If not already from the born, then many of the solutions are going to come from people yet to be born.

So children are not the problem, but the solution. For example the earth environmental problems is a basis on how to terraform a planet. Responsible couples are the exact type of parental ‘candidates’ to produce these children, ones that can decide if they are right for parenthood.

It goes to what if is your outlook of humanity, do you see it turning into a max max world where people compete for ever diminishing resources, or do you see humanity continuing to grow, eventually reach out to travel to the stars in a ever expanding outreach across the galaxy and beyond. I have decided in the most optimistic viewpoint because it is the only one that matters If it’s the only one that matters it’s the only one worth considering as possible, as they others don’t by definition matter.

There are issues with underground aquifers being depleted faster than they are naturally replenished due to agriculture siphoning off the water, problems with water supply in certain desert areas (like California’s Los Angeles area), and groundwater contamination from sloppy industry. These are certainly local concerns or, in some cases, disasters. They are not, however, resulting in massive die-offs from thirst though locally they can and do affect health.

Urban supplies can be helped by better water use practices. In some cases contaminated groundwater can be cleaned up. Agriculture can sometimes improve their use of water, but other times maybe we should be growing certain crops elsewhere. In some cases, people may just have to move. So far, though, these problems are manageable or even in some cases solvable.

There are some areas where the reverse is true, the most publicized right now being China but India is also having problems. These are real and serious problems, but again, they can be dealt with. They’re the same problems Europe and America ran into when they industrialized and those continents managed to clean things up, it’s just that the young folks these days don’t remember back that far.


Er… not so much.

The Grand Banks Cod crashed and have never recovered. Bluefin tuna are being hunted to extinction. A lot of sharks seem to be disappearing as well.

Again, this can be fixed - we just need to stop hunting them. The whales are recovering now that (with a few exceptions) no one is hunting them any more.

The problem, of course, is that hungry people want to eat and there isn’t as much precedent for policing the oceans as for policing land based resources.

Not firmly proven that there has been a pause in climate change.

Anyhow, like I said, climate changes over time and always has. We will adapt.

Actually, I remember 1984 and I question that some of his information was either more or less true back then. The US and Europe were more polluted back then, but China and India less so. There were more bluefin and sharks back then, but the Grand Banks cod had started their crash and there were fewer whales. California was having water shortages back then just like now. The climate was different and the storms were less intense, that’s true enough. Background radiation lingering from atomic testing in the '40’s and '50’s was higher, and we had holes in the ozone back then, we just didn’t know about it.

Near as I can tell the world is always having a half-dozen crises at one time or another.

There have been quite a few of these gloom and doom threads lately. Must be March again. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, I’m pretty old, but my children are considering having children. Think again, ehe? Well, let’s look at your pitch.

Let’s see…60 years ago would be 1954 if my back of the envelop calculation is correct (why 60 years? Just a number out of your ass or was there a reason?). A quick google and we get…population in 1954 was 2,729,285,853. Ok, world population today would be 7,218,594,720. A quick calculation shows 2.64…so, not triple.

As for 50 years from now, many population projects have us peaking in the next 40 years and then declining, but those are merely projections. As nations become more affluent their populations seem to start to decline. China and India, two countries with huge populations are also becoming more affluent. Perhaps it won’t be so gloom and doomy after all.

Finally, all life on this planet from the beginning of time have ALWAYS been in fierce competition for limited resources. That’s simply the way it works. Humans have been in much worse straights in that competition in the past than they are today.

You are talking about the Holocene Extinction. The rate of the ongoing extinction varies among experts. Some put it at 1000 times background rate, some at 100 times…and some say we are actually at or near the normal background rate of extinction. Certainly there have been vast climate change during the Holocene since we went from the last major ice age to the current interim period and global climate change.

Certainly some non-zero part of those extinctions were caused by man, but not all of them, and regardless it’s called the ‘sixth extinction’ because, well, there have been 5 others in the past. I’m sure it has had an impact on humans and will continue to have one but I don’t think we need to stop having children over this quite yet.

Fresh water reserves are declining in some places (I assume you mean ancient fresh water aquifers in semi-arid or arid areas around the world), and it’s a serious issue in those areas. Glaciers are also melting away so some places that relied on glacial melt will be hurting. No doubt the price of (fresh, potable) water will go up in cost as any market will, and that will certainly be a hardship in the future as new sources need to be found. But while the amount of fresh water in ancient aquifers or glaciers has declined in some places it’s gone up in others, and at any rate the amount of fresh water is miniscule next to the total amount of water on earth. Given enough energy new sources of water are available.

Do you have a cite for this? It’s getting tiring having to do all your work for you and you’ve been wrong or exaggerated above so I think starting here it’s time for you to start backing up your OP. A quick google search seems to indicate that pollution is going down in some countries and has risen sharply in others, but I don’t have a good read on the overall situation. I’d also like some projections that ‘in 50 years’ time Earth will literally become a toxic bin’, because that sounds like hyperbolic horseshit to me.

According to this you are wrong, so again I’d like to see a cite that backs this up.

Well, leaving aside the hyperbole, certainly the fish depletion is a serious issue. No idea what you are talking about wrt mountain peaks (you got a cite?). Neither of these indicate that the ‘planet’s natural resources are on the brink of extinction’, though the collapse of the ocean fish populations is, as noted, a serious issue that needs some serious thought.

Certainly. But, the thing is, for as long as humans have lived on this planet we’ve had to deal with climate change and harsh local disasters. I don’t see this as a reason to stop having children. Thus far you’ve made less than an air tight case for why any of the above, even leaving aside the exaggerations or out and out false statements would give anyone pause to stop having kids.

Interesting. Yes, world wide, people have more access to more resources and higher standards of living than at any time in our species history. How do you account for that? Or do you even acknowledge it?

Again, extremism has always been with our species…nothing new there.

:stuck_out_tongue: Unlike the myriad generations of people in our species past who just knew the future would be ok, right? Good grief, that’s lame.

This is my favorite. “Matanarratives are gone”? I wish someone had told me!

My kids will fix all that.


Well, maybe not completely. I can still sense some of Tomakin’s infectious optimism around.

Just a nit: according to Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, the Holocene is characterized by an unusually stable climate. He posits this as one of the factors contributing to the rise of agriculture.

In any case, I remember hearing arguments like the OP back in the 60’s. Anyone younger than 40 or so should be glad that their parents ignored them.

Sure, it has been. However, we are talking about a range in climate from an ice age to today of global warming, so I don’t think calling that a ‘vast climate change’ is that far off the mark. MMV of course, but seems a relatively large variation to me. :wink:

Yeah, a lot of that stuff was right out of the 60’s frettage, up to and including the infamous population bomb. This isn’t to say that we have no problems, but seriously…if we are responsible we shouldn’t have children (or seriously consider not having them)?? :dubious:

Responsible couples having babies aren’t the problem; it’s the irresponsible couples having babies.

UY Scuti, although your specific points are not quite accurate, I believe your overall premise is correct. I believe that human beings are destroying the liveablility (for human beings) of this planet, and have been working at it industriously as much as their powers allowed them, for as long as they’ve been human. Nor will things “get better”. They will get worse, because long term planning is not something human beings ever seem to be able to manage. I’ve believed this since the age of reason (my personal age of reason), and have rarely learned anything to cast doubt on it. Every once in a while some country will gather the political will to take a step toward sustainability, but since they take twenty steps back at the same time, my belief remains.

As far as whether it is responsible to have children, given this, I would have to ask the question “what is responsibility?” in this context. Who or what are the parents responsible for?

As opposed to non-responsible couples ?

I don’t think the non-responsible ones are getting your memo.

It is often the case that couples have a baby under some urge that has little or nothing to do with the would-be child’s future fulfillment, which (I think) should be the parents’ responsibility. A child cannot choose whether or not to be born. Couples have the responsibility of weighing whether or not they are likely to raise a happy child in today’s social and natural environment.