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Reproduction Reduction

Posted September 20, 2007 8:52 AM by Sharkles

Most of us acknowledge that our planet needs some extra lovin' these days. So we're trying to do our part. We recycle, eat local foods, buy reusable shopping bags, and some of us even drive hybrid vehicles. Our attempts to reduce global warming have gotten a lot of people excited about "going green". But what if you had to choose between saving the environment and having children?

Concern about overpopulation has people talking about the environmental effects that each person inflicts. One movement wants everyone stops having children today. The Voluntary Human Existence Movement (VHEMT) believes that only when humans become extinct can the Earth fully recover. Their motto, "Live Long and Die Out" summarizes their views. Still, the VHEMT isn't against babies. "'Having babies' isn't the problem—having adults is what's causing the problems" their website explains.

VHEMT's concerns about children are that they will grow-up to be fossil-fuel consuming adults. Instead of bringing more children into the world, the VHEMT suggests adoption, becoming a foster parent, teaching children, or working with a Big Brother – Big Sister program. Other suggestions include "nurturing Earth's 'other children'" such as habitat restoration, reforestation, and other outdoor activities.

Of course not everyone believes that an end to human reproduction is necessary. Instead, others are pushing for a "one per couple" initiative. Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, says that if everyone had just one child the population would be reduced by about five billion people over the next century. Weisman also assets that each child that is brought into the world can double the carbon-dioxide emissions from your family throughout their lives.

Babies don't produce as much as greenhouse gas as adults, but they will when they grow-up. Consequently, Weisman argues that having one child would lead to a planet where people are able to enjoy a more spacious world and would be able to see the world return to a more beautiful state. As a way to institute this policy it has been suggested that taxation should be placed on families that choose to have more than one child. Others have pointed out that this will only deter people from choosing to adopt a child.
This isn't the first time the topic of having one child has arisen. In 1999, environmentalist Bill McKibben published the book Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families. While I haven't read the book (yet), I did read an excerpt that I found to be very interesting. The excerpt noted studies that have been done on only-children, proving that these children are just as normal and healthy (or more) than those from larger families. Even more, this book talks about the effect that large families have on the environment, compared to those with only one child. Although McKibben was roundly criticized when the book was published, some people are starting to think differently because of it.

While I've only hear murmurs of this topic on the Internet, no major reports or initiatives have been proposed to the masses. Data and statistics may still be unclear at this point, but I don't think that this topic is going to fade away. In fact, I would be very surprised if we don't start to see more of this kind of discussion.

Here's what I want to know:

  • The United Nations (UN) has predicted that our current global population of approximately 6.5 billion people is likely to increase to 9.2 billion by the year 2050. Are humans out of control when it comes to reproduction?
  • Many advocacy groups focus on individual lifestyle choices rather than broaching the topic of family size. Are "population control" and "family size" too taboo for people to discuss?
  • Do you think that if everyone had one child it would make that much of a difference?
  • What other solutions are available?
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#1

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/20/2007 9:54 AM

The following is an interesting addition to the reading list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Revenge_of_Gaia

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#2

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/20/2007 4:34 PM

you cant blame men and women for reproducing. its our human sences and mind that leads us to enjoy the sensations of sex. if we where more towards our wild mamals, such as wolves, wed only have sex during the time when the female was in heat. you shouldnt blame mankind for being over populated, blame evolution.

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#3

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/20/2007 10:54 PM

There is no apparent reason for humans to limit our domain to this planet.

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#4

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 12:13 AM

In some remote parts of the world, daughters are regarded as a burden and are killed shortly after birth. If everyone in these communities think in this way, they'll soon breed themselves into extinction in just one or two generations, so maybe we don't have that much to worry about after all.

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#5

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 10:35 AM

Your premise is in no way new to the planet. Please see the following articles.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2007/150907China.htm

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/may2007/070507depopulation.htm

I would like to emphasize that anyone who is reading this Entry of yours is not likely to be a citizen who is endangering the planet by means of mindless reproduction. In fact, there is a wealth of supporting information readily available which illustrates that the least intelligent members of the poplulation, those without degrees, steady work, decent income or healthy lifestyles (not concerned with "going green," collecting recyclables or shopping at Whole Foods) are the ones popping out the most babies. Most of the well-educated, hard-working middle class between the ages of 30 and 45 have chosen either to not have children, delay having children well beyond the historical "norm" or have chosen on their own to only have one child.

If you are suggesting that MORE State interference in the name of Safety, Security and Well-Being would be helpful to society, going so far as to interfere with personal lives and dictate right and wrong superceding the basic genetic instinct to propogate, I would suggest that you begin additional philosophic research on the premise involved. Here's a suggested reading list (not mine personally, but a good suggestion to start). I think your Entry is off topic and meandering into dangerous territory, the list below may also stray off topic but with the strongest of good intentions to bring the reader back to moral and social higher ground and out of the facist flood plain.

Human Action
by Ludwig Von Mises


The Creature from Jekyll Island
by G. Edward Griffin


The Secrets of the Federal Reserve
by Eustace Mullins


A Foreign Policy of Freedom
by Ron Paul


Free Market Economics

by Bettina Bien Greaves


The 9/11 Commission Report
by National Commission on Terrorist Attacks


A Century of War
by John V. Denson


Republic Magazine


Dying to Win
by Robert Pape


Constitution of Liberty

by F. A. Hayek


America's Great Depression
by Murray N. Rothbard


Imperial Hubris
by Michael Scheuer


Blowback
by Chalmers Johnson

Drug War Addiction
by Sheriff Bill Masters


Age of Inflation
by Hans F. Sennholz


Big Government….Poor Grandchildren
by Durham W. Ellis


Gold, Peace and Prosperity
by Ron Paul


Costs of War
by John V. Denson

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 10:47 AM

Jaunita writes:

If you are suggesting that MORE State interference in the name of Safety, Security and Well-Being would be helpful to society, going so far as to interfere with personal lives and dictate right and wrong superceding the basic genetic instinct to propogate, I would suggest that you begin additional philosophic research on the premise involved.

I don't believe Kate was suggesting anything. Seems pretty clear she's mostly presenting other's various points of view on the topic.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 10:54 AM

Thank you MechTech Gid!

I would just like to say that I am not suggesting or implying anything. This topic came to me as a blog suggestion since I write about controversy. This is obviously a VERY controversial topic and I am only writing about what people are saying. In no way am I saying that people should comply with the suggestions have been discussed in this entry. As a woman in my early 20's, I was conflicted with this topic as I would like to have children of my own someday.

In no way was I trying to advocate for increase state intervention, because sometimes I question how much personal freedoms we have left. Since the people who frequent CR4 are highly-intelligent, considerate citizens, who are concerned with topics like global warming I figured that they would want to know what was being suggested for it's prevention.

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#11
In reply to #5

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/23/2007 6:44 PM

Here's an exerpt from a review for a silly movie "Idiocracy"

Idiocracy is uneven, even mediocre at times, but the concept is brilliant, and here it is (since almost no one will see it in theaters, I'm not going to worry about spoiling the plot). The film begins with a narrator explaining: "Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence." Instead, it rewards "those who reproduce the most." To illustrate this, we meet an over-educated, attractive couple who want to have kids, but they're still getting settled in their jobs, the stock market's bad, his sperm count's low… and it doesn't happen. Then we cut to Clevon, Jr., a white trash Lothario who sleeps with every woman in the trailer park and who (thanks also to a stem cell research breakthrough) is the ancestor of dozens, then hundreds of children. As this nationwide phenomenon progresses over time, the Bell curve of the U.S. population inexorably slides over to the dumb and trashy side.

so limiting the population may not have the desired effect & I'm sure everyone here can cite plenty of real world examples.

I'll forgo the slams of religion(s), that believe any sort of birth control is both immoral & uncalled for!

Education is the only solution, the free flow of information will lead to people to make good choices.

energy efficency & positive incremental change

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#8

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 11:06 AM

Most "advanced" countries are not reproducing at a rate to maintain their populations. If it was not for immigrants Europe and North America would be diminishing in population. Japan and some other areas have similar situations. It seems that if a country reaches a level where survival is not a concern and life is "good", people have fewer children.

What is the point of the existence of the Earth if people are not here to experience it? Do animals enjoy the world? I don't think so. Life for them is constant struggle. In the natural state, the fate of virtually all herbivores is to be killed and eaten. Studies have shown that in the wild, animals are almost continuously under stress. If not struggling to kill and eat, struggling to avoid being killed and eaten or struggling for reproductive dominance.

Eventually the Earth will die from astronomical events. At that point what purpose would all the unintelligent life that existed here have had. It will have no more importance than a rock on a lifeless planetoid like the moon. However intelligent life may continue to exist in some form. Religion aside, which tells us we are imbued with an immortal soul, artifacts such as the Voyagers may exist long after the Earth plummets into the Sun.

There are probably untold thousands of uninhabited planets throughout the universe with unimagined variations in environments. Worlds that will never be discovered, that will arise and die off. Like the philisophical tree falling in the wilderness with no one there to hear. So it is not necessary to sacrifice humanity to create yet another such meaningless sphere.

One has to ask, what type of self loathing do people have that they want to see the extinction of the human race? Obviously they are ones who haven't discovered that the greatest thing in the world is grandchildren.

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#9

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/21/2007 2:38 PM

There are always extremes in every case. There are Democrats and Republicans. We all know these. But, who of you know that NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) is a registered, national club? It's right there in the title, there's no interpretation to it. Considering our moderator as being a fascist, or even her dabbling in such a practice is absurd. She was not suggesting that selective population is a grand idea, just as I am not condoning NAMBLA. On each side of a topic, both extremes interpret things to their own liking. These are the same people that use Disney films as their own outlet to conduct Rorschach tests. Saying their see female and male body parts in the stars for "The Rescuers" or seeing the erection of the pastor in "The Little Mermaid". Anyone's case can be made, but it's all a matter of evidence. Just as it is in a court of law. Juanita, our moderator was not at all suggesting this is a good idea. She's making people aware of a problem. People can have their opinions, that's why this country is great. But, sometimes, their opinions stray so far away from the norm that the effect is irreparable.

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#10

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/22/2007 10:22 PM

As an engineering problem, I would suggest that there are other approaches to population that are more attractive than stopping reproduction. There is plenty of space in our solar system just going to waste right now, for instance.

Bottom line is that countries that are pretty advanced, like Japan are experiencing even to negative growth rates. I think India and China will eventually come to that point as well, so this may be one of those issues that time solves for us. Once people are eating well, and achieve a decent standard of living that is beyond subsistance farming, there is not much need to have more than two kids.

There are however three not so pleasant solutions to the problem that are likely as population density increases. The first is pandemic disease, which has drastically reduced concentrated populations of humans before (the black plague in Europe for instance). The second is even more obvious: as the population increases fights will break out over resources, and people will die. War, especially nuclear war is a pretty efficient population reducer. The third is a bit more subtle, but sea level rise and changing weather patterns with global warming will probable reduce population as well.

So the bottom line is the problem has several vectors of self correction, but we as engineers ought to be looking at ways to solve the issue while preventing the more, shall we say, "distastful" vectors.

Having said all that, I have five kids, and who knows one of them might well invent cheap cold fusion or intergalactic space travel, and the whole thing will be moot......

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#12

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/26/2007 4:25 PM

I am an environmentalist... I am a little biased ... I believe most policies regarding environmental health have some sort of political or capital gain for some party. Very few true green people... I think many animals are very happy in the wild... I know I would be happy... and may be more for anarchy than increased governing of human behavior but I would like to take a minute to reflect on the following:

"only-children, proved to be as normal and healthy (or more) than those from larger families?" -- With statistics you can prove anything... As a single parent and having the chance to observe 'only-child' families Im happy that Im not part of that statistic... peers give u possibly more productive influence than any other that i know of...

"Who are we blaming for over population" - and yes over population is a huge problem is it me for having two kids? or is it our foreign policy and aid we give to the poverty nations and classes... for the sake of humanity and self gratification we may have given those chances to live that would have otherwise failed allowing only darwinism or survival of the fittest... Why does the US population increase due to foreign immigrants? Do democrats viewpoints for a retreat from Iraq differ from my viewpoint so radically as they choose only to care for our lost troops?

OK another reflection here was that Earth will die from astronomical events... Geological phenomena occur over hundreds of thousands of years as where over-population came to burden us over a few hundred years... dont treat the planet like toilet paper...

Ill end this with a favorite quote...

when stacking boxes where do you draw the line? here?_____

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/26/2007 5:16 PM

Increasing population is due to improved health care

without a corresponding advance in social & political structures, we need to change. anarchy is very similar to libertarianism. more freedom, less top down control. Sounds good not too sure how this fits in with think globally, act locally. How do you get small groups from mocking things up & how do you keep the large multi nationals, from having undue influence? businesses should not have the same rights as individuals.

would you really like to live in the wild? @ which point in history?

how many people could this planet actually support w/say a 1500's lifestyle?

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/27/2007 8:15 AM

Thanks Garth,

I'm not for complete anarchy... and I'm not sure if increased health care is the reason for over population. Isnt immigration the largest demographic for over population? I'm not for business over humanity but I believe a business should have the right to offer what it can afford... which may not include phenomenal health care benefits. Thats something people should consider when they choose their job.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Reproduction Reduction

09/27/2007 10:13 PM

Hi Shawn

Maybe increased lifespan is a better way to put it. Check out this other similar thread. Immigration is caused mostly by economic displacement. Free trade is anything but free. Free markets work, if they're actually free. Mexico's citizens are being displaced, because they can't compete w/cheap american agricultural imports. the mexican government proped up their inefficent farmers for years, just like we've proped up US automakers for years, now the auto makers are going to be looking for a bailout [from the union]. Should we as a nation support massive windfall profits by the oil companies, most oil [in the US] comes from public lands w/artifically low royalties. I'm all for free enterprise, on a level playing field, companies doing business should pay the same level of taxes no matter where their based.

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#16

Re: Reproduction Reduction

10/15/2007 8:56 AM

Human population grows exponentially. The direct and indirect impact on the environment, is leading to a clear-cut dead-end.

It's just a matter of 'when', not 'if', that the most feared form of a domino-effect will take over.

That 'when' is getting shorter by the year.

Eventually, one form or another of population control is the bottom line regarding man's impact on the environment.

- Some say it is taken care of by terrorism, war and global epidemics.

- Some say it's taken care of in the form of decreased fertility due to engineered food.

- Some say over populated colonies of mammals are characterised by increased aggression and reduced fertility, due to hormonal control

I say, isn't it all self evident? We all know what needs to be done, but we dare not rise up to the challenge and do it ourselves, only nod our heads, and hope for the next generation to take care of our lost-cause legacy.

I'm talking of course, about having fewer children. The Chines do it for the last ten years. What do they see that we have missed?

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Reproduction Reduction

10/15/2007 10:00 AM

People have been prediciting overpopulation and resultant doom just around the corner for over 200 years. The solution seems to be to improve living conditions and reproduction slows to parity or less.

How do you improve living conditions. Giving the average person access to capitalism seems to work well.

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#18

Re: Reproduction Reduction

11/17/2007 5:49 PM

Humans have definetly outgrown any species on earth major contribution being science , from point of human civilizations , accept for glitches like war , epidemic ,natural disasters , they have grown making every other species near extinction from time to time . Even now earth is too populated when we see or discuss topics of economics , rich - poor divide , civilised and uncivilised , first world and third world nations . why predict 2050 years from now or so , if much of africa , asia , s america has to grow to match western world `s standared of living , what will be the situation with current population in mind , our science is sufficiently advanced to prevent major epidemic from wiping out the most of the populace. Most of the new generation in third world specially from china , india have opted for late marriage , one or no child family due to increasing cost of living , and maintaining cost for child on medical , education ,emplyment is quiet high and you see childless couples living happily ever after.....

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ASweeney (1); DVader1000 (1); Garthh (3); halldavidl (1); Howetwo (2); Juanita (1); MechTech Gid (1); PWSlack (1); serpantin (1); Sharkles (1); Shawn (2); Steve S. (1); vikas (1); Yuval (1)

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