Panic over dropping fertility rates?
Families in Europe, and North America are having fewer children. Reasons may vary: among them, it is not affordable, nor supported by certain societies which shall here remain nameless.
Another reason is that many of us feel like it’s the end of the world and we need to make a new one.
Recently, several pundits have weighed in on low birth rates. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is among one of the most prominent, but certainly not the only one, to worry about falling fertility.
It is easy to blame things like lax morals, working women, and “the war on men.” And, progressives will point at lack of suppor for women: “A war on Women”, But, what if some people just realize, something like Greta Thunberg has, that until we fix the trashed world we have made, we have no business making more people to further trash up the place?
As mentioned, people on the right will find everything from birth control to the careless sexual revolution (decades ago) as to why women aren’t staying home, raising babies, and baking cupcakes from scratch— preferably in an apron and heels — anymore.
Conservatives blame a whole host of “threats” from feminism to LGBTQ rights, whereas progressives tend to blame no financial stability for young people, no family leave, no decent healthcare and so on.
Both sides are wrong. They are not always wrong about why birth rates are in decline, but in their beliefs about why we reproduce less. They are just wrong that there is any threat to a low birth rate.
In view of the Sixth Extinction, we need to reassess
Many scientists and other believe we are in the Sixth Extinction. Without strong biodiversity, we lose birds, bees, mammals and whole Eco-systems. without these, life plummets. For example, without healthy reefs, all fisheries are endangered.
We are dangerously over-populated insofar as we have not yet worked out equal food distribution and human rights. I would say, when we have mastered simple fairness, we should go ahead and make more babies.
Meanwhile, in an effort to create that better world for babies yet to come, we need to take better care of the world itself. Creation care should be about making a sustainable world, and only then adding the pro part that makes it procreation.
There are sadly, already millions of hungry and unwanted children in the world. You don’t have to go out and adopt twenty, or even one, to make a huge difference. In fact, you can make as much difference toward improving the world as you have choices in this world.
But, take those choices away, say — limit reproductive healthcare and family leave — and all bets are off. Even if I were not infertile, I would no longer choose to bring a child into the overheated and dangerously divisive world we are in with our burning Amazon and Arctic forests being rapidly replaced with nationalistic dictators rising up to take, but not provide, any fresh air.
People who worry that we are not replacing enough of our own genes to produce a work force, or drive an economy are especially wrong. These “needs” are not nearly as necessary as simple compassion towards our human ship mates, and our sustaining world.
We, with our high numbers and greed, have crowded out most every other species, sometimes forgetting that without other life we cannot sustain human life in anything like a comfortable world.
You can’t just use single use plastic and toss it while thinking it would be nice to have six kids, because that single use plastic will pollute their world. You cannot just use paper towels, diapers, plates, and office waste, and dream about taking your new baby for a walk in the woods because there is not enough woods for the many billions of other babies coming. And, they all need a walk in the woods. In my humble opinion, shared by many biologists and Earth Scientists, for a life worth living, we all need wild places.
You cannot buy new clothes, or gadgets, or toys at cheap prices without recognizing that anything cheap cheapens our whole world.
Western numbers are low, but in other places population growth continues
In terms of “successful” life on Earth, no other species comes close to our numbers. When the far right points out we are not in the “End Times,” or a Malthusian nightmare, they mean so far, that it is not they, (usually the first world) that are suffering these things.
The many people already dead from increased drought, refugee crisis, epidemics, and disasters from the climate crisis, would beg to differ.
We are rapidly heading for eight billion people, and that is too many if we expect for all of our billions to live with the fossil fuels threats that drive our present economy.
I am not saying you have to believe in man-made climate change to think that we should make a better world. Indeed, make a better world with less toxins and toxic people and AGW will take care of itself (if it exists, which by the way, it does.) Then populate that world with all the babies you want, because a human beings’ choice is sacred, right up there with the living creation itself.
One day with nature will show how much we need a thriving world
I grow weary of hearing people complain about falling birth rates. Anyone who has ever delighted in seeing a bear, wolf, or big cat, knows that we have far, far fewer of them than we have people.
It’s not just wild animals. See a person on the street and you don’t even notice. See, just even one song bird, or squirrel, and you are much more interested.
Anyone who walks along a (rare) pristine, uncrowded shore, looks across a wild prairie, unbroken by human development, strolls among whispering trees in a forest, or swims along a still living reef instinctively knows that these living beings are becoming less and less, and we living beings are still becoming far too many.
Don’t worry about your kind not producing enough of your kind to outnumber those other billions of people who are reproducing their kind. Instead, worry about becoming kind. Because when you are kind, you will see there is only humankind, and Earth-kind. We can become the ones we want more of rather than seeing them as rivals.