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Children are expensive – not just for parents, but the environment − so how many is too many?

31 Comments
By Trevor Hedberg

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Absolute nonsense from a thinly-veiled environmental catastrophist trying to sell his flawed theory that eventual human extinction is the best solution to the problems facing the Earth's biosphere and humanity.

On the contrary, pop­u­la­tion col­lapse due to severely low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civ­i­liza­tion than global warm­ing.

The best thing you can do is ignore extinctionist clowns and go out and have children - the literal meaning of life. If it weren't, none of us would be here.

0 ( +11 / -11 )

Just try Japanese way, no children, when someone die they'll die alone.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

The author, like many of the incoming down-voters, is clearly a SINK or DINK (Single/Dual Income No Kids), and if he doesn't want children now, he probably will later. And if he never does, he's either deluded or eternally immature.

Think about this: every single one of your ancestors reproduced in an unending procession, lasting three-and-a-half billion years. And they're all wrong and you're suddenly right?

I don't think so.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Jay Today  07:36 am JST

Absolute nonsense from a thinly-veiled environmental catastrophist trying to sell his flawed theory that eventual human extinction is the best solution to the problems facing the Earth's biosphere and humanity.

On the contrary, pop­u­la­tion col­lapse due to severely low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civ­i­liza­tion than global warm­ing.

The best thing you can do is ignore extinctionist clowns and go out and have children - the literal meaning of life. If it weren't, none of us would be here.

Agree. This kind of "thinking" has already infected large numbers of young people through the media and education system, who've now been spooked and indoctrinated into thinking that they're saving the planet by not having children. It's only compounding the plunging birthrates in the developed world spurred by rising living costs. Not to mention throwing the population into a constant state of anxiety.

On another note, is there any chance that JT can post articles with a more positive perspective? Day after day we get these catastrophist propaganda pieces that allegedly have credibility because they're written by some academic or other, but the theme is always the same and carries a strongly left-wing collectivist message. One could be forgiven for thinking this site is unashamedly biased in a certain direction...

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

indoctrinated into thinking that they're saving the planet by not having children

Pure and utter rubbish.

It's quite obvious to all that one major reason populations are declining in "advanced" capitalist economies and those pursuing this chimera is because they are self-limiting and even self-destructive. Costs of children increase relative to income. While wealth and income is sucked towards the rich.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The destruction of the environment is by far the result of the profligate spending which is the preserve of the 1% of world society.

The decision to regulate family size comes with education.Countries where education is lacking and/or where religion is a strong social construct have higher numbers of children.

Also, it seems rather pointless to focus on the ‘average American’ when that individual isn’t defined and Americans only makes up 5% of the world’s population anyway.

Furthermore,looking out into our solar system, it is apparent that life is extremely sparse.

Instead of worrying about ‘here’ it would behave Ted Hedberg to consider the potentiality of ‘there’

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Considering that the replacement fertility rate is 2.1 births per female for most developed countries but can be as high as 3.5 in undeveloped countries due to higher mortality rates, between 2 and 3 seems like a rational number. One seems a bit unfair to the child. I have 2, both now in their late 20s, and they are still quite close.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

and carries a strongly left-wing collectivist message

Perhaps it is time to admit that everyone pursuing their own self interest does not actually work for the collective good, as the ideology of classical economics maintains. In fact, game theory - the prisoner's dilemma - looks at that very closely. And when problems are global, we need some kind of collective solution. The ozone hole was solved by just such a collective solution and would never have been fixed by everyone pursuing individual interest. The system that rewards individual behaviour - though beloved of those who are inherently self-serving and self-interested - will never solve large and medium to long term future problems. In fact, it even fails to solve the problem of accumulation of power in those who gain more wealth, so that it is they for whom the system ends up working, due to their infiltration of political power. But, of course, as long as you believe it is "left wing" and "collectivist", and therefore bad, to redistribute wealth, income and power, you will end up with precisely with the power and wealth imbalances we have. Not to mention the deterioration of the wider living system on which we are reliant, not least for cleaning up our mess.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

This writer, Trevor Hedberg, is basically inferring that the powers that be ought to limit how many children we can have. Is this not what the Chinese did for decades with their 'One-child Policy'? In other words Mr. Hedberg and others of his ilk are indirectly advocating Communist style control over the global populace. No thanks!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I notice with these kinds of articles it's always the same demographic that's pictured. Usually there's something about diversity and inclusion but not when it comes to promotions for reducing the number of children.

https://theconversation.com/children-are-expensive-not-just-for-parents-but-the-environment-so-how-many-is-too-many-176662

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sorry, but this op-ed is rhetorically a trap towards accepting the author's worldviews. Asking for couples to view having children inside of an ethical dilemma narrative that furthers the author’s worldview. As if people thinking of having a family and raising children inside of a family, of their own, haven’t already figured out for themselves the spectrum of ills associated with being inside of today’s society? I hardly think so.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Pure and utter rubbish.

It's quite obvious to all that one major reason populations are declining in "advanced" capitalist economies and those pursuing this chimera is because they are self-limiting and even self-destructive. Costs of children increase relative to income. While wealth and income is sucked towards the rich.

Comedy post of the morning!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

For a bit of clarity. Always along the same theme.

https://postimg.cc/kBx6YNP5

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But, of course, as long as you believe it is "left wing" and "collectivist", and therefore bad, to redistribute wealth, income and power, you will end up with precisely with the power and wealth imbalances we have. Not to mention the deterioration of the wider living system on which we are reliant, not least for cleaning up our mess.

History's proved you wrong. Chasing some utopian dream by forcibly redistributing wealth and power based on someone's subjective measures about what's "fair" has invariably led to authoritarian disaster. The author of this piece is essentially arguing for the same thing using the environment as his excuse, but he's deluded if he thinks the outcome will be any different.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

These articles generally use bogus calculations of future emissions by unborn people, based on current emissions levels. If people already alive continue to emit at current levels, we're already looking at most coastal cities being under water in two or three generations due to sea rise. Emissions are already falling and will have fall further. It is game over if this does not happen.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

How about reducing all the excessive air conditioning in massive buildings all across America?

Seems like a huge waste of energy when most people are wearing jackets and sweaters inside buildings in the middle of summer.

People could dramatically cut their energy use by embracing a little more discomfort. Maybe a simpler life would be worth passing on to kids instead of indulging ourselves so much and wailing about how the world is ending.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In fact, humanity lived for over 240,000 years in a world in which resources were mostly shared. That is our behavioural legacy. While our pursuit of selfish greed is recent and likely short-lived and clearly leading to authoritarian disaster on a huge scale. Look about you and show us the contrary.

But, ok. I will pursue the individualist dream to its conclusion. I will have as many children as possible while seeking to ensure that others don't have any. That way, my kids will be more likely to enjoy more resources than others and multiply themselves and my genetic legacy will expand. If I have any suspicion whatsoever the faith that human ingenuity will to keep up with dwindling resources will be proven wrong I will be even better off. Even better if I create and polish an ideology that drives a world that sucks wealth and income to me but leaves others unable to afford children. In the end, I will be the winner living on an albeit deteriorating planet but with everything to myself. Such an ideology should work very quickly compared to trying to get everyone to limit their own offspring out of some moral duty of care to the planet like this writer is allegedly doing.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

The poorest most impoverished populations around the world are exploding. They are unable to take care of or provide for themselves nor their offspring, but are having many kids. Yet, the wealthier first world populations that can take care of themselves and offspring are decreasing a lot. That is a bad trend for the world.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

75% of the world is having a population decline but the growth in the other 25% makes up for this. World population is 8 billion now but will grow to 10 billion in 2060. The number of babies peaked in 2017. Living longer is the reason for population growth. Why is population falling in the developed world? Simple answer is the changing role of women since the 1950s.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The nonsense repeats.

The way these 'people' view and treat human beings are beyond me.

We are not little bolts, or cattle, random numbers.

The Human experience is above every thing else, there is just no discussion.

It's actually a bit offensive and plain nauseating to read these nonsense while holding a newborn in your arms.

Every alien civilization out there had their share of suffering, resource depletion and preventable death before they finally managed to reap the fruits and become a Type 1 civilization.

Mr. Michio Kaku expect us to achieve that within this century or the next.

Don't need to end your lineage "for the planet", we will manage this.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

MoonrakerToday  10:45 am JST

In fact, humanity lived for over 240,000 years in a world in which resources were mostly shared. That is our behavioural legacy. While our pursuit of selfish greed is recent and likely short-lived and clearly leading to authoritarian disaster on a huge scale. Look about you and show us the contrary.

But, ok. I will pursue the individualist dream to its conclusion. I will have as many children as possible while seeking to ensure that others don't have any. That way, my kids will be more likely to enjoy more resources than others and multiply themselves and my genetic legacy will expand. If I have any suspicion whatsoever the faith that human ingenuity will to keep up with dwindling resources will be proven wrong I will be even better off. Even better if I create and polish an ideology that drives a world that sucks wealth and income to me but leaves others unable to afford children. In the end, I will be the winner living on an albeit deteriorating planet but with everything to myself. Such an ideology should work very quickly compared to trying to get everyone to limit their own offspring out of some moral duty of care to the planet like this writer is allegedly doing.

Yeah, and apart from the last couple of hundred years, life was extremely primitive, brutal, and short. It's only through competition, tempered individualism, and individual reward for effort that humanity has been able to advance so far so fast. Of course every shift forward carries an opportunity cost. But the pursuit of equity, whatever that really means, as the primary goal leads to abject disaster no matter what the reason given. Has history taught you nothing?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Tempered individualism? You mean, individualism in favour of some collective goals?

Yes, I have studied economic history formally. Wages in the US have barely changed since the 70s while gains in productivity since then have gone to the top 10 and 1%. Children are unaffordable for so many because they don't earn enough.

Yes, I have seen how when individualism fails, the system that apparently favours the individual, comes to the aid of the collection of individuals with the most power and wealth. 2009 is a great example. It continues to funnel wealth in one direction, over and above what capitalism itself would do, because it has been created to do so. These are not just "opportunity costs"; they are inherent in capitalism. It influences the governments that should be based on democratic will to do the bidding of the rich. The evidence is stark. The 1% get richer. The capitalist hegemon is run by lobbyists. Now, you may call a policy that prevents that funnelling as some kind of bogus pursuit of equity or fairness but I would call it democracy. Or maybe you think democracy is a drag on advance? It seems to be a popular position these days.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Tempered individualism? You mean, individualism in favour of some collective goals?

Yes, I have studied economic history formally. Wages in the US have barely changed since the 70s while gains in productivity since then have gone to the top 10 and 1%. Children are unaffordable for so many because they don't earn enough.

Yes, I have seen how when individualism fails, the system that apparently favours the individual, comes to the aid of the collection of individuals with the most power and wealth. 2009 is a great example. It continues to funnel wealth in one direction, over and above what capitalism itself would do, because it has been created to do so. These are not just "opportunity costs"; they are inherent in capitalism. It influences the governments that should be based on democratic will to do the bidding of the rich. The evidence is stark. The 1% get richer. The capitalist hegemon is run by lobbyists. Now, you may call a policy that prevents that funnelling as some kind of bogus pursuit of equity or fairness but I would call it democracy. Or maybe you think democracy is a drag on advance? It seems to be a popular position these days.

If you've formally studied economic history and your still a socialist, then you don't seem to have learned very much. Sure, plenty of wealth gets directed toward a small percentage, but that small percentage has still generated an enormous amount of wealth that's been spread around, lifting untold numbers of people out of poverty. And you're mistaking a market economy for corporate socialism (or crony capitalism, the same thing).

Under socialism you still get the same result because of human nature - the same kinds of people who scam and bully their way to the top in a market system (don't conflate that with decent people who are successful in business) are the same kinds of people who scam and bully their way into power in a socialist system. With socialism they live high on the hog and abuse their power while the average person lives in abject misery with no mobility and collectivism enforced with a gun. Proponents of socialism promise fairness and heaven on Earth but only deliver hell. But sure, it'll be different next time, right? Like the guy who wrote this article. If we just restrict the population, we can save the environment. All it takes is carbon credits...

If socialists really walked the talk, they'd just pool their resources and buy some land and live out their dreams on their own commune. or maybe move to one of those socialist paradises, like, er, um,... But no, they have to try to enforce their toxic ideology one people who want none of it.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

As I have experienced teaching here in the Ryukyus,where families often have four of more offspring, quality rather than quantity should be the mandate.

Especially when the parents are kissing cousins.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Absolute nonsense from a thinly-veiled environmental catastrophist trying to sell his flawed theory that eventual human extinction is the best solution to the problems facing the Earth's biosphere and humanity.

Nothing in the article can be even remotely misconstructed to say this. Why make up something nobody has said in order to refute it? is is because you could not do anything against what was actually said?

The author, like many of the incoming down-voters, is clearly a SINK or DINK (Single/Dual Income No Kids), and if he doesn't want children now, he probably will later. And if he never does, he's either deluded or eternally immature.

How would this personal guess do anything against the arguments used in the article? if someone with 4 or 8 children said the same thing, would it suddenly become true in your eyes? that makes no sense. Address the arguments or you are accepting they are solid.

Agree. This kind of "thinking" has already infected large numbers of young people through the media and education system, who've now been spooked and indoctrinated into thinking that they're saving the planet by not having children. 

The article makes the point of children being something that require resources, it never says people should not have any kids in order to save the planet, but that those that are already interested in considering the ecological cost of their decisions would benefit from including their family in those considerations, the author even makes the point of saying this is not an absolute parameter unopposed by any benefit.

This writer, Trevor Hedberg, is basically inferring that the powers that be ought to limit how many children we can have. 

No, he is not, he is saying that people that want to consider the ecological costs of their actions to make decisions should also do it about their children, it no place it is argued that this is something that can be imposed into someone else, much less by people in power, that is a huge ethical problem.

Usually there's something about diversity and inclusion but not when it comes to promotions for reducing the number of children.

Well, by default this applies for everybody, it is not like ethnicity can make a child automatically have less ecological costs, there would be no meaning in saying "this applies to everybody, so that includes everybody as well"

Sorry, but this op-ed is rhetorically a trap towards accepting the author's worldviews

Only if you consider logical arguments a trap, else it is as easy as to consider them and then use some of your own if you disagree, there is no imposition, no fallacies, no part where things have to be considered dogma for anything in the article to work.

We are not little bolts, or cattle, random numbers.

And nothing in the article says we are, simply that every person consume resources, this criticism would be as valid as saying that there is no problem in building infrastructure without considering the needs of the people in the place, population, resources, demand, etc. would be "random numbers" so you can build a 10 bed hospital as the sole health provider in a city of a million, and a 1000 bed hospital in the middle of the jungle.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

An obstinate proponent of the perpetual uptake of Covid vaccines, also staunchly defending an advocate for global depopulation?

I am shocked!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Panic button. The sky is falling again. I remember this dumb movie in the 8th grade with a 'dead in' at the end )before that term even existed). Then there was that STAR TREK episode with that 'overpopulated' planet Gideon. Now some fascist pig will use this as an excuse to promote hatred.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Bad Haircut.

I am not a socialist. Where did you get the idea that because I want to limit the excesses of capitalist exploitation that I am a socialist? I am thoroughly democratic in my sentiments. There are too many people in this world who are prepared to attribute socialist/communist to those who might want to do so. It makes me question why. And their understanding of liberalism, democracy and even socialism itself.

And you're mistaking a market economy for corporate socialism

Because that is what a market economy with imbalance of power inevitably becomes without efforts to maintain fairness in the power market players bring to the market (for the common good). But would bringing such fairness, with regulation, constitute socialism? Without such regulation you end up with monopoly or cartels.

live out their dreams on their own commune.

Well, sadly, they may understand that we are all in this together now. Global environmental deterioration will affect everyone in the end. You cannot quarantine yourself from it. Plus it would be convenient if those who were suspicious of the current system were to sequester themselves from it.

Some of us want to criticise the system and I will continue to do so because it is failing badly and we will all be brought down by it. The greedy and selfish preaching their prejudices about what human nature is - which just happens to match their own - will just have to put up with us.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If you give up trying to discuss the actual ideas and instead attack the people that use those ideas you are accepting they have the intellectual advantage.

You make the mistake in assuming there are actual ideas being discussed, and it is not attacking the people to point out the facts such as are being discussed in the article, and so when you do this, you are the one giving up in discussing the ideas and you end up the one attacking the person,

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You make the mistake in assuming there are actual ideas being discussed

The article clearly describe a lot of ideas, that people are invalidly ignoring them to make personal attacks is not in any fault the fault of the author, but on the commenters that prefer to use fallacies instead of actually discussing those ideas.

and it is not attacking the people to point out the facts such as are being discussed in the article

None of the text I quoted is about pointing out "facts" on the article but making attacks on people without addressing any arguments, that is attacking people and giving up on the discussion.

What arguments against the ideas of the articles were ignored? not making those arguments is the problem.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

MoonrakerToday  08:39 am JST

Bad Haircut.

I am not a socialist. Where did you get the idea that because I want to limit the excesses of capitalist exploitation that I am a socialist? I am thoroughly democratic in my sentiments. There are too many people in this world who are prepared to attribute socialist/communist to those who might want to do so. It makes me question why. And their understanding of liberalism, democracy and even socialism itself.

Fair enough, please accept my apologies for overreaching. I interpreted the fairly aggressive tone (about the topic, not so much toward me) as a socialist critique due to the way you were characterising capitalism. I think a lot of left-leaning people tend to over-focus on the evils of the big corporations and completely ignore the positive role that SMEs play in society and the economy.

I still stand by my low opinion of the author's post though.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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