How many kids should people have given our overpopulation and environmental crisis? Should this ever be regulated?
– AP in Ann Arbor, MI
Full disclosure – I was tempted to break with tradition of putting actual sender cities there and put “Beijing, China” because it would crack my ass up. But I am nothing if not professional.
My answer to this is pretty straightforward – absolutely not. Two main reasons I keep coming back to whenever I think about this :
1) Relative impossibility to enforce productively and humanely.
If you look at China, the most obvious and largest example of this kind of attempted regulation, they are dealing with economic and social problems they don’t know how to address, on top of the obvious moral ambiguity of the practice. The clearest and most direct problem is the “4-2-1” problem, wherein one working adult will have to support two parents, and also the four grandparents it took to make those two parents. If you thought the American Social Security system was facing a questionable future, imagine the clusterfuck of economics the Chinese policy is going to create.
Then we must ponder the moral side of things, such as how
“The ‘one-child’ policy has also led to what Amartya Sen first called “Missing Women,” or the 100 million girls “missing” from the populations of China (and other developing countries) as a result of female infanticide, abandonment, and neglect.”1
Even if we’re not facing a one-child limit, any limit will eventually engender – albeit on a smaller scale – the same potentially cruel and duplicitous outcomes.
2) I subscribe to the George Carlin school of thought that the Earth can, and someday will, shake us off like a mosquito on its elbow.
I trust in nature. I also think we humans take ourselves a bit too seriously as the stewards of this planet’s fate. It was here long before we showed up [just go to Jimmy John’s and see for yourself] and it will be here long after we’re gone. From a universal perspective, we’re the weak, tenuous thing in this picture. Scoot the temperature up or down 40 degrees Celsius from what we experience now, and we’re fucked. Earth would be fine.
Further, let’s be real – a super-virus is going to wipe out a shit-ton of us sooner or later. Any amount of over-population will quickly be met with over-crowding, also known as a mutated virus’ wet dream. Even if medicine stays ahead of that curve, you still have to worry about bat-shit crazy idiots with nuclear weapons, and the occasional stray asteroid.
That said, I do recycle, I subscribe to and pay more for renewable energy [tanktronic.com is carbon-neutral, bitch!], and outside of the occasional splurge on 556-hp supercars, I’m very interested in protecting what we have here, but from an admittedly selfish standpoint for me and my [theoretical] kids.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about putting limits on the reproduction abilities of complete idiots. I am totally in favor of that. We’ve got enough. I’ve got a plan for putting sterilizing agents in off-brand energy drinks, but that’s a discussion for another day.