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Destiny Hagest
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I hope this isn't too sensitive or personal of a topic to discuss, but it's something that's been weighing on my mind lately, and I'm curious as to what my fellow permies' thoughts are on the subject.

I have one son, and ideally, I would like at least two more kids. My desire to reproduce is strong, and I would like to be pregnant at least one more time. That being said, my heart also goes out to all of the children that so badly need homes. The hermit in me is terrified of the adoption process and how invasive it is into my personal life (though of course I understand the need to be thorough), but ultimately one day, my goal is to adopt at least one child, provided that our lifestyle isn't too much of a turn off for agencies.

That being said, the issue of over population is something I haven't done much research on, though I can definitely see an overuse and abuse of natural resources going on. What are your thoughts on this? If it were you, would you feel morally obligated to simply adopt and not naturally procreate, or is the issue largely blow out of proportion?

I can feel the instinct to grow my family, but I'd like to do so as conscientiously as possible, when the time does come to take the next step. Thoughts?
 
David Livingston
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Complicated and very personal stuff and I think that each person will have equally valid reasons to coming to differing conclusions .
Over population is a big issue I take very seriously simply there are too many humans consuming too much on this little planet . Yet there is hope as many areas of seeing a reduction in population ( Japan , Scotland and Ireland ) and other countries are seeing a general slow down of growth linked to an increase in education and availabity of contraception .
But that's big scale thoughts that don't down scale well to the individual level
I have one child ( who is not so little these days asshe is 25 ) I would not say no to another but my partner is not keen on this . Adoption locally I would be interests in but there is so much competition it's not worth asking and as for foreign adoption it seems far too much like baby stealing to me .
Have you thought of fostering ?

David
 
Destiny Hagest
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I'm open to fostering as a means to adopt - I don't like the temporary feel of fostering, kids never knowing where they'll be next, tied up in court...it just must be so much for someone so young to worry about. I'd love to adopt overseas, there are so many children that need families to care for them, but honestly, the expense is just outrageous and more than I could likely ever afford on my own.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I never had a maternal instinct except toward puppies and kitties, so it was no problem that my husband didn't want kids either. He got a vasectomy soon after our marriage. I personally believe that one child of one's own loins is enough to pass on the genes, if that's important to a person. I feel strongly that there are plenty of humans on the planet and we could leave more room for other critters.

http://www.kalaharilionresearch.org/2015/01/16/human-vs-livestock-vs-wild-mammal-biomass-earth/
 
Destiny Hagest
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Thank you for that insight, I really appreciate all opinions on this. My desire to have another biological child really stems more from my disappointment over how my last birth went - I suppose I want a second chance to 'get it right' this time, in addition to the desire to be pregnant and feel life grow inside me again. It's hard, it's such a strong, biological pull, and the foster system is so complicated and inefficient. But I agree, there are just already so many kids that need families.
 
Neil Layton
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I have also given this a lot of thought, to the point of seriously considering a vasectomy.

I've seen what that instinct to reproduce can do to some women. It's very powerful, and very frightening. At least, it scares the **** out of me. That does not mean you should not try to control it under present circumstances.

The bottom line, to me, is that there are too many humans using too many resources, to the point of needing several planets to support them, when we have only one. The decision not to have children is probably the single biggest environmental decision most of us can make.

I would add that, if even the mid-range climate disruption scenarios turn out to be accurate, you are likely to be sentencing your children to living in a world even more messed up than this one (and possibly one really, really, ****ed up). I don't think or feel that's a responsible action.

I would absolutely encourage everyone with the relevant inclination and skills to adopt as many children as they feel able to provide a healthy, stable, secure, loving home to.
 
Shawn Harper
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I personally am inclined to fulfill my biological primary directive and reproduce. I would also love to adopt those unfortunate children whom are not wanted by others, but... I will probably not for several legal reasons. First, I don't want to deal with my choice of lifestyle to be under the microscope more than it already will be and risk losing my own children to an over zealous social worker. Second, due to government regulations in my area; one must be rather wealthy (fees) and have a large home (a separate room for each child that is adopted) to adopt. Those being the major reasons there are a couple dozen minor ones, but if those two were removed I would rather work though the minor difficulties not listed here.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Shawn Harper wrote:I personally am inclined to fulfill my biological primary directive and reproduce. I would also love to adopt those unfortunate children whom are not wanted by others, but... I will probably not for several legal reasons. First, I don't want to deal with my choice of lifestyle to be under the microscope more than it already will be and risk losing my own children to an over zealous social worker. Second, due to government regulations in my area; one must be rather wealthy (fees) and have a large home (a separate room for each child that is adopted) to adopt. Those being the major reasons there are a couple dozen minor ones, but if those two were removed I would rather work though the minor difficulties not listed here.


My concerns with adopting are very similar. I've heard of parents having their kids taken away for much less than just living off the grid. It's very easy for someone to deem an alternative living situation, like what many of us would be living, as unfit or primitive. It's sad, but true. I don't know, it's quite a conflict. I feel like I should know better than to tangle with the government on any level, and private adoptions are outrageously expensive, but then I know the environment is likely quite strained already by the human populations.

I will definitely have more kids one day, likely very soon, but I'm just not sure how I feel about my options. It's quite the conundrum. Though they will be growing up in a difficult world, my hope is to bring the ratio of sane/world changers up a bit. Has anyone ever seen Idiocracy? I feel like it's totally plausible. Like all of the conscientious people will put off starting a family and having kids, while all of the mindless drones will procreate like crazy, creating a world of idiots. Scary thought.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The amazing thing about humans is that our reason can overcome our biology to a large extent. We can overcome our desire to kill strangers or people we're angry at, we can learn to share territory with other humans and other animals. I feel that there are few "biological prime directives" which humans can't overcome by choice. Some humans can even overcome the prime directive to survive, and choose to die in order to save another person's life.

It is personally very difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea of a human who is inclined to fulfill their biological primary directive, as though they had no will of their own, and were not human but instead merely a vehicle for the selfish gene. To give up the action of reason, and give in to biology with no better excuse than "I must fulfill my primary directive" is bizarre to me personally.

To produce a child because one wants to give love to someone unconditionally is one thing, but to produce a child in order to fulfill a biological urge, is to me, to give up a big part of what it means to be human, our reason. Reason is our unique attribute, and the gifts of reason - culture - can be passed on without benefit of passing on our genes.
 
Rene Nijstad
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Maybe we should look at another angle. Obviously thoughtful people spend more time thinking about having children. People who are aware of the predicaments we're facing might even decide not to have any kids. On the other hand people who do not think a lot have no such concerns. That, by both genetics and upbringing, leads only to greater problems on average instead of solutions. I would personally rather see thoughtful parents having more kids, who they raise to be aware, to be problem solving, earth minded, helpful and friendly persons than to see mainly mindless expansion of the population at large. I would say, Destiny, have as many kids as you can manage and raise them to be part of the solution rather than as part of the problem.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Rene, that's really what I hope is the right answer, because my heart just breaks thinking of the possibility of being done having kids. But there really is something to be said for keeping the number of conscientious change-seekers high. I can't predict what my kids will turn out to be, I'm certainly nothing like my own parents, but with any luck they'll at least grow up being mindful and kind, and that's more than enough for me.
 
Neil Layton
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I'm with Tyler on this.

I think that to suggest that reproduction is a "biological prime directive" of some sort is a grossly reductive view of the individual. There are plenty of ways to make your life have meaning, even to those most closely sharing your DNA, than reproduction.

Yes, I've heard an argument - coming awfully close to eugenics - that "our group" need to outbreed "their group" - from "intelligent people" (my mum came up with that one!), Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims and so on.

This numbers game is a large part of what got the planet into this mess. Can you guarantee your kids are going to be "mindful"? What about their kids - or their kids, facing rising sea levels and growing conflicts over space and food?

To me, thinking, mindful people think twice about their actions. If you want to create more mindful, thinking people, then spend your time trying to educate those who are already here.

That's my take on it, anyway.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Rene Nijstad wrote: I would personally rather see thoughtful parents having more kids, who they raise to be aware, to be problem solving, earth minded, helpful and friendly persons than to see mainly mindless expansion of the population at large.


The argument made in the film IDIOCRACY (2006).

It would be great if children of our loins would turn out "aware, problem solving, earth minded, helpful and friendly persons" but those are all qualities which are learned, not transmitted by genes. So it is still a very poor argument for having children of one's loins, in my opinion.

Some of the most influential people in my life are not related to me, I have never met them, they may have even died before I was even born. These people are tremendously important to me, even though I am likely only related to them by virtue of being human.



 
Rene Nijstad
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Oh boy, that escalates fast

I think there are two levels. The personal level which is important to a single (free) person, and an aggregate level of a community as a whole. In my belief a single person should never be forced to behave in such a way that he or she is held personally responsible for the aggregate level.

Then there is mere chance... The chance that something turns out as expected. Be it on a personal level, does this child turn out as hoped for? And on a higher level, does this world go to sh*t or not, and how, and when?

So for all women who want kids, to try to raise them to be part of a solution for the world, on which we personally have only limited effect, I think, we need to be encouraging. It's a difficult job and I applaud anyone wanting to try it. I am not going to judge a child wish negatively because there are 'already too many humans'. It's not the number of humans by itself that creates problems, it's how these humans behave.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Another issue I rarely see people discuss: Can you afford more kids? Can you afford more healthy kids, and, what if one of them is not healthy? What if the child needs special care in the beginning, or heaven forbid, care for its whole life? One reason I'm glad my husband and I didn't want kids is that we have severe mental illness on both sides, so our child (whom we have named "Finster" - yes, our unborn, never-to-be-had, fictional child has a name) would have an over 50% chance of being mentally ill and needing care for his or her entire life. My husband and I are poor, so we wouldn't be able to support even healthy kids in a middle class way, how much more impossible it would have been if Finster had been an ill child who needed special care? Should prospective parents intend to rely on the kindness of strangers? I'm not convinced that's a responsible plan.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Rene Nijstad wrote: In my belief a single person should never be forced to behave in such a way that he or she is held personally responsible for the aggregate level.


If I can ask for clarification: Are you saying that individuals should never be held responsible for the ills of society? Who then is responsible for the ills of society?

If we do not change our behavior in order to correct the ills of society, how will the ills of society ever be corrected?

 
Neil Layton
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Rene Nijstad wrote:Oh boy, that escalates fast


Which is why it's in the Ulcer Factory.

Rene Nijstad wrote:I think there are two levels. The personal level which is important to a single (free) person, and an aggregate level of a community as a whole. In my belief a single person should never be forced to behave in such a way that he or she is held personally responsible for the aggregate level.


The choices made by individuals, especially when those individuals are setting an example for others, does affect the aggregate. When someone drives a car it impacts on the level of CO2 and particulates in the atmosphere, and slows down my bus. When someone eats meat it affects the price of grain for my bread, and the cost of my beans, as well as increasing the levels of greenhouse gases, and increases levels of trampling (which affects water percolation) and so on. I am therefore entitled to express my views on their individual actions.

The choice of someone to breed affects demands for all kinds of scarce resources.

Rene Nijstad wrote:
So for all women who want kids, to try to raise them to be part of a solution for the world, on which we personally have only limited effect, I think, we need to be encouraging. It's a difficult job and I applaud anyone wanting to try it. I am not going to judge a child wish negatively because there are 'already too many humans'. It's not the number of humans by itself that creates problems, it's how these humans behave.


It's both. No individual human has zero impact. We can all try to do more good and less harm (to which I aspire, in my own inadequate fashion), but nobody does no harm at all, and the occasional individual who makes a real difference is rare indeed, and cannot be guaranteed or predicted. Indeed, it seems likely that there would be more of those rare, self-actualising individuals in a world not heading for ten billion rapacious humans.
 
r ranson
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A very interesting discussion.

Even though we are in the Cider Press, it's good to remember what Paul says about Being Nice. It is assumed that everyone here understands what it means to be nice.


I don't understand it myself, but for some reason talking about human reproduction gets people very excited. It seems especially volatile when we talk about the choice not to have children. There was a really interesting bbc news story about this a few months back. Not specifically about the global impact of not having children, but it does show how strongly some people feel about the issue in general.

We all have different points of view. I find it fascinating to hear about this topic as I am still trying to decide for myself how I feel about it. It is however, easy to forget that other people feel equally as passionate about this topic, and their ideas may not agree with yours.

With Paul as poorly as he is, the staff here have a lot on their plate. Please be kind and have a conversation that respects opinions that are different than your own.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I completely agree with the previous post - we can completely disagree on a subject, while still being respectful I really value the opinions of users in this forum, I feel you all can offer a unique perspective on a personal dilemma like this, and I'm certainly no closer to making up my mind now than I was when I posted this. I think intention says a lot, and ultimately, I know I can't control the actions of my child, but I do know that discouraging reproduction on a broad level has far reaching repercussions on its own, as seen in China.

There are really compelling arguments to both sides, and when I'm stumped like this, more often than not, I just go with my gut. Which is what I'll probably do here, given the complications of a public adoption with this kind of lifestyle. But it drives home the point of permaculture and sustainability all the more - society need not come to a screeching halt, so long as we can make more conscientious choices. My kids will grow up immersed in this life, and if they can show a small part of that to even one person, I'll have extended our ripples.
 
Neil Layton
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The thing is, there are many millions of women in the world who do NOT have the choice not to have children. There are any number of places in the world where that decision remains up to a male partner, or indeed to social convention and a lack of education on or availability of reliable contraception. Most people, even most women, reading this thread are in a position to make their own decision, and overcome their instincts to make a responsible decision.

To me, an important part of Permaculture is about lowering my impact on the planet. A child born in Europe, never mind in the United States, will have an impact many times greater than one born in much of Africa or parts of Asia, even one growing up on a smallholding. The actual carbon legacy of bearing a child in the US is considerably higher, as this paper shows: http://blog.oregonlive.com/environment_impact/2009/07/carbon%20legacy.pdf

 
Rene Nijstad
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Yes Destiny, I totally agree, all we can do is try. With all our heart and all our passion. Then we hope for the best of that to ripple outwards. Follow your heart, even if it does not work out in the end, trying for sure is a hell-uf-a-lot more than most people do! I wish you both wisdom and success!
 
r ranson
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Here's a completely inadequate analogy. Imagine choosing to have children (for those of us who have the choice) is like choosing to dig a well. Like I said, it's not a good analogy. But pretend for a moment it is. When we think about digging a well, the responsible thing to do is to look at the local watershed and assess how much impact the well will have. No matter what, it will have some impact, but we still might dig the well anyway.

I like the idea of thinking about having children before we have them. I have a friend right now who is my age. She didn't want any children until two years ago, and now that's all she wants in life. Her whole life is focused around having a child. She's not financially stable, her life partner doesn't want one and is only agreeing to it because she said she would leave him otherwise. It seems to be hugely biologically driven. I'm completely at a loss to understand it. But it's important to her, she's my friend, so it's important to me that I am supportive.

For myself, I would like to adopt a child or two at some point in the future. My life situation would be the driving factor in deciding to bring a child into my life. First I need to have a stable place to live and someone to share my life with. I would need to have enough material security before I could even consider acquiring a child. I have zero drive to have a child of my own. But I enjoy the idea of raising one or two... if I had the right situation. Where would I adopt them from? I don't know. My heart feels strongly for people from war-torn parts of the world... but the culture shock to come here would be strong for them.

So obviously I don't understand the drive to have children, but I know it's important to people. I don't know how many children a person 'should' have. I do know that not all of them survive to reproduce. Having children looks very rewarding, but it also comes with heartbreak. Maybe it's a lot like digging a well, universal proclamation as to what people 'should' do, or 'must' do is impossible. It depends on the location and the people.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Speaking of Idiocracy, while intelligence may or may not be entirely genetic, many studies show that optimal prenatal care does impact the intelligence of the child. Generally, one is not able to affect prenatal care of the child that is being adopted. If you are healthy, intent on quality prenatal care, good-quality childhood education (i.e. you read to your infant and talk to them--not necessarily put them in a preschool!), than odds are you are going to be able to contribute to the world a more intelligent, caring human being to the world. I think that is a good thing.

It's also a good thing, too, to adopt, and volunteer in schools, and help as many children as possible to reach their full potential. I think it's more than reasonable to have two kids (one to "replace" you, one to "replace" your spouse). This way you don't add to the population so much as maintain it. This was my parent's reasoning for having two, and my husband and mine for--hopefully--having two.

As for not having any children because the world is bound to be a horrible place, I have to disagree. I think every life is valuable. Just as I wouldn't abort a child who had Downs Syndrome or autism or is blind. Each of us has the choice to see happiness and joy and solutions in life. I notice many in poorer countries are happier than those here in America who have all their needs met. Yet, if all you see is doom and gloom, it might be wise not to have a child and share that sadness with them.

I also think it's really important to be as prepared as possible before having a child. A child is a responsibility, not just a biological urge (like Tyler and Neil, I never really felt the biological urge to have children, though I know I wanted two. Perhaps it has something to do with having Aspergers? I love children and have always wanted to be a mother, but the crazy hormones didn't really happen to me...). We waited five years to have my son, making sure my husband had a good job; we had a safe place for them to grow; I was able to stay home to raise them; we had money saved up to pay for unexpected medical expenses; and we would be able to feed me (while pregnant and nursing) and them healthy foods so they could be as healthy as possible. Of course, we could have been more prepared, and not everyone has the same priorities as us, but I think trying to do the best you can for your children is important.
 
Destiny Hagest
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That's a really interesting point R Ranson, and it's really not a bad analogy per se - I can see what you're driving at there. It's definitely something to think about - is the impact your offspring's life will have on resources worth it? I guess I just can't see validating a life that way though, we're so much more than just the air we breathe and the food we eat. I guess I just feel like if the people that actually care about things, like us, doesn't reproduce and keep bringing fresh inventive minds into the world, and the people that don't care just keep churning out kids out of circumstance, the world will be in a lot more of a precarious situation.

Man, this discussion makes me want to re-watch Idiocracy.
 
Destiny Hagest
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

I also think it's really important to be as prepared as possible before having a child. A child is a responsibility, not just a biological urge (like Tyler and Neil, I never really felt the biological urge to have children, though I know I wanted two. Perhaps it has something to do with having Aspergers? I love children and have always wanted to be a mother, but the crazy hormones didn't really happen to me...). We waited five years to have my son, making sure my husband had a good job; we had a safe place for them to grow; I was able to stay home to raise them; we had money saved up to pay for unexpected medical expenses; and we would be able to feed me (while pregnant and nursing) and them healthy foods so they could be as healthy as possible. Of course, we could have been more prepared, and not everyone has the same priorities as us, but I think trying to do the best you can for your children is important.


I couldn't agree more, I know accidents happen of course, but being an informed parent, making conscientious choices and raising kids mindfully is so important. We would never consider having another child if we couldn't handle the financial or physical burden. If you have a lot of genetic health issues, or you're not at a solid place financially, I agree it's so important to be realistic. We're fortunate to not have any health issues in our families (unrelated to choice that is), and we're by no means well off, but are at a point where we could still continue to move forward with our financial and professional goals while raising a family.

Like everything else in life, I think we'd all be so much better off if we just stopped to thing first, and approached parenting with all of the same gusto we would a job. Raising human beings should never be taken lightly. That's another thing, having a child has pushed my own self improvement forward. I have to lead by example and set the page for my son's behavior, so I've had to drastically modify my own. I have to keep my own moods and reactions in check, extend compassion in situations where I would otherwise just get frustrated. We practice gentle attachment parenting, and it has really made me more in tune with the way I interact with others, and conscious of the example I set.
 
r ranson
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Destiny Hagest wrote:... is the impact your offspring's life will have on resources worth it? I guess I just can't see validating a life that way though, we're so much more than just the air we breathe and the food we eat....


I don't know if it's a question of worth it... I'm not sure what I'm thinking. My mind is a bit over-tired and overstressed right now. I think it's more that I like it when potential parents take this kind of thing into account. So many people I know don't before they start making babies.

Like my friend there, she's not taking into account her financial status, her support network, all sorts of other things. Or at least it doesn't look like that from my point of view. From my point of view, her motivation is purely biological. Whereas my considerations are too much the other way. I want first a stable financial situation, stable everything before a child comes into my life.

Somewhere between these two is what I feel is healthy... at least for those in a situation where having a child is a choice. A conscientious consideration of the impact that a child has on one's life and the globe, but also understanding and acceptance that it is a biological ... something. Need dosen't fit. Nor urge. I don't know the word here. But to say that we can overcome our biological compulsion to reproduce belittles us as a species. It makes us less than the animal that we are as humans. I think... I feel that it does us a disservice to say we can simply overcome our biology simply because some bloke 24 thousand hundred years ago called us 'rational animals'.

Like I said, I'm tired and I'm having a rotten day. I'm probably not articulating this well. Apologies for being overly blunt. It's difficult to put delicately. But basically, my feelings are we need a middle ground between rationality of resource allocation and the pure biology of our animal nature. Somehow if we can respect both these extremes, then it makes us more human and more at peace with the world.
 
Destiny Hagest
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R Ranson wrote:I think it's more that I like it when potential parents take this kind of thing into account. So many people I know don't before they start making babies.

Like my friend there, she's not taking into account her financial status, her support network, all sorts of other things. Or at least it doesn't look like that from my point of view. From my point of view, her motivation is purely biological. Whereas my considerations are too much the other way. I want first a stable financial situation, stable everything before a child comes into my life.

Somewhere between these two is what I feel is healthy... at least for those in a situation where having a child is a choice. A conscientious consideration of the impact that a child has on one's life and the globe, but also understanding and acceptance that it is a biological ... something. Need dosen't fit. Nor urge. I don't know the word here. But to say that we can overcome our biological compulsion to reproduce belittles us as a species. It makes us less than the animal that we are as humans. I think... I feel that it does us a disservice to say we can simply overcome our biology simply because some bloke 24 thousand years ago called us 'rational animals'.


Not at all, I completely understand what you're saying - and I can understand the brainfeelslikeit'sgoingtoslideoutofyourears feeling all too well. It's definitely more than just a hormonal and biological compulsion for a lot of people - in my case, I just feel the potential for life, and can't wait to love another child. But you have to balance that with the reality of living in a modern society that requires you be financially responsible for your children. It must be hard to stand by without saying anything potentially challenging to your friend!

I've always lacked the ability to keep my mouth shut, but like you said before, there is just something about reproducing that gets people all in a huff, so I try to keep myself in check for the sake of respecting the choices of others. But my own best friend just had her first child, and was utterly devastated by how exhausting and demanding it was. It really took her aback, and I don't think she was prepared for the amount of physical need a breastfed baby has for its mother. It was hard, I was honest with her so that she could have realistic expectations, but it's as if many people expect their lives to go on with little to no changes, and that babies must simply adapt to their lifestyles, which is just completely unfair and developmentally incorrect.

It seems to me like the ultimate middle ground here is just making conscious choices, and being part of the solution, no matter what we decide.
 
Neil Layton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

It's also a good thing, too, to adopt, and volunteer in schools, and help as many children as possible to reach their full potential. I think it's more than reasonable to have two kids (one to "replace" you, one to "replace" your spouse). This way you don't add to the population so much as maintain it. This was my parent's reasoning for having two, and my husband and mine for--hopefully--having two.


With respect, that conclusion assumes that current human populations are sustainable. By most metrics, they are not. In terms of food, if everyone went vegetarian (which isn't going to happen, judging by the howls when someone mentions the word "vegan" even on a web site frequented by people supposedly committed to sustainability), we could support up to nine or ten billion on our current arable land, but much of that is being lost to desertification, salinisation and so on, so maintaining even that level of production seems grossly optimistic. Beyond that, it depends what sort of lifestyle you are leading. Someone growing up on a permie homestead may have a lower impact than someone leading a standard US lifestyle (and the planet could support no more than one billion of them). The planet could sustain no more than 2.5 billion greedy "average" Europeans. As I said, however, nobody has zero impact.

I think your logic is faulty.

Now, I do have to acknowledge that it's not just about not reproducing: it's also about reducing our own impacts and encouraging others to do likewise. This is why the argument of being okay about having children if one is trying to lead a sustainable lifestyle is also a weak one: you are having a lower impact, not zero impact.

Nicole Alderman wrote:As for not having any children because the world is bound to be a horrible place, I have to disagree. I think every life is valuable. Just as I wouldn't abort a child who had Downs Syndrome or autism or is blind.


That's a separate question. We're discussing overpopulation, not eugenics.

Nicole Alderman wrote: Each of us has the choice to see happiness and joy and solutions in life. I notice many in poorer countries are happier than those here in America who have all their needs met. Yet, if all you see is doom and gloom, it might be wise not to have a child and share that sadness with them.


So, it's only okay to have kids if you can be unremittingly happy around them, even in the face of ecological collapse (which is real, and happening now, not me being "negative": that we have lost half the world's wild animals in 40 years is not negativity, but a fact, and the same applies to climate change, loss of arable land and so on) as a result of, among other things, having kids? I don't follow your logic here.

Nicole Alderman wrote:I also think it's really important to be as prepared as possible before having a child. A child is a responsibility, not just a biological urge (like Tyler and Neil, I never really felt the biological urge to have children, though I know I wanted two. Perhaps it has something to do with having Aspergers?


Now, to me, the argument that "I want" is always a weak one. There are all kinds of things that "I want" but that I recognise infringe on the rights and security of others if I were to go and take. (Oh, and I don't "have Aspergers": it's not something you can take away from me and still have the same person afterwards, but that is also another discussion).

Nicole Alderman wrote: I love children and have always wanted to be a mother, but the crazy hormones didn't really happen to me...). We waited five years to have my son, making sure my husband had a good job; we had a safe place for them to grow; I was able to stay home to raise them; we had money saved up to pay for unexpected medical expenses; and we would be able to feed me (while pregnant and nursing) and them healthy foods so they could be as healthy as possible. Of course, we could have been more prepared, and not everyone has the same priorities as us, but I think trying to do the best you can for your children is important.


This is interesting. On the one hand, it's possible to take a position where it's at least more acceptable to have kids when one can bring them up, at least as children, to have a lower-impact lifestyle, but at the same time you need the income and savings to give them a high-impact lifestyle. Surely this is a fallacy? This says nothing, of course, of the impact they will have as adults, making their own decisions.
 
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It's interesting the idea of having two kids (one for you, one for your other). I don't see how this would maintain the current human population. Wouldn't this actually reduce the population, albeit slowly. Not everyone survives to reproductive age, and not everyone wants to reproduce.
 
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The effects of chinas one child policy are a warning of what could happen if just allowing folks to have only one child , because of the gender imbalance . China is millions of women short of a balenced population .

David
 
Tyler Ludens
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Woo hoo - more boyfriends for everyone!

I think cultural changes could adapt to a gender imbalanced population, if that became a priority. The population is certainly imbalanced in total numbers. Human culture can be very diverse, if allowed. Some cultures have multiple genders, and many forms of partnership are seen in different cultures, such as a wife having several husbands. These are not unsolvable problems.

And I don't think anyone in this thread is advocating a Chinese-style "One Child Policy."
 
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Neil Layton wrote:
With respect, that conclusion assumes that current human populations are sustainable. By most metrics, they are not. In terms of food, if everyone went vegetarian (which isn't going to happen, judging by the howls when someone mentions the word "vegan" even on a web site frequented by people supposedly committed to sustainability), we could support up to nine or ten billion on our current arable land, but much of that is being lost to desertification, salinisation and so on, so maintaining even that level of production seems grossly optimistic.



Off topic, but do some research on mob grazing and other responsible animal husbandry techniques. But proper animal management can actually reverse desertification and create arable land in marginal landscapes. It also reduces the demand we place on the more arable land because we are able to obtain calories from marginal landscapes. Feel free to open a topic to discuss the many good reasons to be vegetarian. I could probably think of a dozen or more off the top of my head, and I'm not a vegetarian. The idea that raising livestock is bad for the planet only applies to irresponsible animal management.

Actually on topic now. A child who is raised understanding how responsible land and animal management can increase soil fertility and productivity, repair the water cycle, regenerate groundwater supplies.. ect is far more likely to be not just less of a burden on the planet, but actually an improving asset. I posted a long explanation of how to garden successfully (organically, in a way that improves soil health in the long run) in what is viewed by some to be a very challenging climate. Until I wrote it all out, I hadn't even realized how much information I had absorbed over the years. Since I was raised to it, organic practices that build soil health seem obvious and simple to me, and it's the kind of gardening message I pass on. The mainstream, chemical and mechanized gardening methods are the ones that seem intimidating and complicated to me.

I say all this as someone who made the decision early in life not to have children of my own. Family circumstances as they are, I'm now raising my sister's children. I am honestly grateful every time I see someone who has beliefs I respect raising the peers that my nieces are going to have to live with. Even when I cringe at someones beliefs, I can appreciate every less enlightened person who does their best, and gives their child a lot of love. A child who is unconditionally loved, and is raised to believe in doing their best, may be the adult to isn't afraid to improve themselves. The only people who I think shouldn't be having children are the ones that don't want the kids. That applies to people like me who make the responsible choices not to have them, and the immature or brainwashed masses who keep giving birth to kids when they don't want them.

I actually think people who are not likely to bear their own children wanting to adopt is actually an evolutionary trait of our species. That includes gay, lesbian, asexual, people with health concerns, and surely many others that I just don't know about. On a species wide level it gives a wider pool of individuals to provide a good parent to children. That good parent can make all the difference to the kind of impact the child will eventually have on the world.

As far as biological urges to reproduce, human behavior is constantly being affected by biological factors that most of us don't reason out. I don't think anyone here is claiming to have a biological imperative, any more than they would say a man or woman must sleep with every person they find attractive. There's a lot of biological urges that influence people that I don't understand or simply don't experience myself. I don't try to pretend they're not real to the people who do feel them. Does someone here argue that they don't take feelings into account when making major decisions in their life?
 
Nicole Alderman
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Neil Layton wrote:
Nicole Alderman wrote:As for not having any children because the world is bound to be a horrible place, I have to disagree. I think every life is valuable. Just as I wouldn't abort a child who had Downs Syndrome or autism or is blind.


That's a separate question. We're discussing overpopulation, not eugenics.

I brought this up because you said having children was "sentencing your children to living in a world even more messed up than this one (and possibly one really, really, ****ed up). I don't think or feel that's a responsible action." I interpreted this as you saying it wasn't worth living in the world if it were messed up. That argument--as I interpreted it--sounds very similar to the argument to not have children who are blind, etc, because that makes life not worth living. If we don't have children because we don't think it'd be worthwhile for them to live in the disabled world, it's much the same as saying it's not worthwhile for them to live in their "disabled" bodies and minds. Once again, though, I might have misinterpreted your argument.

Neil Layton wrote:
So, it's only okay to have kids if you can be unremittingly happy around them, even in the face of ecological collapse (which is real, and happening now, not me being "negative": that we have lost half the world's wild animals in 40 years is not negativity, but a fact, and the same applies to climate change, loss of arable land and so on) as a result of, among other things, having kids? I don't follow your logic here.


Perhaps "happy" isn't the best word. "Hopeful" would be better? Perhaps a better question would be: Should your (or mine, etc) parents not have had you, since our world is so overpopulated? I think your life is worthwhile, and I think my son's is too. But, that's my values. I think we all fit somewhere a little different on the scale of earth's health vs people's right to live.

Neil Layton wrote:(Oh, and I don't "have Aspergers": it's not something you can take away from me and still have the same person afterwards, but that is also another discussion).

(Total side note here, I think of my self as an "aspie" not as "having aspergers," but I tend to use different terms based upon what audience I'm talking to...)

Neil Layton wrote:
This is interesting. On the one hand, it's possible to take a position where it's at least more acceptable to have kids when one can bring them up, at least as children, to have a lower-impact lifestyle, but at the same time you need the income and savings to give them a high-impact lifestyle. Surely this is a fallacy? This says nothing, of course, of the impact they will have as adults, making their own decisions.


I don't think having a stable income and a house as necessarily being high-impact. For example, aside from my husband currently relying on a fuel-efficient car to get to and from work, we don't buy much, and most of what we buy is used--including my house, which is very small. Our money goes to paying off our house and buying food until we can produce more of our own. Other's can a similarly stable job and even lower impact life.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tyler Ludens
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Should your (or mine, etc) parents not have had you, since our world is so overpopulated?


If I had not been born, I wouldn't miss myself, nor would anyone else.* The number of potential children for a woman is a maximum of about 30 (if I remember correctly), for a man, hundreds, possibly thousands. Should they produce those children because each has the potential to be a wonderful person?

I've even seen the argument that we should each have as many children as possible because one of them might come up with solutions to our problems, even though, of course, the solutions to our problems are already available, we simply must implement them!

http://www.populationconnection.org/resources/poped/

* I had a thought that I might be missed in the way my husband and I miss Little Finster. Finster sometimes exists in a fantasy ideal world in which my husband and I have a strong desire for children, the ability to care for them, and no horrible genetic conditions to pass on to them. But usually Finster exists in an alternate world in which we merely had the desire for children, without the ability to care for them that we don't actually have, and so Little Finster is a miserable child who got beat up at school because she couldn't learn proper social skills from her parents, and later in life becomes completely incapacitated from mental illness (severe mental illness is still not "curable" and it is barely treatable currently). So mostly we're very very glad that Finster doesn't actually exist!

I want people to understand that I'm talking about my OWN ability to care for a handicapped child, not whether OTHER people should or shouldn't have children. I don't know how to express my own personal experience without people thinking I am talking about someone else. I always try to phrase things from my own point of view, but it seems I'm not good enough at it and people think I'm talking about someone other than myself.

 
Neil Layton
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Casie Becker wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:
With respect, that conclusion assumes that current human populations are sustainable. By most metrics, they are not. In terms of food, if everyone went vegetarian (which isn't going to happen, judging by the howls when someone mentions the word "vegan" even on a web site frequented by people supposedly committed to sustainability), we could support up to nine or ten billion on our current arable land, but much of that is being lost to desertification, salinisation and so on, so maintaining even that level of production seems grossly optimistic.



Off topic, but do some research on mob grazing and other responsible animal husbandry techniques. But proper animal management can actually reverse desertification and create arable land in marginal landscapes. It also reduces the demand we place on the more arable land because we are able to obtain calories from marginal landscapes. Feel free to open a topic to discuss the many good reasons to be vegetarian. I could probably think of a dozen or more off the top of my head, and I'm not a vegetarian. The idea that raising livestock is bad for the planet only applies to irresponsible animal management.


I did. I went and read the science, rather than watching Ted Talks by someone out to make a name for himself. You can read a summary of the science here: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijbd/2014/163431/

Just as there is looking for an excuse to reproduce when you know it's a problem, there is looking for an excuse to eat meat when you know it's a problem.

Casie Becker wrote:Actually on topic now. A child who is raised understanding how responsible land and animal management can increase soil fertility and productivity, repair the water cycle, regenerate groundwater supplies.. ect is far more likely to be not just less of a burden on the planet, but actually an improving asset.


This is part of what I'm worried about. The paper I cite above talks about some of this, but cattle ranching, however you do it, can only add fertility if you use supplementary feed (which strips nutrients from elsewhere - also an issue, if to a lesser extent with mulching). It otherwise doesn't add nutrients: it just makes nutrients more biologically available and accelerates the rates of entropy in the habitat. It looks like you are increasing fertility in the short term, but causes more damage in the long term. Trampling does not repair the water cycle: it increases runoff. The solution to that is forestry, not grazing.
Casie Becker wrote:

I say all this as someone who made the decision early in life not to have children of my own. Family circumstances as they are, I'm now raising my sister's children. I am honestly grateful every time I see someone who has beliefs I respect raising the peers that my nieces are going to have to live with. Even when I cringe at someones beliefs, I can appreciate every less enlightened person who does their best, and gives their child a lot of love. A child who is unconditionally loved, and is raised to believe in doing their best, may be the adult to isn't afraid to improve themselves. The only people who I think shouldn't be having children are the ones that don't want the kids. That applies to people like me who make the responsible choices not to have them, and the immature or brainwashed masses who keep giving birth to kids when they don't want them.


What does this have to do with overpopulation?

Casie Becker wrote:

As far as biological urges to reproduce, human behavior is constantly being affected by biological factors that most of us don't reason out. I don't think anyone here is claiming to have a biological imperative,


I think that's exactly what some people are saying.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Woo hoo - more boyfriends for everyone!

I think cultural changes could adapt to a gender imbalanced population, if that became a priority. The population is certainly imbalanced in total numbers. Human culture can be very diverse, if allowed. Some cultures have multiple genders, and many forms of partnership are seen in different cultures, such as a wife having several husbands. These are not unsolvable problems.

And I don't think anyone in this thread is advocating a Chinese-style "One Child Policy."


I'm certainly not advocating such a thing.

One of the reasons for the gender imbalance in China is because boys are more socially valued than girls, which is about culture, not reproductive restraint, legal or otherwise. The same thing is happening in parts of India, for related reasons, without such a policy. The problem is that it's the one-child policy that gets the blame, not the low cultural value placed on women, which is a whole separate discussion. At that point, we are discussing misogyny, not population.
 
Neil Layton
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Yesterday I erred in misattributing comments made by Nicole Alderman to Casie Becker. This was a human error on my part, for which I apologise unreservedly. I ****ed up. I have now edited this post in order to correct my mistake.

Nicole Alderman wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:
Nicole Alderman wrote:As for not having any children because the world is bound to be a horrible place, I have to disagree. I think every life is valuable. Just as I wouldn't abort a child who had Downs Syndrome or autism or is blind.


That's a separate question. We're discussing overpopulation, not eugenics.

I brought this up because you said having children was "sentencing your children to living in a world even more messed up than this one (and possibly one really, really, ****ed up). I don't think or feel that's a responsible action." I interpreted this as you saying it wasn't worth living in the world if it were messed up. That argument--as I interpreted it--sounds very similar to the argument to not have children who are blind, etc, because that makes life not worth living. If we don't have children because we don't think it'd be worthwhile for them to live in the disabled world, it's much the same as saying it's not worthwhile for them to live in their "disabled" bodies and minds. Once again, though, I might have misinterpreted your argument.


I can sort of see how you got there, if I squint. In this case, it's about adding to the ecological degradation, rather than discrimination against those who are different.

Nicole Alderman wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:
So, it's only okay to have kids if you can be unremittingly happy around them, even in the face of ecological collapse (which is real, and happening now, not me being "negative": that we have lost half the world's wild animals in 40 years is not negativity, but a fact, and the same applies to climate change, loss of arable land and so on) as a result of, among other things, having kids? I don't follow your logic here.


Perhaps "happy" isn't the best word. "Hopeful" would be better? Perhaps a better question would be: Should your (or mine, etc) parents not have had you, since our world is so overpopulated? I think your life is worthwhile, and I think my son's is too. But, that's my values. I think we all fit somewhere a little different on the scale of earth's health vs people's right to live.


It's not a case of worthwhile or having some sort of right to life (I've been - recently - on the wrong side of that, so it's a very touchy subject). Yes, you definitely misinterpreted what I wrote. Sorry, that's part of what comes of writing at 3am. I think Tyler addressed the question. There simply isn't enough space for all those "potential" humans, never mind all the potential other life on the planet.

Nicole Alderman wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:(Oh, and I don't "have Aspergers": it's not something you can take away from me and still have the same person afterwards, but that is also another discussion).

(Total side note here, I think of my self as an "aspie" not as "having aspergers," but I tend to use different terms based upon what audience I'm talking to...)


We agree on that, at least.

Nicole Alderman wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:
This is interesting. On the one hand, it's possible to take a position where it's at least more acceptable to have kids when one can bring them up, at least as children, to have a lower-impact lifestyle, but at the same time you need the income and savings to give them a high-impact lifestyle. Surely this is a fallacy? This says nothing, of course, of the impact they will have as adults, making their own decisions.


I don't think having a stable income and a house as necessarily being high-impact. For example, aside from my husband currently relying on a fuel-efficient car to get to and from work, we don't buy much, and most of what we buy is used--including my house, which is very small. Our money goes to paying off our house and buying food until we can produce more of our own. Other's can a similarly stable job and even lower impact life.


So what are your criteria?

Are you suggesting, for example, that all those poor people shouldn't breed because they can't provide these things?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Neil Layton wrote: the low cultural value placed on women, which is a whole separate discussion.


The most effective method of limiting population seems to be to provide education and status for women. Most women, given a choice, would rather have fewer, healthier children, rather than more children. Large numbers of children tend to appear in cultures in which women have less value.

http://www.populationconnection.org/resources/health-human-rights/

This is, I think, a discussion somewhat separate from the topic of this thread, which I understand to be about the appropriateness of "First World" women having more children. Given that a first world child uses a tremendously greater amount of resources than a child from a developing country, I think the primary responsibility for limiting population lies with those women and men who do have the choice to not have more children and whose children use more resources. And I also believe it is our responsibility to support gender equality worldwide.

"On average, one American consumes as much energy as

o 2 Japanese

o 6 Mexicans

o 13 Chinese

o 31 Indians

o 128 Bangladeshis

o 307 Tanzanians

o 370 Ethiopians"

http://public.wsu.edu/~mreed/380American%20Consumption.htm

(sorry for all the edits; I'm trying to express myself clearly)

 
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