Monday, 1 February 2010

Falling birth rate, surely a good thing?

An article in today's Guardian by Fred Pearce explains how the birth rate all over the world, particularly in Western Europe but he also includes an example story from Bangladesh, is in decline.

What it doesn't explain is why this is a bad thing. There is talk of a "baby famine" and not being able to maintain the population, and an example of a town in East Germany where empty buildings are being demolished and wolves are returning from the forests.

But surely this is a good thing isn't it? Isn't overpopulation the great evil that's brought us to our knees? Doesn't everyone decry our overcrowded cities with their crime and social decay? Aren't there too many people chasing too few jobs? Don't we have a problem that we're living so long we can't afford our pensions and the more people who come along the worse that problem will get? Isn't climate change a result of too many consumers consuming too much stuff and travelling too far to get it? Isn't too many people what the racists and xenophobes hate (although they probably hate their "coming here and stealing our jobs" regardless of how few we all are in total, and it's probably not in direct ratio to jobs taken in the first place, thinking it through)? And if sea levels rise, won't there be less space to live in the first place? And what was that I read about a water shortage?

Isn't it self-evidently the case that the world has dwindling resources which were finite to begin with, so for the population to expand was always a road to self-destruction? So surely a dwindling population is the road to solving all our problems?

With fewer people chasing fewer resources and sharing a proportionately greater space in which to enjoy them, won't life be theoretically better for all concerned? And given that it seems to be happening benignly, through people choosing not to breed, rather than the previous causes of such decline, ie war, plague, famine and whatever that other horseman's called, surely this is the best of all possible situations?

Can someone explain to me how, in my naivety, I've missed something?

Kev F

1 comment:

Guest Who? said...

I chose not to add any more to the world's population and have the snip 37 years ago!

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