15 votes

BirthStrikers: meet the women who refuse to have children until climate change ends

11 comments

  1. [5]
    Comment deleted by author
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    1. Brock_Knifemann Link Parent
      I live in a place that's fairly cold and gloomy all winter. No power would make life here miserable for ⅝ of the year, not to mention the people in our vulnerable populations who would die quickly...

      What would life look like for you if you lost electricity for 11 months?

      I live in a place that's fairly cold and gloomy all winter. No power would make life here miserable for ⅝ of the year, not to mention the people in our vulnerable populations who would die quickly without heat, medical equipment, etc.

      1 vote
    2. [2]
      Sahasrahla Link Parent
      Maybe this just comes down to a disagreement about whether or not society will collapse, but how many times and places in history would be better (in terms of quality of life) to have a child than...

      Maybe this just comes down to a disagreement about whether or not society will collapse, but how many times and places in history would be better (in terms of quality of life) to have a child than the circumstances the women in the article are living in? In the pre-modern world you had abysmal infant mortality rates and a much greater threat of disease later in life, including devastating plagues. Nearly everyone who wasn't a member of the ruling class would have suffered under tyrannical regimes with very little concept of what we would consider human rights, and even until recently you would face extreme amounts of legal and social discrimination if you were anything but an able-bodied neurotypical cis heterosexual male of the majority ethnicity and religion. It seems to me that saying it is unethical even for middle-class women in the west to have children because of the suffering those children will live through is tantamount to saying that it has always been unethical to have children except for maybe a brief period of a few decades that has now passed.

      And anyway, unless we're wanting to give up on humanity and embrace something approaching voluntary extinction, we will need to keep having children. A human being is more than a machine that consumes resources and experiences suffering. If one is concerned about the life their child will live in the uncertain times ahead, I'd say one of the best things to do is to educate your child well and instill in them a strong sense of compassion, because if the world is ending then we need people who can fight back and help those who are unable to help themselves.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. Sahasrahla Link Parent
          Thanks, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. I agree that we need to be aware of the kind of lives our hypothetical children might have. I'm sure many of us are considering this not only in...

          Thanks, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. I agree that we need to be aware of the kind of lives our hypothetical children might have. I'm sure many of us are considering this not only in terms of climate change but also hereditary disease, mental illness, etc. On the subject hoping one's child will become a "superhero" who saves us, I agree that while one individual can sometimes make a huge history changing difference in the world (and that these people will be rare) I think it's also important to consider the small good that most of us can contribute, whether that means bettering society or just being a good friend, partner, etc. to the people we care about. There's something worthwhile in that.

          1 vote
    3. Gully_Foyles (edited ) Link Parent
      I think the real issue is that the effects of climate change are not going to be felt uniformly. Countries like Canada, Russia, and the US will do well as a warmer climate open up more arable...

      I think the real issue is that the effects of climate change are not going to be felt uniformly. Countries like Canada, Russia, and the US will do well as a warmer climate open up more arable farmland which will be massively valuable as the world is likely to see significant food shortages appearing in the next few decades. Areas like the Middle East, Africa, and to some extent China and South America will get hit the hardest by shifting weather patterns and desertification.

  2. Dup_dup Link
    Unfortunately, large corporations that spew massive amounts of Co2 will not be persuaded by a few women that refuse to have kids. But hey, things are looking better: more car companies are going...

    Unfortunately, large corporations that spew massive amounts of Co2 will not be persuaded by a few women that refuse to have kids. But hey, things are looking better: more car companies are going electric, people from around the world are protesting, there are multiple companies working on carbon capture tech. The world is getting more environmentally aware in general.

    5 votes
  3. alyaza Link
    this is by no means a novel idea, as voluntary population control of this sort has been put forward previously by people as a way to help control emissions, but i think it's the first actual...

    this is by no means a novel idea, as voluntary population control of this sort has been put forward previously by people as a way to help control emissions, but i think it's the first actual movement surrounding it as an idea (at least that i've seen). i don't think this will ever be more than a small contingent of organized climate activism, but anything helps.

    4 votes
  4. Algernon_Asimov Link
    I read the linked study, and the detail reveals some quite contrary observations. The notes for the first graph under the 'RESULTS' heading say: And this is repeated at the end, under...

    A 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA explored various scenarios for global human population change by adjusting fertility and mortality rates. It found that even imposing one-child policies worldwide and “catastrophic mortality events” would not significantly reduce the global population by 2100.

    I read the linked study, and the detail reveals some quite contrary observations.

    The notes for the first graph under the 'RESULTS' heading say:

    The more draconian fertility reduction to a global one child per woman by 2100 (Scenario 3) resulted in a peak population size of 8.9 billion in 2056, followed by a decline to ∼7 billion by 2100 (i.e., a return to the 2013 population size) (Fig. 1A). Enforcing a one child per female policy worldwide by 2045 and without improving survival (Scenario 4) resulted in a peak population size of 7.95 billion in 2037, 7.59 billion by 2050, and a rapid reduction to 3.45 billion by 2100.

    And this is repeated at the end, under 'DISCUSSION':

    Similarly, a global move toward one child per female by 2100 or, more radically, by 2045, indicated that there could be theoretically billions fewer people by the end of the century.

    Of course, they de-emphasise these results in the study's summary because these are the more extreme and unlikely outcomes, but they were still modelled, and they're still hypothetically possible. If we imposed a world-wide "one child" policy in the next couple of decades, we could nearly halve the human population by the end of the century - without having to kill anyone. And, in the absence of a such a draconian policy, enough people choosing to not have children could go partway to achieving a similar outcome.

    3 votes
  5. [4]
    Brock_Knifemann Link
    I'm pleased to see people who are taking the environmental cost of breeding seriously. Having children is a major decision that a great many people just don't think about; they have kids because...

    I'm pleased to see people who are taking the environmental cost of breeding seriously. Having children is a major decision that a great many people just don't think about; they have kids because "that's what you do." I truly feel that a lot of problems and suffering could be avoided if folks did more soul-searching and were willing to say no before reproducing.

    While admirable, those who opt not to breed are still more than offset by all those who go on and have 3, 4, 5 or more children. This isn't the 1880s, when 11 of your 14 children didn't live to adulthood, there's no good reason to have any more than required for replacement.

    And this isn't even touching the whole aspect about corporations causing pollution/global warming at orders of magnitude beyond what any human could do.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      alyaza Link Parent
      i mean... not really? most of the developed world is below replacement rate for births or close to it even with consideration to those people. america for example almost exclusively grows because...

      While admirable, those who opt not to breed are still more than offset by all those who go on and have 3, 4, 5 or more children. This isn't the 1880s, when 11 of your 14 children didn't live to adulthood, there's no good reason to have any more than required for replacement.

      i mean... not really? most of the developed world is below replacement rate for births or close to it even with consideration to those people. america for example almost exclusively grows because of immigration, not because of birth rate at this point. this is only really a valid point when applied to certain parts of the developing world like sudan, and even then in those place it is generally still justified since infant mortality is usually quite high in such places.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Brock_Knifemann Link Parent
        You might be surprised just how many people out there, even in wealthy nations, who have 3+. I see this all the time while out and about. It's certainly not everyone, but it's there. I'll admit...

        You might be surprised just how many people out there, even in wealthy nations, who have 3+. I see this all the time while out and about. It's certainly not everyone, but it's there.

        I'll admit that I'm probably over-sensitive to this issue. I'm a confirmed non-breeder, yet my two sisters have 9 boys between the two of them. I can't help but notice large families, simply because it's relevant to me.

        1 vote
        1. alyaza Link Parent
          well, that makes sense since the line at which enough people are born to replace deaths and keep population growing solely through births is still like, 2.1 children per woman globally (although...

          You might be surprised just how many people out there, even in wealthy nations, who have 3+. I see this all the time while out and about. It's certainly not everyone, but it's there.

          well, that makes sense since the line at which enough people are born to replace deaths and keep population growing solely through births is still like, 2.1 children per woman globally (although there's flexibility with national numbers and in developing countries the number can be as high as 3 children per woman). by nature, you would expect 3 child families to still be pretty common because of that.

          1 vote