So, ground rules and basic important statements:
- I am not--in any way--telling people what they should/should not do.
- I merely trying to foster an interesting and important discussion.
- I am NOT an expert on this topic. I am posting my initial thoughts, but am positive that there will be many points which others think of that I have not...so let me know what I miss.
- I know many fantastic parents of larger families (with 4+ children)--I am in NO way saying that they shouldn't have had their kids. I am not criticizing them in any way. Again--this topic is to spur healthy discussion NOT to offend anyone.
- I also know an increasing number of couples who have chosen not to have any children...and they are happy fulfilled individuals.
- I absolutely welcome comments to this post, so feel free to join in the discussion as long as it is in a respectful manner.
What is Zero Population Growth?...Well, it has a longer explanation--but I'm condensing it down to the bare bones: Birth rate equals death rate. There are a lot of factors that make up or effect both of these rates. Education, economy, health care...are just a few of the many factors.
So why am I even mentioning the concept of zero population growth? You can only fit so many nails in a piece of wood before it splits into a bazillion splinters...the same concept is true of the Earth and how many people it can hold/sustain. In 1999, our planet passed the 6 BILLION person mark. By 2050, we are expected to top 9 billion...and China is NOT predicted to be the most populated country at that time! India is currently hot on China's heals and by that time is predicted to overtake China's population. Have you compared the land mass of China to that of India lately? Go do it right now...I'll wait...no really I have time...don't lie to me...you didn't check...fine, but you're only hurting yourself by not looking it up... China is WAY larger than India...and India is going to be the most populous country? I don't mean to be an Alarmist Annie, but that doesn't sound like a good thing.
Let's start with the basics...food...how will we as a planet feed everyone? People are already starving to death...should we just add a couple more billion people then? This is a point of debate as many believe that we produce enough food on the planet to feed everyone--we just aren't able to get the food to the needy people due to politics, economy, etc. Regardless, no one can dispute the fact that people are starving everyday. Next...water...clean, potable water...where are we going to get it? In America and Canada we turn on our faucets and let it flow, but in Africa and other parts of the world--people travel miles to bring back drinkable/usable water every single day. Most of the Earth might be made up of water, but most of that water is salt water. Desalination is costly--not just monetarily but also due to the energy/resources it takes to desalinate the water. Third basic point--how do we dispose of the human waste? According to an article I read today on CNN.com, handling waste and the public health issues of not properly handling waste is the biggest problem that we will face in rapidly growing urban areas in the developing world. This means a huge potential for the spread of disease. A fourth point would be the drain on resources worldwide...wood for furniture, metal for tools, coal/wood/whatever for cooking and heating, cotton/hemp for clothing, etc. More people means more drain on these resources...prices skyrocket...resources become scarce.
So what do we do to stop this runaway train? Well...some people think that zero population growth is the answer or at least part of the answer. That means birth control would need to be made accessible--possibly free--especially to the poor. It's not fair/right to say "no money for birth control, no sex"...you can't make having sex or having children a right exclusive to the rich. Education...if I've quoted School House Rock once, I've quoted it a thousand times "Knowledge is Power"! The old wives' tales need to be put to rest. You CAN get pregnant when you're breastfeeding. You CAN get pregnant the first time you have sex. Taking a bath immediately after sex will NOT keep you from getting pregnant...etc.
Now I'm really going into some touchy territory...maybe some people should choose not to have biological children at all... Many thousands of children all over the world are in orphanages and foster care...they need parents...they need protection, love, care, education...basically they need a real chance at survival. A man I work with just became a first-time grandparent when his son and daughter-in-law traveled to Vietnam to adopt a beautiful baby girl...not because they couldn't have biological children, but because they felt it was the right choice for them to adopt. Step-parenting is another way to become a parent...My husband is not my daughters' "biological father", but he is EVERY bit their father. He gets upset when anyone dares to mention that they "aren't his real kids". He and I have chosen not to have biological children together, but he doesn't feel as if he is "missing out" on anything. He is just as much of a parent as I am...in fact, sometimes he is a far better one! Other people may choose not to become parents at all--and that is perfectly acceptable too! Although having a child can be wonderful--it is not for everyone. I highly respect those people who are honest enough to say "No, I don't think becoming a parent is right for me" for whatever reason.
I'm sure that I'm missing a whole bunch of good points and great information that should have made it into this post...I've been ruminating over this topic and trying to get this post written for almost a week now...finally, I just sat down and pounded out what was in the forefront of my brain...After re-reading what I've written, I now realize that I've almost exclusively addressed controlling the birth rate and really haven't touched on the death rate at all. The two need to be equal to achieve zero population growth. However, I do not advocate war, mass killings, fatal epidemics, smoking or poor health care...so that pretty much leaves me with the concept of controlling the birth rate as it (in my mind) is by far the most humane option.
Well, am I just some wacko nut case with a weird birth control fetish?...Does any of this make sense to anyone besides myself?