2 is enough.

At the start of the 20th century the world barely had 2 billion people. It now has over 6 billion with a projection for that number to double to 12 billion by 2040.

More people equals more consumption, equals more pollution, and equals more destruction of natural habitats. Improvements in technology and improvements in human behavior might make it possible to provide the basic needs for all of these people.

However, who wants to live in an overcrowded world that is just a concrete jungle, where the value of human life is cheapened, a world without virgin forests, a world possibly without any forests, without nature, with room for all but a few animals? A better question: do you want to put your descendants into such a world?


Replacement fertility is the total fertility rate at which women would have only enough children to replace themselves and their partner. By definition, replacement is only considered to have occurred when the offspring reach 15 years of age. If there were no mortality in the female population until the end of the childbearing years (generally taken as 44 or 49, though some exceptions exist) then the replacement rate would be exactly 2, but in practice it is affected by mortality, especially childhood mortality. The replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 births per woman for most industrialized countries but ranges from 2.5 to 3.3 in developing countries because of higher mortality rates.[1] Taken globally, the total fertility rate at replacement is 2.33 children per woman. At this rate, global population growth would trend towards zero.

Please don’t let anyone tell you that your are selfish for wanting children. Anyone who has ever taken care of a child for more than a few days knows that there isn’t any room for being selfish as a good parent.

If you haven’t started your family yet please consider the facts and numbers above.

If you have have started your family, please consider educating your children and other people about these issues.

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25 thoughts on “2 is enough.”

  1. I don’t understand why you say the value of human life would be cheapened in the overpopulated world you describe. Can you explain?

  2. ^Look at overpopulated countries such as China, and tell me how much a life is valued theres….especially female life…

    I think people are selfish when they know the numbers, know how many unwanted children are lost in the adoption system (not babies mind you) and still reproduce, and choose not to adopt.

    Unfortunately the trend towards zero in the above scenario is too slow. There has to be massive voluntary sterilizations (yeah right) or forced mass sterilizations if we ever want to save life on this planet as we know it…

    And we need to start with the evangelical Christians and other religious fundamentalists who don’t believe in birth control.

    THE CRAMPS FROM MY IUD ARE SO FUCKING WORTH SAVING THE PLANET. I only wish I could have had a tubal (too young) so there’d be no cramps…



  3. To put it crudely, supply and demand. The more of something there is, the less people appreciate it.

    I look at how people live and are treated in poor countries with large populations. I believe that is what is waiting for us and worse larger populations put demands on fewer resources.

  4. Ah, simultaneous replies. My comment above was to answer Buzzard’s questions.

    PW, I think a lot of people are ignorant of this issue or have been too afraid to give it a good think front and center in their minds. I’m hesitant to call them selfish until they know the kinds of things in my blog post.

    I also don’t believe that making people feel personally indicted in helpful. The world has know about this issue for a while and defensiveness has kept several large countries form working together on this issue.

  5. But aren’t people in poor countries with small populations just as badly off, if not worse? It seems to me that people in densely populated areas with access to lines of trade, communication, transportation, etc., are generally better off than people in sparse isolated areas without those things.

  6. Yeah, making people feel bad is kinda counter productive ain’t it….

    I don’t say it to their face… Geez… :/

    I just don’t understand ignorant people…. ๐Ÿ™


  7. Soylent Green is a wonderfully movie, that unfortunately is not dated at all. It is a pity that mostly what people focus on is the food soylent green being made out of recycled corpses. The picture the movie paints of what life in the United States in a further overpopulated world is truly chilling, deep, and worthy of discussion.

  8. What I don’t get is why peoples in starving war torn 3rd world countries with nothing, have kids. They know they have nothing to offer their young. no food, barely any water, bloody Coups, disease, malnutrition etc..yet there’s still this urge and strong motivation to reproduce. The best answer I can give myself is that people (in general) are just ‘hard-wired’ to want to have kids. Which would make total sense…that is, if we were germs.

    I don’t get it.

  9. People in rural areas of the third world have large families for several reasons that while not great for the world population situation makes sense for their individual situations.

    They live with the reality of high child mortality rates every day. They have more children so that at least some of them will make it to adulthood. Basic survival.

    More children also means more help on the farm which translates to a better livelihood for the whole family. We aren’t talking about a quest for big screen TVs or hummers here, but things like clothing, adequte food, etc. Basic survival.

    Lastly, children, particularly sons are means of survival for the elderly. The children support the parents when the parents are no longer able to work due to age. Since these countries are poor one child can not do it all so people hope for several children. Basic survival.

  10. But Soylent Green is a *movie*…as in *fiction*…as in *entertainment*. What someone could conceive of as an entertaining worst-case situation in an overpopulated world is hardly an indication of what’s likely to happen in reality.

  11. ^Neither is your scenerio buzzard. Please tell us with all the climate trouble and overpopulation and species collapse that it’s about to come, how that large amount of entropy can turn out into a small amount of human chaos…

    Especially when you factor in religious extremists.

    This is what was the argument the movie was trying to make. Not that that *specific* version would happen.

    Can you tell I just fucking watched it! Holy FUCK!….

    Google has it here:

    The scoops are on their way…


  12. Hi Buzzard.

    It has been a centuries long tradition in the arts to present commentary about current and future issues in entertainment. I do think that most people are aware that the movie Soylent Green is fiction, is entertainment, and is not a documentary. I think you were aware of this and that you were aware of the point in my first sentence.

    I am getting the impression that you are playing at being deliberately obtuse and at being a “devil’s advocate” as a means of producing enjoyable conversations.

    As I have written before, I come to blog to relax. If I don’t respond to all of your comments please know that this is the reason why I am not doing so and that I am not snubbing you.

    Please also know that you are fully welcome here.

  13. PW, I’m afraid I don’t see where in my posts I’ve presented a “scenerio.” To be clear, I do not think that the world’s population can continue to increase and increase and everything will remain hunky-dory. Limited resources, and conflicts over those resources, are likely to make everything very non-hunky-dory. I simply sought (and still seek) to understand beforewisdom’s reasoning behind the idea that human life would be devalued in an overpopulated world.

    I am not being deliberately obtuse, nor am I playing devil’s advocate. Nor am I even trying to argue with you, so I’m a bit befuddled about what I did to deserve the “It’s so obvious that I shouldn’t have to tell you” sort of response.

    A really good book, if anybody’s interested, that addresses these sorts of issues better than I ever could is “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey Sachs. He talks pretty thoroughly about why, exactly, life sucks in various poor countries, and how things get better in various less-poor countries. He mentions the impact of things I mentioned above: access to transport, trade, and communication. And he does a lot to counter the myth that living off the land as a subsistence farmer in a remote village is “the good life,” or that it is vastly preferable to, say, working in a sweatshop in a big crowded city.

  14. Buzzard… the world is LIMITED. Unrestricted population growth means that eventually, if we haven’t already (a large percentage of the world’s pop. lives in hunger), we’ll run out of Earth’s resources.
    Even in developed countries like the US where we have transportation, etc, we still have people living less than ideal lives- near half of all African American children in the US are chronically hungry, for example. We shouldn’t have more people than we can sustain comfortably.

  15. Dag, from Buzzard’s earlier comment I think she understands that continued population growth will translate into poorer quality of life for more people. She was curious as to why I believe that a larger population would translate into people valuing human life less. My answer to that is the more of something there is, the less it is valued. As resources shrink people will become more willing to cross more lines of decency at the expense of others to obtain what they need and what they want. Those with the resources to give out will realize that they have more power and that power will corrupt the level of behavior they give to other human beings.

    Buzzard, I think we are suffering from garbled signals.

    I believe you when you say it is not your intent to come across as picayune, but that is not the way it looks once your comments get pasted here. There are different levels of conversation for different situations. As I move from one situation to another I shift gears. I’m not going to talk the same way I do at work once I leave work and head to a cocktail party. I know that isn’t clear and I wish I could explain it better, but I can’t.

    As I wrote before, you welcome here, but if I don’t answer some of your questions please know I am not snubbing you. I come to my blog to relax and possibly to have coffee house level conversations.

  16. It just seems strange to me that you write a post about a complex social issue that admits multiple points of view, but then you don’t want to talk about it. Yes, I get that it’s your blog and you can do whatever the hell you want, but it seems to me that if you’re hoping to inspire dialogue at the level of “Look at the horsies,” maybe you should stick to posting about horsies.

  17. OOOH! The horsies are so peeeerty! Soylent green has some perty horsie pics…


    And I’m not trying to attack you personally Buzzard, it’s more that I’m just tired of discussing things in this fashion. Talking with strangers on a multi user internet discussion board like VP is fun, but wastes a lot of time, and the grand scheme of things just makes one bitter, agitated, and unproductive. It’s something that me, and I believe beforewisdom realize is a problem in our (real world) lives, and we just want a place where we can talk and relax and have our ideas expressed with out having to defend every single little thing…much unlike VP.

    That being said:

    On the complex social issue front I pretty much agree with beforewisdom… I would like to add that everyone who is posting on this blog is pretty much valued in our society.

    Whose not represented in this posting are the millions of people living in inner city poverty. How much are their lives valued? How much do the cops and people in power value their lives? I have a good friend who is a prominent proponent of the rights of the homeless. I read a few months ago that he was reporting how in San Fransisco the cops on the order of the mayor were throwing homeless person’s tents and all their possessions along with the tents in the trash just because they were “unsightly”…and legally they were not in a place they were supposed to be…even though they were “tolerated” there before for quite a while. Thing was there was no place they could have gone.

    That’s basically the middle class equivalent of someone burning your house down, because you are unsightly and unwanted. They tolerated you for a time, but recently enacted an old law that said unsightly people like you don’t deserve a place to live amongst good decent (rich) folk.

    Now imagine the same attitudes our society has but placed in a situation of strained resources. How much will the poor’s lives be valued then?

    How much will your middle class life be valued then?

    Both the poor and the middle class have never been “entitled” to as much as the rich, in all of our human history… So when push comes to shove, and the last good crops can be harvested out of our rapidly becoming barren soil, who do you think will be “entitled” to them?

    How much access to lines of trade will we have when the oil runs out? (There have been estimates (according to my sweetie) that oil peak occurred in 2006…) Even the rich will be languishing in places.

    And if we continue to burn coal (which we will, to satiate the incredible “need” the rich have towards things they are “entitled” to), by the time that runs out the green house gas emissions will be enough to completely destroy the climate as we know it.

    My father may be a fucked up asshole bastard misogynist turd (amongst other things), but he is very good (tournament level) at playing chess. One of the (good) things he taught me, is you always have to thing several moves ahead if you ever want to win.


  18. Interesting typo.

    One of my problems as a writer is that I always drop words out. I can read over what I wrote and still miss seeing it. It usually takes me going away to do something else and then coming back to notice my errors. Otherwise, my brain will just fill in what is there, eventhough it isn’t there to be seen.

    It did the same thing with your post. I saw it the way you intended to write it, but did not.

  19. That is why writers invented the occupation of editors.

    Don’t let it discourage you from writing. Usually when I write something I hammer it out too fast anyways… Time is a good thing.

    And you’ve seen this before? I always thought it was interesting, even though it’s not entirely true…

    Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

    Probably it was too easy not to miss because I only screwed up 1 letter in the word…


  20. I don’t let it discourage me.

    I just try to avoid looking at anything I write on the internet once it is posted and uneditable. It takes several proof readings for me to get it right. My brain will put in what is supposed to be there, so I don’t see that it is not there.

    Usually it is not a big deal, but every now and then you run into some childish sod who doesn’t like what you have to say, who will appoint himself temporary master grammarian and try to ridicule you based on that.

    BFD ( big fucking deal ). Most of those people criticize how people say something because they don’t have anything to say themselves, they don’t like your thoughts and they have no other way to counter.

  21. I see typos (unless they’re mine), but it’s usually pretty obvious what someone is trying to say. It does make me chuckle, however, to find a typo in the writing of people who are in the habit of pointing out other people’s typos! :o)

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