The junk science behind the anti-birth movement

Harry and Meghan’s two-child pledge is based on some seriously dodgy assumptions.

James Woudhuysen

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have committed to having a maximum of two children because of the damage that having too many children apparently causes the planet. The couple is not alone. Climate activists in the BirthStrike movement have vowed to have no children at all until governments get a handle on climate change. In fact, for a long time now, neo-Malthusians and eco-puritans have opposed childbirth on environmental grounds.

Their argument against childbirth goes like this: climate change is caused by man-made CO2. People consume things over their lifetimes, and, in the process, create more CO2. More people means more CO2, therefore more people can only be a bad thing. The broadminded among us might think that society contains more than just individual consumers. But once environmentalists accepted this kind of kindergarten logic, it was only a matter of time before they began to calculate just how much CO2 each new child is to blame for.

At Oregon State University, statistician Paul Murtaugh and oceanographer Michael Schlax produced one of the most widely cited and influential papers on the link between childbirth and climate change. It estimates the extra emissions created by the average individual when they have children. Importantly, it factors in not just the CO2 associated with each new child’s birth, but also the CO2 associated with that child’s descendants. The basic premise is that ‘a person is responsible for the carbon emissions of his descendants’. The authors qualify this by weighting each descendant by their relatedness to that person. According to the researchers’ methodology, ‘a mother and father are each responsible for half of the emissions of their offspring, and a quarter of the emissions of their grandchildren’. The inevitable conclusion is that, ‘The summed emissions of a person’s descendants… may far exceed the lifetime emissions produced by the original parent’.

The study looks as far forward as the year 2400. It factors in current and future fertility rates, rates of mortality, and CO2 per head – as estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Personal Emissions Calculator. It concludes that while right-on, environmental changes to lifestyle ‘must propagate through future generations in order to be fully effective’, an American woman could, by adopting such changes, only save 486 US tons of CO2 emissions in her lifetime. By contrast, were she to have two children, she would add more than 18,000 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere after her death.

The problems with this approach are clear. First, the potential development of carbon-capture technologies or carbon-neutral energy is completely overlooked – even by 2400, four centuries from now, the study expects us to be using the same production methods. Secondly, the methodology is a form of double-counting: parents are not only held ‘responsible’ for their own emissions, but also for the emissions of each of their children and their children’s descendants. And finally, how useful is it to calculate average emissions when we live in a society where some take the Clapham Omnibus while the likes of Prince Harry and his offspring will fly by private jet?

In 2017, an anti-natalist paper from the Centre for Sustainability Studies in Lund, Sweden also made headlines. Researchers Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas repeat the flawed Oregon methodology. Their main concern is with educating adolescents, who ‘can act as a catalyst to change their household’s behaviour’. They complain that current textbooks ‘overwhelmingly focus on moderate or low-impact actions’.

Again, the researchers’ framework is entirely personal. Technological solutions or inequality don’t feature. They conclude that when it comes to lowering our personal emissions of CO2, having one fewer child beats, by a country mile, even drastic actions like giving up all car travel (including in electric vehicles) and meat. According to their calculations, as an average per year, in developed countries, having one fewer child saves 58.6 metric tons of greenhouse gases; eschewing cars, just 2.4 tons; avoiding a return transatlantic flight,1.6 tons; and eating a plant-based diet, 0.8 tons. The researchers call for the Western world to ‘improve existing educational and communication structures’ to match this reality – in other words, to indoctrinate teenagers at school to have as few children as possible in later life.

These two widely cited papers make up much of the pseudoscience behind today’s neo-Malthusian movements. They discount the possibility of technological solutions, ignore economic inequalities and the fact that there is more to the economy than just consumption. Indeed, they echo Margaret Thatcher’s famous statement that there is ‘no such thing’ as society: that there is only ‘the acts of individuals and families’. And like Thatcher, they are anti-human and reactionary. Instead of arguing for technological progress, the researchers would prefer to indoctrinate the young – who, ideally, can also be co-opted to tell their parents how to behave.

In fact, there is even something of the Old Testament about this movement. In terms of CO2 emissions, they indict the ‘iniquity of fathers’ (and mothers). If these neo-Malthusians have their way, every child, ‘to the third and fourth generation’ and beyond, will grow up regretting their parents’ decision to have them.

James Woudhuysen is visiting professor of forecasting and innovation at London South Bank University. He is also editor of Big Potatoes: the London Manifesto for Innovation. Read his blog here.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Jonathan Swift

21st August 2019 at 8:15 pm

Without CO2 plant will die.
Dying plants are and for the environment.

Over-reactions are almost always bad policy!
Doing nothing is frequently better than doing the wrong something!

Jonathan Swift

21st August 2019 at 8:17 pm

autocorrect is bad on sites that don’t allow edits of posts!
“and” = “bad” above!

Mark Pawelek

17th August 2019 at 11:55 am

There’s no solid evidence CO2 causes climate warming. No scientific paper ever showed a signal for CO2-induced climate warming. The evidence against CO2 is all circumstantial and modeled.

In fact, CO2 is good for the planet. CO2 is plant food. Extra CO2 causes nature to thrive, producing global greening.

Posing population control as a climate solution shows climate alarmists’ real agenda. I always know alarmists cared nothing for the planet they say they care about; as their loony energy non-solutions make clear.

Margaret Craigie

13th August 2019 at 12:22 am

Capetown ran out of water last summer. My own country has a housing crisis. There are millions of refugees worldwide because of crop failure. Adding more people to the mix won’t solve any of these problems.

And while it is convenient to partially blame royals (it’s a good thing they’re not planning a big brood), not to mention celebrities, fertile Africans or resource guzzling Westerners, the question should always be, “What can I do to improve things?”

By far the most effective answer is by reducing the number of children we have. (This is so even if the calculations are restricted to our own children, and not our descendants up to 2400, there’d still be a saving of 30 tonnes of CO2 per year, per child, for the length of what their life would have been.) Future technologies are all very well, but they are exactly that – not invented yet – and we need to take responsibility now.

Jane 70

13th August 2019 at 5:42 am

Spot on; a more succinct version of my previous comments.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 7:16 am

It’s hogwash, Jane. We’re in the Last Days, and environmental concerns are a distraction, not to mention the way they’re planning to totalitarianize us.

The diversity-communists are planning to use 5g as a way to control every aspect of our lives, and our energy usage will be….anyway, check out what the corbett report has to say about 5g andvthe climate-hoax. Environmentalism has long been subsumed by the diversity-communists.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 7:19 am

Jim Lawrie

12th August 2019 at 9:49 pm

Well into their old age the birthstrike men could cross that line picketed by the women.

Well into their 80’s and more, the forlorn females will weep for what might have been.

James Knight

12th August 2019 at 6:01 pm

You could also consider how much CO2 you pump out as a result of cycling to work which also means you need to consume much more food.

Winston Stanley

12th August 2019 at 6:18 pm

Do they ever stop and think about who is producing all the hot air with all the stuff they come out with. Boom boom.

Jane 70

12th August 2019 at 4:47 pm

Reply to Hana Jinks: Hana, we’ve agreed on various topics before, but not on this occasion.
Put aside your religious scruples and take the time to read the various articles on for example, The Centre for Biological Diversity’s site.
Experienced field biologists are reporting the results of their observations and their many years of training .They deal in facts, the implications of which you might not like.
Being rude about Peter Simmons’ analysis does you no favours and the his post contains neither lies nor demented ramblings.
Recall the persecution meted out to the pioneers who had the temerity to discover, and to prove, that the earth orbits the sun: Copernicus was obliged to be economical with the truth and Galileo was placed under house arrest.
The hapless Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for daring to propose the existence of many worlds.
A century ago, it was widely assumed that we women did not possess the requisite intellectual and emotional capacities to be entrusted with the right to vote.
Now we see similar moves to deride, dismiss and ostracise those of us, scientists and lay people alike, who are seriously concerned about human population pressure and its consequences.
Not having any religious beliefs, I prefer to think freely ,unencumbered by dogmas and group think.
The Overton Window needs to be opened.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 5:31 pm

I’m a man, Jane. My wife is (Korean) Jinki-Ja, and our daughter is Hana. I’m more than happy to agree or disagree with anyone from a position of respect, but have zero-tolerance towards outright liars like Bleater Dimmons that think an insult is the appropriate way to address me.

It horrifies to think that there are people around as crazy and irrational as my beloved wife that are allowed to vote. (Jokes).

All of us would prefer a clean world. None of us like environmental damage. There are so many biologists with an ideological-bent, and so many studies performed by raving leftists that receive acknowledgement as being valid. (I haven’t read the thing you mentioned, just a general observation).

This vid outlines the genesis of the climate-hoax from around the 37min mark. It’s the second inbthe series, following on from “How big oil…”

It’s bad enough that Bleater Dimmons is a deluded liar.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 5:33 pm

Go check what Bleater Dimmons said on the Hiroshima story if you still aren’t convinced.

Jane 70

12th August 2019 at 6:15 pm

Apologies for the gender mistake Hana,but do read some of the articles on the site recommended.
One of the most basic threats to the living world’s flora and fauna is lack of space to breed, feed and flourish, whether on land, in the oceans and rivers or in the skies.
We humans are so successful that we occupy and exploit ever more space: result, human/ non- human conflicts- outcomes a no- brainer; genetic bottlenecks; morbidity- loss of resilience; colonisation by invasive pest species which flourish in habitats modified by human activities; commodification of flora and fauna for commercial and medical interests.
As we continue to multiply and adapt and modify more and more of the world’s resources, there will be less and less left for other creatures.
Do you want to see an overcrowded monoculture, with a few token conservation areas left?
As the late great Tom Lehrer wrote: ‘ fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly’: they need enough space to do so.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 10:28 pm

I first joined here as a young Asian lady named Anna Bortion. No need to apologise. I agree with everything that you say about the environment. I just don’t like seeing commies like Bleater Dimmons hijack the issue as a way to propagate the climate-hoax. If responsible people were in charge, then the environment wouldn’t be an issue, but as it is, we are governed by the types of people that couldn’t care less, for all the posturing they make. They only serve themselves and business. This isn’t gonna change, and anyway, l fully expect Donald Trump Jr to be the last president of the USA, and during his time in office see the return of Christ and the ushering in of the millennial age.

What were you saying about the Overton window?

gershwin gentile

12th August 2019 at 3:45 pm

Once again, will ****** do an article about how Internet Streaming Services making up the same amount of C02 admissions as air travel?

Doubt that would go down to well with the “Woke in the ‘rents basement” generation

Frank Sutton

12th August 2019 at 3:21 pm

People who would regard their children as pollutants are probably not fit to be parents.

gershwin gentile

12th August 2019 at 2:36 pm

Once again, will Spiked do an article about how Internet Streaming Services making up the same amount of C02 admissions as air travel?

Doubt that would go down to well with the “Woke in the ‘rents basement” generation.

Martin Bishop

12th August 2019 at 2:15 pm

If I limit the number of guests to my wedding because of finite resources, does that make me anti-guest? Wedding Malthusian?

Jerry Owen

12th August 2019 at 1:04 pm

And did they calculate how much of the C02 produced is taken in by the sea and plants, and how much oxygen is produced by plants for mankind to breathe in ?

Aidan Condie

12th August 2019 at 4:08 pm

Spot on Jerry,
CO2 is 5% of greenhouse gases; dominated by water vapour (90%) as I expect you know.
CO2 is generated 57% by oceans, 38% by biomass and 5% from humans.

Aidan Condie

12th August 2019 at 12:59 pm

Mankind, with all it’s industry, transport, housing, and breathing is responsible for one quarter of one percent of greenhouse gases. Further the CO2 we generate is subject to the law of diminishing returns. So in terms of changing the climate there is not much we can do.

But the upside to all this nonsense is that, if they (eco warriors) have fewer or no children, then they will hugely reduce in proportion to the rest of the population. Of course if they were really public spirited they would reduce their breathing now; save a lot of trouble.

christopher barnard

12th August 2019 at 12:43 pm

This is probably just another case of do as I say, not as I do posturing by some middle class types, the people who tell us to consume less to save the planet or to live in diverse areas.

Let’s hope the few who do practice what they preach aren’t demanding that the taxpayers fund their NHS fertility treatment in a few years time.

L Strange

12th August 2019 at 12:24 pm

I call BS on Harry and Meghan:

1. Not wishing to be unkind, but time is not on her side anyway.
2. Most Westerners, if they have a family, have no more than two.
3. If they were sincere in their professed beliefs, why have any children at all? Or why not stick with the one they have? Why plan on having another?

In other words, their decision is based on nothing more than the completely normal selfish (in the sense of personal to them) reasons that pretty much everyone else uses to make such choices. But it seems that they want such ordinariness to be presented, and regarded, as extraordinary and ‘special’ when they do it. Pathetically pointless pair – they’ve become addicted to pose.

JPM Culligan

12th August 2019 at 11:39 am

Taken to its logical conclusion, isn’t this just another apocalyptic suicide cult?

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:02 am

Oh dear, two steps forward three back appears to be the norm here. But I guess it’s good to see recycling is encouraged, even if it is the same old excuses and denials that have bedevilled progress for centuries.
The Club of Rome published a report in 1972 @Limits to Growth’ and ever since there have been attacks on it as Malthusian, even from those without any idea who Malthus was. Eugenics is thrown about as an insult by some who have the attitude that anything humans do is good, and the human species of primate is so very special and more important than all other species put together, that any suggestion of curtailing our first level desires is an attack on freedom and a devilish plot to destroy humanity. Repeated here in this ill-thought-out article and comments.
Limits to Growth concluded among other things that Global Food per capita will reach a peak around 2020, followed by a rapid decline. We are nearly there, so it would help if we assessed how accurate this forecast was.
It took 127 years for the world population to double from one billion to two. By contrast, it took only 47 years, from 1927 to 1974, to double from two billion to four. Since 1960, world population has grown by about one billion every 13 years.
In my lifetime it’s abundantly clear the world has got massively more crowded. Some born since the 60s might be surprised to learn that back then accomodation in London was not only easy to find but by today’s prices astonishingly cheap. I rented a mansion flat in North London in the late sixties with answerphone, five bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and spare toilet, for £109 a quarter [that’s three months], or about, £36 a month or £9 a week. Flats of all sizes were readily available, and we moved several times in the sixties without a problem.
Back then there was constant talk of the grain mountains that Europe, the US and Canada had, so much grain it was stored rather than fed to people. When a famine erupted somewhere, usually Africa due to climate, food was shipped there and people fed. There are no such grain mountains now. We have reached a population size that consumes all the food the agricultural system can supply even with all the inputs it now uses to try to boost production. Starvation is happening right now and is a common thing. Babies are the worse affected, being born to starve where women lack the resources to control their fertility and birthrate.
Malthusian? Just intelligence to understand that homo sapiuens has been too successful, not only controlling or eliminating diseases that once reduced numbers, but saving lives with high tech medical interventions where once they would not have been saved. At the same time, medicine has done all it can to increasde fertility for some and cure infertility for others, even producing embryos in test tubes to ensure every human ego could be satisfied with replicating thier DNA. No surprise the rate of increase has increased and the human species is now occupying more and more of the land available, which is a small part of the landmass, since we can only exist and grow food in lowlying areas, mountains aren’t available to us, and neither is the sea, which covers two thirds of the planet’s surface area. The word for this is finitel finite space, finite resources, but not finite numbers. The next word you need to consider is unsustainable. We have reached the poijt where our numbers are unsustainable, that it, they can’t continue to rise any more, there simply isn’t enough ability to produce more food, and wars are no longer a control. Babies are being born in devastated war zones, to suffer and die. Not that that concerns the comfortably numb population of rich countries which is where the ignorance of dismissing these concerns as Malthusian exists among some comfortably numb members of a privileged rich society.
We live in a time when thousands of species are going extinct every year! Read that again, it’s a horrifying fact that few seem to be aware of. Sustainability is totally dependent on the biosphere, that collection of plants and animals that exists in inter-dependancy, all needed the others to survive and prosper, the loss of one species reverberating out to affect dozens if not hundreds of others dependent on it in some way. Loss of insect species affects reptiles and birds that feed on that species, the loss of which affects others and so on. It’s an interlinked evolutionary survival of the fittest, constantly producing species better able to survive. But evolution takes time, and that is something we have little of, it can’t compensate for extinctions fast enough. At some point the sheer loss of so many species will cause a collapse of the ecosystem, there won’t be sufficient diversity to sustain it, and a mass die-off will result. Anyone imagining the one species unaffected by this is homo sapiens is living in a fools paradise of igrorance, failing to understand how we too depend on all others for out exiatnce. Our food is grown with the assistance of soil microbes which make nutrients available for plant takeup, yet we destroy them with sprays aimed at species we consider ‘pests’, failing to understand the law of diminishing returns. And most are so divorced from the natural world now, that their ability to understand the connections is severely limited. They continue to trash the planet, dump plastic in the oceans, poison wildlife and think we can all live on a world covered in concrete with spaceships zooming off to colonise distant stars where similar concrete worlds will develop before making star wars with each other. And you claim that environmentalists are deranged? Anyone who thinks food can be produced out of thin air f we only invent the new tech to do it is living in a comicbook land of makebelieve.
Poor Winston Stanley is terminally confused, perpetual growth of population or anything else is ridiculous. When uncontrolled growth happens inside out bodies we call it cancer and look for ways to stop it before it kills our body. Uncontrolled growth of humans with the concomitant destruction our pilaging the natural world causes is the cancer that threatens to kill the Earth, a body like no other, but no more complex than the inner working of our bodies; our guts contain billions of microbial life without which we could not digest the food we eat. Our skin has similar populations of microscopic secies which digest pathogens that cause disease and keep our skin healthy. Some think regualar dosing with chemicals produced by the chemical industry which persuades with advertising they are necessary to stay ‘healthy’ that ‘clean’ is everything, that we are so artificial we aren’t like all other natural species. It’s been stated that most houses in the ‘developed’ world have a cocktail of dangerous chemicals under the sink that are slowly poisoning the occupants, sold to the gullible as vital aids to living a modern life. We are supereme con artists, we con each other constantly, it’s though admirable to think up a system of extracing money form others of our own species by selloing things they don’t need and didn’t previously know they wanted.
This spurious screed is doing the same thing; selling the notion that we should keep on reproducing without controls and that somehow the finite plantet will expand to accomodate all of us, the biosphere will likewise exp-and to feed us, and we can complacently continue to ravage and destroy what was once a balanced healthy environment. Snake oil salesmen would be lost in admiration at the sheer stupidity and lack of logic, and astonished that so many are still all too willing to buy it.

Martin Bishop

12th August 2019 at 1:57 pm

If I limit the number of guests to my wedding because of finite resources, does that make me anti-guest? Wedding Malthusian?

Martin Bishop

12th August 2019 at 2:18 pm

I think this all boils down to a bunch of children who don’t want to take responsibility. They wasn’t some technological mummy and daddy to sort it out for them.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:13 pm

Bleater Dimmons.

The club of Rome is climate-hoax central, and eugenics actually is one of the main reasons behind it, with your own Phil the Greek being one of the architects. You can bleat on and virtue-signal as much as you want, but pathetic and self-righteous humanists like you end up being sport.

Danny Rees

12th August 2019 at 10:58 am

If these parasites are really concerned about their impact on the environment they would stop flying everywhere and get out of their massive palaces which take a massive amount of fossil fuels to heat and run their electric.

If they really cared about social issues they would abdicate their position and turn their palaces and other huge homes over to the homeless and their wealth would be redistributed to the poor.

If they really cared about mental health issues they would turn their wealth over to people with mental health issues who cannot work and who’ve had their benefits cuts or stopped by the government.

They are little more than a drain on the taxpayer and their prostrating over social justice issues is hugely hypocritical.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:23 am

Calm down Danny, they are independantly wealthy and own all the houses they heat, just like all the other obscenely rich that you would doubtless like to emulate. Gobbing off about royals is the easy way of making yourself feel you have something to say. Tax payers have nothing to do with it, and anyway, if what you claim were remotely true, surely deciding not to have ten kids as was common for European royalty once is a good thing, lessw of the bastards to support with tax?

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:16 pm

Bleater Dimmons.

Condescension towards Danny Rees is the quickest way to let us know how wonderful you think you are.

Martin Bishop

12th August 2019 at 10:52 am

In a nutshell, it’s pseudoscience because they aren’t taking into account potential technological advances that no one knows will be possible or not?

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:26 am

Well you certainly don’t, but your touching faith in technology doesn’t bear scrutiny, we’re running out of land, the seas are full of plastic to such an extent that every piece of fish you eat is laced with microplastics as most likely are you now. The brains of babies living in cities have been found containing micro plastics, as also the liver and other organs. It doesn’t decompose as do organic materials, just breaks up into ever small pieces. Blind faith in someone coming up with a solution is naive and simplistic.

Martin Bishop

12th August 2019 at 12:27 pm

Peter, you missed the question mark at the end of my sentence. It was meant to highlight the irony of the title of the article.

Frank Sutton

12th August 2019 at 10:47 am

Taking the BirthStrikers’ notion to its logical conclusion. the greatest eco-criminals of all time were Adam and Eve!

Anne Wareham

12th August 2019 at 10:08 am

Technology advancing seems to be an argument against doing anything much apart from waiting for that. (unless you’re the technician) So let’s stop bothering about it all……

Colin Mcdonald

12th August 2019 at 10:07 am

Your carbon footprint is mainly determined by your income, those who choose not to have children still generally have the same income. They merely spend their income differently, they buy more stuff that they don’t need, have more interesting holidays… Not many average income families go on long haul holidays. Only when the kids themselves are earning themselves will the overall emissions increase, so the Greens are castigating us not for increasing emissions now but for something that will happen 20years in the future. Whilst at the same time saying that a Green New Deal would get emissions to zero, 15years before that. Or perhaps they don’t believe their own bloviating shite.
In any case, even supposing that do crater the birth rate further, our unborn babies will be be replaced by ones from Africa and Asia, cheered on by the multicultural left so the net impact will be minimal.

Stephen J

12th August 2019 at 10:04 am

The writer seems to have fallen into the same trap as the greenies.

C02 is not a poison, it is responsible for most life on the planet.

L Strange

12th August 2019 at 12:09 pm

Quite. The slight increase in CO2 has increased the world’s amount of vegetation by some 14% from 30 years ago. That’s naturally higher crop-yields, an increase in grasslands and , in time, more forestry and jungle.

It’s been called Global Greening. Doesn’t get mentioned much – too awkward.

William Murphy

12th August 2019 at 7:50 am

You can judge the value of these long term projections by thinking backwards. Imagine a scientist in 1938 telling us about our problems in 2019. That is the equivalent of someone today pontificating about the climate in 2100. Of course, in the 1930s there was “scientific” concern that by today the British population would have dropped to around 11 million. George Orwell noted in one of his wartime letters how the refugee Poles had already done their bit towards solving our population crisis. Obviously nothing has changed. Now imagine an earnest scientist in 1638 lecturing the population on the dreadful impact of their consumption habits on the world of 2019.

Claire D

12th August 2019 at 7:40 am

Many of these studies and methodologies are reductionist eco-babble.

As has been said before about the Birthstrikers it’s probably for the best that they don’t procreate, but I think it’s highly likely that at least one half of each couple will change their minds before it’s too late and have children after all. They are just being young and priggish, as well as trying to exert moral pressure on society and the Government.

Tim Hare

12th August 2019 at 8:57 am

“young and priggish”
But not patronising. They are giving their reasons why they do not want more children and all you can do in response is to deride them. They have shown more integrity than you have in the discussion.

Claire D

12th August 2019 at 10:00 am

I was expecting you to jump on me Tim and here you are.

In answer to your reply : On the contrary they have not shown integrity at all. As Winston points out so comprehensively below their so called ‘ integrity ‘ is a pose, a lie in fact.

Claire D

12th August 2019 at 10:04 am

Which is what makes them prigs.

Claire D

12th August 2019 at 10:24 am

As for me being patronising, some people deserve it.

Tim Hare

12th August 2019 at 10:37 am

Why shouldn’t you be ‘jumped on’ when you resort to patronising those who don’t want children rather than present arguments in opposition to theirs?

Integrity is when you act according to the way you really think. They are doing exactly that. Neither you or Winston have presented a conclusive case for maintaining a higher birthrate. You have both resorted to put downs and insults of your opposition which is a sure sign that you do not have a valid argument for your own position.

The question needs to be put to you as well. Why does it matter to you if the human race democratically decides that it does not want to continue to procreate? You pretend to be arguing against those who do not want children but you are unable to say why.

Tim Hare

12th August 2019 at 11:19 am

“As for me being patronising, some people deserve it.”

So you won’t mind if you deserve it.

Claire D

12th August 2019 at 12:28 pm


First of all you assume I have a position on whether people ‘ought’ to procreate or not, I don’t. People can do what they like, have children or not have children, I don’t care, but like a great many others I dislike the hypocrisy of both the rich and famous and the Birthstrikers and their cant and will call it out when given the chance.

Jane 70

12th August 2019 at 3:25 pm

Claire,, this is insulting. It is not “ reductionist eco-babble” to dwell on the consequences of human population pressure, as many of us have been doing since the great U- turn, when, owing to the influence of religious lobbies and the rise of politically correct rights- based dogma, it was decided that human population growth could no longer be acceptably considered as having any effect on the health of the world which supports us all

To denounce population campaigners as priggish and lacking in integrity is insulting and unworthy.

I urge you to reconsider Peter Simmons’ excellent and comprehensive comment and to visit the Centre for Biological Diversity’s site, The Overpopulation Project site and Bill Ryerson’s writings.

For many years I’ve watched in dismay, as ever more formerly common species disappear, as our cities, roads and skies become ever more crowded, as resource shortages, land and water conflicts, despoliation of wildernesses, mass migration and mass tourism take their toll.

Averring that the pressure of human numbers should never be questioned or challenged, that technology and liberalism ensure that more people mean more solutions, that we can tinker with recycling, renewables, energy efficiency and carbon reduction , while placing absolutely no limits on human activities is the fashionable attempt to square the environmental circle.

Those of us who are convinced of the validity of I=P*A*T, are denounced as dangerous heretics, neo- malthusians, eco-fascists, miserabilists, hypocrites and poseurs. Not so.

Consider the not so distant advent of rapidly developing automation and AI, and their convergence with the rapid increase in our numbers: what lies ahead?

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:23 pm

Jane 70.

Bleater Dimmons appears to be out of his mind, so I’m not sure how you can see his ppst as anything other than demented ramblings and lies. God has provided all of the resources necessary for us to have as many kids as we like, and it isn’t His fault that the greedy establishment is exploiting this for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Claire D

13th August 2019 at 5:23 am

I agree, my comment was a bit impatient yesterday, not helpful.
I recognise the argument in the ecology movements and I am sure they are well meaning, perhaps they will make a difference. As I have already said I don’t have a problem with people deciding not to have children, whether that’s for altruistic reasons or otherwise.
Unfortunately the Birthstrikers do not come across as altruistic, instead they come across as self-righteous and false. I think their intention is to put moral pressure on both the Government and society. To ‘ strike ‘ is after all a protest, to take a stand, withhold your labour (unintended pun there) and it does’nt last, it is intended to achieve what the strikers demand, in this case a completely unrealistic approach to the problem of climate change from the Government.

As far as I know there are two sides to the climate change debate :
1. It’s human’s fault.
2. It’s naturally occurring.
I am optimistic and favour the latter, while at the same time being as personally responsible as I can reasonably be, in case I’m wrong and it’s the former.

Claire D

13th August 2019 at 5:55 am

With respect Peter Simmon’s analysis is not for me.

Jane 70

13th August 2019 at 5:50 am

Thanks for your reply Claire, and I do agree about the self righteousness which afflicts many of the latest crop of campaigners.
Oldies like me who have been trying to get the population message across for many years are equally exasperated by some of the fashionable antics and posturing; however, let’s hope that a more sober but nonetheless pressing campaign can bring results.

Hana Jinks

13th August 2019 at 7:29 am

Jane 70 .

God takes care of the birds. The green-nazi’s do a decent enough job keeping the worst exceeses of the environmental pillagers in line. Don’t worry about it, and set your heart on Heaven.

Winston Stanley

12th August 2019 at 4:41 am

People are evaluated in the radical environmentalist appraisal as just numbers doing harm to the planet. Human existence has no intrinsic value, it is just harmful. Reproduction is a sin and a curse. It is to be condemned and avoided, as a shame, and a dirty, guilty, base irrational lust.

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3)

None of that is new, Christianity made the same claim that sex and material possessions are to be condemned, the Manichean tedency to seek redemption in the “other, immaterial world”. Buddhism has the same nihilistic tendency to condemn human existence and instinct, with redemption in the return to undivided nothingness.

It is morality once again turned against human existence and instinct, the moral condemnation of humanity for simply existing. Human existence is evil now simply b/c it harms the planet. Western civiization is headed for a nihilistic catastrophe?

But why not go the whole hog with the nihilism, why stop halfway at human existence? And why make any evaluation of human existence? On what basis?

Meaning and value are human constructs, illusions projected from our subjecticity onto the outer world. Without humans there is no “meaning or value”, nothing matters. The planet is just atoms stuck together in the void.

What existence is there then that might be condemned? There are no terms in which to “condemn” an existence that is inherently meaningless and without value. It is not contingent on such concepts and they do not apply.

Humans exist and the planet exists, equally all atoms stuck together in the void and without any inherent meaning or value. So who cares, why not get on with a normal life and enjoy it?

The “condemnation” is an illusion, an error, a malfunction of subjective human evaluation, which evolved to further the instincts and instead has turned against them. Humans are then the strange animals that have learnt to despise themselves and to call that self-spite “good” and “wise”. Bizarre.

I am not suggesting that environmentalism is without merit or that it should be disregarded but it has openly taken a concerning turn when it advocates childlessness in the West and poverty and hunger, underdevelopment in the developing world, as good objectives, and when it discusses humans merely as a problem.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 8:55 am

They’re eugenicists at heart, and godless humanists that idolize themselves. Manicheanism isn’t any different to Buddhism in that it is yet another diabolical attempt at counterfeiting the Truth. You mischaracterize aspects of Christianity because you aren’t able to acknowledge the Spirit.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:07 am

You simply have no understanding of the complexity and should stick with issues you can understand. It’s nothing to do with morality but survival. Self appointed experts are ten a penny, they usually keep their ‘solutions’ to the pub where alcohol assists them in boosting credulity to idiot proportions.
PS I talk about immigration all the time, we need to reduce the population, only capitalism has need of a constantly expanding workforce to exploit, and capitalism is driving species extinction and climate change with its non-stop need for constant growth. But then, you are if nothing else a supporter of capitalism, and doubtless nurse a desire to become obscenely rich one day.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:09 am

Says someone lost in barely understood big words, and a simplistic belief in a sky bunny who looks after us.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:31 pm

Bleater Dimmons.

I actually think that you’ve probably usurped Gavviy Moldstoriy as the most overweening and superficial humanist that I’ve seen on here, so congrats for that.

Peter Simmons

12th August 2019 at 11:15 am

‘Meaning and value are human constructs, illusions projected from our subjecticity onto the outer world. Without humans there is no “meaning or value”, nothing matters. The planet is just atoms stuck together in the void.’
LOL, there speaks a member of a species of primate that got lucky and evolved an opposed thumb! Not, it would seem, an advanced brain capacity though. Before humans the world did not exist? Tell that to the fissils. We have been on this planet for a fraction of the time it has been habitable, long after life evolved by accident from a primeval soup, and from the look of it, due to exit shortly, from our own selfishness, narcissism and greed.

Jerry Owen

12th August 2019 at 1:13 pm

Peter Simmons
Your last two sentences.. don’t be so harsh on yourself !

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:02 pm

Peter Simmons.

I’d be expecting you to disappear head-first up your own arsehole at any second now.

Winston Stanley

12th August 2019 at 5:00 pm

“Not, it would seem, an advanced brain capacity though. Before humans the world did not exist?”

Pot, kettle, good to see you understood.

Winston Stanley

12th August 2019 at 1:59 am

BirthStrikers are Western moralistic poseurs who resort to the trappings of sanctity, pessimism and even nihilism to try to give a moralistic gloss to their sexual and political impotence in the face of industrial capitalism.

It is farcical to suggest that there is a problem with Westerners having too many kids, the birth rate has collapsed. The British birth rate is 1.7 kid per woman, an 85% replacement rate, which means that the number of births drops to 72% over two generations, to 61% over three and to 52% over four generations. British births are in any case in a tailspin and will fall by half over four generations.

The UK population continues to grow solely b/c of mass immigration to expand the workforce and to maintain the profitability of the capitalist system. (And the UK birth rate is as high as 1.7 only b/c most migrant workers are of child-bearing age and they tend to have a higher birth rate, otherwise it would be maybe 1.3.) That adds a lot of carbon production to Britain. If environmentalists were really concerned about the size of the human population then they would focus on that, but they do not b/c they are not sincere.

They just want to appear to be “moral” and “concerned” and “self-sacrificing.” It is a moral pose. They would never talk about immigration b/c that would make them look “evil”, they would break a social taboo and they would be stigmatised and cast out. It is a much more rewarding path for them to talk nonsense about the British birth rate. Sheer posers.

The state deliberately expands the population simply to expand the workforce and the domestic market and to maintain the profit-based capitalist economic system, which always has to expand to survive, especially in these times of zero productivity growth.

Net immigration to the UK between 2010, when Cameron was elected, and 2018 was 2,326,000. Actual immigration during that period, not substracting emigration from the UK, was 5,311,000. With a yearly average of around 590,111, the figure for the ten year period ending 2019 is likely to be around 5,901,111.

Six million have been added to the British population by mass immigration of migrant workers over the last decade and Boris openly and fully intends to continue that path. That is a lot of carbon added. One would think that environmentalists who feign concern about the size of the human population and carbon production in Britain would talk about that, but no.

Instead they adopt moralistic trappings to try to make themselves look “good and holy”, like simplicity, humility, celibacy and self-sacrifice, while feigning concern for the future of the entire planet. It is a joke and a pretence intended to make themselves look “good” in their own eyes and in the eyes of other people. They are fully aware of that but they try not to think about it and they hope that the rest of us “lesser, selfish and sinful” people will not spot it.

Tim Hare

12th August 2019 at 6:36 am

But you feign concern for the continuation of the human species without being able to say why that is necessarily a good thing. All you are able to do is deride those who believe that it is better to save the planet.

Whether their actions are well-intentioned or not might be arguable but so might your intent to protect the human species from extinction. If they are able to influence enough people to democratically choose not to have children then why should that bother you? Surely you believe in democracy and a society which is able to determine its own direction but it seems that maintaining the birth rate is much more important to you than this. It is much better to have a mature society which looks at its options and chooses accordingly than a society based on the fear of extinction which seems to be your motivation.

The real question for you is why a declining birth rate is such a bad thing in itself regardless of the arguments put forth for having fewer children. Unless you can objectively explain why the human species needs to continue then your derision can only be seen as a desperate attempt to protect some emotional need.

Winston Stanley

13th August 2019 at 8:13 pm

Tim, try to separate what I said from what you read into it.

“But you feign concern for the continuation of the human species without being able to say why that is necessarily a good thing.”

I never for a moment suggested that the continued existence of the human species requires a moral justification. Rather the tendency to moral evaluation evolved to further human existence and instincts, through the preservation of adaptive traits by natural selection. It is an aberration that that tendency should turn against human existence and instincts. Regulation of them is one thing, for rational reasons to the advantage of the human species, but the outright denial and hostility toward humans is another matter entirely, which is where the radical environmentalist tendency is headed, as you yourself allude.

Also, I never suggested that the British birth rate is important to me, let alone massively or overridingly important.

“Unless you can objectively explain why the human species needs to continue”

Existence is not rational and it has no objective justification, nor does it “need” one. We evolved the rational faculty, like the related evaluative faculty (or whatever that is exactly), to further our own existence and well-being, through the preservation of adaptive traits by natural selection. Existence is not “irrational” either, so much as non-rational. Existence has no objective rational or moral justification, those justification apply only within the overall scheme of the preservation and promotion of human existence and well-being. Any other take on it is an illusion and as you allude, can be wrapped up in a plain malfunction of the person and their understanding and use of the faculty, a use that turns against human existence and well-being. That is a sickness, b/c that is simply what “sickness” means.

The existence of the planet has no objective justification and neither does the existence of any species, including humans. Meaning and value are human constructs, nothing has any value or meaning outside of human schemas of interpretation and volition, which by definition are subjective and conditioned by human subjectivity. Meaning and value evolved as parts of human subjectivity, as adaptive traits, and they are ordered at root to human well-being and survival.

It is a category mistake to ask for a justification of human existence. It is no different to asking a cat to justify its existence; it would just look blankly at you, which is what humans would do b/c those concepts do not apply to existence itself. Nor do they “need” to.

Winston Stanley

13th August 2019 at 9:16 pm

The request for an “objective” justification for the continued existence of the human species is another quasi-religious tendency of the radical environmentalists. Human evaluation is subjective by definition and it is naturally ordered toward the continuance of human existence and the promotion of human well-being. The confusion of the subjective and the objective is the stuff of religion, of the anthropomorphic deity that reifies and regulates human subjectivity. It is also the stuff of quasi-religious Idealism, which is the same attempt at the reification of the subjective but without the anthropomorphic deity. Obviously as a dialectical materialist I reject all of that. Human evaluation, and rationality, are explained in their material genesis, their becoming in their material evolutionary context. The confusion of the subjective and the objective is the business of category mistakes, the attempt to apply concepts beyond their proper applicability. Like “why do colours sound like that?” “How is human existence rationally and morally justified?” They are nonsense questions. The present error is rooted in a lack of understanding of the material genesis of human subjectivity, its context, purpose and limit, and the conflation of the subjective with the objective. It is a confused and pre-modern immaterialist mistake.

Colin Mcdonald

12th August 2019 at 10:21 am

They are materialist, in the spiritual sense, as such they have no real abiding interest in a World beyond their own, either the next World or the one inhabited by their children. Their real passion is making and spending money, having a good time; surveys thay show that the childless are happier are taken as moral justification for not having children. Eco bollox enables them virtue signal their selfishness.

Tim Hare

12th August 2019 at 11:18 am

They have no interest in having children so why would they be interested in a world beyond their own life?
What is selfish about making money and having a good time? You think people have children for totally selfless reasons? They can be just as selfish and virtue signalling as anyone else.

Colin Mcdonald

12th August 2019 at 1:09 pm

I’ve no idea why people have children, but I struggle to see why you’d do it for selfish reasons. Perhaps you can enlighten me as too how my disposable income and free time increases with children. I’m not disputing that selfish people have children incidentally, only that you assert that having kids can be a selfish act. You’ll have less money and less leisure.
Of course you get a lot of satisfaction out of kids; bringing new life into the world and so on… I could bore you to tears. If you call this selfish behaviour, I suppose you could chuck every altruistic enterprise into that box too. Bill Gates feels happy about giving away 50 billion? Obviously he did it for selfish reasons. All those proud, happy parents. Selfish.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:51 pm

Timmy Threadbare.

Take it to Bleater Dimmons, Timmy.

Hana Jinks

12th August 2019 at 4:52 pm

Bleater Dimmons.


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