Linda & Richard Eyre: Can more babies save society?

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  • K Mchenry, IL
    Nov. 13, 2013 10:22 p.m.

    People should decide to have children between themselves. When you restrict like in China or encourage like in the former soviet countries you end up with a ridiculous number of children in state care. When you encourage all families to have one or two you have a hard time convincing their children to have more than 1 or 2 like in the case or South Korea or Japan and then have an aging population problem. A person walking up to a person with three children and calling then selfish is like a person calling the parent of an only lazy. It's peer pressure. And it's from government policy. Places with large birth rates will come to prominence and those with high elderly populations will have difficulty.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 18, 2013 5:36 p.m.

    "There is enough and to spare in the resources of the earth"

    Oh, well then I guess we should let Nevada have all the water it wants from Utah rivers/reservoirs. After all, there's plenty to spare, right?

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 1:04 p.m.

    Perhaps the Eyres could try a thought exercise: Picture a society living on a 50 acre island. It has fertile soil, springs for a constant water supply, sunshine for a steady energy supply. Say the population of the society is six people, say, three couples. Would the Eyres recommend that they have large families and many children? Certainly there might be some wunderkind in the group that could devise technologies to increase crop yields and make it possible to have a larger population, but it is clear that at some point the capacity of the island is maxed out (physically, there is only standing room for about a million people). Nor can you repeal the second law of thermodynamics; handling wastes is a substantial task.

    Like the island, the earth is a finite system. Those stunning Apollo photos of the blue marble in space drove that home. It's no accident that "Spaceship Earth" was a recurring metaphor in the 1960s environmental movement and one that informed the ZPG attitude that the Eyres decry. The planet is finite and limited and has a maximum carrying capacity for people. Increasing population has benefits, but also costs. The key is managing both.

  • RebeccaD Manspach, France, 00
    Oct. 17, 2013 7:20 a.m.

    I've thought about this extensively. If most people had only 0 or 1 or 2 children, society would not meet replacement rates. It is those outliers--the families who have more than 2 children, who are disproportionately contributing to a balanced population rate. And that's okay. To me it's wonderful that education and access give people more choices of how they want to live their lives, isn't it the ideal when it's more likely that the people who have many children are the ones who want them?

  • RebeccaD Manspach, France, 00
    Oct. 17, 2013 2:38 a.m.

    I don't believe that the Earth should be wantonly used, on the contrary it is our stewardship to to do well in it and with it. That said, I have concluded that material resources--water, clean air, fertile land, plants and animals, are not the only vital resources from humanity's perspective.
    Human values are resources themselves--trading and exchanging ideas while following a rule of law, by governing through the consent of the governed, by valuing and regarding human life and individual liberties are all resources too. Upholding those values, whether a family of 10 or 1 is just as important and should be a companion to good stewardship of the planet.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 16, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    @kiddsport – “Joeandrade and Tyler D:You're not listening.”

    Joeandrade addressed your point in his comment about replacement birth rate (which I agree with).

    And I am deeply concerned about all those same points but the way to address this demographic shift is not to outbreed the “undeveloped segments” it is to reduce the birthrates in those parts of the world. And there is one proven way to reduce birthrates and it is the only (ethical) way I know – educate young girls.

    You lost me on the rest. Sorry, but I put about as much stock in the Bible’s ability to solve current problems as I do… well, just about any other Bronze Age book. The people of that age did not have a clue how big the Earth was (or that it was round) so they couldn’t possibly know what its limits in terms of resources are.

    Looking to the Bible as a guide here is like calling a medieval doctor (whose go to treatment is to bleed the patient) into a modern emergency room expecting him to save lives.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 3:38 p.m.

    The gist of what the Eyres are saying is that technologically sophisticated societies (where there are extended senior years*) operate as pyramid schemes-- the new recruits support the older ones. How fitting for column from the capital of multi-level marketing. However, as anyone can tell you, Ponzi schemes are never sustainable in the long run. They always eventually collapse. We should be looking for sustainable alternatives.

    The Eyres neglect to consider that children, while providing resources to support others, also impose costs; costs that could exceed their productivity in some cases (a possible example: the uneducated urban underclass that fills the jails and welfare offices). How can they support their parents when they can't support themselves? They also do not consider other mechanisms to support the older generation after the end of their productive years, such as planning and saving (i.e. seniors are completely self-supporting). The conclusion that producing children is always a net positive is too sanguine. It's more complicated than that.

    * I am excluding less developed, subsistence societies because nature has harsher ways of negating the need for younger generations to support older ones for long periods of time.

  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    Joeandrade and Tyler D:You're not listening. Developed societies are NOT replacing themselves. Their population is shrinking. The societies that are increasing, the ones that should concern you are those undeveloped segments whose children are growing up less educated, less capable of self sustenance, and, in some cases, intent on replacing our way of life with a theocratic dictatorship (caliphate). Europe is already experiencing this phenomenon. Wake up and pay attention.
    Tyler, if you know the source of "be fruitful and multiply," your assessment that it makes no sense only illustrates that "my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9. There is enough and to spare in the resources of the earth. It has all been planned by a higher way; not our way.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 16, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    @joeandrade –

    Your comments are spot on.

    The logic of “be fruitful & multiply” makes no sense in the long run unless you believe that someday we can move to other habitable planets (and short of figuring out how to travel faster than the speed of light, this is a fantasy).

    This line in the article gave me good laugh…

    “Religious leaders are also recognizing the danger.”

    Religious leaders simply want to grow the flock… any theories which supports that end are welcome, even if they are not understood.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    I'm optimistic that more babies will save families from disintegration. The more children the less likely a divorce; at least I seem to observe this. It's especially helpful if the parents keep romance alive in their marriage, loving your children because they look like your sweetheart, who they can never completely replace, is a helpful and positive attitude in family life.

    Anyone looking out the window of a jet airliner sees that a very small part of the world is populated. The trend in world populations is: East Europe has zero growth or less, Western Europe seems to be getting closer in all parts. The USA is faltering in its native growth rate and sucking in Latinos (illegal and otherwise) into the vacuum created. Moslems appear to be the part of world population that is growing fastest. What will that do I wonder.

    Don't worry; have babies if you are willing to love and teach them.

  • joeandrade Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    No, large families cannot save society.

    Children are wonderful. We all adore our kids and grandkids. They are creative, inspiring, exciting. But they generally grow up, have families of their own, and exponentially increase the demand on the Earth's natural resources, resulting in our local and planetary air, water, and land problems.

    The solution to society's problems is not more kids - it is a replacement birth rate - and a sustainable economy. There is only one Wasatch Front, only one Utah, only one Earth, with over 7 billion people - heading for 10 billion. It is already unsustainable.

    I am sorry, but faith, optimism, and wishful thinking cannot change the realities of a finite planet with finite resources.