Saturday, October 31, 2015

File:Overpopulation in Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam.JPG

The global economy currently consumes resources at a rate that would require 1.5 earths to guarantee long term sustainability. In other words, we are living way beyond our means. When we talk about our long term survival on the earth it always seems so difficult and technologically unfeasible, but isn't our long term survival relatively simple? Couldn't we reduce our numbers and our consumption of resources to live within the earth's capacity to sustain us? This option is seldom seriously considered, but why? Prosperous countries like Germany actually have negative population growth, because couples are choosing to have only one child or to remain childless. Unlike China's former one child policy, there is no coercion in Germany. In fact the German government has many incentives for couples to have more children - many months of paid maternity leave, a guaranteed return to work after years of staying home to raise your child, many child care options, etc. I've been to Germany several times, and by comparison, the United States is very anti family. Despite these incentives, young German couples are making the conscious decision to have small families. Isn't this a model that the world can aspire to and ultimately the key to long term sustainability? The article I link to casts the demographic changes in Germany in a negative light, as is common in the press, but doesn't the fact that people in a generally happy, prosperous, and family friendly nation are choosing to reduce their numbers even in the face of policies encouraging the growth of families provide a ray of hope for our long term future?


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