Saturday, 27 August 2011

Our Children's Future

Just An Illusion   (HDR)Given that we're on family tour duties at the moment, it was inevitable for me to receive hints at my need to produce more children. In the arguments I've been hearing it is clear that people take it for granted I don't want to add to my current tally of one child because I don't see myself changing nappies again. Those assumptions are correct; I do not understand how anyone can willingly go back to the days of baby rearing unless they suffer from acute amnesia.
However, in my case there is more to me not wanting more children than that. I said it here before but I will repeat it again: there is much more to me not wanting more children than me not wanting to wake up in the middle of the night by a screaming baby again. That much more of a reason of mine comes down to over population and the environmental disaster that us humans are bringing upon ourselves.
It is no longer a case of some scary futuristic vision; it is a case of science. As mainstream media like the Sydney Morning Herald report (see here), we - as in, humanity - are on our way to increase our planet's temperature by 4 (!) degrees by the end of this century. Think about it - four degrees!
The implications are dead obvious. We will not have enough food to feed everyone: current forecasts estimate the planet would be able to sustain between half a billion to one billion people. That implies roughly nine out of ten would die under less than favorable circumstances: they will die of starvation, they will die of disease, and they will die in wars - wars over the planet's last reserves of food.
We can live our lives as usual and pretend none of this would happen, but the sad reality is that we're ignoring the inevitable. Soon enough our window of opportunity for preventing this scenario from coming to be will be shut, too, raising an obvious question: we can all raise multiple children each today, but what world is it, exactly, that we are going to leave behind for them?
Call me selfish, but I don't see the point in bringing more children to a world such as ours.

Image by Kuzeytac, Creative Commons license


The Red Nosed Moshe said...

Caught up on your blogs after being sick for 2 weeks now... Man vs Virus saga.
And quoting other royalty, “Wow!”.

Lets set the record straight: I would be furious if anyone touched my kid, and you are right to hold a grudge. I used to know evil kids and they were just that, evil. Can't explain that. Mind you, one of those kids is in his twenties now and is a very sweet person. Go figure, perhaps chemicals were not formed correctly until a later age.

I've always thought the magic number of kids to have is two. Give them a sibling to play and grow up with, while still manageable. But this decision is for the parents only and I know how it feels when others stick their noses in....

Stay strong and do what's good for you and your wife.

My 2 cents again....

...and Sarah, I know what you did last summer!

Princess Sarah said...

Your post made me wonder what made you decide to have 1 child in the first place? The issues of over population and other environmental impacts haven't changed in the time since you had your child so I would have thought you would had these ideas before you had one child. If they were a reason not to have 2 then were they a consideration in not having any at all and what made you decide to go there after all?

As for you Red Nosed Moshe I hope you can tell me I had more fun than I remember having last summer...and your reference to royalty made me giggle. Who knew I was so profound.

wile.e.coyote said...

Nice one Sarah, me like.
Saying I don't bring kids as I care about the weather is bullshit. If you care about the weather so much, you can spend few hours a week and grow a tree or something.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'll start with Sarah. Even though I despise royalty, there are privileges reserved to those who hold my hand as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death:
Sarah, you're absolutely right. What I can say in my defense is-
1. If I ever claim to be an entirely rational person, slap me.
2. My awareness of these matters grows with time. Five years ago I wasn't half as familiar with these matters as I am now.
3. The decision to have the first child was made on entirely "selfish" premises. We wanted a child, and that was it. However, now that I have this one I can allow myself to further open my eyes. The point is important, because you won't hear me criticizing others for choosing to bring more children than I do to the world; I do not claim to know what the ideal number of children is, I can only claim to have my own opinion. The entire point of my post was not to tell others off or to declare I have found what the ideal number of children to have is, but rather to show how considerations other than family internal ones are very valid and should be taken into account when making family planning decisions. Most people don't take these into account; as a contrarian, it is my duty to put it on the table.

Moshe: I had a two week cold myself, and I'm still totally pissed off at this total waste of precious life time. Hope you're better; this winter has been quite bad.
Like you, I used to know kids that used to be simple and turned out to be very nice adults. I hope that would be the case here; I don't want to delve into speculations as I think that child's privacy is important. What I can say at this point is that I have vivid memories of being an evil child myself (not to the level displayed here), and given that I now consider myself a decent person I prefer to give everyone the benefit of doubt - even if the burden of proof is on them.
I do agree with you that there are bonuses to having two children. As I said already, I won't pretend to know what the ideal number is given all considerations; I do appreciate the argument of them keeping one another busy, and I can clearly see the longing for family displayed by my son. I can also see how nasty brothers and sisters can be to one another, though.

Coyote: Thinking that you can solve the world's problems by raising a tree is what I would call bullshit. I could only appreciate how much contamination a person generates when I saw the amount of resources poured into a new member of the family (nappies, bottle sterilization, clothes that last only a few weeks).
For the record, I have two trees in my yard. I don't see how they could stop the world my children will grow up in from heating up by four degrees within this century.
I would advise you use words like bullshit more sparingly.

wile.e.coyote said...

Let me rephrase, the logic of "I will not make children as the world is [hard|straving|getting warm|getting expensive]" is used a lot. However by own believe is that it is usually a light cover for the person own reasons why he does not want a kid.
In your strange case, I assume you 100% believe that your reasons is what you wrote in your blog. That's still not saying that these are the real reasons.

I usually tend to think (actually I tend not to think) that most of us just look at the close circle of people around us and copycat what we see, in order to prove it I did a worldwide survey to prove my point, results below

Sarah said...

I think you definitely are fighting against societies expectations that if you have 1 child you will have/want more. As that is the structure of the "typical" family. We like to be able to box people and if you are a "breeder" surely you will want more than one child. When you go against that people wonder why you don't fit nice and neatly in your box. Surely you are just confused or dazed and given enough time you will come around to wanting more.

Everyone is entitled to have a different idea as to what the perfect number of children is for them. As we have discussed before the notions you have of family life before you have kids compared to the reality of it can vary markedly. You might start thinking 3 would be great but after 1 realise the sacrifices that are required are just too great and that you are in fact happy with 1.

Everyone has the right to say we are done, but it does seem that those with only one child probably get questioned more about that decision. Having to explain yourself again and again must be annoying, as must the notion that you are some how disadvantaging your child by making him an only child. Every family structure has it's advantages and disadvantages. Surviving your family is a life long struggle.

Moshe Reuveni said...

To Coyote I will say that you're obviously right. However, you can raise this argument of yours against any decision making process: science has been telling us we tend to make our minds first and then look for ways to convince ourselves we've made the right decision; saying I'm above that would be lying.
Obviously, there is this whole thing about the illusion of free will. We don't really have this thing called free will; despite that, we are all in the need to make the wisest decisions we can. We cannot cease to make the best decisions we can make just because we lack the ability to make the most rational choice as often as we would like to.
Which is where I come from with this post. I will not pretend to know what the optimal number of children to have is; I will argue that everyone is entitles to their own opinion there, just like I argue everyone is entitled to their own opinion on everything.
However, I will also argue that even if we don't know what it is, there certainly is an optimal number of children to have if your aim is to better the state of human society as a whole and if your restrictions are this world's limited resources.
I cannot pretend to know what the optimal number of children to have is, but I will argue my number - 1 - has a distinct advantage over any larger number: if the whole of humanity follows suit then within two to three generations we will no longer have a problem with overpopulation or an unsustainable world. We will have a world that should be able to deal with a four degrees rise in temperature our generations and the past few ones will be leaving behind.