Anti-natalism - Consent, fears about over-population and sufferance.

You didn't provide consent to your birth. This is a comical concept. Someone did sue their parents for having them. The parents were lawyers so were in the perfect position to dismiss the lawsuit.

What is consent? Agreeing to do something with an understanding of the implications. Hopefully in full knowledge. That consent depends on at least some knowledge of what is to happen. Very few will say just get on with it and pay no attention to what they will be getting on with. When you agree to sex you might not quite get what you assumed nor bargained for. There are risks and rewards at stake. Any consent changes according to the level of awareness we have. The greater the knowledge you have the better placed you are to provide consent.

Before you are born you have no stored knowledge whatsoever. You are not exactly sitting in a heaven of sorts waiting to be picked for a life on earth. Providing consent to your birth is an idea that can be understood but clashes with reality. It is a kind of daft conjecture that gives philosophical thought a bad rep. Consent requires knowledge, understanding and an ability to make a choice.

Choosing to have a child.

Life is just not so organised as we might like it to be. Not only did you not choose to be born, you never chose when or where. Or to whom. Or how many siblings. Or whether you are to be the eldest or youngest. Or a stillborn. Or a sad miscarriage. Family planning has the subtext of birth prevention. Planning when and how large a family we are going to have rarely goes exactly to plan. We can't be confident about the children we envisage. You can only choose to try for a child, never is there any guarantee. You may even get more than you bargained for. Triplets or similar. Some will try for another one of a particular gender hoping that the fifth is not another boy or girl. You, your children, everyone are better thought of as accidents. Nature cares absolutely zilch for your wish for consent to be born. If it can it will. Freshly dug dirt doesn't remain so for long. Weeds soon occupy the space.


It is very tricky to make an assertion about how high the human population can go before it becomes truly problematic. A problem producing food, having enough clean water and access to resources. It is well understood that some people consume ten to twenty times as much as others. Ten billion environmentally aware vegans might impact the environment far less than 5 billion voracious demanding types. Some can argue that we are already consuming more than the earth can sustain with the current population. The consumption of resources laid down millions of years ago are being drained very quickly. Even with solar and wind, renewables, we are left with an energy shortfall that is unsustainable.

I have thought about things we do and use that are proportional to the population. We all wear one set of clothes. Each day they shed an amount of plastic. We eat a comparable amount of food. Yet still there is scope for a lot of variance.

Having children

I have always believed that it is nobody else's business how many children people decide to have. None, one or a whole football team. It is up to them. Always. Do we need to feel guilty about adding to the population? Governments have been known to make it more attractive or less so. They can give incentives or make it financially difficult. We could decide to refrain from having more than two children so that the population becomes steady at the current level.


People have said that they feel sorry for those born with various debilitating conditions. More so given that the parents were aware that the likelihood of them being 'defective' is great. The problem is that who can make the judgement call about what illness/ability/disability is the most uncomfortable. Many with problems, big problems have lived highly rewarding lives, sometimes long ones, sometimes short but very sweet. Some cherish the sanctity of life, the sanctity of all life irrespective of the challenges. Do we measure and compare just the physical attributes or home in on the mental ones too? I return to the same argument; it is none of anyone else's business who has children. If you are concerned that such individuals pose an impingement on any national health system, then I can see your worry. This is a local issue though. Maybe consider it from a worldwide perspective. Would you raise your disquiet if it was a pay as you go health system whereby you are not financially affected?

Small island theory.

Is population expansion an aspiration? Are we better off or worse off with a bigger human population?

A brief history of a small island - Montserrat. It had a population of some ten thousand. All was well until the volcano erupted and most left leaving a few thousand to stick it out. Even though more than half the island had become uninhabitable the people there were not unwelcoming of people immigrating. More people leads to more getting done and more facilities for everyone. I suspect there would be an optimal number. A balance that allows all to have plenty of land and space to live whilst also enough to provide all the desired services. One thing is for sure. The island would never manage on its own without food and fuels brought in from other islands.

City dwellers take the food system for granted. Virtually nothing is grown inside built up areas. We think it all arrives by magic. Many children in developed countries do not even know the names or features of farm animals. We just presume that the supermarket shops will provide forever and ever. Anything we want or need at virtually any hour of the day.

We are indeed very blinkered. Distracted and focused on our near future needs. No matter how efficient and 'sustainable' our processes are, the human population takes its toll on the planet. A reduction in the population - less people is safer for sure. I could only bring back to the fore a childhood dream of having half each. Half the planet for humans and half for all the other animals, fish insects and life forms. I suppose any form of anti-natalism, birth moderation, irrespective of the reasons, makes that premise more attainable. We may scrape by with a slowing of the population increase until it levels off and goes into gradual decline. There is absolutely no need to suggest that wars or a wipe out via disease and pestilence is welcomed. Maybe a form of anti-natalism is an aim of encouraging an average of two children per couple.

What force is the biggest though?

Having more children because people are poor.

Having more children because of a social/political/faith agenda.

Having less in recognition of the increasing demands on the environment that we all share.

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You are welcome to read a book about you, me and everyone else. Some of you will get to understand what drives us all.

When you look up into the night sky you may be able to make out the odd star, but light pollution prevents you from seeing much. Go to the "middle of nowhere" and the spectacle is very different. You see it all. This book is like that. Every facet of human behaviour becomes clear, the psychology, our dreams, our aspirations, our wishes and wants. It is all uncovered.

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