Look at that little face. How could you not fall in love with it? Growing up, I always imagined that someday I would have a family, complete with children. As I got older I discovered that I really liked children, and they indeed seemed to like me. As more time passed, and the more I interacted with children–relatives, friends’ kids, etc–the more I could see myself having some of my own someday. And then I took an interest in science.
How many people can this little blue marble we call earth support? Previously I’ve posted that in order for everyone on the planet to live the lifestyle that the average American is used to, we would need 4 earth’s worth of resources. Obviously that isn’t feasible. So either the world population is continually divided into classes, have’s and have-not’s, or at some point everything is equalized and we all live at the same level. I don’t foresee the latter happening any time soon for a variety of reasons, and I have severe ethical and moral problems with the former option. So, at the moment, it looks like nothing will change: everyone around the world will continue to consume resources at an increasing rate in order to catch up to America and Europe, despite the fact that there literally aren’t enough resources on the planet for that.
This thought spurred me to think, well, what is the upper limit of the population that the earth is able to sustain? That concept is known in biology as carrying capacity–the ability of a given environment to provide enough resources to support a population. Given current conditions, scientists at Harvard estimate that the carrying capacity of the earth is roughly around 10 billion people. And that’s if we want to live relatively humble lives…as vegetarians. That 10 billion number grows if everyone is willing to live on basically a minimal subsistence level (which may be a reality given our propensity to consume and destroy our environment). Here’s a lovely picture of population projections.
The number reached by the Harvard biologists is based on the amounts of fresh water and arable land available. And that 10 billion number is only realistic if we devote 100% of it to growing grains and vegetables–not raising livestock. And I seriously doubt that we’re all about to forget meat anytime soon. These estimates also don’t factor things like climate change, pollution, and the ability of science to keep us alive longer and to save people who would have otherwise died. The bottom line is that the 10 billion estimate is very optimistic, and the real number is probably much lower. And, as the graph suggests, we’re not far away from hitting that upper limit.
So what does this have to do with me having children? Well, basically, I feel like having children would be irresponsible at this point. And that’s not necessarily an indictment of people who do have children (more on that later); reproduction is a natural part of life, and if you only have enough children to replace you and your partner then you’re doing it responsibly. I just feel that for me, personally, it would be unethical. And I think that for two reasons. One, I’d just be contributing to the problem. Another consumer and another polluter on the planet. But second, it seems like a terrible thing to do to the child. “Hey kids, I love you. Now here’s a toxic, dying planet incapable of supporting your existence.” Seems kind of shitty.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Ryan, you seem like a very socially responsible person, reasonably intelligent and forward thinking. You could instill your values in your children and create more positive forces in the world!” I agree with this in theory, but the reality is that it won’t make a difference because the number of lazy, greedy, narrow-minded, and uneducated people vastly outnumbers the amount of reasonable people in the world. Again, I know what you’re thinking. “Well then why don’t you just have one child! Or better yet, adopt! That won’t contribute to overall growth.” While I technically agree with those sentiments, unfortunately, other people do not.
Like this moron.
Or these two jackasses.
And not to be outdone, these two fucking assholes and their 20 goddamn spawn.
So yes, while I can be a socially responsible person and take one step back by only having one child, idiots like the Duggar family can go ahead and undo that by taking 19 fucking steps forward again. And for every one person out there who recycles and conserves, there are probably fifty people who love disposable plastic crap, leave the water running and the lights on, and drive a tank of an SUV that gets 8 MPG. Who knows how many more kids the Duggars can pump out, and who knows how many children their kids will have and so forth.
All of this to say, I think I would make an excellent father. I’m certainly not a genius, but I think I’m an intelligent person, and I think that my genes would make an excellent contribution to the gene pool. Except they probably won’t be passed on precisely because of my intelligence. And this brings me to my overall point. Well-educated, intelligent people are more likely to have fewer children or no children at all, while lower income, poorly educated people will have more. So while the intelligent people on the planet will look at the state of affairs and realize the steps they need to take to correct it, the other ignorant people we share this earth with will not. So you have a situation where intelligent people, realizing the effects of population and pollution, will decrease or stop reproducing, which means fewer smart genes in the ol’ gene pool. Meanwhile, the stupid or ignorant people who can’t or won’t see and understand the effects of population and pollution will continue along their merry way, and research indicates that they’ll be pumping out a lot of children as they go forth, increasing the amount of stupidity in the gene pool. Eventually, the decreasing number of intelligent ideas and voices will be completely drowned out by the exponentially increasing number of ignoramuses infesting the planet, and we’ll have essentially phased intelligence out of the gene pool.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I won’t have kids. Because it’s too late. The tables have already turned. Everything is already lopsided, and it’s in favor of the morons of the planet. Me having kids won’t make a goddamn difference, no matter what I teach them or instill in them, so long as the amount of people willing and able to change is smaller than the number of people who are not.