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20 May 2004

Just Fade Away

George Monbiot ponders the pros and cons of a shrinking first-world, and then global, population.
"Having been urged for years to stop breeding for the sake of humanity, we are now being told to breed like coathangers for the same cause. Only if governments encourage us to start having babies again, Longman argues, will we avert an economic catastrophe.
"At first sight, his argument looks persuasive. Those of us who haven't got there yet face a bleak old age of increasing needs and declining income. Young people will see us as a crippling and useless burden.
"But there is a good side to all this, which Longman's article ignores. If people stop breeding when they become rich, then we have stumbled across the perfect, self-regulating solution to resource depletion and ecological collapse. For the first time in history we may have developed a mechanism which prevents us from wolfing our way to extinction."

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