Population Control and Sustainability?

As an academic I find it necessary to share some information with you that I find particularly important. Last week one of my classes discussed the relationship between population growth and sustainability. One of my fellow students brought up that her and her husband had decided to only have one child based on the idea that we needed to decrease population growth, which I think is a great decision for them to have made. However, this is a topic I am constantly struggling with as someone who has four children.

Having four children is not a decision I made lightly, especially as conscious as I am about climate change and sustainability. I was coming of age in the late 90’s when zero population growth was a huge topic. My high school boyfriend and I were very vocal about the importance of zero population growth. I am pretty sure he wrote his junior year English paper on it. Even to this day I still justify my choice to have four kids by acknowledging that between the four parents involved we still only have one child per person.

people crowd walking
Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

However, I honestly need to throw this idea out the window. While population growth is an issue we should keep in the back of our minds, it really isn’t the most pressing issue when it comes to over-utilization of resources. Instead we should be focusing on resource utilization per person. While we have four kids we use far less resources than others around us, and especially those who are more affluent, and we are very deliberate about how much we use in resources. Resource utilization isn’t a fun and easy topic. It requires thought and sacrifice, especially among the wealthy. When we talk about population control we are usually talking about lower income communities and underdeveloped countries (or areas of countries), and we are especially talking about non-white people. This needs to be an open part of the population control narrative if we chose to argue for it.

So while I openly discuss how to create more sustainable systems in order to try and deflect, or ride the wave, of climate change, population control is one of those topics I will never support. I will judge you for running your AC below 70 in the summer, or purchasing packages of water bottles instead of a home filter and a reusable bottle, before I ever judge you for having six kids.

For a final thought I would like to introduce you to this blog I read yesterday. It pushed me over the edge to make my own post. Here are some gems, enjoy:

“Acknowledge if you just abdicated or deflected from your own responsibility and dumped it onto someone else.  And then we get to explore why you have done so. “

and:

“If your solution is something darker, you don’t get to just vaguely gesture at the problem and allow your audience to fill the gaps.  If you want to control the life choices and bodies of black women, have the guts to say so. If you are a eugenicist, admit it.”

Thankfully everyone in my class came to the agreement that population control was an awful idea.

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