Having second child

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Isabel
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Having second child

Post by Isabel »

Hello,

I am considering having second child. However after reading this forum and other literature on overpopulation I have doubts about it. Personally I am rather a doomer personality. I was raised by grandparents that fought in the WWII and therefore know how hard life can be. However I live in an industrialized western country (Europe). I hope that here we can live a good life as we gave up on consumerist lifestyle. We also speak many languages; I have some background in agriculture etc.
What do you think about having one child vs having two children? I mean one child supposed to be not that bad for environment but two? I am afraid that we will be facing major crises in the next 30 years: genocides, famine and war. After observing the coming migration crisis in Europe I am not sure whether it is a good idea.
On the other hand, having sibling is really nice. I know it from my experience. My parents are dead and the only family I have is my sister.

What do you think?

Dragline
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Re: Having second child

Post by Dragline »

I think you should make the decision based solely on your own personal preferences and stop pretending that it is likely to have any meaningful impact on the world at large. It just won't. Do what you want and don't listen to anyone else.

Choosing to have children or not is a fundamental personal right and freedom. You do not need to justify this decision to anyone.

And if you live in Europe, the fertility rates in your country are probably well below replacement rate anyway. Your country will thank you and may actually pay you for it.

Whether and what kind of crisis a country might have 30 years hence is complete speculation. And the solution is simple. Move.

Good luck and enjoy your decision, whatever it is.

steveo73
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Re: Having second child

Post by steveo73 »

I have 3 kids. I think having siblings is a good thing. 3 is probably one to many but I love all my kids like nothing else.

I am really skeptical about overpopulation.

jacob
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Re: Having second child

Post by jacob »

The 21st century will effectively be about humanity (especially first world humanity---which includes anyone reading this) dealing with being in ecological overshot mode resulting from choices made in the 20th century. Think tragedy of the commons.

Some of the parents who chose to have children 20 years ago are now finding their kids living with them in the basement because there aren't enough resources left to keep growing the resource-pie. Some are able to keep their kids out of their basements by sending them money to carry their bills. Some parents were far-sighted/lucky/clever enough to beget children compatible with desirable careers.---Those kids will do alright.

Science says that we're rolling over when it comes to resources and environment. In these decades---between 2000 and 2030--we're at peak volatility when it comes to wealth/person. Beyond that the pie is going to decrease.

The consequences of having had children one generation ago is described in the paragraph above. What are the consequences of bringing humans into the world at the present point? There's going to be more people and less resources. This means having children effectively means

1) Sending humans into a resource competition which is harder than what the current/present generations have experienced.
2) Parenting responsibility whether real or genetically assumed is very unlikely to stop at age 18. This may be good or bad. Raising children might be fun. But how do you feel about a multi-generational household? Good or bad?

Having children now is still going to avoid genocides, famine or war in the next few decades.. You're not going to see that (in the first world) in your lifetime, but your potential children will likely see it (around middle/end age) and your grandchildren will definitely see it (and fight the wars).

The question is to which degree a person is responsible for other persons. To which degree does a parent need to account for the implications of their choices 50 years down the line. Some would say all the way. Some would say, that's not/never my problem.

Maybe it comes down to the crazy decision between how much one cares about being a parent compared to how much ones cares about what one's children have to endure. Since I don't care very much at all for being a parent---it's just not my thing---the choice for me has been easy.

At the end of the day, everybody has to live their own life. It's not like anyone being brought into this world has much of a choice. Everyone plays the cards they're dealt and humans are pretty good at finding the positive in things regardless of their personal situation.

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Sclass
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Re: Having second child

Post by Sclass »

Dragline wrote:I think you should make the decision based solely on your own personal preferences and stop pretending that it is likely to have any meaningful impact on the world at large. It just won't. Do what you want and don't listen to anyone else.
Thanks for this. I was feeling some guilt about wasting fuel this morning and realized my contribution is negligible. I'm another dumb Joe driving his oversized car...I just happen to feel bad about it.

Kids are a funny thing. I guess our genes have us hard wired to try to out breed our peers.

The hard part is changing as I get older. Like Brad and Jenn! :lol: And look how that worked out for ol'Brad.

jacob
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Re: Having second child

Post by jacob »


radamfi
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Re: Having second child

Post by radamfi »

Isabel wrote:On the other hand, having sibling is really nice. I know it from my experience. My parents are dead and the only family I have is my sister.
I am also an only child and I see the problems that people who have brothers and sisters have. Family is overrated. Better to actively choose good friends rather than have people forced upon you.

I personally think having children is cruel as you are basically forcing someone to have pain in their life and ultimately suffer death, even if they may have some joy along the way.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Having second child

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Jacob said: The question is to which degree a person is responsible for other persons. To which degree does a parent need to account for the implications of their choices 50 years down the line. Some would say all the way. Some would say, that's not/never my problem.
It's more like having kids is like buying a box of garbage bags. You tear open the cardboard in one swift move, and then for a relatively long while, you keep pulling garbage bags off the roll and out of the box. Then one day comes where you go to pull a bag off the roll, and it is the last bag in the box. So, you stand there for a moment with the empty box that was previously holding all the bags. Then you throw the empty box into the last bag which it previously held.(Okay, you actually recycle the box, but you get what I mean.)

My children are both now older than I was when I decided to have them. They are also both currently earning more money than I ever earned (give or take for inflation.) Placing the age of handover of responsibility at 18 is in my humble opinion, both arbitrary and ridiculous given current realities of our economy and recent advances in knowledge about how the brain develops over a lifetime. One bit of advice I offer to people who are not quite as far down the line, is that in the realm of parenting, every 3 years results in a significant difference. My responsibilities as a parent when my children were 1 and 3 years old changed significantly by the time they were 4 and 6 years old. My responsibilities as a parent of children who are nearly 26 and 28 are different than when they were 23 and 25. Generally, my rule of thumb when in doubt about how much responsibility I ought to retain is to reflect upon how much responsibility I desired my parents to retain when I was that age. IOW, I tend to err on the side of allowing my children the freedom to fail on their own terms even though I have had occasion to find myself absolutely sunk in dark pit of maternal guilt due to this policy.

OTOH, I don't share Dragline's belief that there are no moral decisions to be made in the realms of production and consumption, no matter how natural , and therefore strongly attached to natural rights, these processes may be. Due to the variety of factors relevant to the socio-economic groups to which most of the members of this forum belong, my sibling group of 4 sisters produced only 5 children (done determined deal since my youngest sister is now over 40.) This is obviously negative population growth since at least 2 husbands, and ,perhaps, the series of male partners retained by my 2 childless sisters, have to be included in the total for my generation. My rational considered estimate of how many grandchildren I might expect is 1 or 2. So, one of the purposes of my permaculture project is to create a closed loop system that could support me and my theoretical grandchild and maybe a very small dog, in amiable circumstances. I hope that this will only prove to be a fun exercise, but since I am an empty cardboard box that still holds a brain and some initiative, it is up to me to decide how to recycle my memes as well as my genes. Imposing the rule that my children could do nothing but sleep or read after 8 PM in the evening and feeding them from a 50 lb. bucket of oats bought for $2 at a food auction was not quite enough ;)

BeyondtheWrap
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Re: Having second child

Post by BeyondtheWrap »

radamfi wrote:I personally think having children is cruel as you are basically forcing someone to have pain in their life and ultimately suffer death, even if they may have some joy along the way.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinatalism

Dragline
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Re: Having second child

Post by Dragline »

@radamfi -- almost every single post you have made on this forum reflects that you feel miserable in life and, more critically, intend that OTHER people to feel the same way to justify your viewpoint on your life. And get upset when people don't agree with your negative viewpoints and justifications for your negativity. (See Brexit thread.)

I would classify you in the category of borderline personalities, and as someone to avoid as a destructive personality. Yes, it is harsh, but I often get asked for examples of what I am talking about when I mentioned policing relationships, and this is precisely what I am talking about, and is why I am making this particular post.

Your life may be painful for reasons both real and imagined. I assure you that mine and most of the other people I know are not. Life is beautiful. You'll have to live with that, and that you will not be able to change it, no matter how terrible you claim life is and attempt impose your perceptions on the lives of others.

steveo73
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Re: Having second child

Post by steveo73 »

Dragline wrote:Life is beautiful.
This is exactly how I feel all the time. How the fuck did I get so lucky. In reality I'm not any luckier than most people out there. People don't appreciate the gift they've been given.

radamfi
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Re: Having second child

Post by radamfi »

Dragline wrote:Your life may be painful for reasons both real and imagined. I assure you that mine and most of the other people I know are not. Life is beautiful. You'll have to live with that, and that you will not be able to change it, no matter how terrible you claim life is and attempt impose your perceptions on the lives of others.
So it is fine for other people to suffer as long as you are OK?

Have you heard of a phrase called "I'm alright jack"?

You don't believe suffering exists?

You don't believe pain exists?

You don't believe depression exists?

vexed87
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Re: Having second child

Post by vexed87 »

I currently have no kids, so I can only speculate about how it feels to be a parent, however I have my heart set on a maximum of one child, maybe I will change my mind once I have my first, but DW wants two, I suspect DW will get her way, she usually does... :lol:

I don't fret too much about what will happen to my children, a life without a little adversity is likely a life not lived, that said, I'm not raising kids to fight someone else's wars or starve when the wheat crops fail so I do worry to some extent. However, falling standards of living (material wealth!) doesn't worry me a great deal, as a society, we need to collectively shift the focus away from consumerism and material wealth to other meaningful pursuits and forms of wealth. Providing I can give my kids the toolkit they need to live successfully in a world that's dealing with overshoot, I'll have no regrets about bringing more than one child into the world. After all, the future could do with more ERE/simple living-oriented folk, or we may seriously end up with an idiocracy scenario :lol:.

Times have been tough before, and no one would be here now if our ancestors hadn't overcome feast, famine and overshoot. I don't see any reason for anyone to feel guilt about bringing life into the world, or why DW and I should be denied the pleasure, so long as we don't intend to lead our offspring and future generations to desire typical middle class lives at the expense of the rest of the world's inhabitants.

vezkor
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Re: Having second child

Post by vezkor »

7Wannabe5 wrote:... it is up to me to decide how to recycle my memes as well as my genes.
7wb5: You rock. I'm smiling like this -> :D reading the above. I've gotta get a shirt made with this quote on it... or maybe underwear. I'll keep you posted.

Regarding the decision to have a second child: I would like to have two children with my wife sometime in the next 5-10 years. We can replace ourselves without feeling ecologically guilty. A third kid would make me uncomfortable because the world already has enough people. I'll let the umpteen friends/acquaintances I know who have no desire to reproduce work towards reducing the population (seriously so many born between 1985 and 1995 feel this way, at least in Michigan).

I'm an optimist at heart. I believe that even though the climate is rapidly changing at an alarming rate and the current energy mix for civilization is unsustainable over the coming decades, these facts are things that civilization can adapt to in a non-apocalyptic way. Change will be hard, and it will suck (overall) but I can set myself and my family up for a very enjoyable existence by making good choices through 2025-2030 so that 2030-2080 isn't too bad.

I mostly agree with Dragline. Do what you want and leave macro-considerations to macro-forces. Focus on micro-level zone 1, 0 and 00 (keep reading the valuable wisdom 7WB5 just gives us for free if you don't know what those things are!) and life will be good for you and the people you care about.

workathome
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Re: Having second child

Post by workathome »

Two children is still considered "below replacement level" on the national level because of the risk of death. US population would shrink if everyone had two kids - and indeed, without the effects of immigration from poorer countries, the population is decreasing in the West.

So certainly don't feel bad or guilty about having two kids - even if you are concerned about resource consumption. If you actually spend time worrying about it, that means you will probably be less resource intensive anyway, and make a good, loving parent who contributes to the raising of a well-rounded, healthy, and intelligent child.

Personally I think you should have as many children as you want, as those really concerned about demographic issues are currently projecting that Africa and the Middle East are the only "problem areas" with out of control growth anyway. Your family size wont influence this.

radamfi
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Re: Having second child

Post by radamfi »

vexed87 wrote:I don't see any reason for anyone to feel guilt about bringing life into the world, or why DW and I should be denied the pleasure, so long as we don't intend to lead our offspring and future generations to desire typical middle class lives at the expense of the rest of the world's inhabitants.
Surely a good way to stop people from indulging in undesirable behaviour is to make them feel guilty? For example, there are have been TV advertisements showing that people die unnecessarily by people driving too fast, or by inhaling other people's cigarette smoke. Similarly, we should make people guilty for having children. People who have children after reading this thread certainly have no excuse as they are fully aware of the issues.

You also don't know that having children will be a "pleasure". Some people's lives have become unhappier by having children. Many won't admit it of course, but that doesn't stop it being true.

I also don't buy the argument that you are not responsible for the environmental damage caused by having children if you only have two children, because that is below replacement level. Any child born in the western world will have a negative environmental impact, even those following frugal lives. So if you are serious about saving the environment, don't have any kids.

vexed87
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Re: Having second child

Post by vexed87 »

@radamfi, not every human has a net negative impact on the ecology of the earth, even in the world's developed economies. Consider for instance the human that lives in a tiny house, built from renewable materials. Once all their needs are met from a relatively small space, they can dedicate their time restoring natural ecosystems, even the spaces that provide human food can support other living organisms. By bringing more humans in to the fold that have a net positive impact on the ecology of the planet we can actually go some way to countering humanity's negative behaviours, in sofar that our offspring do not engage in too much energy intensive activity, having more offspring could be net positive to the ecology of earth and to society. Before the industrial revolution, most humans lived sustainably, more or less. Ecological overshoot was however a recurring pattern, much like our own economic boom and busts, yet it was still a sustainable system... After all, humans are still here to tell the tale. All our fossil fuel dependent society has done is increase our ghost acreage significantly.

I suggest you read up on some permaculture and you will see that humans can have a place alongside nature, we don't have to be consumers in the west, we can also be a great force for good and restore stability to nature. You can start by cycling to work, heating your home with coppiced wood, and growing your own food at home. By turning a lawn into a food forest, you'll reduce/eliminate the need for outsourcing your nutritional and energy needs and less wild habitat will need to be destroyed to support monoculture and industrial farming, and the monocultures of modern day gardens and lawns would also support much more wildlife too. Home scale loops are probably impossible to implement, but there is significant scope for improvement in closing the loop as far as wider society is concerned.

Granted, it won't be as easy a life as living with with the spoils of globalism and products of cheap fossil fuels, but fulfilling, sustainable and restorative it certainly can be, even here in the west. I can't personally do anything to stop others acting recklessly or inconsiderately, and no doubt as already mentioned by jacob, fossil fuels will be burnt for some time to come, but I can go about my business and sequester as much of that fossil fuel carbon as possible by returning my land to a natural climax state and hope that my children will learn from me and go on their way and do the same. I'm only one human, but I do have influence, and I've converted a few close friends to sustainable transport.
radamfi wrote:I also don't buy the argument that you are not responsible for the environmental damage caused by having children if you only have two children, because that is below replacement level. Any child born in the western world will have a negative environmental impact, even those following frugal lives. So if you are serious about saving the environment, don't have any kids.
By this logic, the only thing left to do is to kill ourselves immediately, never mind not planning on 1+ kids!
Last edited by vexed87 on Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

radamfi
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Re: Having second child

Post by radamfi »

vexed87 wrote:@radamfi, not every human has a net negative impact on the ecology of the earth, even in the world's developed economies. Consider for instance the human that lives in a tiny house, built from renewable materials.
You describe someone that has a smaller than average impact on the environment, but nevertheless there is an impact. He will necessarily eat food which involves environmental damage. Obviously eating meat is particularly bad but even a vegetarian diet is not totally free of environmental impact. There is energy expended and chemicals involved in cultivation and harvesting, then there is the transportation to the place where the food is sold. If that's a shop or supermarket then there is electricity used in the operation of that store.

That human will probably go to school. Schools need heating and powering and school staff will be consuming fuel getting to and from the school.

That human will also probably want to use hot water and have a warm house in winter, again consuming energy.

That human may well spend time in hospital, maybe even born there. Hospitals consume a lot of power and generate a lot of waste.

There is also the environmental damage caused by your government on your behalf. Our government has recently approved fracking in Lancashire, despite the locals being against it. If the UK was not so heavily populated, there would not be such a demand for power and if there were, say, only a few million people in the country rather than 60+ million, we could probably have enough power from hydroelectric power generated in Scotland, and there would be no need for fracking or new nuclear power stations.

vexed87
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Re: Having second child

Post by vexed87 »

@radamfi, I agree wholeheartedly with the waste and inefficiency of our society, it distresses me no end... but this very argument explains why there is still hope. There is still significant room for improvement and efficiency savings, although we cannot hope to forever have the trappings of the modern industrial civilization, i.e. the vast infrastructure that supports our complex society, its (failing) hospitals and (failing) indoctrina... cough, I mean education system are all in their terminal days for sure.
You describe someone that has a smaller than average impact on the environment, but nevertheless there is an impact. He will necessarily eat food which involves environmental damage.
What is environmental damage, I assume you mean pollution? Pollution is simply wasted and unusable output. Permaculture is a system which aims to eliminate waste as far as practically possible. Yes, it's probably impossible to have a completely closed loops, however the waste can be minimised to the extent that they are mostly negligible on the timescales of human generations. You are right to suggest that a participant in the developed world's complex society cannot hope to exist without an environmental impact, but it's important to consider that not all waste is net negative to the ecology of the planet. It is possible to cultivate our own food without outside inputs, beyond the building blocks to get things going. Again, I really recommand you read up on permaculture!

These institutions that you describe as wasteful won't be around forever, and while my own children may benefit from them in the short term, it still possible for offspring to have a net positive impact on society.

All our energy needs could be met from renewables, yes even for the 60 million+ of us in the UK if only people got it into their heads that we simply use a lot less of it. The trappings of industrial society will be taken from the majority kicking and screaming, but I already use a fraction of what most people do in the UK, because I don't heat my home to 20 degrees while I am out of the house, nor do I use fossil fuels to get around. I am by no means perfect, but I'm working towards being carbon neutral, unlearning a lot of bad habits takes a lot of discipline, but it will be easier for the next generation, particularly if they don't know any different. Let try not be defeatist about it!

No organism on the planet lives without making an impact on their ecology, it's just that we humans are currently pretty destructive, even in the developing nations. We can do a lot to be productive and regenerative, rather than destructive. The choice now is learn it before its too late, or let a hell of a lot of people suffer because they are not ready and depend cheap energy and external factors to fulfill their basic needs.

Isabel
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Re: Having second child

Post by Isabel »

Thank you all for answers to my question. It is really interesting to read your opinions. Most of the people are not that concerned about such problems. This forum is an exception and seems to attract more “reasonable” people.
I think that decision to have kids depends largely on mindset. I am rather anxious personality (probably due to WWII legacy of my grandparents) and am always afraid that we will have to survive something similar. My husband is more of an optimist and sees things in different light.
I too think that we really do not have any influence over those macro trends. I also think that such catastrophes do not proceed linearly but are more distributed along some power laws. So basically all we have to do is to be on the “right” side of the distribution.

I also see some macro trends that in the long run will probably overtake the population growth: civilization diseases grow rapidly; male infertility is also on the rise. In the West the sperm count in male dropped 50% in the last 5o years. Antimicrobial resistance is also gaining on strength. These things are not exactly positive development but maybe it will at least allow us to avoid major world wars.

@radamfi
I think UK would still need to frack even with less people. I studied in the UK and lived with three British students in one home. They all left all lights and computers on even when they left the house (!!!). They were also driving cars to the campus even if it was only 1 km. (!!!). I have never seen so much waste of energy in my life.

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