Anna Hughes

The Kids Conundrum

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The Kids Conundrum

On April 11, 2018, Posted by , In Lifestyle, With 11 Comments

When I was at primary school my sister Sarah and I ran a ‘Save the Earth club’ in our bedroom with whichever friends we could coerce into coming. It was fairly boring: let’s do some wildlife word searches and then go and pick up some litter. The irony that we spent loads of time coming up with planet-saving quizzes then photocopying them hundreds of times for our friends was not lost on my dad, whose office provided the paper. I look back on my younger self and chuckle. Knowing how to spell orang-utan would not particularly make an impact on the world. But it illustrates an interest, a passion that developed and ran deep as I made my way into adulthood.

Now, almost everything in my life is done with an eye on the environment. Every life choice we make has an impact upon our planet, and I want to keep that impact as low as possible. I am vegan, I don’t fly, I cycle everywhere, I conserve water as much as I can, I use a Mooncup, I buy all my clothes in charity shops, I have a composting toilet, my electricity is generated by a solar panel, I waste little, I avoid plastic, I don’t own a car. But still, I consume. Simply by being alive I use the world’s resources.

There are 7.6 billion people living on this planet. By 2050 it’s expected to reach 9.8 billion. Yet there will still only be one planet. And that planet cannot possibly sustain all those people.

Yes, we can reduce our energy requirements, tap into the earth’s renewable resources, all drive electric cars, recycle absolutely everything, find an alternative to plastic, work out how to be less polluting. But the best thing we can do for the planet is simply to stop growing. Fewer people will naturally use fewer resources. As Sir David Attenborough says, “All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder — and ultimately impossible — to solve with ever more people.”

We all have a choice about how many children we bring into this world. I have chosen to have none; that’s my choice, and that doesn’t mean everyone should make the same decision, but I sincerely wish that more of us would make our choice with the fate of the planet in mind. The world can exist without us. Unfortunately, we cannot exist without it.

I appeared on the BBC website today telling my story. It’s just a snapshot, and focuses perhaps more on it being my personal choice than on the environmental nature of the argument, but the message is simple: an ever-expanding population is unsustainable, and for the good of the planet we should be having fewer children. There is no planet B.

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I also blogged on this topic here: The Morals of Having Children

Addendum: None of this means I don’t like children, or that I think people who have children are bad. I have five nieces and nephews that I adore. Neither does it mean I don’t want a family; if that were to happen, I would adopt (probably a child rather than a baby). I do get frustrated when I see big families, though. If we’re going to put a number on it, having two kids is about right for a sustainable population. There is a lot more information at the Population Matters website, including facts and statistics to back up the research.

11 Comments so far:

  1. Alex says:

    Brilliant piece here and on the BBC. Glad there are a few of us about. Thanks for informing the masses. I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Gareth says:

    Great video! I too have made the same choice and lost two previous partners for the same reason – they think they can change you…

    Keep on writing.


  3. Kris A. says:

    Great article and BBC video-clip! Its important this be shared and read by as many people as possible, not to “convert” them over but just to show one other possible perspective on the matter and that its important we do more for our planet than just “stop using plastic”, that’s only a (small) first step, the changes need to be much more consequent and applied continuously if we are to keep living here, at least a little longer.
    I love the last words “There is no planet B”, I don’t think its possible to express the sentiment in any less words, as effectively! Can I borrow it for T-shirt designs? 🙂
    To anyone reading comments, be sure that this isn’t a “child-bashing” website, I have nothing against them, but in the greater scheme of things, overpopulation is the first thing to avoid.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks Kris. I know that Greenpeace use ‘There is no planet B’ on some of their propaganda, or perhaps it’s Friends of the Earth. Either way, it’s a fairly common environmentalist’s saying. Feel free to use on a t-shirt!
      I appreciate the solidarity. You’re right, it’s not about converting people, it’s about facilitating discussion and debate. This is often an issue that is simply not mentioned in the context of environmentalism. I know why – it’s controversial! I’ve received a fair amount of hostility from putting my views out there. But generating conversation is what it’s all about, and I’ve had far more supportive comments than negative ones.

  4. You are setting an inspiring example.

  5. Anna says:

    You’re very kind Al!

  6. OLLIE says:

    Yes 👍🚲❤️

  7. John says:

    Is it not “save the human race” rather that “save the planet”?
    The planet will be here for millions of years to come. It’s the human race that will die out like many species before us. The planet will survive in one way or another.

    • Anna says:

      I suppose that’s implied! Yes, it’s absolutely about saving the human race by protecting the only thing we need to survive: the planet.

  8. Dave Gardner says:

    There are so many of us today, literally crushing the ecosystems, so we ARE having such a huge negative impact on planet and other species that I think it is very appropriate now to talk about “saving the planet.” Thanks for drawing some attention to this. This makes you e a bigger rock star than Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, even Oprah.

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