The crazy proposal of environmental activists to stop the demographic rise
“At present, it is completely crazy to have children!”. Environmental activists are confident that to reduce the world’s population surge, it is necessary to stop having children. According to them, this is the only way to fight against climate change.
It is only a matter of a day to reach the 8 billion human beings on Planet Earth, “we are already too many compared to what the planet can take”, says Alice Rallier, 44 years old, member of “Démographie Responsable”.
Responsible Demography is a tiny French “ecological and decreasing” association that fights for “the stabilization and then the slow decrease of the human population”.
“I don’t want to feel the guilt of having given birth to a child in this mess,” says Ms. Rallier, who was in a relationship with two men “who didn’t want children either” and who chose to undergo permanent surgical sterilization.
“Every child born today is part of the problem” because of the pressure of population growth on natural resources, according to this activist, who says she is aware that she is up against a “taboo” and the “population myth that says the more, the better.”
Concerning these ecological leaders, it is a question of proposing a “voluntary incentive”, as to cap the family allowances from the second child, argues Denis Garnier, president of “Responsible Demography.”
According to a survey published in 2021 by The Lancet, conducted among 10,000 people in ten countries on all continents, 39% of young people aged 16 to 25 “hesitate to have children” because they are worried about climate change.
This far-fetched proposal was relayed in the United Kingdom in 2018 by proponents of a “birth strike”, and in Canada by students who pledged not to have children until the government takes more action against climate change. In Germany, an anti-birth strike author, Verena Brunschweiger, has caused controversy by describing parenthood as “selfish”.
“Many people are wondering” but the phenomenon remains difficult to quantify, says the French consultant Emmanuel Pont, author of the recent book Fantail arrêter de faire des enfants pour sauver la planète?
At 35 years old, Sébastien Verdier – known on social networks under his activist pseudonym Sereb – has “put his actions in line with his ideas” by undergoing permanent sterilization.
Fear has set in, and it is for him both to avoid the unborn child, “an unpleasant future that I do not wish to anyone” and “not to add in the system one more consumer”.
Sebastien Verdier agrees, however, that his commitment is more “symbolic” than really effective in the fight against global warming because of the “enormous inertia” of demographic changes that only make their effects felt after several decades.
In another study published in 2014 by two Australian researchers, “even with one-child policies imposed around the world and events leading to catastrophic mortality, there would probably still be between 5 and 10 billion human beings in 2100.”
Furthermore, beyond this “demographic inertia” issue, there is no consensus on the link between demographics and climate protection.
A study published in 2017 by two North American climate change specialists concluded that having “one less child” was much more efficient in terms of a carbon footprint than giving up driving, air travel or eating meat.
But other scientists have challenged these results, arguing that the authors had considered that future generations would necessarily have a level of consumption as harmful to the environment as their elders.
However, “our children are not condemned to drive SUVs and fly to Ibiza every weekend,” says Emmanuel Pont. However, limiting fertility to fight against global warming is not “absurd,” according to him… just like insulating one’s home or restrict air travel.