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British Medical Journal: Stop Having Children!

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The Independent Magazine’s cover reflects the growing trend of declining birth rates in Europe and the reasons behind it. The British Medical Journal pleads with its readers to stop having so many children because of global climate change. Births are declining but it’s not in response to pleas from environmental whackos.

The magic figure for demographers is 2.1 births per couple. That, allowing for the fact that some girls die before they reach child-bearing age, is the figure at which a population replaces itself. In Europe the last time that fertility was above replacement level was in the mid-1960s. But now, for the first time on record, birthrates in southern and eastern Europe have dropped below 1.3 – well below the 1.5 which the United Nations has marked as the crisis point. If things continue the population there will be cut in half in just 45 years. In Italy, one recent survey put it at 1.2. Cities such as Milan and Bologna recorded less than 1, the lowest birthrates anywhere.


The world’s highest fertility rates are to be found in the most religious countries. People there seem to adhere to traditional views of how the world works. “Food, sex and procreation are core elements of humanity and changes to them are often met with fierce hostility,” says Cleland.

That is true of Christians in the US, Hindus in India and Muslims in many states. The more fundamentalist the leadership, the higher the fertility rate, says Kenneth W Wachter, the Professor of Demography and Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Is this because Muslim countries are by and large poor? “In my view the evidence is that there is something intrinsic to the culture. It’s there in the rich Muslim states in the Gulf, in Saudi Arabia and in the Muslim provinces of the former Soviet Union. It is perhaps bound up with the status of women.”

So you might expect, then, that in Europe fertility rates would be highest in the Catholic south. But intriguingly the opposite is the case. It has a more rapidly falling population than the Protestant north. “Not just in Catholic Spain and Italy but in Orthodox Greece the strong traditions … are not boosting fertility rate as many might suppose,” says Coleman.

The explanation? Read all about it here.

Children Are Bad For The Earth.

Reducing Carbon Footprints One Foot At A Time.


One Response

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  1. I believe that one should only have as many children as they can afford to clothe, feed, provide a good education and with money left over for reecreation. If your religion is telling you to procreate, then you should reexamine your beliefs. If birth control is an issue-try the rhythm
    method. Having or not having kids is a personal decision; not one to be decided by environmentalists.


    August 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm

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