March 10, 2018

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)

Today’s guest post is from Ivan Cicin-Sain, an environmentalist working for Population Matters (, a UK charity concerned about population growth. As Organisational outreach officer he is keen to create contacts and partnerships with other organisations promoting smaller families or being childfree.

It is curious that those who are childfree are described as selfish – their choice is one of the biggest contributions to society one can make.

The WWF Living Planet report states that we are consuming one-and-a-half times what the planet can produce sustainably, even though billions still have very low standards of living. (Source: WWF “Living Planet Report 2016”)

The factor that we have most control over is the one we address the least.

Encouraging people to live sustainable, low-impact lifestyles is part of the answer, as is reforming industry, government and society to reduce collective wasteful consumption and inappropriate incentives. Better use of technology can mean achieving the same results with a reduced use of resources and energy. Yet the factor that we have most control over is the one we address the least. In the last fifty years, vertebrate populations globally have dropped by half. All except one – humans. Our numbers doubled from 3.5 to 7 billion, and are still growing by 80 million a year. According to the United Nations, the global population is likely to continue to rise throughout the 21st century, reaching about 11 billion in 2100. (Source: United Nations “World Population Prospects 2017”)

Imagine instead a world where family size was falling. Endangered species would be recovering instead of being extinguished. There would be more green spaces and access to amenities. House and room sizes would be rising, instead of falling. Falling prices of resources (e.g. food, water, energy) would enable rising living standards for the poorest, instead of the current position where rising competition for resources puts increasing pressure on the poor and other species. Even climate change would be a thing of the past, eventually.

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)

In surveys, most people recognise that populations are too high, but don’t know what to do about it. No-one wants the swingeing fines China imposes on families exceeding state guidelines or the excesses of local officials working to sterilization targets. In the absence of compulsion, won’t everyone have large families? In fact, the real answer, like encouraging people to be more environmentally conscious in other ways, is not compulsion but freedom. After all, where people have a choice, families are typically low.

We need to give women the freedom to say ‘no’ to sex when they do not want it, to say ‘no’ to forced and child marriage, and to say ‘no’ to pregnancy where it is unintended. We were engineered to enjoy sex and to have children as a consequence; that is why we are all here. However, we know how to manage our fertility and, as a consequence, many countries today have very low birth rates. It involves good quality sex and relationships education, respect for women and good access to a range of affordable and appropriate family planning methods.

This topic is absolutely not about first world vs. third world, black vs. white, natives vs. immigrants, secularists vs. faith groups or men vs. women. Richer countries and communities, with their much higher per capita consumption, have even more cause to limit their family size in order to reduce the degree to which they exploit the resources which are needed by the poor to improve their living standards.

Our case is simple: a smaller family is a sustainable family.

A childfree family is even better!

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)

Environmental Benefits of Being Childfree (Source: Holly Mandarich via Unsplash)








Happy Conception Day

Conception Day

Hat tip to starsspinningdizzy for the link to this conception day cartoon by Zach Weiner.

Kendra Wilkinson: How Motherhood Affected My Sex Life |

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15:  Model/actress Kend...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Kendra Wilkinson: How Motherhood Affected My Sex Life |

This story is barely a story and nothing terribly illuminating, but honest. Guess what? Adding babies to a relationship makes things significantly less steamy, something environmentalist John Davis said more eloquently than Kendra Wilkinson in his recent WNK post, “Sexiest Reason Why No Kids? Sex!”

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Doug Stanhope on Overpopulation

If you’re easily offended please do NOT watch comedian Doug Stanhope as he leaps from global warming to overpopulation to sodomy to minivans to abortion.

If you bristle when you hear four letter words uttered by a foolishly dressed man swilling beer, this video is not for you. You will be offended. Avoid the hurt, and skip this post. There are others…

But if you’d like to hear Doug Stanhope on overpopulation, if you suspect that abortion is green then you’re in for a wild ride. Enjoy!

Sexiest Reason Why No Kids? Sex!


Image via Wikipedia

Today’s guest post is from John Davis, a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute. John’s previous posts, “Why Five Cats?” (a lighthearted look at the merits of nulliparity and cat ownership) and Sire of All Crises (a “no holds barred” look at human overpopulation), primed the pump for this intimate-if-lighthearted look at the childfree holy grail: sex!

What is the sexiest reason to abstain from having children?

That would be sex, of course.  All you young couples out there, wondering whether or no you should have children, ask some parents to honestly answer the question, did you have sex more or less often after you had a baby?  (You might want to choose close older friends for your focus group research, as asking random strangers about their sex lives could quickly turn awkward!)

Although much church doctrine argues against the decoupling of sex and procreation, that decoupling has been largely accomplished materially; and for the sake of this crowded world, and our own busy lives, that is for the good.  Birth control advances have allowed couples to decide whether and when they want kids.  The fewer kids you have, the more free time you’ll have to enjoy wild pursuits, including that most fun and intimate of acts.

You young folks entering an active sex life will have the greatest amount of activity over the longest run, I’ll wager, if you always practice safe sex and opt not to have children.  Or if you do really want children, have just one (read Bill McKibben’s excellent defense of the one-child family in Maybe One) or at most two (read Dave Foreman’s new book, Man Swarm, on how human over-population is smothering the natural world).  This year, the human population will top 7 billion, meaning the number of people in the world has more than tripled during my parents’ lifetime.  Why take on the difficult, time-consuming challenge of parenting when there are already more than enough kids in the world?

One of the most effective population planning programs I ever encountered was a surly and chubby child, thought of as Girtha, from the unlikeliest, nicest slimmest parents.  How these kind and fit parents suffered their unruly and sour-faced child was beyond any neighbor’s comprehension.  Most of us love most children we meet, but this round hellion was a reminder, at a time when otherwise I might have wondered about fathering a child, that not only do all children need much of their parents’ time, but some turn quite disagreeable.  I did not quite dare suggest to these parents with the patience of Job that they go on tour with their child to college campuses with a presentation, This Could Happen to You!; but I think such a show could have significantly cut fertility rates in the US for years.

Girtha was a child before the metastasis of computer games and cell phones, so I must suppose that a difficult child could be even more of a hindrance to a happy romance these days.  What a downer on a sex life it must be for couples who have children noisily playing computer games and chatting on their cell phones late into the evening – as well try to make love in a Best Buy store!

Good parenting and other forms of nurturing are among the noblest of human instincts and endeavors, undeniably.  In this crowded world, however, people do well for themselves and others by forgoing the opportunity to procreate and using their nurturing skills to help raise nieces and nephews or foster children and to provide homes for needy cats and dogs.  Be a good uncle or aunt, and you enjoy the pleasures of being with kids without the constant obligations of raising them.  Small, close families are an ideal to which our society should aspire – lest we, as cultures and as individuals, be overwhelmed by problems stemming from overshooting our carrying capacity, from crime to pollution to hunger to roadkill to war.

Along with the huge amount of time that parents must invest in their children (time that otherwise might be spent in bed or on the beach) is the hefty cost of raising children.  The average middle-class American couple invests hundreds of thousands of dollars raising a son or a daughter, and those costs are rising, with young people’s lofty expectations of material abundance.  Such investments are rewarding for many parents, but people still wondering about procreation should surely factor them into their decisions.  You’ll have more time and more money for romantic vacations and wild excursions if you opt to remain free of the obligations of parenting.

Peace activists in the 1960s righteously urged, Make love, not war!  This is a good motto, but may need updating.  Let us care lovingly and well for all children (and dependent cats & dogs, too!) the world over.  Let us not, though, bring more new children (or cats or dogs) into this world, unless we simply must, and then only in small numbers.  Make love and peace, by caring for those already here!

John Davis is a wilderness explorer and writer, former Wild Earth editor, and Fellow of The Rewilding Institute.