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No kidding: “Reproductive success” might mean not reproducing

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Time magazine cover story on women who choose not to have children ("The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children") is igniting a national debate that is both highly personal and highly important to the future of the world.

My wife and I chose to be "childfree" long before the term was invented. We decided that having a child was not for us. It was not a terribly difficult decision. We like children, but we did not like them enough to take on the commitment of raising them. We knew there was a chance that we might later regret that decision, but so far at least there has been no regret.

Some may characterize our decision as selfish, and in a sense it was, but I suspect that the decision about whether to have children or not is inherently a "selfish" decision. Couples who really like children and who look forward to the joys and personal fulfillment that can come with having them are also acting out of "selfish" instincts. They are acting on their personal preferences. They are doing what they want.

Some, however, would argue that not having children is somehow more selfish than having children. Some, like Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics, assert that it is not just selfish, it is unnatural:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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7 billion? It’s time to talk

The subject of population -- like sex, politics, and religion -- elicits such strong opinions that people often go out of their way to avoid talking about it. That's led many to believe that population growth is no longer a valid concern, but if you're worried about people, posterity, or the planet, it's time to talk. On Oct. 31, world population will cross the 7 billion mark. There's nothing particularly significant about that number. It's just a milestone, but it's also an opportunity for reflection and recalibration. A lot has happened since world population crossed the 6 billion mark in …

Read more: Living, Population, Sex

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What climate activists need to learn from the NRA and the gun-control wars

Don’t fear to be feared.Supporters of climate-change legislation have much to learn from an organization that is often rated as the most powerful lobby in Washington: the National Rifle Association.  The gun lobby is not invincible, but it has won a disproportionate share of its battles. The NRA and its allies have not relied on data collection and scrupulously reasoned arguments to carry the day.  To the contrary, the gun lobby has focused on building and energizing its small membership base, working to influence the outcome of critical elections, and employing bare-knuckled tactics.  The NRA's membership is not that large …

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Let's move beyond the “population vs. consumption” debate

In response to my post about the multitude of challenges posed by rapid population growth in developing countries, Jason Scorse replies, "there is plenty of food to feed everyone in the world already, but many go hungry. There is probably five times the amount of food to feed everyone in the U.S., but we have hungry people here."   That's like saying, "Severe poverty is not a problem.  There is plenty of money in the world.  We just need to redistribute it."     For better or worse, we don't live in a Marxian world where it's "each according to …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Of course population is still a problem

There are already 6.8 billion of us ...Photo courtesy James Cridland via FlickrFred Pearce keeps on saying that population growth is no longer a problem. He said it again yesterday as part of his World Population Day message. In Fred's view, it's very simple. Fertility rates have come down sharply over the past half century. Problem solved. Sorry, Fred, saying that population growth is no longer a problem doesn't make it so, no matter how many times you say it. Neither does wishful thinking. While admitting that world population may increase by another 2 billion or so by midcentury, he …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living