One-child-per-family or genocide

Lets get the problem straight so we can get the solution straight.  Our way of life is headed for conditions no one wants.  During the last 5000 years we have squandered the earth’s bountiful resources building monuments and fighting wars.  We are consuming to exhaustion the earth’s non-renewable resources while consuming its renewable resources above replacement.  We have diminished or poisoned much of earth’s life.  And now we are terra-forming the land, water, and air so it is less supportive.  What remains of our earth will not sustain all of us to the level to which we have become accustomed let alone to the level to which we aspire. 

The present total human footprint appears unsustainable, yet we continue to increase both our numbers and per capita consumption.  Our misguided optimism leads us to believe either technology will find a prosperous way into the future or a supreme being will save us from ourselves. 

A difficult choice faces those of us that lack such optimism.  Total human footprint must be much smaller.  Taking into account the, rising expectations of each individual for more of the earth’s resources, human numbers must rapidly and continuously decrease.  This requires very low birthrates – - possibly no more than one-child-per-family for the next 300 years.

Given humankind’s very low abilities to infer the future.  Given that without an understanding of the social responses to deteriorating conditions, few are willing to implement these procreative behaviors.  If they could understand the meaning of our course, they would know, "not implementing rapid population decline," through procreative behavior, will force them to reduce population through acts of genocide.  That is, either through deprivation or violent action, large portions of the population will have to perish to facilitate their lives.

If we, the haves of the world, are sensitive we know our acts are responsible for Darfur.  I know I contribute to that genocide just by driving to my soccer game.  My knowledge and actions imply my goal is to have enough people perish to allow me to, heat my home and send my kids to college, using the resources not consumed by the disenfranchised or dead.

To give this kind of “genocide-trade-for-wellbeing” meaning, consider a world were a billion people live on 2 dollars a day.  Groups, among that billion, implement a genocide to facilitate their own rise in wellbeing to $100 a day.  This would require 980 million people to perish so 20 million could have the higher wellbeing.

Let me give you another way of looking at our predicament.  Consider this scenario.  Let all the people in the world decide to move, with all their presently allocated resources, into one of two nations whose people and resources are isolated from each other by a very high but transparent fence.  The two nations have the same US Style democracy except for one small difference.  Individuals in the first nation must limit themselves to “one-child-per-family.” In the second nation, they can have any number of children. 

The one-child-per-family nation has a chance at sustainability.  The latter nation follows our unsustainable course.  Over time, the second nation sees its way of life sinking due to loss of sustainability.  Its people see through the fence that the other group has ever rising abundance.  Their response is to attack the abundant nation. 

If so inclined, the abundant nation may try sharing, which will not work in the long run.  The abundant nation could try ever-higher levels of isolation, which at some point will not work.  The abundant nation can be destroyed.  Oh yes, there is one more alterative.  The abundant nation performs a successful genocide on the unsustainable nation.

Is our world that much different than this theoretically divided world? If not, our predicament, probably not seen by most, is getting everyone to choose rapidly decreasing population through procreation behaviors, or performing genocide -- focused, economically on the weakest, or intellectually on the zombies who cannot understand that the one-child-per-family behavior is the route to sustainability.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:      Other position papers

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