Children? We don’t need no stinkin’ children!

That the watermelon*, sorry green, movement is no fan of humanity – and the progress we have made since we first figured out how to rub two sticks together to make fire – should come as no surprise to anyone. Indeed one of their catechisms is that the sheer number of us (rapidly approaching 7 billion) means that we are looking at a Malthusian nightmare in the not too distant future.

For those who need the history lesson, Thomas Malthus was a British scholar who proposed the theory that continual population growth would eventually result in a situation whereby humanity would not be able to feed itself.

Needless to say such a situation has yet to present itself and mankind has so far managed to make supply keep up with demand** but that hasn’t stopped people continuing to insist that it will come to pass as the population surges towards an estimated 9 billion by 2050.

It is therefore didn’t particularly surprise me yesterday when I saw that Chris Packham was in the papers advocating population controls.

Like Malthus he believes we should stop breeding in the UK because the projected figure of 70 million people on this island come 2020 is too many. I know it maybe a typical complaint to say that we are all full up but the UK does not have a particularly high population density, weighing in at 53rd all told which is behind a number of smaller European countries and an awful lot of Asian ones. The UKs problem is that our infrastructure (dating back to the Victorian Era in places) needs a major overhaul, not just lots of tinkering around the edges.

Returning to the subject, Packham suggests that a slower population growth be achieved by the use of tax breaks to those who elect to go childless or settle for only one. If he is advocating that people should pay only for the services that they consume (rather than fixed percentages based on income) then I’m right behind him. Seems a much fairer way of collecting money wouldn’t you say? He isn’t of course, in much the same way as he made no mention of reducing, let alone scraping, Child Benefit which is paid to all those who breed. Or was until yesterday – now it is restricted to those not in the upper tax brackets.

No, Chris is more concerned about the other species with which we share this planet:

Fact is, we all eat food, breathe air and require space, and the more of us there are, the less of those commodities there are for other people and, of course, for the animals.”

And of course doing his best for the environment:

If I didn’t recycle and shop locally, I couldn’t see the point of being human.

Laudable aims but not being able to see the point of being human if he didn’t do those things? Oh please, do the achievements of the human race mean nothing to you? Is everything you buy locally sourced locally? No out of season fruit and vegetables? Nothing imported from other countries? None of which would be possible without the accomplishments humanity has made since that first stick rubbing moment.

What Chris seems to forget is that nothing slows a birth rate more than industrialisation. As we get healthier, better educated and live longer we no longer need to produce large families in order to ensure that some of the children make it to adulthood. With birth rates in the developed world already dropping below replenishment levels the majority of the population increase in this country is going to be coming through immigration and the children of these first generation immigrants.

If Chris really wants to slow the rate of population increase then can I suggest he devotes his efforts to ensuring that Africa starts industrialising? With China and India are already moving in the right direction, it just needs that basket case of a continent to play catch up.

All in all it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris were a fully paid up member of the The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Which is fine by me as it just means more for the rest of us and our descendants.

* Thank you James Delingpole for that most excellent throwaway.

** Anyone who mentions Ethiopia here will be up against the wall soon after Bono and Geldof. Clear?


  1. Simon Cooke says:

    Over 50% of the world’s population live in countries at or below replacement rate – the problem will be too few kids not too many by the end of the century.

    These idiots should be told to shut up with their lies.

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      But if they shut up then we wouldn’t be able to openly mock their stupidity…

  2. WitteringWitney says:

    Perhaps we should take this idea one stage further and cull a few? Starting of course with Packham!

    At the risk of being put up against a wall, should tags not include Ethopia? :)

  3. dave h says:

    The UK as a whole may have an unexceptional population density, but England’s is fairly high. The last time I checked it was around 380 (bods/km² based on 2001 census), India and Japan were more in the 320-330 range. It’s one of the highest figures amongst industrialised countries, amongst which I think only the Netherlands is higher, and we’re set to overtake it shortly.

    Still, although when I found this out I was surprised, by itself it’s hardly much of an argument either way. I’ve never heard of an ‘optimum’ population density, and dividing a country down to (what is still) a region to get a different number is a slightly dodgy trick. Why not leave out Cornwall when I’m about it, or oop North?

  4. Remind me – isn’t this the lispy, spiky-haired twat from ‘The Really Wild Show’?

    • Misanthrope Girl says:

      That’d be the one. I remember being an avid fan of the show in the 80s whilst I was growing up.

  5. Paul says:

    dave h: In Europe, Malta’s population density is higher than both the European part of the Netherlands and England’s.

    Malta has a population of 412,000 and is just over half the size of the Isle of Man (population 81,000). And yet, even in Malta, there are rural areas still (mainly on the west of the main island).