The Overpopulation Myth

people

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Yes, I’m going to put myself out there and state that I believe overpopulation in the world is a myth.

With only 3 children and 1 on the way I wouldn’t consider my family to be very large, but it is definitely larger than the norm in North America. Of course, with “the norm” being less than 2 children per household, that’s not really saying much.

I read a lot of large family blogs. And on almost every single one, somewhere, at some point, someone has to bring up overpopulation and how large families are killing the planet.

2011 family photo

But it doesn’t make sense!

There are obviously a lot more small families than large families. And with most families not even replacing the current generation, I don’t think we have to worry about the relatively few larger families (especially since a large family might only have 3 children.) I think that when people talk about overpopulation, they’re talking more about overuse of energy and lack of  natural resources.

People argue that large families leave too big of a carbon footprint. I disagree.

Yes, a larger family as a whole might use more energy, but they use less energy per person.

If a small family has 3 people in the living room with the lights on, the large family might have 5 or 6 people in the room with the lights on.

If a small family has 4 people in a minivan, the large family has 7 or 8 people in the same minivan. And the large family probably drives less because they are more likely to be watching their expenses and trying to save money by using less gas.

A small family has the stove and oven on to cook a meal for 3 or 4 people…the larger family has the stove and oven on for the same amount of time to cook for 7 or 8 people. They’re just using a bigger pot to boil their pasta.

A larger family might need to take more showers, but they are likely to be shorter showers because there are other people waiting to use the bathroom. A large family is also more likely to stick 3 or 4 small children in the tub at once to save time (and water.)

Large families buy in bulk, which means the products they buy will have less packaging. This helps balance out the amount of garbage the family produces as well. This also reduces the number of times needed to drive to a store, saving gas and producing less pollution.

Large families might tend to cook more from scratch as well because packaged foods are so expensive and are only designed to feed small crowds, which also decreases the amount of food packaging being thrown out.

Large families aren’t to blame for the overuse of energy. The problem lies more in the large hotels and resorts and mega-malls that have hundreds of lights on all the time, and A/C running non-stop in the summer (because our society feels entitled to always being comfortable, even in extreme weather) in buildings that don’t even keep the cool air in because doors are being opened all the time. Mall food courts that have a dozen or more kitchens running in a small space.

I don’t think the world is becoming overpopulated, it’s unevenly populated.

world population map density

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Yes, there are countries that are jam-packed with people. And then there are other countries, such as Canada, that have hundreds, if not thousands, of square kilometers sitting empty. And to be honest, I don’t see how my large-ish family will ever impact the population density in a crowded country. My having 4 (or more) kids won’t ever cause a child to starve to death halfway across the world; in fact, one of my children might grow up to save others from that fate.

People say that there isn’t enough food to feed the world as it is. That’s not true either. The food is unevenly distributed.

How many millions of tons of food is wasted in North America each year? The amount of food our society wastes could easily feed millions. We want huge portions, stuff ourselves to the point of gluttony, and then throw out the leftovers because they ended up being shoved to the back of the fridge for a week. After all, we like variety. We don’t want to eat the same thing twice in a row, or sometimes even twice in a week.

garbage

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Meanwhile, there are families across the world who are lucky to get a handful of cooked rice a day. And that’s all they might have to choose from for several weeks, or longer.

There’s enough food to feed the world. It’s just that the people who have it don’t fully appreciate it because we now believe we’re entitled to it. (And I include myself in many of these generalizations; I’ve seen extreme poverty face to face in several different countries and yet, over time, I still end up taking my blessings for granted.)

I know us larger families might seem strange and ignorant as to what’s going on in the environment and how we’re impacting it, but most of us are very aware of what we use and what mark we’re leaving on the planet. We’re also trying our best to teach our children to respect God’s creations, which includes our beautiful planet!

I think our energy is much better spent being careful about how we live, rather than pointing fingers at how others are living.

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Comments

  1. I absolutely LOVE this post. You have made some great points. It drives me nuts when I see people bashing large families and using the “overpopulation” reason. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. A wonderful post. So many great points. I’m sure none of us want to get into a debate related to race, but it’s interesting to me how that plays into things. Families in Africa have the (on average) largest families on the planet. Yet it is not politically correct to point that out, but is politically correct to send them millions of dollars worth of food and supplies because they are not able to care for themselves. Also, in plain numbers, the reason the population is increasing in the US is not due to white families, but due to immigration. It is not logical for someone to complain about large (white) families in the US and also be supportive of immigrants flowing freely into the country, yet that is the typical liberals belief. Another point is the literally thousands of acres of unused farmland in our country. It is amazing how much land is sitting fallow that we could be growing food on. We could also consider ceasing to grow thousands (millions?) of acres of corn to feed cattle (since they are not naturally corn eaters, they are grass eaters), or perhaps stop growing & watering the millions of acres of lawn in the country… But, all that being said, I am a huge supporter of freedom. I would not support laws that would force people to have certain sized families, yards, or anything else. :)

  3. You have many valid points about how large families actually use less energy and resources per person. One thing you might want to reconsider in your argument is your appraisal of Canada. I’m not sure where you live, but believe me, not everything you see of Canada on the map is inhabitable. In fact, even Edmonton is too cold for me!
    rootsong: The reason the lefties love non-white immigrants and bad mouth large white families: they are future DEMOCRATS!

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