photo via flickr
Chalk it up to eco-awareness, The Great Recession, or increased availability of pregnancy prevention methods but people in the US are having fewer kids. News stats from the National Center for Health Statistics show that for 1,000 people in the US, there are 13.5 births. That's down from 14.3 in 2007, and around 30 in early part of the 20th century The question is: Is this good green news or just another statistic that amazes for a minute but carries no consequence?The answer depends on your perspective. If you're a technological determinist, then you probably believe that we have the know-how to feed and shelter any number of people. If you're bent toward having a huge concern over population control, then the new stats may be a comfort, even though in other parts of the people population continues to explode.
First, some facts for consideration:
--The world's population is increasing and is expected to peak in 2050 and then decline.
--Americans use the second most energy per capita (behind those lovable Canadians.)
--Scientists recommend that to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to reduce CO2 pollution, down to about 350 parts per million in the atmosphere.
My big concern is stopping global climate change, so that's the lens through which I view the new birth rate stats. With that in mind, I say the numbers have little to no effect on if this country is going to increase the climate change problem or help to fix it. As Bill Gates pointed out in an interview last week, it doesn't really matter if we cut our per capita emissions in half, which would equal Europe's and Japan's, or if we have less children. With the rise in population and wealth in Africa and Asia, which is creating millions of new consumers, the important thing is not the total number of people but from where they get their energy. It can't be hydrocarbons or we are all doomed. It's got to be from renewable resources.
What do you think? Does the decrease in the US birth rate portend good things or bad?