According to a press release by the Optimum Population Trust for a recent conference of population and climate scientists in London, it turns out that population growth is caused by sex. Perhaps this is not an entirely new insight.
Haha, it’s funny because they’re self-defeating and don’t know it. Anyway, the OPT’s point is that large families in developing nations need not be explained, as would be the case according to a kind of market fundamentalism, by intentional economic rationality. Large families happen quite naturally when folks have a lot of sex without contraception. “Having a large rather than a small family is less of a planned decision than an automatic outcome of human sexuality,” Prof. Guillebaud of University College London says. “For a fertile couple, nothing is easier.” Right, sort of like with bunnies and cows and voles and drunken teenagers.
Getting square on this seemingly simple question is of some importance if it’s the case that there are real limits to the numbers of humans the planet can sustainably carry. The good folks at OPT, like our Protestant exemplars in the video, note that contraception is a good thing to “separate sex from conception,” and they find that people will actively choose contraception if it’s available. But they also stay true to the original insight that rational choice is not likely to be the solution to all problems by observing that contraceptives for which the “default state” (what happens when you botch it) is failure are likely to disappoint in real human use. The Pill and condoms, not so good; implants and IUDs, much better.
Of course there’s always the worry that this is just another way to recolonially meddle in the affairs of the world’s downtrodden peoples. Let’s see implants in our own sons and daughters before we go tsk-tsking about all the little brown babies. But from this perspective you’ve got to admire the profound wisdom and sacrifice of the Pythons’ Protestant couple, who have gotten themselves into such a tangled Gordian twist about sex it’s a miracle they managed to produce two little carbon-emitters at all.
Thanks to Improbable Research for this notice.