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1 world + more children = ?

A hospital nurse in Bangkok cares for babies in 2017, the Year of the Chicken.European Pressphoto Agency

Having more children is not a save-the-world strategy

Jeff Jacoby (“The world needs more people,” Opinion, Aug. 4) is indulging in delusion verging on messianism when he asserts: “If you’re alarmed by the state of the world, bring more children into it.”

His reasoning? The more people we crowd onto this planet, the greater the chances that a cohort of smart, imaginative people will emerge to guide us, like the orphaned Moses rising from the bulrushes to lead the Jewish slaves out of Egypt. To Jacoby, it’s simply a matter of playing the odds.

Jacoby’s gamble on demographic exceptionalism ignores the resource toll of pushing way beyond the 7.7 billion people already living on this planet. The UN projects that 3 billion more will be added to our numbers by 2100 – that’s without adopting Jacoby’s reproductive formula for solving the world’s problems.


Even at our current numbers, we are wreaking havoc on our global environment, exhausting our freshwater supplies, stripping forests to make way for new agricultural lands, and generating enough carbon emissions to send us hurtling toward climate catastrophe. Speeding up population growth will only get us there sooner.

Philip Warburg


The writer, an environmental lawyer, writes about energy and environmental issues.

No children please, we’re environmentalists

I have an announcement for those who want children, and can easily afford them, but deprive themselves for the sake of the environment. You’re all invited to come share your stories of self-sacrifice next week, in my living room. Don’t worry, you’ll fit.

If by chance you actually made your reproductive decisions for the same boring reasons as everyone else but would like to be congratulated anyway, please note: A virtue-signaling event will be scheduled later, at a larger facility.

Michael Smith

Georgetown, Ky.

Why don’t people have more kids? They can’t afford them

As a working physician, and as a mother who has chosen for multiple reasons to have a small family, I found Jeff Jacoby’s “The world needs more people” off-putting as well as lacking an appreciation of the challenges young families face in this country today.


First, who, for the most part, would be shouldering the burden of all the babies Jacoby advocates for but women? Reading his column, I felt like I was waking up in some “Handmaid’s Tale” dystopia.

Further, with an enormous amount of evidence that the United States uses more than its fair share of natural resources, I would argue that it is, indeed, the responsible and moral decision, as an American, to have fewer children.

Aside from all this, however, Jacoby’s column is tone-deaf to the practical reason young families don’t have more children: They can’t afford them. Between student debt and out-of-reach housing prices, as compared with our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, not to mention the desire to save for higher education for the children we do have, having larger families just isn’t practical.

Dr. Susan Swords


Let’s do more for the world’s children who are living now

Jeff Jacoby’s case for increasing the world population rests on the notion, in essence, that the world needs more people to solve its myriad problems. On one thing we agree: that our individual consumption must be reduced. However (and I find an echo here in the abortion debate), if we really care about being rescued by the unborn, let’s focus on the millions of children currently living worldwide without proper nutrition, health care, housing, and education. Heck, let’s start with the kids in cages on our border, separated from their families. There could be a child there now who could develop a cure for cancer, invent a clean power source, or create an affordable water desalination process. Procreation is not the answer.


Leonora Foley


I agree with Jeff Jacoby that the world needs more human intelligence, imagination, and grit. And a new child may indeed improve the world. But the world will not be improved if that child dies as an infant from some water-borne illness. No deadly disease will be cured if that child never gets an education. No technological advance will be discovered by a child who spends his or her entire life in desperate poverty.

The way forward is not through more children, but through taking better advantage of those we have already. This can be done by ensuring that they have clean water, medical care, electricity, and education — for girls and boys. Giving more people access to these fruits of the enlightenment has the effect of increasing our prosperity, and also slowing population growth. That’s the future we should work toward.

Jim Van Zandt