by Kelpie Wilson
Can you imagine what life would be like if everything weren’t always getting more crowded, dirtier and poorer every day with the threat of war and ecological collapse hanging over our heads? The root cause of our global impoverishment is growth. Growth – both the economic kind and the population kind, makes every ecological and social problem worse and more unmanageable. Growth may bring vast wealth to a few, for a limited amount of time, but the legacy of growth is topsoil loss, over-fished oceans, deforestation, global warming, species extinction, pollution, disease, starvation and war. The world needs a strategy to stop growing and start living sustainably. We now have six billion people and may grow to twice that number in the next few generations if we don’t do something. Growth not only needs to be stopped, it needs to be reversed, for a time at least. Some ecologists think that two billion is a reasonable number for the Earth to support in perpetuity.
The good news is that we could humanely reach an optimum global population of two billion in only three generations. When my parents were born, there were only two billion people in the world. If every woman on earth today had no more than one child, the number of people of reproductive age would halve in the next generation. By the end of another two generations, we could achieve our goal of two billion. Think of what a bright new day it would be for those two billion people and the other species they share the planet with. There would be enough of everything, including clean air, clean water and wilderness. War would become a thing of the past and the human war against nature would end.
If we had the will, we women could put the brakes on growth by simply stopping up our wombs for a while. With the planet headed toward ecological collapse, someone’s got to take charge. Could women do it? The only precedent I can think of is a literary one: the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, by Aristophanes.