Leaders Must Set the Example So Others will Follow

With the level of destruction to biodiversity (our life-support system) from human population, consumption, and pollution, it is extremely important to reverse this trend and safeguard humanity's long-term physical and spiritual health. Many people, especially members of religious, environmental, and conservation groups, care deeply about such issues. Yet they somehow justify or rationalize the creation of their own biological children into a world that's already horribly overstressed. Are these not the individuals that should be setting the example for adopting children (children that are already here) or by channeling their energy into other nurturing alternatives? Sadly, such individuals are not doing so in significant numbers. Nevertheless, the author remains hopeful that this trend will change as more and more people overcome the denial phase and deal with the reality (as unpopular as it is) that our life-support system and civilization are in a massive decline from humanity's impact. Just a few of the most recent publications that support this statement are One Planet Many People: Atlas of our Changing Environment and the second Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, Biodiversity and Human Well'being: A Synthesis Report for the Convention on Biological Diversity.Furthermore, as the life-support system continues to degrade, the level of corruption (corporate, political, religious, etc.) and violence (poverty, terrorism, war, etc.) will only increase in order to secure dwindling resources. Each violent wave justifying increased military/police budgets and the next brutal wave'decreasing social services, civil liberties, educational opportunities, critical thinking, and a long list of other benefits provided by a healthy civilization. The violence will increase nationalism and tribalism among nation states (both internally and externally) and threaten the U.S. Constitution and other democratic forms of government around the world.

Additional Insight & Suggestions

For additional insight on population issues from other authors (and to name only a few), please read the works of Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Dr. J. Kenneth Smail, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dr. Stuart Pimm, Professor of Conservation Ecology, and Dr. Jeffrey McKee, Professor of Anthropology. Although many authors addressing population issues clearly and courageously state the seriousness of the problem, their recommendation for stopping at two children is woefully inadequate and it's unfair to women who would have a single child if others weren't having two or more. Many authors also fail to address the additional impact of a second child born into a wealthy country versus a second child born into a modest or poor country. This omission can lead to rash comments of racism and/or inflammatory misrepresentation of immigration issues by others and, in-turn, create a hostile and less productive dialog for all concerned.

Furthermore, the seriousness of their writings seems to contradict the two-child option as a suggestion in the first place. Therefore, to increase fairness and help a horribly overstressed life-support system for all of humanity (present and future), this author strongly encourages people to adopt or at least limit themselves to one child. If additional children are desired, then please choose adoption or some other nurturing alternative. Yes, adoption can be difficult and expensive in some countries, which may force one to consider other nurturing alternatives. One such alternative could be to help make the adoption process, in one's country, less difficult and expensive. Another alternative could be to help establish equal rights for women and make contraceptive services and educational opportunities available to all citizens around the world. Once humanity's population reaches the Earth's carrying capacity, which is currently and prudently estimated at 2-3 billion, a replacement-fertility rate should be encouraged. Of course, this author also encourages people, especially living in wealthy countries, to reduce their consumption of resources as well.


Many individuals, who already have biological children, may feel they can't address overpopulation issues even when they agree with the seriousness of the problem. However, this is not true. One can explain their decision process to have biological children, but with the insight of today they would make different decisions. One can explain the measures they are taking to avoid unplanned pregnancies. One can also discuss how they are educating their children and others, to think more critically, on reproduction and consumption decisions. Potential grandparents need to recognize the value of adoption and nurturing alternatives as much as would-be parents. Again, the author is hopeful that someday soon; individual citizens, religious, environmental, and conservation groups will take bold and courageous steps to encourage such behavior and clearly show the intellectual and spiritual consequences of humanity's impact on a finite planet. One small way of accomplishing that goal is to share the following essay: 
Saving Our Life-Support System: Understanding One's Decision Footprint with others (religious leaders, church members, civic groups, teachers, family, friends, doctors, dentists, associates at work or school, newspaper editors and other media outlets, and environmental groups'to name only a few).

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones." 'Charlotte Bronte


More by :  William C. Gladish

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