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Can we come up with a new method of combating overpopulation?

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Dec 22, 2021
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Necessity

Is the problem still unsolved?

Conciseness

Is it concisely described?

According to the UN's estimates, the world's population will reach 11.2 billion by 2100. The effects of overpopulation are well documented and includes high cost of living, malnutrition and famine, depletion of natural resources, and wars. However, since it is not an immediate problem, action hasn't been swift, in my opinion. The UN's five solutions include empowering women, providing universal access to quality education, implementing family planning programs, managing migration flows, and developing better production methods. These are great and lofty, but they are not drastic enough, in my opinion.
We made the same mistake with climate change and global warming.
The first alarm that our activities might be causing global warming was raised by Guy Stewart Callendar in the 1930s. In the 1960s, with the advent of computer modelling, scientists calculated that a doubling of CO2 would result in a 2-degree C increase in Earth's temperature. Did this spur action? Yes. But evidently not enough since it feels like we are in a race against time to dial back the effects of global warming and leave a habitable planet for generations to come.
In this session, can we ideate out-of-the box solutions for solving the problem of overpopulation and save our planet before it is too late?
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Creative contributions

Reducing fertility rates by increasing the female education level

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JN
J. Nikola Dec 23, 2021
While some countries put bans on the number of children or increase the expenses if you have many, the others try to make the fertility rate higher by giving money. I think this could be manipulated by modulating the education levels. Why?
Statistical data show that the higher the level of a woman’s educational attainment, the fewer children she is likely to bear (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Completed fertility vs education
  • In Ghana, women with high school have 2-3 kids on average, while those with no education are around 6.
  • The same trend is seen in Ethiopia, where educated Ethiopians have 1.3 children on average.
  • The same trend was proven to be true in the US, in a bit lower extent
It is suggested that this happens because more educated women have higher opportunity costs of bearing children in terms of lost income. Also, women who are able to support themselves have more bargaining power in the family, including the decisions on the family size. Educated women also become more aware of the risks of their children's life quality and could decide to offer higher standards of living to their children by reducing their number.
As it can be read from the figure below, higher fertilityrates also correlate with higher gender inequality index, which is an additional factor that could be tackled by increasing the female education.
Figure 1. Total fertility rate vs gender inequality

So, my idea would be to offer free education to females, support their involvement in the decision making, government, business, etc. When I come up with the real measures that could be implemented, I'll add them up.

[1]https://blogs.worldbank.org/health/female-education-and-childbearing-closer-look-data

[2]https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/womens-educational-attainment-vs-fertility

[3]https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/02/lets-not-panic-over-women-with-more-education-having-fewer-kids/273070/

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Darryl Koh Yuan Jie
Darryl Koh Yuan Jiea month ago
I think the statistics you brought up are great references and I certainly do agree with them. In Singapore, my country, it has been shown that lesser and lesser people are having children as more of them become educated.
That being said, I do not think it is feasible to only offer free education to females as I believe there will be a lot of social unrest,riots and claims of inequality. (In Singapore, it is compulsory for guys to serve two years in the military while women do not. Imagine the uproar if only women received free education). However, it definitely does vary from country to country.
Instead, we should strive for equal education regardless of genders. In the past, women were often excluded from pursuing education and by giving equal opportunites to them, we are still able to combat this issue of overpopulation without increasing social tensions. At most, perhaps we can incentivise education for women(Eg lower fees, scholarships, bursaries etc), however to make it completely free would definitely take a toil on the government's resources and social cohesion as a whole.
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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie I agree with you. Maybe it's too biased to offer it just to women. In my country, we have some research grants and supports offers just to women and it's cool, but feels very feministic.
The same as there are mobile schools for little kids in developing countries, we could create mobile educational hubs for older kids and young adults, too. It should have a few computers and one teacher that would guide the users on how to start a course. All the courses should be held online to make them available for everyone, everywhere. When a person learns a skill up to a certain level, they could start lecturing others and receive payments for that. With this, users could progress and learn new things, until they become competitive in the world's market. Then they could go abroad to work, learn more staff or pay for higher education. That should show people opportunities they could achieve and put reproductive success right next to their personal careers. The sight enables us to see, but the vision is what makes us believe, right?
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Pass an exam to bear a child

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Dec 29, 2021
I hit two birds with one stone! We know parents are not perfect and we don't expect them to be. But we can come up with a reasonable ethical threshold and reduce the number of largely imperfect parents. I mean, we don't want parents teaching their kids to use guns on other people. So, we conduct an exam. Whoever wants to bear a child needs to take it. If they pass (both parents are required to pass), they can bear or adopt a child. This way, we combat, at least in minuscule amounts, child abuse, bad parenting, and overpopulation, and increase the number of civilized (in the correct sense of the word) people in the world.
What should the exam be like? Some information-based questions that are good to know - like "what would you do if your child does so and so?" Any suggestions?
If not anything, parents will at least read something beneficial before appearing for the exam.

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/11/science/children-who-kill-personality-patterns-are-identified.html

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Kahn Žithendr
Kahn Žithendr16 days ago
A license to parent. That's a good one.
The exam should be more about the parent. A basic IQ test, criminal record check (so the person is not a sex offender or a paedophile, so on and forth), an emotional intelligence test.
Every parent has their flaws, but if we could minimize the suffering of a new addition to our population, the chances of having a mentally healthier society are higher.
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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic16 days ago
Something like this would be almost impossible to enforce. It would get the biggest pushback from society the world has ever seen. If this became a thing, some people would go live in forests and form "back to nature" communities where the members have no birth certificates, social security numbers, or any record of existence.
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Kahn Žithendr
Kahn Žithendr16 days ago
Dragan Otasevic On the contrary societies easily adapts to enforced rules. And people would rather live in a society and obey rules than run into a forest and start communities. It's easier to give an exam to check for the mental sanity of oneself than "go back to nature."
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Develop a Fertility-Restricting Drug/Device that can be Administered to Children

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Dec 22, 2021
One of the many conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine was that it was a measure of birth control. A way for Bill Gates and his minions to restrict people's fertilities.
While that wasn't true, I think it is an idea worth discussing, at the very least. Our society has evolved enough to control many things, why can't we do the same for birth?
I propose the development of a drug that inhibits fertility that is administered to every child when they attain puberty. It should be mandatory, like measles and influenza vaccines are for babies.
However, unlike that vaccine conspiracy theory, the drug's effects should be reversible. Like vasectomy but in drug form. However, it should only be reversed when you reach a predetermined legal age of conception.
That is not all: this drug should be supported by legislation that restricts every individual to a number of children, much like China's now repealed one-child policy. So, when you exhaust your quota, you will be restricted from further childbirth, maybe via the same drug.
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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
Whoa! Okay, I'll comment on this.
You mentioned a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 was the measure of birth control and I agree it wasn't true, especially because it resulted in the baby boom. When you lock people in the same room for too long, the things eventually heat up :)
Population control is nowadays being implemented through various policies, such as the Chinese "one-child" or the Indian "two-child" policies . In my country, you get one-time financial support for each child and it increases logarithmically. In my opinion, it is best to "hit people where it hurts the most" and these are their pockets. In developing countries, these measures are much harder to implement.

Developing a drug that inhibits fertility isn't so hard, conceptually. If administered to a child, of course, it must be safe enough not to leave and short or long-term consequences.
But, on the other hand, the ethics of this is not questionable, but against every human belief. Limiting the child, who is not able to think and decide for itself, to have only one child or have no child at all is completely unethical. It interferes with human rights to decide, live a decent life and have the freedom to choose. I am sure there would be no investors interested to deal with this. Sorry for the heavy words, I am just keen on believing this has definitely no future, but I am ready to discuss it.

[1]https://www.healthknowledge.org.uk/public-health-textbook/health-information/3a-populations/population-growth

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JN
J. Nikolaa month ago
Oguntola Tobi I am from Croatia.
I understand your concerns. While I went to check how was the "one-child" measure implemented in China, I found some shocking information. I found out that the mplementation was handled by officials who used pervasive propaganda campaigns to promote the program and encourage compliance. In some cases, women were forced to use contraception, receive abortions, and undergo sterilization. Families who violated the policy faced large fines and other penalties.
Although a bit shocked, I am ready to discuss your measure from an objective point of view.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy#:~:text=Implementation%20of%20the,and%20other%20penalties.

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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
Juranium Might I ask where you are from?
The reason I'm proposing, and looking for, a drastic action is exactly because these measures are much harder to implement in developing countries. And if they can't be implemented across board, I fear they will fail.
While I agree the ethics is questionable, I think the potential benefits should make them worth a discussion, at least. They are not more questionable than China's one-child policy, in my opinion. Besides, when you view them as an advanced form of the condoms, IUD, or other birth control forms, I don't see them as being that controversial.
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Incentivise being sterilized

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Darryl Koh Yuan Jie
Darryl Koh Yuan Jie Dec 29, 2021
Personally, I think there are better ways that are more ethical as compared to being sterilized such as increasing opportunities for women education as mentioned by many others here. However, in the worst case scenarios, governments could incentivise sterilization among young man and women. By paying them to get sterilized, the population would be kept in check and hopefully decrease over the years. This can be done for couples who do not want more children(already have one or more) or simply do not want the risk of procreation. Couples that go for irreversible sterilization(vasectomy) will be paid more as compared to those who go for temporary measures.
However, I would like to point out that many journals and articles like this by Vox claim that overpopulation is not the main problem to be tackled as the world's population will naturally plateau overtime. While the population of developing countries might peak, they will eventually decline. Lyman Stone mentioned that "lowering US carbon intensity by about a third, to around the level of manufacturing-superpower Germany today, has a bigger effect than preventing 100 million Americans from existing." There are more feasible and impactful ways to combat climate change and global warming apart from overpopulation. Even if you want to decrease the population, allowing more people to receive education(proper sex education included) that subsequently improves the standard of living will actually inadvertently cause lesser people to have children due to the higher cost of living.
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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
According to Elon Musk, there is no overpopulation in the world. There is overpopulation in some areas of the world while most of it is sparsely populated.
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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
Darko Savic Lol. While his insight rings true, he's hardly an authority on the subject.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica month ago
He cited Jørgen Randers, a Norwegian academic who in his 2012 book "2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years" said the human population would start dwindling around 2040. He thinks that the world's population will begin to look like an inverted pyramid (many old, fewer young people) over the next three decades.
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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobia month ago
Darko Savic Elon Musk, based on Jørgen Randers, might be right. But I don't think the two opinions outrank those of the other scientists that believe overpopulation is a real problem.
However, I will be the first to admit that they might be right over everybody else. I guess time, and more research, will tell.
In the meantime, I would recommend that humanity errs on the side of caution.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia month ago
Oguntola Tobi I am afraid I agree with Darko Savic. May be this figure will help his case. This is the opinion of a number of scientists. Another review here.
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