The human population has grown at an alarming rate, and clearly puts a strain on the world. We can’t grow forever. However, it’s really important to be alert to racist thinking around this issue. We tend to blame the poorest people in the world, who consume far less than the richest 1%.
Given information about contraception, access to contraception and support to use it, most women will choose to have smaller families. This is an approach that promotes body autonomy for women, and that reduces poverty and suffering. We need to strenuously resist the cultural and religious pressures on women around the world to have a lot of babies.
We need to support people who do not want to have children at all. We need to make it easier for people to control their fertility in any way they like. That means education, access to contraception, and access to vasectomies and tube tying, not conditional on already having had children.
We need to look at our social structures and the politics of families. We need to create environments in which people don’t feel excluded or vulnerable if they don’t have children.
We need to stop focusing on motherhood as the central experience for women. We need to stop telling people who have wombs that this is their defining feature, and that making more humans is the most important thing they can do. We need to challenge right wing thinking that wants to reduce women to wombs, and deny anyone with a womb the opportunity to do anything other than raise kids.
The best way to reduce the population would be to stop coercing people into having children they don’t want. There is nothing but good in stopping that. Give women control of their fertility and the right to choose, and the rest will tend to follow.
Part of population growth is due to people living longer. We might also ask questions about quality of life, and what we’re prepared to do to people to keep them alive.
And at the same time, there is a much more urgent need to curtail the excesses of the super-rich and to share out resources in fairer ways. People who live lightly, and whose landscapes are not pillaged for the benefit of someone else, are not going to overburden the Earth.