Some people say we should ban plastic straws, some say we need to lighten up and accept nuclear energy, some say everybody needs to become vegetarian. I am of the opinion that with a little bit better social planning and a couple of tweaks to desalination technology we could have a planet-wide paradise for up to about 10 billion people.
I don’t know what the actual number would be beyond which we could not possibly stretch the planet’s resources; beyond which starvation would become unavoidable for some, and life would become unpleasant for all. But there is a point, the planet is finite, and it would be a good idea to start figuring out now how to slow population growth, or even reverse it. If we could get the population down to about 4 billion (which is where it was less than a century ago), a lot of our problems would just disappear, or at least be much less pressing.
So, how to do it? Well, there are a couple of possibilities. War, famine, and plague are the traditional means, but science has made great strides fighting off famine and plague, and war is not as popular as it used to be.
It seems to me we should look at those countries where the population is dropping and try to emulate what they are doing.
I just took a look at the list of countries with declining populations, and in a lot of them (a large number are ex-Warsaw Pact countries) the reason is more about people leaving for greener pastures, and not necessarily a declining birth rate.
But, throughout the developed world, birthrates are dropping. A large part of the reason is because people in these countries can stay in college, and maintain a free-wheeling, party lifestyle up until their mid-20s, often into their thirties. Who wants to marry and have kids when you can drink and do drugs and have different sexual partners every night?

It’s a lifestyle which has an obvious appeal and we should encourage more people, and more societies, to adopt it. Because it’s good for the environment.

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