It takes more than loaves and fishes

Thomas Rain Crowe’s newest book, The End of Eden—which focuses on the loss of personal space, even here in Western North Carolina—has caused me to come down from my mountaintop and reveal my guru-at-large wisdom to the multitudes.

I can sum up and nail the solution to the world’s woes in one word: overpopulation. Do the math: Half as many people equals twice as many resources [available]. Or conversely, two times me-and-you equals half the elbow room.

The beauty of the birth-control solution is that we can start today—or tonight, rather. It’ll be fun! Think of it as a game show: “Hi there, folks. If our next couple is able to slip on a condom, they will win two unspoiled acres of paradise!”

When my wife and I got engaged, after we discovered she was pregnant, we vowed to have only two children, merely replacing ourselves—not increasing the population. And for bonus points, we subsequently adopted three children.

(As an aside, if you right-to-lifers would spend your lives looking out for unwanted children, you would gain a little bit of credence).

Although I am an expert, there is one thing I don’t understand. Why insist on having more than two children, thereby causing more urban sprawl, more pollution, more disease, more war and basically the hastened demise of the planet? Birth control is easier than composting!

My first thought is: religion. If that is your reason for exacerbating the single biggest cause of problems on Earth, then I suppose you follow every other tenet of your Holy Scriptures as well: You don’t wear clothes made of different materials, you faithfully render unto Caesar, and you wash your neighbor’s feet.

The second reason might be that you’re not intelligent enough to realize the consequences of your actions. If that’s so, then I guess someone is reading this to you and stopping along the way to explain that exacerbating is not a form of birth control.

Third most likely reason for creating a hell on Earth that your children are going to hate you for is—I can’t think of a third. So if I can afford the gas, I’ll get back to my mountaintop—if the masses haven’t built a gated subdivision there.

— Joe Hall
Horse Shoe

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10 thoughts on “It takes more than loaves and fishes

  1. vrede

    Given that too many of the world’s children die from lack of food and other resources and that America’s 5% of the world’s population consumes 25-30% of its resources, it can be argued that every American born leads to the death of 4 or 5 other kids.

  2. Trey

    Joe, your first thought is the right one. Blame it all on religion. That, and the agricultural revolution.

    One recurring theme in religion is that god gave dominion over the earth and all the creatures on it to man…. man was put here to conquer….. and boy are we doing a good job of it.

    Man was around for 10 million years or so before the agricultural revolution, and things were good.

    In the 6000 years or so since the agricultural revolution, and organized religion…. we are well on our way to destroying the planet. And we are so ingrained with these “beliefs” that no one seems to care. We still believe we can do what we want on this planet with no consequences.

    I will read the book you referred to in your letter…. may I suggest a good read that further elaborates(and more eloquently explains) all the points I have brought up.

    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Then read The Story of B, and My Ishmael…. all by the same author.

    It sounds bleak…. but I think the first step in fixing this mess is to allow people to see the problem in a true light.

  3. Gwyn

    It’s good to hear this line of thinking coming into our collective consciousness. I’ve been afraid to talk about it for fear of rebuking the pseudo-sanctity of motherhood. However, when Julia Butterfly Hill recently commented that “reduce” also means reducing our birthrate, I knew the idea was finally coming forward among intelligent and progressive individuals. It’s an encouraging sign of our evolution toward greater understanding and responsibility as a species.

  4. travelah

    Joe, come down off your mountain and move to China where you will be happy among a nation of unhappy people. People starve in this world because of human greed and not because families are blessed with children.

  5. dave

    …Cuz there aren’t any mountains in China…
    or where the travelah lives

  6. Trey

    People starve because there is not enough food….. so we grow more food.

    Then because there is more food…. the people can have more children…..

    Then, because the people had more children, people starve because there is not enough food….. so we grow more food…..

    Does anyone see a pattern developing here???

  7. travelah

    dave, geography had already been removed from the school curriculum by the time they shuffled you through the system?

  8. dave

    Trey-It’s a good point. I have been a big fan of quinn’s theories and writing, too.

    One thing to take into account, though, is that attempting to ‘control’ the population is probably fruitless. In my opinion, there are plenty of factors hard-wired into the game to periodically thin out the population.

    Although this isnt exactly what DQ is saying, I think that a lot of zero-population folks just want to over-manage something that cant be managed, and the want to make life too predictable. There have always been wars, plagues, natural disasters, etc, that will constantly thin out our numbers. It may not be a nice thought, but it is reality.

    Obviously, what DQ is saying is that it is a self-fulfilling cycle that as we create abundance and shelter ourselves from the natural rhythms of life, we set ourselves up for a big problem in the long run. i’ve always interpreted his point to be that we need to embrace some of the daily chaos of life, seasonal cycles, etc in order to stay in tune with some of the obvious rules of the planet’s rhythms. but i dont think that there is much we can do about the world population at this point. i certainly dont support any government controlled program that limits procreation. And I also dont think that if a couple wants to have a child or three that they should be demonized for living in a culture that can allow for that.

    We may just have to accept that there is going to have to be some major weeding to occur if “we” as a people are to continue at all. not saying i am going to volounteer, though.

    Plus, I’m still hoping all the neo-con nut jobs opt to relocate to mars, which might help with population a bit.

  9. vrede


    I think most wars, plagues, natural disasters, etc. lead to the expenditure of more resources than are saved by the thinning of our numbers. Intentional population control, on the other hand, costs the planet very little. It’s been found that one of the best strategies for achieving this is providing general education to women, which also has many benefits beyond lowered birth rates.

  10. Clocky

    The question of starving people reminds me of a similar issue– that of land use in this area (this undoubtedly applies to many other areas of the world).

    I grew up in Asheville, and all my life I’ve been hearing people complain about how all the transplants are moving in and atop the mountains there are houses and the farms are being carved up by developers, etc. In short, there are a lot more people living in WNC than lived here a few decades ago. We are losing farmland and wilderness because of new residential development.

    I agree that this is a major problem.

    What these complainers fail to see is that a generation or two ago, families (including families around here) were regularly having four, five, or six children. Those children are now adults and living in their own homes. Say you had a couple in one house in Buncombe County in 1950, and that couple, in the fifties and sixties, had six children. Those children are adults now and living in six houses. The math is simple. There are more people now, and more people will live in more houses. So understand the whole problem before you start pointing fingers.

    That’s housing. Explain to me how food is any different.

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