Psychology Today Blog: Ban Having Children for 5 Years

“STOP HAVING CHILDREN.” Popular author Steven Kotler has declared that responsible adults should stop having children in order to save the planet. Those who are having kids, are being selfish and stealing from the future, the rest of humanity, and “every living thing on the earth,” he wrote. Have too many kids and you should go to jail.

This isn't a joke. Kotler writes a blog called “The Playing Field” on the Psychology Today Web site. He is a best selling author and an advocate of controlling population growth. His latest solution: a five-year moratorium on having kids.

Kotler's reasoning is that the planet is running out of resources. “You think the economy is bad now – wait a few years,” Kotler said. “Wait until we're almost completely out of oil and food and water and available land ... we need to lose 4.4 billion people and we need to lose them fast.”

Those comments came just days after Nadya Sulamen, a single mother of six, gave birth to octuplets, and Kotler had an opinion about her as well. “She's a criminal,” Kotler declared. “She's a murderer. She's not only guaranteeing her kids a very hard life, she's killing all of us.”

Kotler isn't the the first person to say humans are destroying the planet. Paul Watson of the radical Sea Shepherd Society, has called for the global population to fall below one billion, because “we are killing our host, the planet Earth,” Watson opined. “I was once severely criticized for describing human beings as being the 'AIDS of the Earth.' I make no apologies for that statement,” Watson has said.

Like Watson, Kotler doesn't think much of humans. In December, writing on “The Playing Field,” he said:

So do I think that a dog's life is worth more than a humans? I think that no dog has ever, intentionally, for reasons of selfish greed, destroyed their home like we have ours. I think that yes, there are way too many people on the planet, and while I'm not advocating mass euthanasia (though mandatory birth control sounds pretty good to me), I think before we start saying humans are worth more than dogs, we need to examine exactly what we have contributed to the quality of life for all species on this planet, not just our own.

Such ideas are hardly original. Thomas Malthus, an influential 18th century economist and philosopher, was an early proponent of population control. He reduced the human position on earth to a mathematical observation: “Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio,” Malthus wrote in 1798. “Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.”

Nearly two centuries later, America scientist Paul Ehrlich took up the Malthusian standard, and added his own shrill urgency. In his hugely successful 1968 book, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich foresaw that, "In the 1970s and 1980s…hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

Ehrlich's answer was “compulsory birth regulation…(through) the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired family size."

Of course, Malthus, Ehrlich and other doomsayers have been proven spectacularly wrong. Kolter didn't address that fact in his piece.

Erin Brown is an intern for the Culture and Media Institute. Matt Philbin is the Managing Editor for CMI.