21 August 2021

Is Plastic Accelerating Population Decline?

Global fertility rate is currently declining and has been doing so since the 1960s. As an antinatalist who thinks that population reduction is necessary to reduce pain and suffering in the world, I am keen on trying to understanding why this is the case because it suggests that whatever society is doing now is working.

One of the explanations for global fertility decline is rising female equality, contraception, etc as well as economic development, which puts more work demand on young couples.

However, another potential cause of fertility decline is plastic e.g. microplastics, endocrine-disrupting chemicals etc that bioaccumulate into soil and groundwater and make their way into the food chain by building up in fish, animals, and people.

This suggests that one of the ways that antinatalists can promote population decline is to knowingly and directly harm others via plastic pollution to achieve their means. However, the whole purpose of antinatalism is to reduce suffering in the most humane way possible i.e. by not reproducing. 

What is difficult is that most of us will go on to cause extreme suffering on others. For example, if you free a lion from a cage and let it walk the streets, it may eat someone. Likewise, if you let a human do whatever it likes, it will most likely harm others e.g. by eating meat.

Regardless of the tricky ethical question it poses, it's interesting that humanity may already be making itself extinct through its own action, through its environemally destructive behaviour.