Welcome to the earth. Congratulations on being born in the 21st century, where the odds are excellent that you’ll live a richer, more prosperous and more fulfilling life than almost any of the 100 billion or so who preceded you — and paved the way for your prosperity with their investments and their inventions. Would that there had been more of them.
As you go through life, you will almost assuredly contribute to the world’s stock of ideas, diversity and love in ways your parents never contemplated — which is why the rest of us are a little sad that you might be their last child.
There’s certainly such a thing as a population that’s too large. Nobody disputes that. The interesting question is: Given the incentives faced by parents, it the population size we actually get too large or too small? And there are good reasons to think it’s too small.
In fact, population growth is a lot like pollution in reverse. Polluters don’t care about the damage they impose on strangers, so they pollute too much. Parents and potential parents don’t care about they joy and prosperity their chidren bring to strangers, so they reproduce too little.
When you’re older, maybe you’ll want to understand these arguments a little better. If so, you might want to read Chapter 3 of my book More Sex is Safer Sex. Or, if reading has gone out of fashion by then, you might want to watch the first video on this page. You’ll have to sit through eleven minutes of talk about sex before you get to the part about population, but I’m guessing sex will still be an interesting topic in twenty years.
Or maybe you’ll have no interest at all in this issue. But I’m guessing you’ll have some interest in something and that both friends and strangers will have reasons to be glad you did. when Baby Eight Billion comes along, the world is likely to be an even richer place, thanks partly to you.