Large families will save the planet

By Carlos Beltramo, Ph.D. | PRI European Office, originally published May 6, 2024

“Ideas have Consequences,” warned Richard Weaver.  And bad ideas have had very bad consequences, especially when it comes to population.

Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb, published in 1968, was one of the worst ideas ever to come from the mind of man. It predicted the “overpopulation” would cause massive famines in the years to come.  Ehrlich’s book coincided with the sexual revolution and the widespread use of the pill and was popularized by the practitioners of both.

The result? The popular aversion to having children that Ehrlich helped to spawn, not to mention the coercive population control movement, has cost hundreds of millions of unborn lives.

In contrast, Pope Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae, published in July of that same year, had much less of an impact. It predicted that, if the world embraced the spirit of reproductive selfishness recommended by Ehrlich and the controllers, that it would ultimately prove disastrous for humanity’s future.

In the past 56 years, every prediction that Ehrlich made has been proven wrong, while every prediction made by Pope Paul VI has been proven right. Ehrlich exaggerated the numbers and their impact, while Pope Paul VI told hard truths and explained their inescapable consequences.

Even today, political leaders continue to promote Ehrlich’s ideas, while continuing to ignore the warnings of Humanae Vitae. It’s bizarre, really.  The world bought Ehrlich’s fearmongering and got the results foretold by the Pope—a “demographic winter” and an accelerating “birth dearth” that is depopulating entire nations.

Whole peoples are refusing bear children. Why? Because they are afraid of the burden that having a family entails. And to make matters worse, these singletons and selfish couples are often afraid that others are “selfishly” having children and raising families.

“There are just enough of us, but waaay too many of you,” as P.J. O’Rourke described their attitude.

As the fear of overpopulation declines, the anti-people movement has a new phobia: “Climate Change!”

Is this change real and, if so, are people causing it? The answer to both questions is arguably “no”, but many couples still claim that not having children is necessary to save the world.  In their own view, they are “climate heroes.”

But the greatest underlying problem is one that Pope Paul VI warned us about: couples don’t see children as a blessing. This attitude is especially prominent in Spain. A lack of trust in Divine Providence, coupled with a lack of generosity and a touch of “carpe diem” mentality, leads couples to see children more as a hindrance than a gift.

This combination of errors has caused profound suffering throughout Europe.

Spain’s Alejandro Macarrón, President of the Demographic Renaissance Foundation, who possesses great insight regarding demographic issues in Spain, tells us: “Birthrate trends in Spain and all over the West–except Israel–are breathtakingly bad. Same in the Far East and other world regions. Each year, more and more countries record all-time lows in fertility. The lack of reaction to this disaster might even be more worrisome than the disaster itself. Too many benighted politicians, so-called intellectuals, ESG promoters and leading media figures actually welcome demographic suicide!”

The result? The birth rate in the Basque region, which 20 years ago had a solid 2.78 children born per woman, has today dropped to 1.18. This is half of what the population needs to replace itself.

In many communities, including many city neighborhoods, there are more pet dogs than children.

The unavoidable consequence of this barrenness is an epidemic of loneliness throughout Spain. In 1976, only one percent of the population lived in single-person households. Today, that figure has skyrocketed to 12%. And it will keep inexorably growing.

In 1976, 36.5% of the population was under 20 years old, which meant that grandparents could routinely enjoy the company of their grandchildren. Today that figure has been cut in half and stands at 18.2%. Spain’s population pyramid has been turned on its head. Soon grandparents will outnumber grandchildren.  Soon, on a very practical level, there will be too few active workers to pay for the pensions of the growing percentage of retirees.

Faced with this daunting prospect, what does Spain’s government tell us?  It tells us that there are already too many people in Spain and that they are causing a climate emergency!

But is not lost. The Association of Large Families is large and growing.  To belong to this group you have to have three or more children.  They are, in other words, precisely those who can save Spain from the real disaster of depopulation.

These generous parents have decided to step forward and launch a magnificent campaign. Today many Madrileños were pleasantly surprised when they saw the hundreds of billboards and placards that the Association has posted all over the capital of Madrid and the surrounding region.

The message reads: “Save the planet! Have more children!”

Placed near popular bus shelters and metro stops, these messages are seen by millions of Spaniards every day.

The message might surprise the Woke, but many rejoice to see this fundamental truth laid bare. María Menéndez, President of the Association and main proponent of this welcome effort, tells the PRI European Office that the message is resonating with the population.

 “What good is a pollution-free world if there are no people to enjoy it?” the message goes on to say.

The socialist government, on the other hand, seems intent upon making the demographic winter even worse.  It is working hard to make abortion easier and to pass a euthanasia law.  It is even trying to erase the concept of large families from the law. The socialists have authored a bill to change “large family” to “families with greater needs for parenting support.” That way they can include “families” with “two fathers”, “two mothers”, and maybe even more. In other words, they are trying to define “large families” out of existence.

It’s all double talk, but Spanish large families are not intimidated by the woke culture coming from the government. They not only heroically raise several children with almost no government support but they’re also going public with their message.

As Alejandro Macarrón says, “Large families are the only households contributing to a milder demographic winter. Moreover, Madrid’s Large Families Association, headed by mother-of-nine María Menéndez, fights bravely for family benefits while promoting people having more children.”

The campaign is complemented by a humorous and insightful video that dismantles the lies of the anti-life establishment and encourages young people to embark on the adventure of having more children… for the sake of the planet!

Against so many government lies and so many “bad ideas” turned into “very bad consequences” through public policy decisions, there is hope. Europe has few opportunities, but campaigns like the Madrid Large Families Association make us think that a truly better world is possible.

Carlos Beltramo is the Director of the Population Research Institute’s European Office.