Some people just don’t get it. Simon Ross of Population Matters has been quoted in the Observer as stating: “We need to change the incentives to make the case that one or two children are fine, but three or four are just being selfish. The Beckhams… are very bad role models.”
What planet is this fellow living on? Doesn’t he know that even the UN Population Fund (not a particularly family-friendly organisation) has subtly changed its tune on population in recent years: “Prescriptive population control policies that limit the birth rate are no longer appropriate” is one of its current statements. The buzz words are now “education” and “choice” rather than dire warnings about our planet being an overcrowded lifeboat.
Russia understands very well the effects of a shrinking population. I have blogged about this before, but it is worth mentioning that a new law in Russia, signed on July 14, now requires abortion advertisements to carry health warnings (just like packets of cigarettes in Britain). The Russian population has dropped from 145 million in 2002 to 143 million. The UN predicts that by 2050 the Russian population will be only 116 million. Abortion, though still depressingly common in Russia, is no longer being promoted with a positive message. The Russians have too much at stake – the future of their country, for instance.
The Vatican adds its own warning. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican Bank, states frankly: “The aging population of the US and the European nations is the true origin of the current economic crisis.” When will this message sink home?
Simon Ross, with his outmoded ideas on population, seems to be echoing one of the creepiest books I have ever read on this subject: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. This nihilistic author – he gives pessimism a bad name – has a serious population death wish, wanting to limit “every human female on the earth capable of bearing children to one”. Compared with the likes of Ross and Weisman (and possibly the Prince of Wales, who every so often sounds off in a similar fashion), the Beckhams seem a positive force for good in the world.
Snobby people might sneer that Posh and Becks (as they are known in the tabloids) have given their children unusual names. This is irrelevant. Contrary to what Simon Ross thinks, they are excellent role models: married, faithful to each other and with four children. Blogging about the Royal wedding, I fancifully suggested that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should have six children. This, I accept, is unlikely, especially with the Prince of Wales around to advise them. But it seems that they are very good friends with the Beckhams, even to the extent of telling David Beckham “to give Victoria our love” when she couldn’t meet them during their Hollywood trip as she was about to give birth to her fourth. Perhaps the Beckhams (who have a stately pile in Hertfordshire known to the tabloids as “Beckingham Palace”) could indicate the pleasure and fun of four children to the other royals?