My writing assignment for Worldwatch's upcoming State of the World 2010: Should environmentalists and sustainable cultures promote small families? Your view?
On the one hand, the countries of the world united in a 1994 UN conference around the conviction that the timing of reproduction is up to individuals and couples, not the state or a religion or anyone else.
On the other, promotion of a small-family norm takes away no one's reproductive rights -- it just asks people to think about the impacts of their reproductive decisions on the environment and on the rest of humanity.
But is there line across which such promotion become something stronger, such as coercion? Where would that line be? Is it likely that people will change the common view that reproductive decisions are intensely personal and not suitable even for discussion, let alone promotion or persuasion? Might the onset of serious environmental calamity--which is quite possibly on the way--change this view?
What do you think?