Sheffield University students spark debate into if people in the UK have fewer children to save the world

3 May 2018

A new controversial debate has been sparked as to whether people in the UK have fewer children to save the world following collaborative research conducted by University of Sheffield.

Their research, with Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, also highlights challenges faced by population, water supply, fertility, gender equality, access to contraception and family planning.

The debate was conducted to get the public talking about how to lead a more sustainable life.

Panellist, Alistair Currie, who is also Head of Campaigns and Communications from Population Matters, said: “Population is the main driver for our environmental problems and we are the people who can make the change to our future population growth and educating girls about family planning can play an important role to this.”

Professor Robert Gray, of University of St. Andrews, social and environmental accounting, agreed with him and added that we need to look at how we manage humanity and “we are using far more than we expect.”

Carl Lee, of University of Sheffield from the Geography department, said that there will be issues with food supply, particularly water supply because of the population.

“We need to look long and hard and the political choices we make because that will enable us to sustain on issues like population”

“The reality is that we will have to manage population and we will have to think solutions around it and the reality of population growth is much to do with longevity.”



Carl Lee, Robert Gray and Alistair Currie (left to right)


Deborah Beck, 47, Scholarship Programme Manager for the Grantham Centre for Sustainable futures, said: “Often these issues aren’t simple as you might think they are.

“We think that people in Sheffield and in the region of Sheffield hear about sustainability issues from a range of experts with opinions.”

Ms Beck, of Hillsborough, mother of two girls aged 16 and 17, said: “This is a personal choice, it didn’t even cross my mind.

“I think it is difficult politically to tell people to have fewer children.”

Emma Smith, PhD student, said “Consumption is the true cause of our lack of sustainability and people who are living and are born in the UK, consumes more than many other parts of the world.”

The debate was organised by three first year PhD students who arranged the speakers and invited the public to participate on Tuesday, at Leavygreave road, Sheffield.

Written by Ekata Patel

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