February 22, 2024

Two opposing conferences on population this weekend: one proudly pro-natalist, one dismally pro-extinction

Declining rates of fertility around the globe are slowly creeping into headlines and the conference circuit. This weekend, there will be two duelling conferences, one proudly pro-natalist, one gloomily anti-natalist.

In Austin, Texas, the Natal Conference is canvassing solutions to the “greatest population bust in human history”.

By the end of the century, nearly every country on earth will have a shrinking population, and economic systems dependent on reliable growth will collapse. Thousands of unique cultures and populations will be snuffed out.

Governments have tried everything in the standard technocratic toolset – tax incentives, subsidized childcare, propaganda – and nothing has worked. We are gathering the brightest minds in the world in search of new solutions.

A ticket for the two-day event is US$1000. The speakers are an eclectic bunch, ranging from pro-natalist power couple Simone and Malcolm Collins to Pat Fagan, of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute.

Out there on the internet, the Antinatalist Advocacy Conference costs nothing for five speaker sessions and a panel discussion on Saturday and Sunday. Its aims are as follows:

Antinatalist Advocacy seeks to protect sentient beings from the harms of coming into existence. We advocate refraining from creating new sentient beings, as well as improving the lives of those who exist now and will in the future.

There’s a great number of people who dedicate their time and effort to making the world a better place, but we believe that many of them have an ethical blindspot known as the antinatalist blindspot. While we can work to mitigate the harm that existing beings experience, and this is an important endeavour, the only guaranteed way to ensure that a sentient being encounters no harm is to simply not create them in the first place.

It’s difficult to contest the major and minor premises for the conference: “The human population has reached 8 billion. Each life is one that contains a significant amount of suffering and a guarantee of death.” Perhaps the participants in the Natal Conference would even agree with them. The only difference is the conclusion of the syllogism: what comes next?

For Antinatalist Advocacy, it’s simple: No people, no problems.