The Role of Motherhood in an Overpopulated World


By Karrol Steeves


As the mother of three, now grown sons. I did not know our earth was overpopulated at the time I gave

birth to my first two boys. As a child, I lived in the sparsely populated states of New Mexico and

Wyoming. Nature was abundant and thriving in northern Wyoming. We lived in a town of 200 people,

most of the roads were gravel, there were no stop lights, and no one locked their doors. Everyone one

knew one another, and as a young child, I roamed the town and the country side with my sisters or

friends without a worry or care in the natural beauty of my surrounds. I felt fully myself, and as an adult

have thought back to those times when I was happily exploring the natural world in order to find myself

again. The expansive beauty of the fields and meadows, lush summer lawns and gardens were a great

relief from the stress and overcrowding of our little home. There were six of us in a tiny two bedroom

house, but we had a big yard and a corral. Yellow roses bloomed in early June by our front door. By the

time I was 7, my younger sister and I slept in bunk beds in the kitchen to help relieve the crowded

conditions of the small bedrooms. Besides his job in construction, my father hunted elk, and trapped

animals for fur, and broke horses for riding to bring in extra money for our large family. I remember him

skinning mink in the kitchen, when I was a little girl. We had a vegetable garden, as did just about

everyone then, in the small communities that dotted the edges of the Yellowstone Park and the Big

Horn Basin. We canned our own food, there was even a community cannery, where we could go and can

large quantities of vegetables or venison at one time. I first noticed that something wasn’t right when I

returned to northern New Mexico, where I was born. I saw the poverty of the Navajo Indians, and the

hard scrabble life they eked out. We didn’t have much, but we were well off compared to them. I

remember asking my grandmother why they lived so differently than we did. I wanted to know why they

lived on something called a “reservation.” She was not able to give me a good answer to this question.

She told me that they chose to live there, but I could not imagine that was true. It bothered me that

their lives seemed so hard, and the land they lived on so desolate and unwelcoming. I didn’t realize at

the time, that I was seeing something that would become an increasing problem, all over the planet.

Growing up in small religious communities, overpopulation was not discussed as a reality, and instead

we were taught from a young age that, as females, it was imperative that we marry and have children.

Those with large families were admired. The more children there were, the more in awe others were of

your family, especially if there was also the material wealth, to support them in style. They were like

celebrities in those small communities. I spent most of my young, and adult life in the western United

States, which at the time when I was a young woman, still a place of open spaces and few people. There

were no traffic jams, or long lines for anything. Even the famous oil shortage of the 1970’s didn’t really

affect us. The only lines at the gas station were on television, so they didn’t seem real, besides, my

father claimed that the oil shortage was contrived. We lived in fossil fuel country you see, so that was

his perspective on the situation.

When I was twenty-three, I moved from Wyoming to Colorado for better opportunities, hoping it would

be easier to make a living, as a newly single mother with my first son. The coal boom was now bust, and

all of the communities in central Wyoming, where I now lived, were rapidly shrinking. While there were

more people in Colorado, it was still gloriously free of crowds and traffic. I took for granted the ease

with which going into the woods, for a camping trip, could be undertaken. No crowded camp grounds,

and it was easy to find a place of solitude for exploration, or rest and relaxation. It wasn’t until I met Bill,

who had moved from Chicago to Colorado, in order to get away from the brutal winters and hoards of

people there, that I became aware that there might be too many of us. He introduced me to the

environmental groups that I had no idea existed. Organizations like Green Peace, the Sierra Club, and

their environmental protection efforts. This opened up a startling new reality for me, and I read

everything I could get my hands on; about the horrifying environmental pollution, and abuses going on

in our country, and the rest of the world. With this search came the information on overpopulation, an

idea popular in the 60’s and 70’s — even Johnny Carson had author of the book, Population Bomb, Dr.

Paul Ehrlich, on his show several times because of the the huge initial response his first appearance

made — was now under attack. For every article I read about over population, and the degradation of

our planet, there were several more articles to dispute those facts, and called those making the claims

fear mongers, eugenics supporters, “gloom and doomers”, etc. This seems to have now grown ten fold.

The claims against over population, which is now called a racist agenda, directed at eliminating those

who are less fortunate and primarily of color largely stem from wrong efforts when forced sterilization

was a reality for people of color in many areas, including the United States. The movement for

population control through the efforts of FIGU are not directed at any particular color or race, but is

being promoted as a responsibility all of us should undertake.

Now, almost 60 years later, the West has become increasingly crowded. Where there used to be farm

land and meadows, it is now covered with acres and acres of houses, apartment buildings, retail shops,

industrial parks, office buildings, etc.. We now invade our forests and natural areas in droves, trampling

the flora, and disturbing the fauna with our sheer numbers. Bill and I live just a short distance from the

gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and what used to be the sleepy little town of Estes Park. The

Park now gets 3.5 million visitors a year. Areas we used to casually drive to and hike about can now only

be reached by bus. The town of Estes is now so crowded in the summer, that driving through town is

nearly impossible, because of the traffic.

My boys were each born about 7 years apart, and when each son came into the world, I was, to some

extent, a different person. By the time I became pregnant with my youngest son, I had begun to suspect

that we should be adopting children that needed homes instead of having more of our own. My

husband, Bill, and I were looking into the process of adoption, and were stunned by how expensive the

adoption process was even back then. I remember the day when I consciously decided that three

children was the limit, and that to have more would not only place a burden on me, that would diminish

my ability to be a good parent, but also, it would put a burden on our current financial situation, and

create more pressure for us to earn more money. I am glad I had this strong realization, which Bill

readily agreed with, so we took steps to ensure we would not have anymore children. It was only many

years later that I would learn that, mathematically, in order to maintain the proper carrying capacity of

our planet at around 500 million people, no more than three children should be born to each woman.

And, really this is only applicable during times when the earth’s population would already be in balance,

to maintain the status quo. In our current situation of gross overpopulation, more stringent measures

are needed, if we are going to mitigate both the psychological and ecological catastrophe that is our

current reality.

Since the time when I fully realized how serious the threat of overpopulation is to our planet, I have had

the desire to support FIGU in its efforts, and help educate my fellow human beings concerning the

threats all living things on our planet face when there are too many people, and not enough resources.

My efforts to support the documentary, The Way to Live, is part of that effort.

Referring back to adoption as a viable alternative to giving birth to biological children: According to, there are currently 107,918 children in the foster care system, waiting to be

adopted, in the United States. Babies are the most desired and are in short supply, but there are many

older children who need homes. Many are hard to place because they have conditions, such as: fetal

alcohol syndrome, birth defects and cognitive problems, impaired growth, etc., caused from drug

addiction in utero, or suffered from abuse or neglect, or both, and so have behavioral problems, that

many perspective parents either, cannot cope with, or have no desire to deal with. Then, there are

those who will not adopt, but insist on having children of their own because they claim they “cannot

love a child that is not theirs biologically”. I suspect that it is a rude awakening, when their own

biological child does not possess the physical attributes or personality that the parent likes or approves.

And so, these children may also go unloved, because truly, these parents do not know what love is.

There are also still other wrong ways of thinking, and financial barriers that prevent, or make it difficult

for, many who want to adopt and raise children, who need homes. There is the pressure and disapproval

from those around the biological parents, to keep a child they feel incapable of raising, which often

causes children to be brought up in an atmosphere of resentment, deprivation, and neglect.

Consciously, or unconsciously, children are often still seen by many as “possessions”. Because of this,

little thought is given to the fact that each child is a unique human being, an individual with needs for

protection, stability, love, encouragement, comfort, attention, and the freedom to express themselves,

and be who they are. Any attempts to “mold” a child, instead of encouraging, leading and guiding them,

is a form of oppression.

The families that Bill and I both come from, had five or more children. I have noticed though, that, with a

few exceptions, our family size, and those of our siblings and cousins, are much smaller than the

previous generation. This is encouraging, and I hope it will be a continuing trend. We are not

grandparents, and there is a very good chance that this is a permanent situation for us. We never

pressure our children to give us grandchildren. Our boys know and understand the planet is seriously

overpopulated. It is up to them to decide, of course, whether they want to have, and raise children, or


It is undeniable that many women possess strong nurturing urges, a biological imperative if the children

we give birth to, or adopt, are to survive and thrive, but it is not necessarily true that, just because we

feel a strong need to nurture, that it has to be satisfied by having children, especially if there really is no

desire for them. Women can also “give birth” to and nurture creative projects that enrich our own lives

and improve our communities. This nurturing energy, combined with our specific kind of intelligence,

can be directed toward our various professions, there is no vocation out there that could do without a

woman’s touch. For instance, a focus on developing birth control that is more reliable and does not

damage the health of women, like our current oral and injectable contraception does. Directing our

scientific development, away from the constant creation of weapons of mass destruction, toward

technologies that support and protect life, instead of destroying it. Creating leadership that works for

peace and cooperation with other nations, instead of a world of competition and domination. Caring for

our parents, or those who need assistance, and teaching and mentoring programs are also areas in

which we women already bring our more developed sensitivity and understanding, which helps to

create a more humane environment. Our nurturing energy can be directed toward our natural world;

through the education, understanding, and encouragement to the young ones, so that they grasp the

true nature of the root our problems here on earth, that our world is being destroyed, not just because

we are overly materialistic, but also because there are too many of us; to help them understand that all

life needs proper room, clean air, and water, to enjoy a healthy lifespan, free from the diseases and

suffering that overpopulation causes. And, first and foremost, we can also nurture ourselves; shed our

own ignorance and build up our own consciousness, develop our own knowledge, and gain wisdom so

that we are up to task that is ahead of us, so that we, as truemothers, live what we encourage

in other human beings: peace, freedom, love, order, and harmony.

What we imagine, we create. Let it be a world of thoughts aligned with the laws of Nature.


To learn more about the Overpopulation crisis we face. Check out the new film. The Way to Live

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