Many years ago, when our boys were still at school, I had the misfortune of finding myself sitting next to a very haughty woman at a dinner party. I have retained the memory of our brief exchange ever since.

Her first question was the familiar and often jarring: “Do your children have children?” After I informed her that we have four children, she waited patiently for my usual response: ‘Oh your poor wife!I was either able to get a retort: ‘Oh, your poor wife!’ or ‘Goodness, they should keep you busy!

But instead of saying either of those things — or asking ‘Are you a Catholic, then?’ — she stuck her nose in the air and remarked: ‘Isn’t that rather selfish of you?’

The real worry, as Mr Musk argues, is that numbers are falling, or about to fall, over almost all of the developed world, with poorer countries predicted to follow the same downward path by the end of this century

Musk claims that the real concern is the fact that the number of people in the world are declining, or on the verge of falling. The poorer nations will follow this downward trend by the end.

After turning to her guest, I was ignored for the remainder of my meal.

My accuser is not the first to suggest that parents producing more than one child are guilty in a crime against humanity.

Thomas Malthus, a prolific author of An Essay on The Principle Of Population (1798), stated that the growth in population was a barrier to progress for humanity and would lead to hunger and poverty.

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Since then, legions of others have piled on to the Malthusian bandwagon — including, I’m sorry to say, several members of the Royal Family.

Prince Harry is a publicity shyy figure. In one of his many interviews, he stated that he had only two children to protect the environment and planet.

He stated, “I always thought that this area was borrowed.” Harry said, “And surely, as intelligent and evolved as we all (all of us) are, it is possible to leave something better behind for the next generation.””We should leave a legacy that is better for future generations, either because we all are as smart as they claim to be or we’re as advanced as we think we ought to be.

He clearly meant the world would be richer, more happy, and more abundant if selfish swine such as me stopped producing multiple offspring.

To be fair, the Prince should point out that this was just a echo of his late grandfather the Duke, who held the same views.

One of those rare times when the Duke was lost for words was when a reporter asked him how he would rail against population growth considering that he is a father to four children. If my memory is correct, Prince Philip acknowledged that it was an excellent point.

Indeed, one of the rare occasions on which the Duke seemed lost for words came when a cheeky reporter asked him how he could rail against population growth, given that he himself was a father of four. To his credit, if my memory serves me, Prince Philip conceded that this was a fair point

One of those rare times when the Duke was lost for words was when a reporter asked him how he would rail against population growth given the fact that he is a father to four children. I believe Prince Philip admitted that this was a valid point.

My sneery guest at the dinner party where Elon Musk (the Tesla and SpaceX founder) was vying with Jeff Bezos to be the richest man in the world attracted an avalanche of laughter. He declared that the greatest problem facing humanity is not the lack of people, but the excess of them.

He said that many, even smart, believe that there is too much population and that it’s growing rapidly. It’s actually the exact opposite. Look at the numbers. Please look at the numbers. If there aren’t more children in society, civilisation will crumble.

If only I had been allowed to talk by my accuser, years ago, then I’d have made something quite similar. No, I wasn’t baptised as a Roman Catholic.

It turns out that I am a very bad Catholic and have no objection to contraception. However, my long-suffering readers know that I hate abortion upon demand.

To begin, I would say that my four-son fathering was far more than selfish.


Although it was and still isn’t completely altruistic, I am proud to have raised four children who are healthy and making valuable contributions to society in different ways: one as a social worker and two as teachers.

What is certainly true is that Mrs U and I would be an awful lot richer — in material terms, at least — if only we’d remained childless, or stopped at one or two (though admittedly, Mr Musk somehow managed to accumulate his zillions, despite being a father of six).

It’s easy to believe that life would be easier if people were less scattered, there was less traffic, and more pandas and other polar bears. There also wouldn’t be as many houses and millions of acres of forest left unaffected by the plough and chainsaw.

But, counter-intuitive though it may sound, the fact is that Mr Musk is right — and Malthus was plain wrong. It is only necessary to remember that at the time of Malthus’ prediction, there was only one billion people on this earth.

Today there are more than seven billion. Thanks to modern capitalism’s miracle, many of these people are more well-fed and live in better conditions than any time during the history of the earth.

Musk says that there is a real problem with the numbers in almost every country of the industrialized world. He also claims that poorer countries will be following the same trend at the end of the century.

The population of Britain is growing due to mass immigration in recent years. However, in England and Wales the fertility rate has dropped well below the replacement level to 1.58 per women.


This is not a healthy trend. Just ask the Chinese. Their one-child policy was such a disaster it had to be abandoned.

Ask yourself: Where are the capable-bodied individuals we need in our later years to keep the economy afloat, drive the trucks, and provide staff for the health care system?

Where will we find the epidemiologists and doctors to protect us from deadly plagues, the bar staff to pull our pints — and the scientists to come up with new ways of producing food and keeping the lights on without harming the environment?

We are already facing a labor shortage in the country. This will get worse if the current trend continues, where fewer people working-age to take care of our growing elderly population is continued.

If everyone had followed her lead and remained childless, then who is there to take care of my arrogant accuser at the dinner party? Maybe she will be able to appreciate the future generation of workers when she is in her final years.

But I can’t end without congratulating the Prime Minister and his current wife on the birth of their healthy daughter yesterday — Carrie’s second child and the seventh (or possibly the eighth) fathered by Boris.

Since Mr Johnson took the high office, I have to say that he has been an awful colleague of mine. He’s still doing some good, despite his stumbles through scandal after scandal and crisis to crises.