Total fertility rate is the number of births per woman for a given country. For a country to be able to replace its population it needs a TFR of at least 2.1. In the U.K., for example, the TFR is currently 1.84. This means that if nothing changes, such as a sudden and sustained increase in fertility or immigration, the British population will eventually be unable to replace itself.
The specter of population control is resurgent because of worldwide concerns about global climate change. Not too long ago the British Medical Journal urged Britons that "the biggest contribution U.K. couples can make to combating climate change would be to have only two children or at least one less than they first intended." (E! Science News) It would be literally suicidal for the Brits to take this advice. To understand why, we need to talk a little about total fertility rates. It may sound boring, but stick with me. The implications may be devastating.
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