When a person learns that over-population, over-consumption, and resource depletion are leading to collapse of civilization and extinction of many species, what should they do?
One response is to work hard to maximize income and to invest as much as possible to increase the probability of a comfortable life after the collapse.
Another response is to voluntarily reduce income and consumption and to have fewer or no children.
The problem with the latter response is similar to why efficiency alone cannot solve our energy or climate problems. If total consumption is to be reduced through frugality and/or efficiency then there must be a mechanism to prevent the newly freed resources from being consumed by someone else.
No such mechanism exists today.
In today’s global world if I choose not to consume a liter of gasoline it almost certainly will be consumed by someone else.
Despite this pessimistic view of the impact an individual can make, I have concluded that frugality is still the correct strategy.
It is probable that much wealth will be lost in the coming collapse as paper claims (money and investments) on future wealth vaporize. Any wealth that escapes the initial deflation will be threatened by the inflation that is likely to follow and/or governments in desperate need of taxes and/or angry mobs.
By voluntarily reducing consumption one builds material resiliency to coming shocks because less is needed to maintain your lifestyle, and builds emotional resiliency because less pain is associated with voluntarily doing something than being forced to do the same thing.
A modest lifestyle also sets a good example for family and friends. If enough people admire and emulate your actions then a meaningful positive impact might emerge.
You might also sleep better knowing that you did what you could.