No-one, one, two,
three or more?
When failing to conscientize
The phrase to leave behind means different things in different
contexts, also when just confining ourselves to behind as an adverb
receiving primary stress.
(In leaving the money behind the clock, for instance, it is a
Firstly, to leave behind may mean to fail to take or
bring something or somebody.
Thus, when trying to conscientize as many people as possible about the
roles of overpopulation and overconsumption (or the wrong consumption) in
the degradation of the natural environment, even the total destruction of
human-scale nature, you may forget some people, or groups, or communities,
if not entire countries or regions of the world.
Because of your lack of knowledge or means, or because you are already too
busy with what you know and the tools you have, you forget them or are
forced to miss them out; you leave them behind, as it were, in a struggle
which is meant to be important for them too, or, perhaps, even more
important than for the ones you are or were paying attention to.
However, in the struggle for environmental sustainability and the future of
nature on Earth you and those with the same goal as you have should get
everyone involved, that is, you should leave no-one behind.
(Optional is only the hyphen in no-one.)
When succeeding in
The phrase to leave behind may also mean to produce something
If 'the human race is on its way to leave a ravaged planet behind', it
would be better if that species left nothing behind.
Yet, our question is not What or How much you should leave
behind, but How many.
In general, this many can refer to any plural noun; in the present
context, however, it can only refer to people or human beings, as is
implied by the use of no-one, the first answer above.
Literally, it is, then, the number of children that you leave behind
when you die; more figuratively speaking, it will be the number of new
ecological footprints you leave behind.
To wage war (a military or demographic one) that number may have to be as
large as possible for immoral instrumental reasons.
To maintain a sustainable human population equilibrium it will have to be
two; to reach such an equilibrium it may temporarily even have to be lower
(It is two children for you individually, or four grandchildren for your
parents, or eight great-grandchildren for your grandparents, and so on.)
Two is not a holy number in itself, nor are all the powers of two holy
numbers in themselves.
In practice, the correct number of children or new ecological footprints
will usually be somewhere between two and three, provided that the total
number of human beings will not have to be reduced to a lower, sustainable
And in practice, it will be an average number in that one of the two
children of a couple may, in turn, have three to four children, while the
other has only one; or the one child may have all four to five of their
parent's morally justified number of grandchildren, whereas the other
child has none.
All of these are possible variations of the answer that, when you die
you should leave two (to three) behind.
with three ordered parts
Of the three pictures at the top of this page the first, predominantly
blue one contains the name and a subdomain address of the Powers of Two,
and the two logos —in denary format on the left, in binary format on
the right— of this global environmental campaign in which human
overpopulation on this planet is not treated as a taboo subject.
After clicking the link with the instruction Show answer with larger
number, the second, predominantly green picture will appear.
This answer refers to an individual human being's number of biological
children or ecological footprints he or she should leave behind.
It is an average number for any type of group: the family, a community, a
country and the whole of humanity.
The term naturally in the answer may be interpreted in different
ways; it definitely means of course too.
After clicking the link with the instruction Show answer with smaller
number, the third, predominantly red picture will appear.
The term sustainability in this answer is short for things such as
sustainable development goals (SDG) and, as far as the Powers of
Two is concerned, sustainable population equilibrium (SPE)
The three pictures at the top of this page are not three separate pictures:
they are the three parts of the one picture shown at the bottom here.
This whole picture, and the order of its parts, is the only one to be used
without this clarification.
M. Vincent van Mechelen,