Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is it time for Americans to start cutting our baby emissions?

Global Swarming
[The author of a new book proposes]: Let's cut the birth rate to one child per couple, for a few generations at least. The population would dwindle by about 5 billion people over the next century, he says, ensuring the habitability of the Earth for the 1.6 billion who remained. . . . Weisman's book has become a mainstream best seller. Could population control be the next big thing in green culture?
. . .
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, cutting back on kids is the best choice you can possibly make.

What's the environmental cost of having a child? In the crudest terms, you've added another version of yourself into the world, which means you're potentially doubling your carbon-dioxide emissions over the total life of your family.
. . .
Our other green lifestyle choices can't even begin to offset the cost of adding a brand-new CO2-emitter to the population. . . . Not to mention the fact that my children might eventually decide to have their own children, who would emit even more carbon dioxide down the line.
This is a lengthy and fantastic article . . Slate is good at more than pithy headlines. It does a good job of debunking the most common counter-arguments to this idea, such as the idea that one's children will be taught to help the environment. He also discusses the fact, and reason that, despite these compelling facts, environmental groups rarely discuss the issue.
Despite these findings, Earth-advocacy groups almost never raise the issue of family size, focusing instead on lifestyle choices with more modest environmental rewards. . . . Even the academics on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have shied away from direct references to population and global warming.
Be sure to browse the comments, which highlight how sensitive the issue is and the fact that some will always frame the issue with parenthood at the starting point.

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