The great debate among environmentalists is that having children is bad for the environment (or rather, that NOT having children is good for the environment). If we listen to and subscribe to this mentality then we are on the road to self extinction.
There are valid considerations when one is deciding to have children (and how many children to have) like religion and your capacity to care for children. Among these issues should not be the “save the earth, don’t breed” mentality. IMO, this mentality places a greater emphasis on animal rights and earth over HUMAN LIFE and Family. Something is just wrong with that priority assignment.
We all must work toward environmental protection. We must reduce our footprint on this earth and we must raise children who are aware and carry on in earth saving efforts.
This is why I believe that we should be the people raising MORE CHILDREN. By the very nature of parenting, I am raising children who are conscious of the impact of everything they do on the earth. They CARE about conservation and reducing consumption. They are experts on recycling and reducing energy consumption. They live and value natural, organic and local food consumption. These children will grow up to be tomorrows adults who will be making policy that will promote ENVIRONMENTALISM.
If those of us who care strongly about our environment do not raise children then who will raise warriors of this earth?
There are those who even go so far as to suggest that the government step up and regulate births. If this were to happen, we would be well on our way to a communist society. Our Country is built upon certain rights, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Among these is LIFE.
Human life is vital to this earth, without human life what is the purpose of saving this planet?
42% of the world’s countries are not at a replacement rate (2.33), that is we are not having enough babies to replace each man and woman alive today. Many countries are experiencing population growth due to immigration not new life. So, over population is not a valid argument either. (It happens to be that the richer countries are the ones more likely to be below replacement birth rate.)
In China where the government dictates family size, two-thirds of the city births are male and the male to female ratio in the countryside is 4 to 1. It doesn’t take an expert to see that this Country is headed toward extinction if these trends continue. One woman to four men doesn’t bode well for the continuation of a species. China is also among the earth’s worst polluters. Obviously, population control doesn’t equal a better environment.
We have a large family and I would welcome more children (by birth, adoption or fostering). Our family of 7 has a carbon footprint that is lower than the average family of four. We live partially off grid and are working toward being completely self reliant (solar and/or wind energy is our next step). We purchase more items used than new, not because we have to but because it is better for the earth and we enjoy the challenge of searching out a secondhand item. It is not unknown to me that each human on earth has an impact. We can lessen this impact by driving less, avoiding excessive consumerism, always choosing reuse over new, recycling, reducing toxic chemicals and supporting local and organic farming. Mostly, we can lessen our impact through EDUCATION, which starts at home.
Our family chooses to put human life as the top priority and we endeavor to raise each of our little humans to be environmentally and socially responsible adults. By raising children, we are growing STRONGER in our ENVIRONMENTALISM.
The very heart of this website is to help parents (by the very definition parents have children) become more aware of natural, organic and green parenting. This certainly isn’t the kind of place we should come to be made to feel guilty about being a parent, whether we have one child or 10. Instead, we should be able to seek out support to improve our quality of life and in doing so, help protect this great planet.
While I understand the desire to have kids and raise them as good stewards to the earth, it unfortunately doesn’t work out that way. We all know children don’t always end up how their parents hope they will.
Instead of creating another mouth to feed, people can help by doing many other things. Adopting children is great if you want to raise a child. But it shouldn’t be frowned upon for people to not have children — those people can have just as large an impact on future generations in other ways, through education and outreach.
After reading your post, I still believe that the environment should be factored into family planning when it comes to natural-born children.
Jennifer Lance says
I agree with Alex. Although I do not judge other people for their larger families, I consciously decided that two children was the maximum I felt comfortable adding to the world’s population. Even the child brought up in the greenest, lowest carbon household in America will still have a heavy footprint. I can only make a choice for my family.
I strongly disagree with this statement:
“If we listen to and subscribe to this mentality then we are on the road to self extinction.”
There is no way the human race is going to go extinct unless we solve the climate and peace crisis. Family size is just one small factor in the climate puzzle.
Jamie, I love you, and I am glad you are representing another side of the debate on Eco Child’s Play.
The argument Jamie provides for raising numerous environmental children doesn’t take into consideration many problems currently facing our world today. We are a nation of consumers. Even though we may be raising environmentally conscience consumers. Our houses we live in, the food we eat, the clothes we wear. I don’t care how “green” these things are….they are still things. The more things leads to fewer resources. Fewer resources leads to a depleted planet.
I’ve been thinking about this issue quite a bit lately as I’m nearing the point in my life where I’ve got to get pretty serious about planning a family and such. My conclusion is quite different from Jamie’s, mostly due to the assumptions she has made (or at least that I think she’s made).
1) Population growth trends are anywhere but negative. Yes, it’s true that some developed countries are experiencing population declines. The data I’ve seen certainly comes no where near the 42% figure (cite it if you want someone to believe you, please). While Ehrilich’s predictions have fortunately not come true, it is still overwhelmingly clear that the world population is already higher than is desirable, at least what I consider desirable. Overpopulation is a serious issue and it is concerning that you would discount it so easily. This is an issue that requires serious inquiry and debate, as it is a serious concern. Having the global population double within a lifetime is astounding and scary.
2) Educating children does not mean you have to have them. In fact, if you want to play a numbers game, an educator is likely to have a far greater impact on shaping the future generation than any one parent ever will. A childless adult who volunteers their time to educate children will have a leg up on a parent who doesn’t.
3) The concern for humanity (not an abstract “planet”) is at the very core the reasoning behind population control. I want my children to live in a world where they have access to sufficient resources to live a comfortable life. If everyone has X number of children, this won’t be possible (different definitions of comfortable will determine what X may be). If we ignore overpopulation as a serious threat to our own existence ( … it is) we will bear the consequences, along with the planet. You can throw out any concern for the environment and still have just as strong a case for population control. It is noteworthy that the poorest are going to have the most trouble from environmental and overpopulation issues
What I propose is that everyone should consider their responsibility in population levels. Ultimately, this is a personal choice and I would never approve of enforced population control. I do, however, judge a family that has a dozen kids because they don’t believe in birth control. If you explicitly want the kids, fine. If you can’t keep it in your pants or cover it up, go to hell. It should become socially desirable to adopt or limit family size, and possibly undesirable to have large families at all.
Also, the “Self extinction” comment is downright ludicrous. I can totally imagine a bunch of environmentalists harping about the dangers of overpopulation as the global population plummets to endangered levels … totally.
Jamie Ervin says
To Alex… I certainly don’t expect my children to grow up to be just like Mom… I hope these children I’m raising grow up and take some morsel out of the lives we lead and become SO MUCH BETTER than I am. My goal for all children is to be better adults than we are. Shouldn’t that be every parents goal?
To Jennifer… choosing to have two children is vastly different than choosing to have ZERO children because its better for the environment. I have many family friends who have two children, because there are two adults. Most of these families also have opposite sex children. When I gave birth to my fist daughter, people said- “when are you going for #2?”. When I gave birth to my second daughter, people said (even my Doctor) “Come on, have one more, hopefully it’ll be a boy this time”. Evidently, I was granted a free pass to have a third biological child because my first two were the same sex (or perhaps because they were both girls). Eventually I did have a third child and it was a another girl (and I still hear the free pass option for yet another to try for a biological boy… it seems to many the number of children is dictated by the sex of said children). My son was finally gained because I married his father and I’m raising a teenage sister because my parent is terminally ill. I’ve also shared the joy in being Mommy to a precious niece who passed away just past her second birthday and parenting my other sister who is now grown.
Family planning isn’t always biological (as I did point out in the above post). I have a large family, but that doesn’t mean I gave birth to as many children as I have parented. But I do believe strongly that the number of children a family has is a personal choice.
We are a Christian Family who practices conservative values. We believe strongly in procreation and the purpose for which we are on earth. We also believe in protecting the planet for our future generations.
To Jaynee- Of course we are a nation of consumers… but that is about choice. Our family chooses to vastly reduce the amount of items we consume and to gain as much self-reliance as possible. Obviously not everyone does this… but there is NO reason that we cannot raise a consumerism free baby. I breastfeed, so no bottles, paci’s, or formula is purchased. I believe in Elimination Communication and cloth nappies when diapers are needed (washed without chemicals, of course). We have obtained all needed baby equipment and clothing via sources like Freecycle, craigslist and secondhand shops. Food is grown (or purchased locally) and then turned into baby puree’s. In reality, that’s very little in the way of consumerism and EXTREMELY low impact on the environment. Having children can be eco-friendly.
To Aaron… the 42% quote is straight from Wikipedia and if you click the link “replacement rate” in the post you will find the information source.
Of course educating children doesn’t mean you have to have them… but parents are the child’s BEST and FIRST teachers (and should always be so regardless of where they go to school). It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children, that doesn’t mean that their education won’t be supplemented by others. Children are also great educators, they share their knowledge freely and gladly with others and their peers pay attention.
And of course, I didn’t say that EVERYONE should have X number of children (or any number of children). I said that the reasons for having children in reality have VERY little to do with environmentalism. There are people who probably should never have children and there are people who cannot have children. Applying a blanket statement that everyone should have X number of children would be just like stating that everyone should have NO children. One size does not fit all.
In regards to families having many children because they don’t believe in birth control. Those families are making a choice and IMO if they really didn’t want children, they’d take a differing stance on birth control. Many families LOVE children and parenting and choose to have large numbers of children (or have as many children as they are given during child bearing years) because they feel this is their purpose in life. Those people feel just as strongly about having many children as some feel about only having one or two (or in some cases NONE).
Self extinction is not a crazy idea… countries such as Japan, Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine are all experiencing POPULATION DECLINE even when immigration is factored in. Could this be a temporary status? Possibly. I still believe its a very real concern.
There are those who say Global Warming is a temporary issue or a “naturally occurring trend”.
I’m not willing to take that risk. Temporary or not, they are both real right now.
You say that reversing population growth puts us “on the road to self extinction.”
This argument is so silly that it’s laughable! The urge to merge will not let us become extinct. It seems pretty clear to me that if the population gets too low, someone will notice and start urging people to “be fruitful and multiply” once again.
By the way, that edict works ONLY for a time when the world was filled with perhaps 200 million people. Now we have so many that in 50 years, we could denude all the oceans of seafood and fish! That is shocking, but possible!
From National Geographic.com:
“…many deep-water species are being fished so heavily they could soon reach the point of no return, scientists warned last week in Boston at meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).”
“The survey, headed by Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Center and sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust, found that catches of popular food fish in North Atlantic waters have decreased by half over the last 50 years, although fishing has tripled in intensity.”
Gee, let’s eat up all the animals, too. Then we’ll be forced to be vegans or cockroach- and rat-munchers. (We’ll never kill off all of them–they’re much better survivors than us.) How delightful and earth-friendly to eat the only guaranteed-renewable resource! Here, have one–they’re great with pond scum dip!
This joke encapsulates the situation:
“Somewhere in the world, a woman gives birth every nine seconds. She must be found and stopped!”
Getting people NOT to reproduce is far more difficult to accomplish than getting them to do it. We already naturally want to do it! For men, that’s most of the time! For women, whenever an egg drops out of your soup, to put it crassly.
We are in NO danger, anywhere, of self-extinction by stopping or reversing population growth. Rather, the overgrowth is what threatens to cause our extinction.
It’s already the cause of massive species extinctions, at a rate 1000s of times that of historical (in nonoverpopulated times) rates. It seems that we should live in balance with our ecology, not the all-devouring destroyers of it. Even the Catholics agree with that now!
That hasn’t stopped the Catholic emphasis on the so-called rhythm method of birth control–an oxymoronic set of contrary beliefs–but it’s progress. (What do you call a woman who uses the rhythm method? Mom.)
The problems overpopulation causes, by waste and overuse of resources, is the worst case scenario–not extinction by not reproducing.
Aaron’s comments above are particularly insightful. I agree that “the poorest are going to have the most trouble from environmental and overpopulation issues.” They have the least power and control over their lives, and suffer the most at the hands of abusive governments, outlaws and corporations.
Overpopulation has already led only to misery and horror. And it’s getting worse, not better anytime soon.
Please stop having babies–or have only 1 if you’re compelled to. Most of us will truly be happier for it, and so will future generations.
I think you’re absolutely right, Jamie. Environmentalism shouldn’t factor into family planning when stable adults WANT children.
But what about children who are obviously unwanted? It takes environmental and financial resources to help children who are born with substance-related disorders or who’s mothers neglected their bodies during pregnancy. It also takes a lot of resources to deal with the many children in the foster care system.
And why should fertility treatments cost less than adoption? Why should fertility treatments involve less hassle?
If environmentalists have to address population control, they should take a better look at unwanted children.
Keep away from the lies and outright fabrications from eco-doom sayer PAUL EHRLICH he has been wrong in most every prediction he made in the 60s and 70s and his findings are false like those of AL GORE and RACHAEL CARSON