Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Green Term of the Week - Population Control

I remember the first time I read that people who have children are being selfish and hurting the environment. I thought it was just one wacky person's opinion. But, as I've spent some time reading other environmentalist's opinions, I've come to find out that there is a significant population of us treehuggers out there who think that having children is irresponsible.

Population control is lauded by some as being one of the ways to save the planet. I've read all sorts of comments about it. People should be charged for having children. Couples should only be allowed to have one child. Wanting your own biological child is something that is cultural - with so many unwanted children in the world everyone should just adopt. I even heard one commentator on the radio bemoaning the fact that he gave money to aid the starving in Africans in the 1980's because the people lived and went on to have a lot of babies. He now believes it would have been better to allow them to starve. It would have been better for the planet.

Those who look at people in this manner must only be looking at them as consumers. Not just consumers of material goods, but consumers of the precious resources that are needed to live - water and food.

This mindset is scary. Yes, our earth has environmental problems and we should be working hard to solve them. But begrudging someone's desire to be a parent, that's ludicrous. Believing that people are little more than environmental pests, that's sad. I wonder how the people who really believe these things feel about their own existence. Are they sorry for their role in the degradation of the environment simply because they exist? Do they resent their parents for being so irresponsible? I really wonder about this.

I understand that there are millions of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies that happen all over the world each year. I have no problem with those who want to get birth control to those who want it as a way to save women from unwanted pregnancies and help the earth a little along the way, too.

My problem is with those who feel that people who desire to have children are selfish and environmentally irresponsible.

Don't ever let anyone sway your decision to have children based on this logic. Go ahead and have them. Then raise them to care for the earth and to care for people, too.

What is your opinion on the subject? 
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Anonymous said...

I feel pretty guilty just existing and consuming resources, energy, etc.

I plan on having one child and adopting another. I even feel SOMEWHAT bad for having that one child but I plan to raise both my children as sustainable as possible.

I see nothing wrong with not having kids and I don't see anything wrong with wanting to have one or two of your own. If you have a huge homestead, I just hope you try to live as sustainable as possible: grow your own food, sew your own clothes, live on renewable energy, your house is energy efficient, you don't drive a lot, etc but even then there are some single people who don't live as sustainable as a family of say 5 or 6.

Sometimes people say things online that they wouldn't say to someone's face in every day life.

Beth Filar Williams said...

yes it all sounds well and good but most people out there having kids are not like you raising them to be environmentally friendly and living sustainably. if that were the case, sure have children!

Most people dont think twice about having kids - they selfishly want them and feel like they should have what they want. I say selfish b/c it is about what you want - the child has no say and no one else can tell you you cant have them(hmm... except our govt trying to take away a womans right to choose and not educating young people about birth control), though people may express their opinions.

Bringing another human into this world DOES increase the use of natural resources and damage to our planet. Not that I believe we should let people starve in Africa (that is a bit extreme thinking) but why not adopt some of these many needy kids and raise them in a e-friendly way instead of just adding to the overpopulation problem on this planet with your own new human.

I have chosen NOT to have kids and b/c of that people think I am weird. But I think I am taking a stand that most people wouldnt even pause to think about as an option. its easier to conform to the norm, have kids b/c its what everyone else does.

Robin says "begrudging someone's desire to be a parent, that's ludicrous" Maybe begrudging is a strong way to look at the situation but my frustration is that people do not stop and think about it at all, even if they choose to have kids in the end. Think it over, think about whether you can afford it, if you can raise them in a e-friendly way, or is it really the best thing for our planet, when maybe adopting is a better choice?

Secondly,I do NOT understand why people having kids get tax breaks. If you choose to buy a expensive car or live in expensive area, you dont get a tax break. Why does having kids get you tax breaks, when its a choice you make? meanwhile someone like me still pays taxes to support your kids schooling? (not that I have a problem with that but you get the point) Have them! Raise them well! But think about it before you decide to have your own biological child and lets educate people that they have a choice, their responsibility, and the effect on the planet.

Allison said...

As with most every decision humans make there needs to be education. Like Beth said, think over whether you can afford a child or give it a good life-love, food, shelter.
This is a very hot topic. On one side humans have been the biggest burden on the earth's resources ever. And babies/children are just small humans that grow up to be larger ones. On the other hand we are humans, living things, that have a will of our own. I think most people have babies, like me, because it is a biological need to pass on my genes and I also wanted to love purely. You can't force people to not have babies, we have heard and seen what happens in China to baby girls. So the only solution is education or maybe world famine. Harsh but true. We are animals and we won't have babies if we are starving, usually. Ok, that was the social science and biology side of me coming out, I'm not really that cruel. That is just what happens in nature, when a species is suffering in some way, they don't reproduce or the offspring die in some way.
Hot topic that may never be solved. Maybe a meteor will take us all out and we won't have to worry. (Yes, my cynical side, sorry Robin, I am usually pretty easy going about most topics. I know you take this more serious.)

Robin Shreeves said...

Thank you all for your comments - even the ones that disagree with my viewpoint.

lvetodaylez - You're absolutely right that some single people live less sustainably than a family of 5 or 6. I know that before my husband and I had our boys, we didn't think much about our environmental impact. Without out kids, we'd probably be still living an environmentally thoughtless life.

Oh - and please don't feel guilty for just existing.

Beth - Looks like we disagree on a lot. For what it's worth, we did think a lot about choosing to have kids. Ten years ago, however, their environmental impact didn't come into play in our pro/con lists (really - we had them).

I don't think people who chose to not have kids are weird. I think they probably are very sure about what they want to accomplish in their lives and having a family would get in the way of it. (It was hard to word that without sounding judgemental - as if kids were an inconvenience - not how I meant it to come off at all). If you choose not to have your own kids and your good with it, I respect that.

What I'm worried about are people who do have the desire to have their own children being guilted into not having them or those who do have them feeling guilty they did.

Thanks for your input.

Allison - You are a bit cynical on this one. But you're right, this is a very hot topic - sure to push a lot of people's buttons just like it pushed mine. I'm sure it's not the last time I'm going to bring it up here.