13 July 2007

Having Children is bad for the environment.

I knew that someone would agree with me sooner or later, we have to reverse population growth (especially in the developed world where per capita emissions are so much higher) if we are to seriously tackle our environmental problems...
And that means more than just climate change. We need to improve the environment for its own sake - to improve our quality of life. And inequality is also a factor, I don't think the present levels of inequality can be sustained if we are serious about reducing emissions - the richer you are the more environmentally damaging you are.

All this middle class ownership of hybrid cars, recycling and careful shopping is all very good but their higher consumption overall has to be tackled if it is not just to be window dressing - like Cameron - good PR but no substance. So far people have not got serious about climate change, some people of course just deny it exists at all. Even if they were right (and they are not right) we should still reduce consumption and lessen inequality as the best way to improve quality of life.

In the war years we had rationing and people had less possessions. Yet more equality had a strange effect - it improved everyone's happiness. People said they were much happier then, their health improved dramatically (admittedly from a very low base) - but isn't this more important than just chasing more and more products that we are persuaded we need when we don't. We cannot afford to ignore the environmental costs of things anymore - I do think we can get round this - but it will need carbon rationing not just 'green taxes'. In fact in some ways we are less green now than we have ever been (For example, I remember how glass bottles were valued and recycled in the past - milk floats colleting them and getting a deposit to take them back to the shop),

The easiest way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce the population.

It does make me laugh when the same people on the 'right' who voice their concerns about overcrowding and immigration are usually the same ones who oppose abortion and call for 'English' people to have more children. They quite obviously are just closet (or not so closet) racists. Their policies would mean more overcrowding and lower quality of life as inequality widens (they even oppose house building despite growing demand that will leave many homeless or in squalid conditions. Where is their laissez faire capitalist ideas when they drag their feet over planning applications or call for tighter immigration or for that matter where are their morals when they stop people having a home?)

What we reallly need is abortion on demand. Making women jump through bureaucratic hoops to get an abortion is currently helping no-one. It justs mean more late abortions, more unwanted children with poor quality of life, more crime and more distress and unneccesary guilt placed on women by religion and vindictive moralising right wingers.

Then there is immigration. Firstly yes an admittance that immigrants in this country will consume more and emit more carbon than if they stop home - but they will also send home remittances that reduce poverty, inequality and ultimately slow population growth which have a much bigger impact in the opposite direction. Basically, education of women is the key and this is something the developed world needs to grasp. We also need to promote contraception (yes promote) in the same way Mcdonalds promotes hamburgers and that means educating children BEFORE they are likely to have sex - not afterwards. We need more sex education not less and as Holland shows this actually is likely to increase the age when people first have sex. At the moment the market (through films and some other media (usually the same media that bemoans a drop in morality) promotes sex rather than contraception. There needs to be direct graphic examples of people with sexual diseases - people should be shown horrific images of people suffering such diseases, be given the probabilities of catching them and the problems they cause. They also need to be shown directly the responsibilities and difficulties of having children - financial, social etc. Sex education can put people off sex and especially unsafe sex. We need a campaign as high profile as drink driving (if not higher profile). The sooner we get away from stigmatising and moralising people the better - the right-wing media and parties and religions have a lot to answer for. As well as destroying people's lives they could also be destroying future human chances of remaining on this planet. I suppose given the religious proficies, some of them are quite looking forward to the end of the world, nutters the lot of them!

12 comments:

  1. David Duff14/7/07 4:46 pm

    No time for a considered response but here are a few comments.

    "we have to reverse population growth (especially in the developed world..."

    It's already happening. The birth rate in western Europe has been falling for years and in Russia their population is *decreasing* by 750,000 a year.

    "the richer you are the more environmentally damaging you are"

    Not so, places like China and India whose populations are poorer than us in the west produce far more pollution. Should you doubt, visit Singapore/south Malaysia when the forest burning season gets going in Indonesia and covers hundreds of thousands of square miles in smog!

    I am happy for you that you are a 'believer' in anthropogenic global warming and I say that in much the same way that I would tell a Christian or Muslim that I am happy they 'believe' in God without the faintest reason for doing so.

    "we should still reduce consumption and lessen inequality"

    Were we in the west to stop consuming, several 'zillion' poor workers in the east would be put out of work and endure even more poverty thus *increasing * inequality.

    "In the war years we had rationing and people had less possessions. Yet more equality had a strange effect - it improved everyone's happiness"

    I can only assume that that comment was some sort of post-modernist joke! people were *happier* in the war! Do me a favour!

    " The easiest way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce the population."

    What do you have in mind? We already slaughter tens of thousands of babies in the womb. Are you suggesting bumping off the 'wrinklies when they get past their allotted 3 score years and ten?

    Sorry, I can't read any more I'm laughing too hard!

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  2. Well, lets get the factual bit out of the way,

    You talk about reducing developed world population levels, yet our fertility rates are already in free fall. US birth rates are stable at around 2.0 births p/woman but European birth rates are among the lowest. (The UK does fairly well but still has a "below-replacement" rate of 1.7). Societies with fertility rates as low as Spain's 1.3 have never survived what can only be described as cultural suicide. 1.3 births per woman means the population is roughly halving every generation.

    But lets suppose that the European model of socialised, nanny state, public sector interference, of which you are surely proud, has not caused the most dramatic collapse in fertility rates known to man, and that we're all happily pro-creating our way to enviro-hell. What are the Blairs(not without a child or four) and the Browns going to do about it?

    In hommage to the agricultural policies of their bedfellows in Brussels, perhaps the Labour government could subsidise young couples who decide to not have children? How much would I get for not having triplets? Can I make a claim every 9 months?

    Seriously though, when you talk about rationing our carbon output, why not just be honest with us (for once). What you actually mean is using yet more governmental force to ban or prohibit yet more free individuals from making choices that you and your political masters do not care for. All in the name of a cause for which the majority of the population is deeply sceptic.

    You're right, having children IS bad for the environment, if you consider carbon dioxide and the human race as being completely alien to the eco system in which they exist. But then why stop at children? Why not take the argument to its logical conclusions and start picking off those of us who pollute the most?

    If you're willing to take draconian measures to spare us from the hell on earth you predict, and youre this convinced that our procreational habits needed to be legislated for, why not lead the way and sacrifice your own life comrade? Go on, jump. I'm right behind you!

    PS. I think it takes a pretty special 30-something individual to claim that people would like to see a return to 1940 living standards. I think most people that actually lived through this "golden age", not to mention an economist or two, would actually say your talking compete garbage.(yes, the carbon-emitting kind).

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  3. "Then there is immigration. Firstly yes an admittance that immigrants in this country will consume more and emit more carbon than if they stop home - but they will also send home remittances that reduce poverty, inequality and ultimately slow population growth which have a much bigger impact in the opposite direction."

    So what you are saying is "To get rich is glorious!".

    Indeed the solution to global warming is to embrace capitalism which has the side-effect of reducing population growth more than offsetting the slight per capita increase in carbon footprint due to higher consumption.

    I completely agree.

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  4. I think our host is giving Cllr. Terry kelly a run for his money!

    http://councillorterrykelly.blogspot.com/

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  5. david duff, anon, guido: The developed birthrate is falling and this is a good thing. Yet all I seem to read in the Tory press is a lament about it.

    On the one hand those on the right complain of overcrowding, and on the other lament the low birth rate. What is going on?

    At best this is inconsistent but in reality it is just racism. What they really object to is the number of brown faces they see. They want white people to have more children.

    No developed society needs to encourage their birth rate - it could fall to zero and it wouldn't matter - there are more than enough people in the world.

    We don't seem to have any problem importing our food, energy and other products and services - so why worry about importing people when they are so plentiful? Especially as immigrants tend to fill the skills shortages we have and are not so costly to our society (16 years minimum of education is expensive).

    The Right talk of laissez-faire and freedom - but the most basic freedom of all - the freedom for people to move where they like - they are completely hostile to. Why don't you trust the 'free market' here too? I suspect it is because the 'free market' is bullshit - it is a smokescreen to protect the status quo when you need to argue against social justice but you conveniently drop it when it suits you and play on xenophobia and racism - the most horrific way to destroy freedom.

    China and India have a fraction of our per-capita carbon emissions - so don't give me this 'far more pollution' rubbish.

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  6. "The developed birthrate is falling and this is a good thing. Yet all I seem to read in the Tory press is a lament about it.

    On the one hand those on the right complain of overcrowding, and on the other lament the low birth rate. What is going on?"

    Not being a Tory and not being an avid reader of the "Tory press", I cant speak for Conservative party policy, but...

    As far as I know the Conservatives are not against immigration per se. Even the UKIP accepts that immigration is necessary in order to maintain current population levels and fund an unsustainable social security system.

    The Consertive opposition to "open-borders" immigration is quite simply because they fear a radical change in the demographic makeup of the country and what effect this could have on "society". Label it racism if you want but such opposition appears to be consistent with the concept of "conservatism".

    "No developed society needs to encourage their birth rate - it could fall to zero and it wouldn't matter - there are more than enough people in the world."

    I'm not particularly bothered how many children anyone else has, but then I dont believe in public services or taxation. How do you plan to fund the pensions of public sector workers for example?

    "The Right talk of laissez-faire and freedom - but the most basic freedom of all - the freedom for people to move where they like - they are completely hostile to. Why don't you trust the 'free market' here too? I suspect it is because the 'free market' is bullshit - it is a smokescreen to protect the status quo when you need to argue against social justice but you conveniently drop it when it suits you and play on xenophobia and racism - the most horrific way to destroy freedom."


    I'm glad that you favour freedom of movement. I myself favour an open borders policy or rather, a "no state, no borders" policy. Unfortunately, the similarities end there.

    I envisage a world of private property, whereas you want to tax people through force, for the upkeep of "public" property "open to all".

    Even though conservatives are no lovers of liberty, its laughable that you should attack them when you yourself have no problem in trampling all over my freedoms in the case of the smoking ban, the NHS, extortionate taxation levels and any and every other public service you advocate as being in my own interest.

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  7. What about smokers trampling over the rights of non-smokers who want to avoid being burned, avoid smelling like an ashtray and avoid getting lung cancer from their dirty habit?

    As I have said on another thread - there was no choice for non-smokers who wanted to work or enjoy a drink inside a place free from smoke. It was not financially viable for a landlord to go it alone and ban smoking and that is no choice at all. Those who oppose the smoking ban are more anti-liberty than those for it.

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  8. Your idea of no government is ridiculous. You want to take us back to the dark ages and you call ME an extremist? pah!

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  9. Tory press, the right, racism, xenophobia etc.

    Straw men one and all. You seem to be under the impression that calling BS on your article puts me in those categories. Actually I don't think you are that dumb, just using the rhetorical technique of false dichotomy but not very convincingly. Certainly not convincingly enough to be considering any form of political career - if you are.

    The fact that I believe in the free movement of both people and products means your almost your entire response consists of knocking down a straw man.

    I'll take that as a tacit admission that I am right.

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  10. "What about smokers trampling over the rights of non-smokers who want to avoid being burned, avoid smelling like an ashtray and avoid getting lung cancer from their dirty habit?"

    You have a right to be free from aggression or coercion against person or property. That is the classical definition of liberty.

    That is to say that I am not allowed to physically harm you without your consent.

    To turn to the example of the bar: the property rights of the landlord imply that the customer has made an agreement with the owner in accepting the smoking policy, otherwise you are in violation of his property rights. This is trespass.

    The owner of the property retains the right to use force to remove trespassers from his property in defence of his property rights and liberty.

    You dont have the right to come onto private property without the consent of the owner and use force to dictate how he or others should act.

    "As I have said on another thread - there was no choice for non-smokers who wanted to work or enjoy a drink inside a place free from smoke."

    Um, yes there was. i) Dont go onto private property where smoking is accepted ii) Find private property where smoking is not accepted iii) Buy or rent private property and make your own smoking policy.

    All of these options are open to you, and none violate the freedoms of others. A smoking ban clearly does.

    "It was not financially viable for a landlord to go it alone and ban smoking and that is no choice at all."

    If it wasnt financially viable then there wasnt sufficient demand. Nowhere in any literature, in any theory of liberty does the use of unjust force for coercive purposes constitute a defence of freedom.

    Again, you're confusing capability with liberty. They arent the same thing. I cant fly to the moon, that doesnt mean I cant exercise my will freely.

    "Those who oppose the smoking ban are more anti-liberty than those for it."

    I dont doubt that's what you believe. I was rather hoping you could demonstrate how.

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  11. ANL: "If it wasnt financially viable then there wasnt sufficient demand"

    This is not a capability issue - in practise there was no choice for a non-smoker to enjoy a drink or work in a bar that was smoke free. This was a restriction on their liberty.

    Imagine there was no welfare state and no health and safety legislation and employers inevitably were driven down (by the market) to the lowest standards making the workplace very hazardous indeed.

    The worker has the choice to withdraw his labour and starve to death or work in very hazardous conditions.

    You would say this has had no impact on the workers liberties. But it is pretty clear that the worker's choices were far greater when there was legislation in place to protect them. Not working and starving to death is clearly no choice at all, as indeed the choice for the non-smoker was having to accept stinking of smoke or not be able to enjoy a night out in a bar or venue. That also is no choice at all.

    The smoking ban has increased the vast majority of people's liberties in exchange for a minor inconvenience to some smokers, which is why the vast majority of people (including smokers) support this ban.

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  12. Those who attack the restrictions on public smoking as a violation of property rights, have missed the point that property rights have never been absolute. Property rights have always been constrained for the public good since human societies have existed.

    In the modern era, your control over your car is constrained by the Road Traffic Acts; as an employer, your property rights are constrained by health and safety legislation and anti-discrimination legislation; as landowner your rights are constrained by planning laws; as a restaurant owner, your property rights are constrained by public health and hygiene ordinances.

    Now for the extreme anarcho-libertarian all of these laws are anathema, but the principles which they embody, that property rights are not absolute but are balanced against the public good, have been recognised for hundreds of years. In short, the smoking 'ban' follows that tradition, and certainly doesn't merit the hyperventilation that it has received in some quarters.

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