Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Environmentalists

… A couple of thoughts after another Public Health class, and after reading this excellent article about hormones in our water.

You know those people who claim they don't want to have children, or at least not more than one or two children, because the world is overpopulated and they are 'sacrificing for the benefit of the whole planet'?

I've heard this many times, and I must tell you, I always have to get a grip on myself so that I don't say something nasty. I guess I should begin with saying I don't really believe the world is overpopulated the way some 'experts' claim it is. I think our problem is poor use of the space and waste of precious resources. And I just think something is wrong with this very attitude. Sure, no people – no problem! So why don't we just stop breathing?

But what irritates me even more is the real spirit of the people who claim that 'having many children is environmentally irresponsible, so we're not having any at all'. Um, you love the planet don't you? Ready to do everything for the planet? Then why don't you show it?.. Would any of those people make the effort to recycle? Walk rather than use the car? Stop consuming useless junk and producing piles of trash every month? Stop throwing away enough food to feed three Third-world families? Do any of them care enough about this planet to cut back on unnecessary electricity use? Do something about the dangerous chemicals that overflow our food and water? Make an effort to save endangered animal and plant species?

No! Of course not. They will continue wallowing in selfish pleasure, consumerism, careerism, immediate gratification and other symptoms of our Peter Pan culture. They will not budge an inch to change anything in their lifestyle of incredible overspending. They are only ready to do what fits their self-centered philosophy: have no children. And they will continue claiming they are doing it for the greater good (read: so they can afford to buy the latest iPod). And that the wonderfully close-knit, healthy, happy, creative, thrifty, industrious large families, who grow their own food, sew their own clothes and appreciate every child as a beautiful blessing from God, are irresponsible environmental criminals.

18 comments:

Beautifuly Created said...

I do not remember the sourse but I read an article about world "over population" and it stated that the entier population of the world could fit in the state of Texas with over 1,000 sq ft per person. So yeah the world is not over populated, we are not useing our resourses wisely. Good post.

Mrs. Brigham said...

I used to be staunchly "childfree", though "overpopulation" was the lie I used to justify not wanting children instead of admitting I was terrified I would be a terrible mother. It was especially a great lie as I have always have (and still do!) fit the stereotype of a good environmentalist: non-driver, chemical free lifestyle, natural medicine user, recycler, community gardener, save the manatees!!, small apartment or house dweller, thrift store shopper, etc.

The thought that having less chidlren would somehow help the world is silly. As you said, irresponsible choices and poor stewardship of Creation are the problems. If people really care about Creation, they would teach their children well, rather than consume, consume, consume. It seems in my "green living" efforts, it has always been easier when living with somebody else (either my family, a roommate, or now my husband and child) than living on my own. As they say, "two can live as cheaply as one" and this is true when it comes to both your earth "footprint" and finances. You need less packaging when it comes to goods as you can purchase bulk; you have more "people power" to compost, plant a garden, pick through thrift stores and come up with ideas to reuse and recycle items, among many other advantages to adding more to the picture. More people living together in a dwelling makes for a smaller footprint on the earth as far as housing goes. And I would tend to think that a child having several siblings to play with makes them far less likely to need lots of plastic and/or electronic toys to entertain themselves.

Emily said...

Indeed, the world is not overpopulated at all. In fact, most countries' birth rates are not high enough to replace their national population. Unfortunately, because of our inherently sinful natures, we live in a very selfish, self-absorbed society that would rather not do anything to help the environment and be better stewards, but rather take the easy option of having no children. It is sad. Jesus is truly the only answer to our fallen human problems.

Marianne said...

I believe in doing what we can to protect the environment. Just because God gave us dominion over the Earth doesn't mean we can't care for it.

Having said that, I imagine that people with large families are probably more frugal with resources than many of the people in my neighborhood who only have one child, but drive Range Rovers, etc.

Additionally, everything I've read about overpopulations references the developing world. While the US and other industrialized nations are huge consumers of goods, we have eco-standards that other nations do not have.

Coffee Wife said...

I know the source - here's the link to that article:

"The overpopulation myth"
http://www.envoymagazine.com/backissues/2.3/coverstory.html

It's ok for rich white folks to have kids - but if you are a poor brown lady (any non-white race) then all of a sudden you are a drain on society and environmentally irresponsible! You need to be sterilized and stopped from breeding! It kills me how our rich governments will send aid to Africa etc but say, "We'll only give you this food if you sterilize your women..." AAARRRRGGG!!!

Then you have Planned Satanhood parking its baby-killing factories mostly in impovershed or minority neighborhoods. It's SO obvious that population control is TOTALLY racist and based on class!

"Save the Whales!!"
"Save the Wolves!"
I say:
"Save the human babies!!!"

Anna and Miriam said...

I think a lot of people just don't think much about it...

My sister recently told me that when my parents got married, Dad thought the world was overpopulated and didn't really want children, while mom wanted at least one. However, their views evidently changed, and my dad found out that the "overpopulation problem" was a myth. It's a good thing though, for they now have 7 children and 7 grandchildren!

Anna Naomi said...

Oh - and the above comment was from me, by the way. I forgot to log in to my separate account.

John said...

Maybe this doesn't respond to the over all spirit of your post, however, I feel like there are some important points to be made with respect to the notion of Over population. Over population and excessive population growth are two different things, although they are significantly related. In essence, its true the Earth isn't over populated. Sure, there is plenty of land that's desolate and empty, but the question is how much of it is habitable or arable? Over irrigation and resource depletion has damaged much of the potentially habitable land in the third world, I'm thinking specifically of West Africa and East Asia, although its just as true in South America. Also, consider the notion that the lure of urban settings (the hope/desire for jobs and opportunity where there is none) draw people from villages in to cities, thus creating a massive urban swell leading to over population in urban settings. Excessive population growth is a concern in the third world, though. Women in Africa, Asia and the Sub Continent are statistically likely to conceive between 5 and 8 times in their lifetime. Children who don't have arable land, and won't have jobs. So, what do they do? They move to the cities : into the favelas of Brazil, to Cité-Soleil in Haiti, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Mumbai, the Gecekondu in Istanbul...all places where over population and squalor is very real, where income and educational disparity is real. Maybe read Robert Kaplan's book, The Ends of the Earth. I feel there is a very sobering picture of urban over population amongst his themes. And it is a problem because the underfed, uneducated and unoccupied are the hopeless and the desperate.

Laura H said...

Anna,
My parents didn't even have qualms raising kids, and having more then one. Why nine kids later, they are so happy to have us in their lives, that overpopulation to them, is a whatever! What overpopulation? The would mean, those of us who have large families, will bring more christians into the world, and help bring those who are not,into the saving knowlege of Christ. That is the way my parents look at it, and the same with me. I don't know about my sisters, but that is the way I feel about it. God has blessed our lives, so much. Praise His name!
Laura H

Buffy said...

If people don't want to have children that's their choice, but they shouldn't judge people who make different life choices to them. As you say, people can be very hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

i once had a wonderful professor from sierra leone. on the subject of overpopulation, he used to say, "the problem is not babies. babies are nice. everybody likes the babies- all you girls here, you should have many many babies. the problem is the greedy greedy grownups."

AnneK said...

Overpopulation is not a problem in USA with its ample land and resources-In fact if anything I think it is underpopulated. But population growth was certainly a problem in India at one time. But now they are turning it into an asset since they have the largest labor force. It's amazing that it is the one thing that puts her over China.

That being said I want to say a note about the slums. Their condition is deplorable. Although I am against abortion, I think that providing contraceptives to these women is essential to not bring more children into such an environment of squalor and abject poverty. They already have children sitting on drains, covered with mosquitoes and flies while their tin houses are submerged knee deep in drainage water. I saw this less than 6 months ago. Here is a typical pic.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/143/348829288_c303d2e48d.jpg

I am on board with you about the waste that is going on here and the consumerism. I worked in a restaurant here. I know all about how they waste! I am a Christian environmentalist as well. We recycle everything that can be recycled, we live way below our means, we have only one "poor man's" car, take plastic covers to the grocery shop so we could keep reusing it (started that recently), minimal use of paper towels etc.

So, coming back to the topic, I just want to clarify Anna, when you were talking about over population did you mean just the western world or the whole world? It would be good to hear your thoughts.

PandaBean said...

I had a friend once say that the people who supported "population control" thru' artificial birth control and abortions are a dying breed, they are killing themselves off by not producing a next generation to pass their "ideals" to. Whereas the people who support strong, large families are the ones who are spreading their "message" to the largest group - their kids!

God Bless!

Kaye :) said...

Hi,

I'm always amazed at the outright contradiction with those who want to, "Save the Whales", but not the babies. I say, "Save the whales, save the trees, save the water, save the etc., etc., etc.," but Save the Babies (as Coffee Wife said), FIRST.

Kaye :)

James said...

You're right that much of the problem is greed. Here in America, the issue is that everyone thinks it's their God-given right to own a tacky McMansion or chateau in the suburbs and own a fleet of cars. It's no wonder that automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of death here.

The problem is that greed and decadence impede the free market. We have to resources and production to feed the world's population, but the transport of goods is greatly hindered by subsidies, tariffs, and government intervention.

Anna S said...

James,

Just thinking about the amounts of trash an average family produces is appalling.

James said...

It is quite something- the trash people go through. We live in a culture where resources are so plentiful that they're disposable.

It's funny you mention this because trash is a shadow of the issue it ought to be. No one's ever interested in trash- it's icky and boring. Well surprise, surprise, because no one's looking at it, the trash hauling industry in Connecticut is dominated by the Mafia.

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority processes all our trash at the Mid-Connnecticut Trash to Energy plant. At least they harvest the energy in trash before it is sent to the landfill. It also reduces mass and volume to 10%. It's still a ticking clock on landfill capacity issues.

It's really an odd society we live in. sunday evening, I went to a barbecue at a friend's house in which we used some broken chairs as kindling. He had them since college and would have required significant effort to repair. What a paradox- that it's cheaper to acquire new chairs than to repair the one's you have! What plenty we must have to be able to do this!

How dominant is recycling where you're at Anna? Are most people fastidious about recycling or do significant amounts of trash still end up in the landfill?

Anna S said...

James,

Where I live, there's a huge difference in this are between single young people and large families with many children. The young singles are mostly in the 'wear it out, throw it away' mentality, while large families are more frugal and use their resources wisely.