“The decision to have children should be seen as a very big one and one that should take the environment into account.”
This study is going to be attacked as liberal, alarmist nonsense. Our planet can feed and shelter far more humans than it does presently, they will explain, and we don’t have the power to destroy it anyway!
We probably don’t have the ability to destroy the Earth. We may be able to effect greater change over a shorter period of time than other of species, but that isn’t the same as destruction. However, the very political factions that scoff at altering our lifestyles for the sake of our world also believe in personal responsibility, and that’s a Pagan Value as much as it is a Conservative one.
I love children. They really are our future. They haven’t been trodden down by the worries of the world, the burdens of being a nurturer or provider don’t yet weigh on them; they still know how to play. In my own quest for immortality, the only thing that has come close to making me feel younger is spending time with a child, be it holding a nursing babe or watching a teenager show off a new skateboard trick.
Humans really don’t live all that long, and it’s damned difficult to form opinions that extend beyond our own generational boundaries. Honestly, we can’t even predict the weather beyond next week with any real accuracy, so I can’t blame anyone for being skeptical of science like this study and Al Gore’s global warming charges. And even if our ability to understand large systems increases, our ability to care won’t. If we’re lucky, we can really get passionate about the future, but probably not any further out than our own age. Each of us can do better from time to time, and some of us are far beyond the limits I’ve just expressed, but I think it’s fair to say that this is where the average human’s head is at.
The irony is that we have children, in part, to extend our own lives. Whether or not you believe in an immortal soul that takes new form, you probably like the idea that descendants you will never meet may visit your grave, research your life, preserve your legacy. It’s a heady feeling, isn’t it? I won’t have that feeling, because I don’t, and won’t, have children.
I have felt for many years that I fall short in my ability to leave no trace upon the Earth. It’s really tough to reduce how much packaging I create, how much energy I use, how much carbon I emit. How I measure that impact has changed over the years (carbon is big right now, pounds of garbage was all the rage when I was in college), but the song remains the same. The one thing I know I can do, though, is not have any kids.
What’s funny is that I’ve had a lot of environmentally-minded people tell me that I should change my tune. I can teach my offspring how to live right, they explain, and help change the world. They may be right, perhaps I would be that good of a father. But no matter the character of my children, each of them would create about as much pollution as every other human, as would each of their children. For a lazy man like myself, it’s tough to find an easier way to reduce my impact and honor my faith.
I think the recommendation of having no more than two children is fair. I don’t expect people to overcome their values and instincts and dreams of family; that’s a personal choice.
Hopefully the idea won’t be blasted out of existence, because it’s an idea whose time has come.