Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Tree Huggers Discover the Best Way to Go Green

Over at Tree Hugger they have discovered the obvious: The Best Way You Can Go Green: Have Fewer Children:

Forget changing your lightbulbs, driving a car with high fuel efficiency, adopting a vegetarian diet or even switching to green power. If you live in the United States and really want to reduce your carbon emission legacy, perhaps the single largest change you can make to your life is commit to have fewer children.

The story goes on to quote a LiveScience article entitled Save the Planet: Have Fewer Kids

For people who are looking for ways to reduce their "carbon footprint," here's one radical idea that could have a big long-term impact, some scientists say: Have fewer kids.

A study by statisticians at Oregon State University concluded that in the United States, the carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of an extra child is almost 20 times more important than some of the other environment-friendly practices people might employ during their entire lives - things like driving a high mileage car, recycling, or using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.

"In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime," said study team member Paul Murtaugh. "Those are important issues and it's essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources."

Reproductive choices haven't gained as much attention in the consideration of human impact to the Earth, Murtaugh said. When an individual produces a child - and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future - the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.

Under current conditions in the United States, for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent - about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is

The impact doesn't only come through increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases - larger populations also generate more waste and tax water supplies.

Of course births are NOT the main driver of U.S. population growth. Immigration is, and this has been true since the beginning, as the graph, below makes clear.

As John Chamie at Yale Global Online notes,

Contrary to popular thought, the dominant force fueling America’s demographic growth is not natural increase, but immigration. This is because immigrants not only add their own numbers to the nation’s overall population, but also contribute a disproportionate number of births whose effects are compounded over time.

Next time some vegan spouts nonsense to you about how the world is going to hell in a hand cart because there are too many people eating cows and chickens, do what I do: Suggest they get themselves sterilized and that they support immigration reform.

If that sounds harsh, be advised that voluntary sterilization is the most common form of birth control in the world. And yes, I advocate men get the procedure as it's a simple in-and-out operation for us.

Also be advised, that 82% of U.S. population growth is due to immigration, and that this immigration is negating ALL other savings being made through conservation.

Bottom Line: Stop talking about what other people should be doing (you cannot do a damn thing about them), and take direct action on the one thing you actually control.
You say you are an environmentalist? Prove it! Stop at none ... or one ... or two. And support immigration control.



NewKiwi said...

FINALLY someone has pointed at the elephant in the room! I feel much less guilty about some of my choices that are environmentally unfriendly when I remind myself that I have no kids. Yay! Worst example of how kids are bad for the environment: plastic diapers. I saw a used diaper carelessly left lying in the grass in the carpark at a lovely seaside park near Santa Barbara, CA. Stupid parents!

Viatecio said...

I am in line for voluntary sterilization when I find a doctor who will finally understand that, if a woman can make such a decision as to get pregnant (which is a relatively irreversible and permanent decision), I don't need to live up to any pre-set qualifications to do something as irreversible and permanent as a tubal. Seriously...I need to be a certain age and have a certain number of children or else I will experience 'regret'?! Thank you, dear gynecologist, for knowing more about my body and my wishes than I do.

After all, I'd rather regret not having children than regret having them.

PBurns said...

Viatecio, you do not have to be a specific age to get a tubal ligation. I got a vasectomy at 24and then adopted two children (now young adults starting to pay taxes). If your doctor does not listen, change doctors. They are there to serve you, not serve up their theories of the universe.


Pai said...

Doctors do not refuse to do vasectomies the way they will often refuse to do tubal ligations. Women frequently get lectured on how, if they're 25-26 or younger, they're 'too young' to know if they want kids or not.

For any childless woman under 30, it can be a real ordeal finding a doctor who is willing to tie your tubes. There is some kind of weird cultural attitude that all women by default must want kids, and any woman who professes to not want any must not know what she's talking about and will regret it later.

sfox said...

Yeah, I waited until I was about 32 "just in case", at which point it became clear that my biological clock was never plugged in. Had a tubal and never regretted it. Guess I've done my bit for the planet. ;O)

PipedreamFarm said...

Is the problem really both immigration and population growth? You have not demonstrated that immigrates are producing more children because they immigrated; if they would have produced as many children in their homeland the impact on the global environment would have been the same.

Noel said...

Great post.
I often feel the same about a lot of green initiatives - they're still very consumptive. The electric car may be the way of the future, but keeping your car a lot longer and NOT creating a new one is likely to be a lot less damaging.

PBurns said...

Yes, the problem for the U.S. is immigration. The bottom line is that nearly 100 percent of our current population growth is due to immigration and the children of recent immigrants. As the Pew Center for Hispanic Trends notes ( ) "If current trends continue, the demographic profile of the United States will change dramatically by the middle of this century... The nation’s population will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and fully 82% of the growth during this period will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their descendants."

Immigration is also bad for the global environment, as people moving to the US are embracing a lifestyle saturated in consumption and a toss-away ethos. The "brain drain" from the less developed world is not just a drain off of talent and knowledge from countries that can ill-afford to lose it, it's also a loss of a key driver for political change. The reason Fidel Castro is still in power in Cuba, is that everyone who would have forced him out left for Miami. If you want to know where the homer-grown political and economic leadership of Haiti, Somalia, or the Sudan is, it's driving a taxicab in New York or Washington.

Ed Abbey had it right: We should meet everyone at the border, give them a bolt action rifle and 100 rounds, and turn them around with the word "You know what to do with that right?"

PipedreamFarm said...

Having more population growth in affluent countries only changes the type of impact on the global environment; toss away ethos as opposed to other more obvious impacts on the environment like what was showcased by the Rio and Beijing olympics