Chicago Tribune: kids cause global warming

children in NamibiaOn Wednesday The Chicago Tribune turned its pages over to advocacy journalism representing the unfortunate attitude that the West knows best, and the “poorer parts of the world” must conform to the rules established by modern experts to keep the world from falling into a state of calamity. This article by the Tribune‘s London correspondent Laurie Goering proclaims that everyone should have fewer children (though it fails to provide the precise number) in order to prevent global warming and keep the planet from over-populating.

If you think about it, the new scientific consensus, at least according to a month-old editorial in a British medical journal, states the obvious:

LONDON — There are plenty of ways to cut your carbon footprint, whether it’s driving less or buying an energy-efficient refrigerator. But the British Medical Journal, in an editorial last month, urged a more controversial one: having fewer children.

With 60 million people already living in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the journal said, British couples should aim to have no more than two children as part of their contribution to worldwide efforts to reduce carbon emissions, stem climate change and ease demands on the world’s resources.

Limiting family size is “the simplest and biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren,” the editorial’s authors said.

Yes, if humans disappeared from the face of the planet, global warming would probably decrease. Maybe. Forget any room for counterpoint on this new alleged scientific consensus.

The article gets better. Not only would “no more than two children” prevent worldwide calamity, but having more than two children should be considered a “sin.” An evil act. An offense against the Creator. A violation of a moral rule. As a reader who kindly sent us this article said, this type of assertion, made without any sort of qualifications, makes one’s jaw drop.

One has to believe that there are a few church leaders that object to this viewpoint, but you would not know that from reading this article:

Family planning as a means to reduce climate change has been little talked about in international climate forums, largely because it is so politically sensitive. China’s leaders, however, regularly argue that their country should get emission reduction credits because of their one-child policy, and many environmentalists — and even a growing number of religious and ethics scholars — say the biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply” needs to be balanced against Scripture calling for stewardship of the Earth.

Europe’s rates diving

Increasingly, “a casual attitude toward global warming ought to be viewed as a sin,” argues James Nash, director of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, a Washington-based research group that studies the relationship between Christian faith and public policy.

The appeal to have fewer children sounds a bit odd in Europe, where one of the biggest worries these days is plunging birthrates. German women today bear an average of 1.3 children, fewer than women in China, where the one-child policy is fast weakening. Even British women are giving birth to just 1.9 children on average, a level below that needed to produce a stable population.

The “growing number of religious and ethics scholars” is a great journalistic trick. Perhaps there are a growing number, but I would like to see the evidence. Also, consider this balancing test of the “fruitful and multiple” clause (to use a legal phrase) with Scripture’s call “stewardship of the Earth.” Since we are using the Bible as our guide in determining social policy, where in the Good Book does it say to conduct this balancing test? Does it suggest anywhere that those two goals are inconsistent with each other?

Not once does the article propose practical policy solutions for accomplishing this goal. They sound fine as suggestions, but at what point do they become government policy as they have in other parts of the world? The United States Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court closely guards the right to procreate, but what about other areas of the world?

The general policy of “family planning” is thrown about in the article, but nowhere does the article actually explain what that means. All this is high-minded fluff that fails to address how to fix real concerns and problems in the world. And yes, an appeal to have fewer children in Europe is not just “a bit odd.” It is odd in the extreme. These ideas are presented as quite reasonable in this article hiding the reality that they are in fact quite extreme.

Photo of Children in Namibia used under a Wikimedia Commons license.

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  • Brian Walden

    I thought I’ve seen something like this before and went searching the net for it. Oh yes, here it is, it’s slightly older than this article but still relevant: A Modest Proposal

  • http://arlinghaus.typepad.com bearing

    For much of Europe, “two children” means having MORE children. See this table.

  • Chris Bolinger

    What is the GR equivalent of the Golden Raspberry? I hereby nominate this article for it. Goering seems to recognize that she is contradicting herself again and again, but she forges ahead anyway. Also, I love the use of “growing number”. It should be used in place of “many” as often as possible.

  • Margaret

    Am I missing something or did they really say something like, Limiting family size will be the biggest help to leaving a better planet for grandchildren?!
    What grandchildren? If everyone has fewer children are they
    going to eliminate infertility and death?

  • Martha

    *sinks head in hands*

    Look, people: it’s no good deciding you’ll only have two or fewer children, if you then blow the money you save on kids by treating yourself to toys that use up resources (like jetting off on cheap foreign holidays).

    It’s not the sub-Saharan mother of twelve who’s driving a SUV, after all.

  • http://darleeneisms.la darleene

    I had this discussion with a coworker once. But I told her, so if I, a socially responsible adult, have no children to whom I can teach my socially responsible ways, who’s going to balance out the not-so-socially responsible offspring? We would end up in a world like that movie, “Idiocracy.”

    You just have to know how to talk to certain people.

  • http://perpetuaofcarthage.blogspot.com/ Perpetua

    The article does NOT say:

    Not only would “no more than two children” prevent worldwide calamity, but having more than two children should be considered a “sin.”

    The article says:

    Increasingly, “a casual attitude toward global warming ought to be viewed as a sin,” argues James Nash, director of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, a Washington-based research group that studies the relationship between Christian faith and public policy.

    This creates the implication, based on the topic, that having more than two children should be considered a “sin.” But it is not clear that this was the intent of the man quoted.

  • AmaniS

    I love this kind of thinking. Have any of these people done a study to see who has a larger carbon foot print per person, small families or large ones?

    People with five kids can’t fit them into an SUV. The more kids you have the more you buy in bulk. Less wrappers. More hand me downs.

  • Dave2

    dpulliam wrote:

    Yes, if humans disappeared from the face of the planet, global warming would probably decrease. Maybe. Forget any room for counterpoint on this new alleged scientific consensus.

    I’m sorry, I must have missed the part of the article where someone called for humans to disappear from the face of the planet.

  • Stephen A.

    The very implication of articles like this are “humans are bad for the planet.” There are some extremes on the Environmental Left who actually say this outright, without the fancy stats and cover language to disguise their intent.

    Darleene, above, hit on a point I make often: The Western nations – who believe in recycling, caring for the Earth’s resources and teach children about preserving them, are dying out, leaving the Third World nations, which are booming in population and don’t care as much about environmentalism as they do about mere survival.

    I’m also searching for the article that questions the logic of Baby Boomers NOT having babies (including aborting them) and then making our public policy to open our borders to tens of millions of the aforementioned Third World immigrants – who will increase our population to 500 million by 2050. Kind of defeats the ideals of the “Age of Aquarius” generation, doesn’t it? Unless that purpose was to decimate one racial group and increase others. (Nah, that’s too outlandish to accuse them of doing that. Not to mention un-PC to say in public.)

  • Jane

    My seven children are doing a good job at limiting their carbon footprints, by sharing only two parents among all seven of them. Most children are having two parents each. Talk about a big carbon footprint!

  • Stoo

    I’m sorry, I must have missed the part of the article where someone called for humans to disappear from the face of the planet.

    What Dave2 said. It’s not about humans disappearing, it’s about reducing the crazy rates of reproduction and consumption.

  • Dave2

    Stephen A., so is this the sort of thing that only the Shadow knows? And the rest of us will have to take the Shadow’s word for it?

  • Stephen A.

    Stephen A., so is this the sort of thing that only the Shadow knows? And the rest of us will have to take the Shadow’s word for it?

    I’m going to pretend I’m not old enough to know what that means. But by saying so, I obviously do.

    I just don’t know who the Shadow is in your world.

    If you’re referring to the article that brings up the questions I’m asking about Boomers’ mindsets when they decided to not give birth to another generation, then I’m seeking that Shadow, too. These are questions I want the media to focus upon, since we now live in a world shaped by those decisions.

  • http://www.minds2mentes.wordpress.com Krista

    Thank you for writing about this Tribune article. This is a great analysis of the issues.

    Swift’s A Modest Proposal definitely crossed my mind too.