Are children bad for the planet?

I sort of knew this was coming. The growing interest in large families is starting to create concerns by people who have, for quite some time, viewed people as expenditures to the environment.

John Guillebaud, an academic professor at University College London, claims that families should limit their family size by one child. As The Australian says in a recent article “Children ‘bad for planet‘”, “Having large families should be frowned upon as an environment misdemeanour.” Professor Guillebaud is co-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, a “Green Planet” organization in the UK. He makes quite a profound statement: “The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.”

Okay, let me think about this rationally. We have 13 children. What should I do with the 13th? To be fair, Prof. Guillebaud is merely talking to those who are “planning” their family size. I guess that doesn’t include me. However, our 14th is on his/her way. What would he recommend we do? Hmmm, let me think hard here…right now I plan to have 14, but now I should now have only 13? I’ve got it: I’ll “plan” to have 15 so that I meet Prof. Guillebaud’s calculations. Does this work on Guillebaud’s calculator?

The OPT’s calculator is quite something. Guillebaud claims that having “one less child” would cut carbon dioxide output by “the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.” (Notice the subtle put down on America…”return” flights back to America.) Come to think of it, when did carbon dioxide become poisonous? For someone who believes in a “bright green planet,” I wonder if he knows that plants consume carbon dioxide like we consume oxygen. I think I learned that in 3rd grade science class. By promoting the limitation of one child, Guillebaud will essentially choke off the breath of vegetation at the equivalence of (oh my gosh!) 620 return flights a year between New York and London!

Our book Love in the House opens with two chapters dealing specifically with the topic of “fear.” Statements from population experts like Guillebaud (he’s Professor of Family Planning, meaning he promotes freedom to abort as many children as possible) are attempts to work up a hysteria of fear. The claim that removing one child per couple would miraculously help the planet is quite ridiculous. Guillebaud references the UN’s Climate Report of 2007 that claims the world’s population will increase 2.5 billion by 2050. (I’m sure the United Nations strikes as much fear in you as it does in Iran’s leaders, but I digress.) What does this figure mean?

To some, particularly the green planet types, this means there will be more pollution and more hunger. I don’t want these either, but increased population doesn’t reduce any of these. I’d argue that decreased population will increase pollution and hunger. I know, quite profound, but at least not ridiculous. Our book takes a logical walk through the idea that human population increase is actually a good thing for the world. Don’t worry, we don’t resort to scare tactics that try to shock you into hypersexual behaviors. The OPT, in contrast, is hosting Live Earth together with Kanye West, Fergie and Madonna at Al Gore’s anti-global warming concerts (talk about hypersexual behaviors). Here is what we are saying in a nutshell: people are assets, not liabilities. People contribute more to the environment and to society than take from it. Guillebaud and his ilk see human beings as pillagers of the land; we see human beings as good stewards who help it prosper.

America is a good example. I’ve been hearing about overpopulation since I was in grade school. Despite the increased population of this country, our GNP (which is large enough to feed the world) is higher than it ever has been. Naturally, we aren’t able to distribute it to all corners of the world that need it (there aren’t enough people to do so), but we are very capable of doing it if we had the human resources.

“Human resources” is based on the premise that humans are a resources, and we believe they are. Guillebaud hasn’t scared me into thinking that my children and their generation (future tax-paying physicists, doctors, missionaries, politicians, and better professors) will be a hindrance to the planet. Rest assured, Wendy and I are teaching our kids to be good stewards of the earth. Hopefully, they will avoid flights between London and New York.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Regina

    Actually carbon dioxide is reactive in the atmosphere and turns into carbon monoxide which is a greenhouse gas….grade 12 chemistry…

  • Chris Jeub

    Thank you for correcting my junk science. So, perhaps the OPT is right: Human beings are dangerous to the planet after all. Here are some other solutions to this scary problem:

    1. Hold your breath more. We could have games in gradeschool for children who can hold their breath longer without passing out. It would be good for the environment.

    2. Stop exercising. Since exercising causes people to breathe heavier, we could have national campaigns to encourage the potato lifestyle. This would also force people to die younger. All great for the environment.

    3. Stop exhaling hot air. Since hot CO2 rises into the atmosphere and turns into CO (the dangerous greenhouse gas), we could save the planet. Examples include claiming humans are harmful to the environment.

    These are just some ideas. I’m feeling less frightened now. =)

  • Tara G.

    I like your responses to these people, Mr. Jeub. While I’m still young and only have two children so far (one is 2 the other is 7m.) I would so very much like for my husband to agree to have as many as God sees fit. Please pray for us!

  • Beth

    Great post Chris..and btw, congratulations on a new bundle coming!

  • Holly

    Thanks for the post. God is in control here. Not the scientist or Guillebaud. God created this world so He will protect this world as He sees fit. The more these environmentalist try to fix things the worse the enviroment is. Isn’t that something?? I just shake my head alot over these people’s comments about protecting the environment. We teach our kids to be good stewards of our environment as long as it is not going to hurt us or the ecomony (meaning put more people into the poor house because of restrictions or taxes on people).

    What scrares me more is the Global Warming people might be able to pass tax law over protecting the “planet” which is Earth by the way.

    Thanks for writing this rebuttal Chris. Keep at it!!

    Congratulations to you and Wendy over your bundle on the way!! DH and I decided to let God take control over our fertility by getting a reversal for myself. We did get pregnant but lost the baby through Tubal Pregnancy. We haven’t been able to get pregant the last 3 years. We are still praying for more blessings/arrows but we feel like perhaps God has closed my womb. Could you guys pray for us if you feel led to? You probably get so many prayer request so I understand.

    We will pray for your bundle’s safe arrival.

    Blessings to you and your family~

    Holly in IN

  • Catherine

    “Return” flight is Brit-speak for a roundtrip flight. So, that’s not a “subtle put down on America” – it’s merely a rountrip flight from London to NY.

  • Star

    Carbon dioxide does NOT react in the atmosphere and turn into carbon monoxide, it is the other way around…College chemistry.
    Good job with the kids! Why is it that educated people (regardless of race) have the lowest birth rate — far below replacement value? Our future problem solvers are being bred out of existence! The meek will inherit the earth.

  • Buffy

    I was confused about your “hold your breath, its good for the environment” comment. When Guillebaud wrote about one less child cutting carbon emissions, I thought he meant b/c there would be one less person driving, using electricity, making garbage, shopping, etc – and that was why it would reduce it, not b/c they aren’t around to breathe and exhale carbon dioxide.