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.