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I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No child left behind

No one to fill these shoesIn yesterday's post, someone commented on how not having children was one of the most environmentally friendly things a person could do and that those who didn't have kids really didn't need to do anything else for the environment.

One woman, Toni Vernelli, 35, who was sterilized when she was 28 states:


Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population.

Another couple that has chosen not to procreate believes:


[We] live as green a life a possible. We don't have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child. That's why [the husband] had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for us to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth.

What think ye? Is it morally wrong to have children?

Some have argued that if humans were to follow this line of thinking, then suicide, natural disasters and other catastrophes man-made or otherwise, no matter how devastating to the population, would be of benefit to the environment. Does thinking of man as a plague on the Earth send us down a slippery slope of treating people as pests?

At what point is it considered acceptable to reduce human population? Attrition only? Government restrictions a la China? What of wars over food and water? Who gets to decide the survivors? A panel of experts or survival of the fittest (and richest)?

199 comments:

Nikki said...

Oh dear, that seems slightly extreme to me! I think the real issue should be the lifestyle and culture changes that need to happen everywhere and by everyone to preserve our planet. I think rather than refusing children, we should be bringing them up to be more environmentally aware and active than our generation was.

Having said that, of course anyone can choose to not have children of their own free will, but people who want children shouldn't be made to feel pressured or guilty about it - that's just plain ridiculous!

Rebekka said...

Let's see, you stop driving a car, you cut out 4.5 tonnes of CO2 per year (at least on average in Australia, where I am).

You have a child, and they live to 80, (again, in Australia), they'll have produced on average 1304 tonnes of CO2.

People who want children should absolutely think about that - I'm not saying no-one should have kids, but yes, you should think about what it means for the environment. And if that means you feel "pressured" or "guilty", well, so be it. Perhaps that guilt is telling you something - and yes, you can bring them up to be more aware, but it's US who need to act, not our kids.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I could sit here and smugly congratulate myself for my choice to be child-free, but that wouldn't help anyone, and in fact, it would be dishonest. Because Michael and I didn't decide not to have children solely for environmental reasons. In fact, at the time we were making the decision, I don't think we gave a rats ass about the environment.

But it sure is easy to fall into self-righteous mode after the fact, especially when stuck behind a double-wide stroller on the sidewalk or worse, breathing the fumes from an idling SUV fulla kids.

I do STRONGLY believe that population is a problem, and sometimes I feel irritated that there's less for the rest of us because there are so many people out there breeding without thinking.

But I also STRONGLY believe in reproductive choice. So watcha gonna do?

I guess education is the only answer. And I don't mean abstinence education which works about as well as the rhythm method. I mean teaching people to have sex responsibly and to think long and hard before deciding to have kids. Hell, making people realize that having kids is a decision in the first place and not a given.

But you know what? I doubt there's anyone out there who decided not to have kids who really wanted them in the first place (Well, besides the saintly few who want kids but decide to adopt instead of create new ones.) It was not hard for me to make the choice because I don't have a strong baby urge. Taking long showers, on the other hand, is something I may never be able to give up for the environment. We're all different. And we all do what we can.

And what are we saving the planet for anyway? To make more room for smug self-righteousness? I hope not.

Squrrl said...

Okay, I'm not usually this direct, but bulls**t. A child is not an SUV, a child is not a "lifestyle decision"...a child is a PERSON. A person who, if you raise them well, could turn out to be a huge asset to the world. People are more than the sum of what they use up, for pete's sake! What I would like to see is a world in which no one has children because they didn't have effective birth control, or because they felt obligated to continue the line, or because they're afraid that the ones they've got might not be around to support them in old age, so they hedge their bets (Sharon had some good posts on this). If a couple/person wants children, enjoys children, and thinks they can do a decent job of raising good human beings, I think that's great. If a couple doesn't want children, that's just fine too...as a mom, god knows I can see justification enough for not having them. But if you really want children I think you'd be stupid not to have them, and if you don't want them, there's no excuse to feel holier than thou. If you actually were refraining from something you wanted to do for sake of the environment, you could still perfectly well adopt, and if you don't, I can't quite buy that you're making much of a sacrifice for the cause here. I think it's bizarre to guilt people for wanting to reproduce...and, yeah, suggests a very negative attitude towards human beings in general.

Ani said...

Tough issue here. I would agree with some of the previous posters that having children should be a conscious decision and a choice. We should I think as a society make it more acceptable for people to chose not to have any or to have only one. That said, we should also facilitate more involvment by other adults in the community, whether related by blood or not, into the raising of those children that are born. This would provide lots of adult role models and attention for kids as well as an ability to participate in child rearing without actually having to have any of one's own.

I do think really for the most part that those who feel stongly drawn towards having children do have them and that mostly those who advocate being "child-free" to save the environment may not have that strong a desire to have them in the first place, which is just fine with me, although they can be a bit self-righteous at times I'm afraid..... Being labled as "a breeder" and such by some of these folks is a bit over the top I'd say.......

But that said, those who do have children would do well to attempt to minimize their impact on the planet by making conscious choices in how we raise them and what we consume to do so. I can't recall exactly where I saw this recently but there was a table which displayed the amounts of materials- concrete, steel, minerals, other metals, etc that the average American would use over their lifetime-pretty sobering nunmbers. So if we do have them we do I think owe it to everyone to be thoughtful in how they are raised and the values we attempt to instill in them.

I have one child- would in all honesty have had another had the situation allowed for it. Although I fully understand the desperate situation China was in and the reasons for their somewhat draconian actions, I would hate to have that sort of decision regulated by law. Reproduction is a very personal issue although it is one that impacts all around you. I would hope that education would assist in lowering the birth rate so that regulations are not needed.

That said I am dismayed by the approach that some religious groups take towards childbearing, having huge families and such. So I would say that if many of us are limiting our family size with an eye toawrds responsibility, it is unacceptable for others to procreate to those extremes- one could include here a number of religious groups including born-again Christians, Mormons, polygamist Mormons, the Amish, Orthodox Jews, practicing Catholics- the whole gamut of religions really.

Robj98168 said...

I choose not to have children for the simple reason I don't think I would be a good parent. I am very self centered. the good thing is I realize it. That being said, I believe China has the right idea, but unfortunately the wrong society, meaning they value boys more than girls so much, it is almost a sad thing when someone has a girl. I think that is stinkin thinkin. And most SUV's I see are not full of kids, just one driver... that could be the problem.

knittinandnoodlin said...

Amen, Squrrl. You took the words right out of my mouth. Sure, population is an issue right now. It is only an issue, however, because of the lifestyle choices our society has made. Conservation of our natural resources has always been an option.

I'm very much in favor of reproductive choice. I have two kids (and don't drive a minivan or an SUV), teach them to tread lightly upon the Earth, and fully expect them to grow up to be the wonderful human beings they already are. I don't judge people who elect not to have children for any reason...same as I expect that they wouldn't judge me for choosing to have them.

When you get right down to it, though, there are far more productive things to consider when it comes to environmental issues than an issue so personal as this. The kind of arguments that parents who elect not to have children due to environmental considerations tend to go in the direction of making parents feel "wrong," for lack of a better word. That kind of negative energy is damaging.

When you tell someone to recycle, there is little chance they are going to think you are making value judgments about them -- telling them they shouldn't have kids because it is irresponsible for the environment (especially when they already have them), is a horse of a different color.

Eliane said...

If only it were that simple.

The developed world has a falling birth rate and an ageing population which its governments see as a problem. In 2004 Australia introduced the Baby Bonus Plan to increase the birth rate as to quote the then Treasurer Costello "It's hard to maintain living standards in a country where population is declining." Australia isn't the only country faced with this problem. An ageing population becomes a burden on the healthcare system, the pension system, the economy. So yes, children can be an environmental burden, but hopefully they become productive adults. Right now the governments of the developed world are a lot more bothered about the increasing aged population they are faced with.

Children are far more likely to be the victims of global warming than its perpetrators. 1 billion people in the world don't have access to clean water. We in the developed world may be suffering from higher food prices but in the developing world that means riots and malnutrition. Today.

So does it help for green-minded people without children to look askance at those of us who did produce them? Not really. All smacks rather too much of party in-fighting and "greener-than-thou" behaviour. We should all be acting together and not only in our own back gardens but also trying to force policy changes, planning changes.

Moonwaves said...

As in every situation people shouting "you must do this, you're wrong/immoral/corrupt/bad if you don't" doesn't really help at all. I do believe the planet is overpopulated and think that if I believe in living a sustainable life then having children is a decision which would need to be taken very seriously, just as all the other aspects of my life come under scrutiny. I read one opinion on this which I liked and that was to choose to only have enough to replace yourselves i.e. each couple have two children. On the other hand I have four sisters and one brother and I know I always sort of felt sorry for friends who only had a couple of siblings. It's a very emotional decision as well as needing to be looked at in a practical light.

As things stands at the minute I don't expect to ever have children for lots of different reasons. One of those reasons is that (apart from one brief time when I was 19) I've never found a man I'd want to have children from! If I met someone again who I felt I could consider having kids with I'd have to look at all my other reasons for not wanting them (including the environmental ones) again. In the meantime, and not wanting to make light of what is a very serious issue, I have to admit that I quite enjoy now being able to use "the world is overpopulated" as my reason when people ask why I don't have/want kids - shuts them up quicker than anything else (which serves almost complete strangers right for thinking they are entitled to ask such a personal question!).

Robin Shreeves said...

This viewpoint just saddens me. Children are a gift. My children were the catalyst that got me started on this green journey to begin with. If not for them, I would probably still be living without concern for the earth.

I have a question for those with children. When you were deciding to have them, if it was a deliberate decision, was "so my name/genes will continue" on the top of your reasons why? Was it even one of your reasons?

Jacki said...

I believe it is a very extreme viewpoint that really makes no sense! If they really wanted to leave as little impact as possible, they would like like the Native American Indians or Eskimos. Live in teepees or igloos, hunt animals and resuse every part...stomachs for purses, hide for clothing, bones for utensils.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy - today's post is disturbing....I think it is sad that someone would say having children is environmentally irresponsible - Actually its heartless - I don't think thats what the 'Green' movement is really about.

I wonder if the people who posted the orignal comments wonder how their parents felt about it when they were born?

If children are such a drain on the environment then wouldn't the elderly or infirm? How do those people feel about that? What about all the Great Aunt Tillys who are in a nursing home using countless amounts of electricity and plastics to live longer? How do these people feel about those cases?

Its my choice to have two kids and teach them to be good stewards of the land. But to blanket all children and parents into a class of terrible wasters of resources makes me want to have my kids eat next to them at a fancy restaruant and demand chicken nuggets loudly!

Malva said...

It's a really sad argument.

I've never thought that some parents have kids to "continue the line" or "pass on their genes". Mind you, it's not something discussed regularly among parents but it certainly played zero part in my decision to have kids.

wholefoodsfamily.wordpress.com said...

That's ludicrous.

As mama to one adopted child, with no biological children due to fertility issues, I also come from the Christian worldview and agree that it is desirable to "be fruitful and multiply" if you are able to, as long as you are prepared to be a reponsible parent and try to raise responsible children. Children, raised correctly, are an indispensible asset to society. Educated, passionate adults MUST have children or adopt children so that the next generation doesn't primarily consist of emotionally disturbed adults incapable of any upper-level thinking. This generation's children are next generation's leaders. If intelligent adults chose not to have children, where would we be?

eva said...

Right on Squrrl.

For those who honestly believe that having kids is environmentally corrupt, and look smugly down their noses as those who do procreate, they should think seriously about where that logic takes them.

If you are morally against the perpetuation of human life, and you are continuing to live yourself, then you are being hypocritical. Ending your own life is the next logical step. I'm not suggesting anyone should do this! But how dare you be smug about not perpetuating human life while you yourself are doing just that?

The problem with the earth isn't that people live, but how people live. There's a big difference.

Cave-Woman said...

Child free is the way to be. (:

eco 'burban mom said...

Wow, Crunch... You like to play with fire, doncha'? :o)

I believe in the freedom of choice. I chose to have children. I have friends who chose not to have children. I truly believe I was meant to raise children. I truly believe my friends who chose not to have children were NOT meant to raise children, so I applaude their responsible decision.

For me, children are not about continuing my gene pool. Two of the four children I raise?? Genetically not my own. Ever meet me on the street and ask how many children I have and I will answer four.

Raising children is about growing young men or women to lead, change and influence our earth and the people in it. I am blessed with four children who maintain 4.0 GPAs, play sports, have great friends and love life to the fullest. I see in them the possibility to change our world for the better. They help me lead a recycling team for their little league, they turn off the tap when they brush their teeth, they even carry home plastics from all their friends at school because they only recycle paper and my boys can't bear to see plastic go into the garbage.

My family of 6 lives so much lighter than the married couple with no children at the end of our street. We have one bag of trash per week, we don't water our lawn, we use CLFs, drive conservative cars and walk when we can. The couple at the end of the street? Two entire trash cans FULL and nary a recycling bin in sight, two - count them two - SUVs in the garage, sprinklers running every single day of the week and every lightbulb in the house on at night.

Impact on the environment is not about children, pets or people. It's how you choose to live on this earth that makes the impact. I see in my children future leaders, future advocates for human rights, future environmentalists, scientists and farmers. I applaude my children!

AnnaMarie said...

Wow Crunchy, do you stick your finger in hornet's nests too? *LOLOL*

I am child free by choice, my husband is as well and while the environment was not the reason for the decision I can see where if you are making a choice to have a child rather than just procreating because it's socially expected, it might be a factor in your decision making.

At this point in time these types of issues here in the U.S. are left to the individual. In the future.... well, I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens as resources dwindle and the Nanny government we have steps in.

No easy answers on this one.

Heather @ SGF said...

If people decide not to have children for environmental reasons. Great. Good for them. That was their choice. But like anything else, I don't agree with telling other people what they should and shouldn't do (or judging others for it). Dave and I have chosen not to have children either. There wasn't much environmental about that decision, but it was our decision.

What we need is a society that is more environmentally minded. I don't doubt that we need to work on curbing population growth (actually that's something Dave and I tease about since we have 23 nieces and nephews between us). But the answer is not telling people what to do. It's access to birth control, good reproductive information and information on how having kids affects our world (good and bad). People need to know the consequences of their actions so that they can make educated decisions. Telling or forcing people to not have kids or only have one kid takes away people's choices. I say - let education be our guide. There's just not a lot of that right now for the average citizen.

Joyce said...

We never thought about continuing our genetic line, or family name.
We have four. We love them. They love us. They are wonderful people, who serve others and respect the planet. I'm so glad they are here.

The Purloined Letter said...

I was really strongly affected by Bill McKibben's _Maybe One_.

Choosing not to increase the population dramatically is a choice I hope more people will make in this very difficult time of soaring population. Some will choose to have no children. Others will choose to limit their childbearing. The combination will be the decrease we need.

I understand that once a child exists it is a person and all that--but when the "child" is still just an idea or a plan in the head of the parents, it IS a lifestyle choice.

No matter how green your life is, American eco-footprints are enormous and it is impossible to reduce them to reasonable levels by changing our lightbulbs and driving a hybrid.

I'm not out to make anyone feel guilty for the children they have now. But for those who are just beginning to plan what your future will be, please go out and read McKibben's book. He is far more thoughtful than the paragraphs Crunchy quotes--and he may make you decide to adopt, to give birth to just one, or even to go childless.

jedimomma said...

*snort*

It's funny how making serious lifestyle choices seems to encourage people to become defensive, and then actually offensive, about them. I've seen the "breeders are all immoral" argument before, it's been going around for decades. Even if it were right, which I don't believe, it's not helpful as it's wildly implausible that the human race will collectively decide to stop having kids. This is similar to saying "There's no reason Social Security can't be solvent--all we need is for all of the richest people to agree to a 70% tax rate!" Yeah, that might be true, but it's completely unhelpful.

Some people here have made good arguments in favor of having children (or at least, in the moral neutrality of that decision), and others have made good arguments in favor of refraining. Think about it and make your own choices, and be satisfied with them. It's a nice, warm, fuzzy place to be when you get to think "Oh if only everyone would do exactly like me, everything would be fine!" But that's not helpful thinking for others who, for their own reasons, choose not to do just as you, and thinking that way prevents you from having a meaningful and helpful relationship with them.

DC said...

In terms of overpopulation, it was interesting for me to learn that in parts of the developing world where women are well educated and have a high social status, birth rates are dramatically lower.

In Kerala, India, the literacy rate is 91% (vs. 44% in India overall and 96% in the U.S.). There are 174 arts and sciences colleges, and more females than males are enrolled in them. Kerala has more libraries than the rest of India combined. Healthcare centers are within three miles of every home.

Kerala's focus on gender equality, grassroots democracy and a social agenda aimed at helping the poor and disenfranchised have elevated the status of woman and reduced the birth rate to 17 per 1,000 (vs. 29 per 1,000 in the rest of India and 16 per 1,000 in the U.S.).
All this has been achieved without adopting a first world industrial economic model. The GDP per capita in Kerala is less than $600 per year (vs. over $35,000 per year in the U.S.). Jim Merkel describes this phenomenon in Radical Simplicity.

So, if we're concerned about population, maybe one good way to help it stabilize would be to spend more resources helping the world's poor develop in a sustainable way. Or else, we could use take up Jonathon Swift’s suggestion.

maryann said...

I think that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You might as well stop offering the elderly and sick a chance to live and kill them off with no medical care, close all hospitals and physcians if population is a problem for the environment. I'm in my late 30s and currently pregnant (unplanned and unexpected), I don't view it as an environmental problem. Hopefully I can raise the child with a better understanding of respect for the environment than I was brought up with. We didn't plan on a child, didn't want any actually, and won't be having another but I'm looking at is as an opportunity to change the future not further destroy it. It amazes me the reasons people come up with to justify things.

Hit Pay Dirt said...

This issue breaks my heart. Right now my beloved and I are trying for our first child.

So... what happens if we don't conceive? I'm not sure I want to go through the Conception Olympics that many couples opt for - I don't think that decision would be right for us. I'm not one to try and force fate.

And if we do conceive? Then yes, we will a drop in the bucket. But that bucket is threatening to overflow during this century, with the world's population expected to more than double. Did you hear that? MORE THAN DOUBLE. We're already having food crises now. But they're nothing compared to what might come.

I don't know if I want you to wish us luck or not. I fear what it will mean for our child to bring them into a world where war, famine and disaster are a normalcy that I never knew growing up.

No matter what argument you subscribe to, having a child is always a choice. And it is a choice that is based upon values. This conversation alone makes it clear that not everyone has the same values. What I think is important is to try and understand your own values and how they came to be. Otherwise you just sound preachy to me.

Karen said...

I'm reading this post and Sharon's at the same time - murky waters - if we insist on sterilization, who gets picked first? Eugenics is a scary topic - we do want human life on this planet to continue, right? So who decides who gets to reproduce? I hesitate around all the moral language, as a Christian, I know that no one likes it when the loudest, least mainstream members of my faith get on TV and start talking about God's judgement in conjunction with hurricanes, cancer or AIDS, but I think that other groups do similar things -like Sharon referencing those who refuse to interfere in our dysfunctional global market b/c intervention is bad - people starving is worse, right? But they don't think about it that way, so they come just shy of saying we have to let people die off for the sake of the market (for all I know some of them do say it). Again, murky waters.

Going Green Mama said...

What a sad post. I realize that having children is (for most people) a personal choice, but to throw in pseudo-environmental guilt into the mix (you don't care about this world, etc.) if you do choose to have a family is ludicrous.

scifichick said...

I don't think it's immoral or bad for the environment to have children. I think the difference is in how you raise them. And I think that people that are concerned about environment should have children, or be involved in someone else's child life. Otherwise, how can you pass on your values to the next generation?I have one and I would probably have another if I had someone to have a kid with. But I would not go to more than two because I don't think I would be a good mother to too many kids. And in having 2 kids, I would not be adding to the population. I don't think the problem is with parents who decide to have one or two kids. I think that people that have 18 kids have a problem. And I think the problem is with those families being advertised on TV and news as heroes. Why are they heroes? Because they can screw without thinking? And then they get on TV and have a house built for them. A huge house to accomodate all the kids. I have nothing against the kids, I just have a problem with parents. If you want to have that many kids, you should just adopt. I think if people were reasonable and had just few kids instead of a dozen, there would not be such an overpopulation problem. I think the message to go forth and procreate was appropriate before, but by now it should have been changed.

zfolwick said...

what would happen if we spent money on the problem?

vertical farms, space colonization, high-density housing, more?

that being said, as long as people don't have a sense of personal responsibility and budget, we'll have a population crisis. If you can't provide for them, you'll be sorry.


That being said, most people's home lots in the US could provide for about 50-80% of their daily food needs for a family of four.

google: urban homesteading

kimberly said...

well, this is a difficult subject... but i would say that some people feel like they have a right or responsibility to have children, and in those instances i think that they really shouldn't be having them. if you want a child for the right reasons, then fine. but some people don't really think about the fact that a) some people aren't meant to be parents and b) it's a serious f***king job. i think that having multiple children can be selfish. i don't understand how an individual can have several biological children when there are thousands of children in ones own country, waiting for a loving family. i just don't get it... i understand wanting the experience of having your own child. that's fine, i respect that. but adopt if you want 3 or more.
on the subject of population control - as controversial as china's laws are, i think that they are essential. it's a shame that education and birth control were not more prevalent in some countries long ago. this is an issue which is only being addressed over the past few decades, which is really a little too late. but in terms of natural disaster - i don't think anyone wishes that on anybody. that's horrible and truly unfortunate. but really, if you look at humans, we kind of are a plague on the planet. we're animals, simply put. except we think that we're so smart and advanced when really, unlike every other animal on the planet, we're the ones who have completely ruined it.

kimberly said...

oh, and in response to people who are saying that this is the same as not giving health care to the ill or elderly - that's completely different. there's a difference between not bringing a life into the world and not caring for a life which already exists. the latter would be inhumane. i'm not sure anyone would argue that...

Danielle said...

Even though their excuse of why thay are not having children is complete BS, I am really glad those people are sterile. There are enough unfit parents out there raising children, we don't need anymore. I wish more people would choose not to have kids. Not because I don't love and cherish children, I have 2 of my own and hopefully 1 more soon, but for the simple fact these lunitics don't need children (or any living thing for that matter).

Thank you selfish people for not procreating, and still doing your part for the environment for my kids! God bless ya!

Mrs. Spit said...

I thought this was one of my infertility blogs, until I looked to the left again.

I think we all have responsibilities to the earth, to be good stewards. I don't think that this means you have to have fewer children.

Sure, kids take up resources, but they are also the hope for our future. After struggling with infertility, we conceived and lost our son when he was born 15 weeks premature. We will try again.

I think the desire to have children is hardwired into many (not all mind you, but many). I respect people's right to have no children, until they tell me that I shouldn't either.

Children are the hope for the future of our species. Interestingly enough, for most animals, reproduction is a biological imperitive. The flies in my backyard don't seem to be much given over to introspection, they seem to get that if they don't reproduce, they die out.

If humans completely stop reproducing, we die out. Go forth and have children. Just remember, you can use cloth diapers and you don't need the chevy yukon to go to a soccer game.

jewishfarmer said...

Well, I'm not exactly the poster child for reproductive restraint. Or rather, I tried to be and got pregnant over and over again using birth control that was supposed to have minimal failure rates - and yes, I used it correctly.

My answer on this subject is simply this - Impact is about population *times* consumption - that is, population itself can't describe the situation.

For example, the average Kenyan has almost five children. But since the average American uses *30 times* the resources of the average Kenyan, the average Kenyan, her husband and her five children still use less than 1/4 the resources of most of the people posting on this blog. She'd have to have 28 kids to cause the same impact.

My family is doing the best we can to use 1/10th of the average American's resources. We're not there yet - call us using 1/8th. Which means that me, my husband and my four kids still use fewer resources than someone who says they don't have to do anything to be an environmentalist.

Now it is absolutely true that if there were fewer of us, then a "fair share" would be a larger piece of the pie. On the other hand, a fair share would still look like wretched excess to almost half the people in the world, who will never get a chance to use even that much - because a lot of us use the rest. If everyone in the world lived at roughly the standard of living of the average family, our current use of resources would be equivalent to 57 *Billion* people, of which 50 Billion would live in North America, Western Europe and Australia/NZ.

Yes, population is an issue, and everyone should get a fair share of resources - you can decide to divide your household's share among fewer people, and then you have to conserve less - but still quite a bit. Or you can have more people, and divide the shares into smaller pieces. IMHO, one's energy use should be pegged to replacement rate - to a family of four. Have more kids, you have to divide the resources among them - only fair. But that also doesn't mean it is acceptable to use more than a fair share for one household, no matter how few people in it.

Sharon Astyk

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the people that are probably not qualified to have children (whatever that means) and won't raise them responsibly are also usually the last people who are going to be careful with their decisions and think before they go sleeping around.

So are those of us who do care deeply for the future of the US/world doing any good not raising kids who can combat the problems we are going to face in the future? Unless you children-free parents are giving your lives to training those neighborhood kids around you to be responsible when they grow up, the world will be overtaken with a new generation who doesn't even know the word green.

Personally, I am quite excited to start a family and train my kids to be leaders in all aspects of life. Of course, selfishly both my husband and I don't want kids. Life is a heck of a lot easier without them. No noise, nothing to tie us down, a good nights sleep, lower bills. I can't deny that children interupt that. But I know I need those little hands reaching up and needing me, to think outside of myself and learn to give, serve, love, be patient, and be inconvienced for others. Children do a lot for us...and I'd hate to think who I'd become without them!

Jennifer said...

This is a really sticky situation. The question as to whether or not having children is morally wrong, on face value, would be, no, of course not. However, when taking account the current problems our world faces, each new life is truly a new burden on the planet.

You really run in a sticky situation here, yes, we should be having fewer children, the problem is, deciding WHO gets to have children and WHO doesn't. I've always feared population control would end up in some form of eugenics.

I think the problem is, we are asking ourselves to do something that is unnatural. We are designed to procreate, when you get down to it, it is our purpose for being here, to produce more humans. So essentially, you are asking humans to work against nature to save nature. I personally do not have children, and probably will not have children, and I do agree that something has to be done to curb population some how. But how to accomplish that? I have no satisfactory idea.

jewishfarmer said...

Oh, I should just mention that while adoption is a great choice, and a wonderful way to make a family (I suspect we will adopt more kids, barring any more bizarre miracles of fertility overcoming supposedly permanent methods of birth control), it isn't actually a way of reducing total population.

That is, women don't have fewer children after they give them up for adoption - in many cases they have the same number or more - for example, in China, abandoning girls at orphanages to be adopted into the West means that women can go on to have their desired single male child. In the US, poor women who give up children for adoption overwhelmingly go on to have more children.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for adoption - I grew up in a family that raised foster children, and as I say, we hope to adopt. But it doesn't address the root question of population the way people think it does. Adopting helps kids out of lousy circumstances, but it doesn't reduce the total number of kids in the world.

Unfortunately, all this stuff is more complicated than any of us would like.

Sharon

Lynnet said...

It seems pretty clear that the human population has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet. Somehow the human population has to get smaller. I'd say the least painful of the alternatives is if people who don't want to have children, don't have them.
If enough people feel this way, maybe war, pestilence, plague and famine won't have to take over and finish the reduction for us.

Those who choose to have children, and those who choose not to, should stop criticizing each other. The ones who choose no children are actually helping leave room for the children to be born to those who want them.

Why are we all so busy finding fault with people who have different opinions? We need to cultivate our own garden.

Wendy said...

I agree completely with Squrrl.

And I think another thing we're forgetting is the importance of the actions of the next generation. Because there will be a next generation, hopefully. And their values are going to have a huge impact on what our world looks like then. I'm not saying that we should have lots of kids to grow the environmental cause (like some religions I can think of), but if the only people procreating are those that don't give a crap about the environment, the next generation will be even less inclined to care. Raising kids to care is a HUGE thing. Raising intelligent, thoughtful people who might just be creative enough to find our way out of this crisis is a very real possibility that we shouldn't discount.

I am on the side with the self righteous non-procreators in one respect, though. Our society pushes having babies about as much as it pushes consuming. The two are linked, after all. Many childfree couples are assumed to be cold and uncaring. Maybe these tirades are just backlash from that unfair (and mostly inaccurate) label.

Greenpa said...

Sharon: " IMHO, one's energy use should be pegged to replacement rate - to a family of four."

Technically, a family of 4 (2 kids) is NOT replacement. It's less; if all people had 2 kids, the global population would fall. Because of genetic infertility; disease, and accidents; some kids do not live to bear children, or can't.

China chose 1 child as their target because it takes decades for changes to happen, and they knew they were already facing too many people for their resources- they need to shrink. At some point down the line, 2 children/couple would be sensible as a way to continue shrinking- just more slowly.

Biologists actually know a great deal about population dynamics- but mostly we're not allowed to talk about it. I'm intimately familiar.

Kat Vapid said...

You know what would reduce your carbon footprint a lot more than not having kids? Living in a Third World country and living without electricity or running water, eating one paltry meal a day, never buying new clothes. Even the most conscientious green American wastes at least double of what the average world citizen does. A recent MIT study found that even homeless Americans consume way more energy than anyone else in the world. With our extended life expectancies, each of us also spends many more years living a wasteful life. So live up to your own standards and lead a truly green lifestyle. Build a little cabin and forage for berries, or move to Burkina Faso and live in an eco-friendly mud hut. Die young of malaria and quit being a burden on the planet. If you really believe in putting greenness before your own fulfillment, that's what you'd do.

Childless swingers, quit congratulating yourself. Admit it: you didn't have children because you don't like kids, not out of altruistic motives. In the grand scheme of things, you're still gluttonous American lummoxes.

Rosa said...

I'm a "maybe one" gal - we have one (actually, we talked about "maybe two" and stopped with one - but our form of birth control is only 99% so we'll see).

But I'm with dc - if people really worry about population control, the answer is equity. Women who have more education and more control over their lives have fewer children. This is as true in poor parts of the US as it is in Kerala and Czechoslovakia. Not *every* educated woman has fewer children, but as a group the average goes way down with education and opportunity. Oh, and educated women almost always have their children later, even if they don't reduce the number - which, if everyone did it, would reduce population growth just as effectively as if everyone had fewer children. Even without gender equity, people with more stability, peace, and security birth fewer babies too.

So we can solve our population problem (and rich countries can solve their upside-down population pyramid) by solving the problems of justice and equity. Open borders, end wars, promote justice, and watch the negative effects of population fall.

Anonymous said...

Wow, can't we all just get along? The comments Crunchy posted could be the beginning of an interesting discussion on population growth and how we can manage it. It's sad to see people on both sides revert to so much name calling and bashing about whether you're a bad person for not having kids or vice versa. Respect each other's decisions. People who decide not to have kids are NOT bad people, they may not be ABLE to have kids, etc. It shouldn't be a REQUIREMENT to have kids either, and still function as a respectable person in society. (you realize, there is more stigma placed on people without children than ones with) Also, people who decide to have children shouldn't need to feel guilty about having or wanting them!! It's too bad that people like to put stigmas on either case, and effectively prevent further logical dialog from happening.

fhe said...

Unfortunately, the reasoning is a bit absurd. When we talk about the environment, and conserving the environment, we are implicitly talking about an environment that supports us. That is what we can nurture or destroy. Without us, there is no such thing as "the environment."

The issue is not about reproduction. If we don't reproduce we won't be around and there won't be an "environment" for us.

The issue is about living a sensible life-style. One that does not unnecessarily waste stuff. One that leads to happiness and self-fulfillment.

It is also a fallacy to believe that so-called "primitive cultures" always act responsibly. Many seem to believe that less-advanced societies always lived in harmony with nature. But that is not so and several perished because they destroyed their environment. There is nothing magically "good" about less advanced societies.

Amy said...

Is it morally wrong to have children?! Holy cow, it's almost unbelievable that we would even come to the point of asking this question! I can totally respect the decisions of individuals when it comes to reproduction, but when we start vilifying the presence of the most lovable and vulnerable of our species - children - then that is when environmentalism becomes a big green monster and an idolatrous nightmare. Less people may be better for the earth, but NO people? Sorry, that kind of human-hating environmentalism is a poison.

signed,
A Green Christian

Elle said...

If that's how someone feels personally, then I think it's a good personal choice. But there's a lot more to being a parent than continuing my genetic line, and it is certainly a lot of selfLESSness mixed in with the selfISHness, let me tell you. Again, if that's your choice, I affirm it wholeheartedly. But don't judge me based on mine - to have a daughter.

Denise said...

This seems to be a very touchy subject with many people.Whether you have children or not and what ever the reasoning behind it, is a personal choice. And in viewing some of the other posts and comments, the "carbon foot print" of having a child is great and seems to make a lot of sense. But there are many other things we should be doing to improve the quality of "green" in the world. Whether a couple has children or not should be totally up to them but it should be an educated decision and not one that is pressured on them by a government or a society which is looking for a quick fix for overpopulation and the pollution we have been dumping on the planet for centuries.

Stretch Mark Mama said...

So if someone chooses to not have children for environmental reasons, just who are they saving the planet for?

If there's no Next Generation, I say, "Eat, drink, and be merry - for tomorrow we die."

Lamzeydievey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miinaxxii said...

Wow... well i dont think the problem is having a kid, i think its where people have 2 or more.. thats when the problem starts cuz then the population is multiplying. If a couple has one child and stops at that, then the population will start shrinking and over time maybe we will see a difference. If all people stopped producing to save the world there wont be anyone left to enjoy it.

Anthony said...

People will always go to extremes to stop something. However, by deliberately choosing to not have children, people instead should be looking for ways to support more people on the planet, or elsewhere.

Population control is not the answer either. As you have stated, governments will eventually try to reduce or constrict population growth should over-population continue and become a problem. Either through child limitation laws like those in China, or through the unthinkable decimation of the population.

The answer is moderation and self-awareness by mankind. Both of these extremes previously stated will only hurt the human race. Currently, we are pretty much at capacity on the planet. With farms all over the world capitulating and cheap oil becoming a myth, we will most likely experience a drop in the standard of living, especially in Western countries. Because of this, people will most likely decide to have fewer children than say, their parents.

(Random thought: Now that it is starting to become legal for homosexual couples to marry, that much of the population will not reproduce)

However this is the way things go, through an ebb and flow of prosperity, humankind is presented with new problems that it must face. It keeps things from getting boring.

Anonymous said...

Hola

Christy said...

I don't think it is morally wrong to have children. We do need someone to replace the ones that are lost. I do think it is irresponsible to have more than 2 children. Once you have more than 2 you are adding to population growth which we just don't need. I have 1 child on purpose so that we aren't attributing to overpopulation.

kim said...

I have three kids. That's right countem.. one...two...three... and I could give a shit who thinks that it is wrong. Take your second poster 'rebekka' she says we should feel "guilty" about having children, what drivel. If our parents hadn't had any children the world would be in a hell of a bigger mess than it is now. just think about that. Let us not forget that the "green movement" has evolved and spread by way of the words of the young. You are making enviromentalist sound like bloody fascist. What's next. Forced sterilization. This debate does not help the environmental cause, it simply serves to turn people against environmentalism. How are you going to make the green lifestyle attractive to the masses if they think you are a total nutter. I will never view my children as a mistake, I will raise them to do what is right and they will do the same for their kids, all the way down our genetic line until this world is a good enough place that "Environmentalist" like that, don't need to exist any more.

maria said...

Sharon said: Unfortunately, all this stuff is more complicated than any of us would like.

That's pretty much what it boils down to.

A couple things I'd like to point out:

I read that Daily Mail article a few months ago, and as someone who has changed my plans to have children based on the global (and particularly, as Sharon points out, the American or at least Western) trends in population vs. consumption, I was really disappointed in the angle they chose to take. It's a shallow, sensationalist and incendiary article that conflates the desire to be socially conscious with the fact that these couples don't seem to have ever wanted kids in the first place. It's totally fine that they don't want to have kids, but to somehow over apply that mentality to anyone who's trying to change their decision-making behavior for the greater good is misleading.

Secondly, many commenters have stressed how personal a decision having children is. The way I see it, yes, it is a personal decision. It should remain a personal decision, i.e., I don't think anybody else should be able to tell you how many children to have. However, the fact that people treat it as this hands-off, serious sort of thing means that it really is one of the most important decisions you'll make in your life. All the more reason, I think, for us all to take it very seriously and make as conscientious a decision as we can, in whatever way we each really feel corresponds best to our values. The bigger the decision, the better educated we ought to be--for example, we spend more time researching cars before investing in one than we do deciding what to eat for dinner each day. I think most people would agree with me that a child is a much bigger investment (financially, chronologically, and certainly emotionally!) than a car, because yes, this is a person we are talking about, so shouldn't we spend even more time contemplating the best course of action?

I'm at an age where it seems like every time I turn around, someone I know is pregnant, and sometimes I perceive this attitude of "oops! we don't even know what happened!" as if it's this random occurrence for which they don't have to accept responsibility. I found it extremely refreshing that Sharon was straightforward about her experience with getting pregnant anyway, despite her responsible use of birth control. We can still see the consideration that went into her decisions. What I think is different about many other Americans is that they do not give the decision much consideration one way or the other, and think of having children simply as a given. I'm afraid that some folks may use the fact that it's so personal (i.e. none of anyone's business) as an excuse to go with their impulses, and to avoid thinking critically about their own motives.

I am not in favor of any kind of regulations at all. One story on the radio about forced abortions in China was one too many for me. What that kind of policy indicates, in my opinion, is the same kind of distrust of women's ability to make our own decisions that has limited our reproductive choice (and other rights) here in the past. It makes me extremely uneasy.

I am in favor of good education, be it self-education or school-based education. And I definitely agree that it it everyone's responsibility to raise the children we do have with a socially conscious perspective. At this point in my life, I have reached the conclusion on my own that I would like children (I already have one stepdaughter), but I do not feel right having any more than one biological child, esp. when there are so many children in the US without families (I acknowledge Sharon's point about adoption; the fact that so many children are in need of adoption in the first place has many causes, none of which is that easy to figure out). At this point, years before I actually plan to have more children in any way, I have given the decision considerable thought. I may change my mind, or something may happen that is out of my control, but I'm trying to do my best when it comes to what I can control. I believe this is a issue of individuals feeling responsible, empowered and in control of their decisions, and ultimately not one of telling others what to decide.

Anonymous said...

danielle and katvapid

Just because I choose not to have children does not make me:
1. selfish
2. sterile
3. a potentially unfit parent
4. a lunitic (sic)
5. a swinger
6. gluttonous
7. someone who doesn't like kids

Your arguments do seem to make you hostile and semi-illiterate. Crunchy just opened it up for discussion. She didn't point a finger or make a critical attack at your choice.

Lamzeydievey said...

i see folks knocking abstinence education, the rythm method and other means of preventing pregnancy but why isn't anybody bringing up the actual environmental impact of the conventional chemical birth control methods?

how many of your readers are promoting hormonal contraceptives as a means of population control to save the environment, without addressing the dangers that these chemicals themselves pose- both to women's bodies and to the earth?
real issues, like these.

crunchy, i love the practical changes you suggest to us women so that we can reduce our footprint on the earth. you approached the diva cup with such graceful persuasion.

as a follow up to this post i would love to see you present some *serious* conversation about modern birth control vs. natural birth control. what are the issues? what really works and what doesn't?

Jennifer Milikien said...

Are you kidding me? Having children is irresponsible? Selfish? You obviously don't have kids if you think it's selfish. I have two children, and I don't remember the last time I did something for myself. My life revolves around them. And that's OK. I love my life, and I love them. It was a conscious choice my husband and I made to have children.

I also make a choice to live as "green" a life as I can. My neighborhood doesn't offer recycling, so I bring things in to a friend who recycles them in her bins. I've switched my light bulbs. I use cloth diapers (although there is debate about how green that is). I could go on and on with the list, but that isn't really the point I want to make here.

Children are a blessing and a gift from God. Squrrl was absolutely right. Children are not an SUV. They're human beings and citizens of this world. To say that they're a liabilty to the planet is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Get off your high horse and realize that all those people who have started the green movement were babies and children at some time (amazingly, this includes you) and are now what you would consider contributing members of society.

Keep patting yourself on the back for being childless and green, but I'll keep celebrating each of my two miracles knowing that being green and being a mom are not mutually exclusive.

Karen said...

I'm with Squrrl. Folks should have a child/walk in someone else's shoes before they decide to cast blame.

Anonymous said...

I'm quite surprised at how many people seem to not want children, I would never say that is wrong, of course it isn't, but given that we are biologically wired to have the urge to procreate or at least to raise the next generation (and by 'we' I mean all humans, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual etc - just look at how many gay parents work to adopt or even have children of their own) it does seem unusual.
I agree with the people who say it is ridiculous to claim that having children is morally irresponsible in terms of the environment. It is WHAT we do, not how many of us are doing it that is the root cause of our environmental woes. For a long time I didn't want biological children for a myriad of reasons but was determined to adopt children already in need - I find it easier to understand the argument against infertile couples spending thousands on treatments to conceive rather than adopting already needy children, but since learning that I may not actually be able to have a biological child I can understand that yearning for your own child that can suddently grow. It is the sensation in the back of your mind of realising that when you go there will be nothing of 'you' left - that may sound selfish to some (personally to me it doesn't it simply sounds natural) but it's something that is in our evolutionary dna along with that of every other creature on the planet. On top of that there is the fact that adoption, particularly here in Britain, is made so nigh on impossible that some couples actually find it easier to go down the IVF route!
Between all that I can see why people want or work toward having their own children and I think it's callous and hypocritical to attack someone wanting or having children and it gets you nowhere. Educating people, both parents and children, about the environment is the way forward.

For all those who have chosen not to have their own children, and don't appreciate being labelled cold and uncaring because of this decision, it would perhaps benefit them in that instance to stop perpetuating that assumption by condemning those who do have children. The most successful societies are those where even those who do not have children are concerned with the welfare and aid in the raising and educating of those children that are born around them. What people also forget is that it can be hard enough being a child (or an adult) without feeling as if you shouldn't even exist! Knowing or even thinking you are unwanted can do great psychological damage (my own father was born under these circumstances and grew up to be a happy and wonderful parent but the thought still haunts him)and doesn't really incite someone to care about our world - if you are perceived as a burden why should you even worry?

There are some people who truly shouldn't have children because they are ill-prepared or unwilling to properly care for them but it does a great disservice to the millions of loving, nurturing and responsible parents who are raising wonderful human beings. Children are truly a gift and all those who recognise that and treat their children with the loving discipline they require should be spared the ill-informed criticisms of those who like to sit on the moral high ground - they should accept it won't save them from the encroaching environmental crises....unlike them, such things do not discriminate.

Heather said...

wow...

First off, all of this "us" and "them" talk is really bumming me out. Big surprise, the environmental community is split over something!

After reading all of the comments, I'd say childbearing is something everyone should seriously think about before embarking on (hopefully that was happening anyway!). The basis for that decision can be a logical, emotional, moralistic, whatever, but it's an INDIVIDUAL CHOICE! I'm sure we didn't all become green for the same reason. Why would we all base something as complex as our decision to reproduce on the same thing? Geez, Crunchy, what an instigator! :)

As a young married person considering having children in the next 5 years, this issue is of incredible importance to me. I'm happy to hear viewpoints of people on both sides, but the negativity is off-putting. I'm grateful to read comments like Sharon's, talking about her larger family and adoption. Also, DC's observation (and information) about education and birth rates is fascinating.

I have LOTS of questions for the parents here. Did any of the parents here consider environmental reasons when planning a family (i.e., "my child will be aware and therefore be a positive force in the world"), or was the choice more personal/emotional? I read a statistic somewhere that soon in the United States, the number of couples/families without children will begin to equal the number with children. Has that kind of statistic affected anyone's choice? What about the fact that most of these statistics are making comparisons with the baby boomer generation, which was HUGE. Will our generation need to have more children to enter the workforce to offset all of those people retiring and needing caring for?

Anonymous said...

Who will solve tomorrow's environmental problems if we stop having children today?

maria said...

p.s. all of the "well, if everyone did X" arguments are good for making a point, but aren't they kind of unrealistic? There's no way we'd even come close to getting everyone on the planet to only have two children, or no children, or whatever.

Also, I've heard the "well, if you're not having kids, then who are you saving the planet for?" point made several times in the past. This has never made sense to me, and unfortunately, the Daily Mail article makes it even more confusing because they make it sound like the people being interviewed think NO ONE should have kids, which is kind of silly. That's not really the point. The point is, we are all doing whatever we can to improve the world for all of our children, regardless of whether we personally have children or not. Part of the decision not to have children (or to have fewer) is the understanding that most people won't be doing as you do, and there sure will be a next generation and a next one. It's possible, if not totally essential, to feel responsible for future generations, no matter who you are or how many children you have in your particular house.

Anonymous said...

Before condemning parents, lets look at the carbon foot print of pets...namely the multitude of dogs that become children.

Suzanne said...

In the two quotes sited: #1) having children is selfish, #2)we're so green we're getting a vasectomy...

Have these two individuals considered that following their green logic to its righful conclusion would mean that they would be compelled to commit suicide for the good of the planet....or that perhaps their own parents should not have had children to save our planet from the expenditure of their childless use of resources.

maryann said...

In response to Kimberly about being inhumane about not caring for the elderly and sick, when you are talking about population control I just find it a very fine line between creating a life and preserving a life with regards to resources that are used for each. The original comments suggested that people should not have children because of the resources it depletes from the earth. A life is a life regardless of age, if you're looking at resource consumption why is it limited to new life, the reasoning just doesn't make sense. I agree there is too much waste and people no longer try to live sustainable lives but I don't think removing human life from the planet is the answer.

Kate said...

I think if you want children, but don't want to add to the population yourself, you should adopt. There are plenty of children in this world already who need healthy parents.

Kristijoy said...

My stance is that whether or not to have children is an individual decision, number, when whatever...we are animals, animals breed. the impetus of life to to procreate, it's going to happen. Everything else we do is gravy but as a living organism, the endgame is having offspring that make it to reproductive age. That's biology, humans of course are more complicated. I do believe it's completely immoral to regulate procreation. Ethics are another issue.


Some things to ponder:

In most of the western world birth rates are in severe negative growth. This is actually problematic as populations age, there are not enough people to care for and fill the roles in society to keep it viable. There may be too many people in some parts of the world, but in others, there is an opposite problem.

A few have touched on it but here is how the growth rate of populations is calculated:
two people who have two children have replaced themselves, zero population growth. If they have one child, then that's negative population growth. More than three then it's a positive population growth.



When things are good, people have less children and pour more resources into those children so they have a better chance at being more successful. Animals do this too. It's evolutionary pressure in play.

When things are rough, people have more children to increase the chances that not only one will make it to reproductive age, but that the strongest offspring will survive. Resources are limited, most offspring won;t make it to adulthood.

This is what happens in all those countries with huge populations, few resources more children... but few of those children make it to reproductive age. So the population is huge, but only in certain age brackets. Selection is in play here too.

What all this we are debating comes down to is class, money, gender and race issues, the US already has a pretty neutral growth rate.

Choosing whether or not to have kids, makes very little difference because someone will make up for it. Same with having kids, it's balances out. In the western world anyways.

It's not about education, or ability to raise a child ( it doesnt take much. really. ) or whether or not one can feed and clothe them that this issue hits such hot buttons.

It gets on people's moral high horse, THATS why it hits buttons. Reproduction is SUCH a personal choice, it seems people will defend thier choice no matter how classist, racist or just mean they end up sounding about most of the worlds population, which our way of life tends to keep impoverished in the first place =(

I do believe there ARE too many people. I Also believe it is no one's place to regulate the population. I think that nature will take care of her own when needed. As it has in the past, disease, pestilence, plague, war, famine...all do a great job of killing off swathes of people.

And of course who knows what we've done that will affect our populations with our over consumption.

Over consumption has to do with what you use to get by in life, not how many children you have. As someone illustrated about a kenyan woman vs. an American.

Tara said...

My husband and I are in our late thirties and childless. We like kids just fine. Our decision had nothing to do with the environment, and we are not lazy, selfish or sterile. We've considered this issue at great length and many times, and have simply come to the conclusion that this is the right path for us. We NEVER view people with kids as selfish, wasteful, destructive to the earth or anything else. That's simply the path that's right for them. Why do I care about saving the planet if I don't have any kids? I want there to be a healthy planet for YOUR kids. I want there to be future generations, I just don't want to make any of them myself. But really, the environment was not and is not my motivation.

Hausfrau said...

It is ludicrous for people to say "What if everyone stopped having children, then where would we be?". The question is, "Where will we be if the population doubles AGAIN to 12 billion?".

Surprising that some people can't even acknowledge that how many children you have DOES have an impact on the environment.

With one child, we are considering having one more, which we consider "replacement value". My parents, who LOVE children, did decide to stop after 2 - for environmental reasons.

Our baby is definitely a blessing and has made me care even more about the environment - but I don't deny that having him radically increases our impact. As Sharon says - Impact = Population * Consumption.

I don't think that we should judge people who already have children negatively, but I think we should encourage everyone to think about the impact of ALL their choices.

Anonymous said...

It is ridiculous that people would think that way! Every human being is a gift from God. The whole point of going green is to make the world a better place for our children. What's the point of a healthy planet if no one is there to enjoy it? I'm not saying you shouldn't do good for the planet. But the planet was made for mankind. It is our home. I agree in part w/ nikki below. People who want to do what the planet was made for and have children should by no means have the weak "morals" of the principally lacking thrust upon them. Ahem, it is morally wrong according to Catholicism to prevent the conception of a child. Theses are the morals that have been generally accepted for thousands of years. Who invented this other kind of morals? Oh, yeah. The hippies.

cindy24 said...

Wow. What a topic. I have to start with I think that having kids is a personal choice. Since I was little I wanted 4 (yes, 4 kids) I always knew some of them would be adopted. I have one bio and 3 adopted. Adopting kids DOES decrease the population numbers if you adopt instead of having children.

I respect people who have kids and those who don't. For those who don't have children who think those with kids need to feel guilty.....If you really want to save the world why not adopt kids from foster care that you can bring into a lower carbon household. I think Beth's reason is probably the most common in saying that saving the planet was not the overriding reason for not having kids. None of my friends who chose not to have kids did it for population control.

I love reading my oldest daughter's school journal filled with posts about evil plastic, growing vegetables, lead in jewelry, and helping stop global warming. My neice is currently in peace corps in Niger. Her carbon footprint is very little since she lives in a mudd hut with no electric, water, etc. She is teaching them sustainable forestry. I think children can make and difference and need parents to teach them to respect the earth.

I disagree that intellegent people need to have kids to keep the world from being run by the masses. Intellegent people could go into schools and teach kids about the environment.

The right choice for me was having one and adopting three...and I do drive an SUV (avg mpg 20) because it is the only thing that can fit my 4 kids, 3 dogs and 2 cats all while keeping us safe. I can't imagine my life w/o kids and I am sure that some can't imagine it with kids or with 4 kids. Doesn't make any of us right or wrong. Just different.

Rosa said...

for maria -

I have had one failed pregnancy, one healthy (though preemie & difficult pregnancy) baby, and one abortion.

I decided to have a baby for selfish reasons, because I really *wanted* to. I had him so late for social/cultural reasons - finished college, found a partner, waited until he was ready. I had the abortion for selfish and unselfish reasons - the term pregnancy literally nearly killed me, and the thought of having another child threw my partner into a panic, and I did not feel i would be able to be a good parent to the child I already had if I were in the process of surviving another pregnancy.

We talked about overpopulation and the environment before I got pregnant, and had planned on only having one or maybe two for environmental reasons. I don't really consider the "we'll raise ours right" argument to be valid, because i can have as much affect by being a subversive contact to my neices, nephews, and neighbor kids as I'm likely to have on my own kid. For instance, both me & my boyfriend were raised by pro-childbearing, pro-consumption Christians, in the suburbs. They are as dismayed by our life choices as we will be if our son robs a liquor store and spend the proceeds on a jet ski when he's 18.

I also don't think the 'we need people to support all those old people!" argument is worth much - the US is solving that problem very neatly right now by taking social security taxes from illegal immigrants that they will not be able to collect. The entire western world could allow more immigration from poor places (and as the world warms, refugees from climate change.) Our cultures will *change* over time, and that change is speeded up by demographic change, but that doesn't mean they're getting worse.

Verde said...

Just my guess:

Having children selfish? = Transferance from a selfish person

Tell someone else to feel guilty = Childhood issues

Mr. Greenjeans and I chose to have 2 children based on environmental issues. I wanted more kids, and wanted to adopt but by the time we're financially well enough to, we've aged out of the adoption rules.

Children are a blessing from God, too many of them aren't raised as it they are.

If kids in wealthy countries weren't so stuffed by consumer goods, children in poor countries could have clean drinking water and enough to eat.

Stephanie said...

What's the point of saving the planet if there's no one around to appreciate it?

I may not want children... but I'm committed to saving the planet for everyone else's children. Otherwise, what's the point?

Owlfarmer said...

It would probably work out just fine if child-bearing were more of a thoughtful choice than a cultural expectation. I had two kids--one of whom is happily married but has decided "not to breed." The other may or may not have children, and if she does so, she may opt to adopt. I'm glad I had them, and don't feel at all guilty about bringing them into the world.

The real difficulty, I think, lies in the idea that one has to have a child in order to be fulfilled. This prompts some fairly draconian efforts to get pregnant, and some pretty obsessive behaviours on the parts of potential parents.

Perhaps what we really need to do is to relax and deal with what comes, without opting for medical interventions. There are plenty of unwanted children out there who could use good parents. And if you do have biological offspring, having more than one or two ought to be a mindful decision rather than the result of a spontaneous romp in the hay.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD!!how can people think this way!! we are talking about innocent little kids who kinda give u a better reason to live! how materialistic can the world get?? procreating is the most essential and natural need to all humans and I can't believe that so many people actually opt to not have children to save the environment? are u kidding me? what will the earth be without any people on it??

Astacia said...

I think the majority of child-less people are kidding themselves. the chose to not have children out of selfish reasons, the same as us who chose to breed.

Without children they can live life without any regard to others. Some are more eco-friendly than there but that is beside my point.

Let's think the "childless is the best way to reduce you carbon footprint" concept to its end. Hmmmm, the end of humankind. what sense is there in that?

Another thing, the one-child law in china does no restrict all citizens. Only those of Han descent. That is the largest "tribe" in China and the one that populates the majority of metro areas. There are at least 10% of the Chinese populous who are exempt.

I think China has a good plan but abhor the idea of government controlling my reproductive rights. The one-child law is as bad as outlawing abortion. Different extremes, same premise.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of the movie 'Idiocracy' where the world is populated with extremely stupid people because intelligent people do not wish to have children.. I can see that happening in the future.. people why don't you want kids?!! this is so disturbing!!

Karen Reyburn said...

I find it extremely sad that people would put children in a category along with grass, ozone layers, and rare plants. It may sound almost plausible to some (and as a previous poster noted, a sneaky way to boast of a decision that really had nothing to do with the environment), but to me it is selfish beyond all reasoning to imagine that we are doing the world a bit of good by ensuring that fewer people are born to see and know the beauty of God's creation and to contribute to it.

We have such a small view of this world. Scientists tell us about global warming and then things start to cool down. We're afraid the population of the world is too high and then we realise it's actually decreasing. We only see 70 or 80 years at a time, and with the best history books in the world, not a whole lot more. We need a much larger perspective - one that goes beyond our own desires to be or not to be those selfless individuals known as parents - and give the environment the greatest gift of all.

When my parents got married, my dad wasn't sure what kind of a father he would be. He looked around at all the selfish, whiny, undisciplined children in the world and worried. My mother very wisely encouraged him that with his children, he could train them to be wise, selfless, encouraging, and self-controlled. I'm extremely thankful that my parents received from God the gift of children, and in turn gave that gift by raising us as they did.

Nature Deva said...

Personally, I don't feel that having kids is the problem, I think lack of education of the people is the big problem.

As many of you parents have pointed out, if you are environmentally responsible and teach your children to live like that from a young age, they take it to heart and follow in your green footsteps and will teach others this as well.

As the Native Americans say, "think about how your actions will affect the next 7 generations." They did not say have no children or that kids are a burden but rather to be aware and educate yourself in how you are living and how it affects all living things around you and your descendants, too. Everything is connected and there are consequences to everything either good or bad.

I also am a parent and love it and am glad I got the opportunity to have one of my own. We are considering adopting one more now. I feel we live a very aware and earth-friendly life and are teaching our son that as well.

What we really need to do is to find a way to teach the people who don't care - parents or not - to become responsible for their actions in terms of environmentalism because it does affect us all. We all have to do our part, both adults and children.

DC said...

After carefully considering all the comments, I have concluded that the only sensible thing for the human race to do is to stop having children entirely and instead create a clone army of Greenpas to rule the planet. We'd have a THWASPCO on every corner in no time flat.

HomeandHearth said...

Great discussion-generating post!

I've always known that, eventually, I'd like a "large" family. And, I've heard the "save the environment; don't have kids!" argument before.

Boyfriend and I have already decided to pursue adoption when we're ready for kids. But I might have one or two of my own. And you know what? I firmly support anyone who chooses to have kids/not have kids/adopt/et cetera as well. That is a very personal choice that, honestly, no one else has a right to stick their noses into.

If each "green" generation educates the next, I actually think that might cause a huge improvement in everyone's quality of life. This isn't even strictly about having children of one's own, but also about nieces, nephews, godkids, and so on.

As far as "those who didn't have kids really didn't need to do anything else for the environment," I'm afraid I find this a rather selfish way of thinking in and of itself. On the other hand, I'm sure that most people who choose not to have children don't really think this way.

Crunchy Chicken said...

DC - that would be hell on Earth. By the way, where is all that energy that's being generated getting stored? By the nuts?

Michelle said...

All I have to say is, oh my word, what is this world coming to?

Anonymous said...

We tried to have children but it didn't happen, I suppose maybe you might call us selfish for not adopting but we thought we were to old. We have lots of kids in our life and if all our friend and family went down in a plane we could suddenly have 14 kids in our home!

I think that dc has it right, if women are educated, population growth levels off. I know people feel passionate about this issue but the vitriolic comments by "katvapid" are over the top and just plain mean. In fact, I think she owes people an apology.

On a lighter note, I'm listening to George Carlin's "Save the planet" on youtube, he just said "the planet is fine it's the people who are f***ed," which is true. I live as lightly as I can for future generations so they can enjoy some of the beauty that I've been lucky enough to experienced. peace! diana

cindy24 said...

I see comments re having your own and adopting. To me they are one in the same. All my children are my own. I use the term bio for my oldest. Just one (of many) of my issues....people come up to my family and say, "oh, but she is your own", "she is yours", "but she is your real". They are all mine, real, my own. They just happened to come into my family different ways. There truly is no difference once they are placed in your arms!

DC said...

"DC - that would be hell on Earth. By the way, where is all that energy that's being generated getting stored? By the nuts?

Crunchy, I thought it was implied from the photo where it would go. Obviously, the energy generated would be transferred to power the clone abstinence bunnies that would help Greenpa keep civil order in our new and improved brave green world.

Anonymous said...

I don't opt to not have children because of the environment. I just realized that I don't have a huge desire to have children and feel that if it's not something you're passionate about then you probably shouldn't have them.

Children require a lot of work and dedication. Even growing up I never thought about or wanted kids. I don't say people who do are bad or selfish or anything like that, I just feel the same drive.

I don't ask that you understand or want the same thing as I do, why do you have to question my decision. It doesn't negate your decision to have children nor does it say anything bad about it. My choice to not have kids is no reflection on yours.

Also, although we do not have kids, we try to be environmentally aware, volunteer a great deal and enjoy time with (select) kids.

mrs. sarah ott said...

if we all stopped having children, there would be no humans and if there were no humans then saving the environment would not be an issue.

but, again, there would be no HUMANS.

that seems a little bit of an oxymoron to me

and if procreation is selfish, than the earth is selfish too, yah? always creating more plants, more trees, more nitrogen, more carbon. in fact anything whose cells divide and multiply, could be considered selfish under that train of thought.

jennconspiracy said...

Wow. There are a *lot* of stereotypes and insults flying around here today, more than I've ever seen. I'm particularly struck by kat vapid's characterization of "childless swingers." I'm not sure how sexual morality and a decision to not reproduce are related. Pray, do elaborate!

Anthony - you said "(Random thought: Now that it is starting to become legal for homosexual couples to marry, that much of the population will not reproduce)" -- that is baffling. Are you saying that people who would have otherwise reproduced will *not* reproduce because they will marry a same sex partner? Do you know how ludicrous and uninformed that sounds? a) people will not "turn gay" just to have a gay marriage; b) gays can have kids too (and many do).


Another anonymous poster (6/17 at 9:59) comments on the carbon footprint of pets. I have pets - they were all rescue animals and are all neutered. I think it is great for kids to see animals being born but - let's face it - we successfully alter the reproductive functions of most animals in this country. The carbon footprint of most pets extends to the food and accessories that their human custodians purchase. Dogs and cats don't use computers, run water or leave lights on. Their care requires far less consumption -- educated people can avoid products with a big impact (like bentonite clay based cat litter, plastic toys and dishes, foods, etc). Pets don't have nearly the same impact as people. Compare apples with apples, please.


--

Let me preface my remarks by stating that this is bigger than just the issue of kids being an ethical or environmentally conscious decision. This a huge ball of wax: reproductive rights, sexual equality (esp in education), and global distribution of wealth & food.

It shocks me how people so commonly think of having kids as a "right" -- it really is a privilege. It's something you elect to do, whether planned or by accident.

I'm child-free (not child-less) by choice. It has to do with many reasons -- as a child, I decided that it just wasn't a good idea and at six years old declared that if I ever had kids, I would adopt. The arguments against having kids have increased as I have gotten older and have always outweighed the reasons to have them.

"Soylent Green" is a very real possibility on our planet. Food shortages and famines all around the globe. As another poster pointed out -- the earth's population will DOUBLE within the century.

Just *think* about that -- seriously. The populations are flattening out or declining in some industrialized nations -- that is not an invitation to "breed more" but to change immigration policies. Bring people who are living in famine and poverty stricken countries, provide them with education and a way to support themselves and live in one of those countries that are experiencing a declining birth rate.

How utterly selfish to encourage people to have more children when there are so many people already alive who could benefit from the opportunity of relocation?

Having children is a lifestyle choice -- even failed contraception does not absolve you of making the decision to go through with it. I've had two abortions and would have another if I had a birth control failure. It is not ethical to add another person to the planet.

Many of the pro-reproduction arguments are very persuasive -- raising your children to be stewards of the earth, to carry on your ideals and values. That doesn't always work, but it's worth the effort and pays off well if it does.

Here's what I think would work best to slow the population growth worldwide:

1. More education in developing nations - as one reader pointed out, where women are more highly educated and empowered, they have fewer children.

2. Change industrialized nation policies that encourage reproduction to more open immigration policies (are we or are we not a global village? help your neighbor from China or Somalia).

3. Birth control - IUDs are very effective. Put one in every girl at the age of 12 or 13 so that it is her conscious,

4. Go live in a developing nation. See what real poverty is like. Send all high school seniors in all industrialized/wealthy nations to live in Ghana or some place decidedly poor and unglamorous for a solid 3 months doing service work before they are allowed to graduate.

5. Grow your own food. I love the concept of gardens instead of lawns. Other posters have pointed out that many families can grow a lot of their own food in their own yards. Even in northern climates, you can be fairly self sustaining in warmer months and grow food that can be preserved for winter consumption.


Aging, as Kristijoy points out, is going to be a huge issue in industrialized nations where birth rates are declining. Damned baby boomers. Our standard of living and nutrition has resulted in people living a lot longer than ever. Why do you want to live to be 100? In the US, I doubt I will ever be able to retire. I can't afford it and there will likely not be any social security left. I plan to save what I can and kill myself when I run out of money and the energy to do the things that are meaningful to me. I don't want to end my last 10 years of life in assisted living just saying, "oh it's nice" and not remembering that I met the same person every day for the last four months as she helped me to the dining hall.

I like individual kids on a case by case basis -- seeing a park full of children doesn't warm the cockles of my heart, but spending time with the children of my friends or sister does. I'm confident that my sister's three teenage daughters will all make sound decisions regarding the world around them (one of them one a "Jiminy Cricket" environmental project award a few years ago).

I just don't think that having kids so that you can bolster the "Green Army" of privileged, intellectual elites (and yes, anyone reading this blog probably is a privileged, intellectual elite) is the solution.

The solution is to radically change the way we think about wealth, provide opportunities for other people around the globe -- if we don't redistribute population, wealth and food properly -- guess what? We'll destroy ourselves and the planet will redistribute for us.

koolchicken said...

I didn't always want children myself, and my sister will likely never have any, but the planet doesn't have anything to do with it. My BF has openly stated he needs to have children to carry on his legacy and will not consider adoption, although I wanted to adopt at least one girl (apparently "raising another's bastard", his words not mine, is not looked kindly upon where he's from). But I get so annoyed when I see women in their fourty's pushing a stroller, that's selfish. If everything else in your life was so much more important why bother having kids at all. And if you must, can't you adopt. If you've waited for so long you surely have the means to do so. All those fertiliy drugs and centers use up a lot of energy. Maybe if Americans haden't been raised to be self serving in the first place the topic of procreation wouldn't be an enviormental issue.

Wendy said...

I think this topic falls into the category of "we'll all have to agree to disagree."

But I did want to point out that the option of government mandated population control seems to have backfired just a bit.

jennconspiracy said...

Wendy, that seems to have worked out quite well from what I can read! People are not having unlimited numbers of children and women's place in society is improving because there are fewer of them.

Seems like it is working out pretty well, to me.

TheNormalMiddle said...

I purposefully did NOT read the 93 comments before leaving mine. I figured I'd just say the same thing anyway...

Here goes. I think it is perfectly fine to be childless IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. I have an aunt/uncle who did not ever want kids and knew it, and chose not to ever have them. To this day, I admire them for being strong enough to say "hey, we like kids, but we don't want any of our own, thank you very much." they knew it and owned up to it. Honesty works in all situations.

Now, on the other side of the coin.....NO, NO, NO WAY do I think it is "morally superior" to be childless in order to save the planet. Blah. Bunk.

If you want kids and will be a good parent, have them. Be good stewards of the earth. Teach the children to be even better stewards of the earth.

Morality of fertility is not something I think we should start regulating one way or the other. Child-given couples are no better or worse than childless couples. In the end I think it amounts to personal satisfaction, choices, and we should all leave it at that.

I find it funny that the same crowd who begs for pro-choice will also say it is morally wrong to have a lot of kids. If it is a CHOICE, it is a choice all the way down, folks.

Anonymous said...

My mother had six children, and once someone accused her of hurting the environment and being selfish by having so many children. At the time, my mother's oldest child was in India, finding sponsors to help impoverished Indian families, her second oldest was in Chicago on a two-year volunteer assignment, her third oldest was in Russia teaching English to families pro bono, and her fourth child had just gotten his eagle scout by renovating and repainting a battered women's shelter. She then asked her accuser who had done more for the world. When you raise your children to reflect your values, you can do much more for the world than you could alone.

Michelle said...

Haha, I just read Danielle's comment and I think it's great!

truparad0x said...

I'm not a religious person, so I've always believed that Earth has a way of balancing things out. So in terms of population, natural disasters, plagues, etc. were balancing acts.

As a person, though, I don't think labeling children as a detriment to the "green" cause is reasonable at all. That would be saying that humanity is the cancer of Earth (similar to Agent Smith's thoughts of humanity in The Matrix).

Teala said...

I agree that, yes, we absolutely do need to do all that we can to be environmentally aware and to protect the earth, but I believe that people should choose weather or not they have children based on their own set of values and beliefs. I don't think that people should be pressured not to have children or forced not to. Should someone choose to have children, they should raise them to be environmentally aware.

I have to agree with "Fake Plastic Fish". Education is key. It's the most important thing.

Having children is a decision that needs to be made carefully; and if someone wants kids, that's great! If not, that's great too! No one should be pressured either way. People should make that decision themselves.

And, who cares, if people want kids them have them. What's more pressing is the fact that there are so many people needlessly drive huge vehicles (trucks, vans, SUVS, etc...) that don't need them.

Heather said...

Is there any way to consider huge global issues in such a personal decision as when (or if) one plans a family?

I will go so far as to presume both parents and child-abstainers agree that having children means increased demand on resources. If we were talking about personal resources (i.e., your family income and food supply), wouldn't it be natural to consider whether or not your family would be able to provide for (feed, clothe, educate) another child? It seems to me this is often part of the decision, at least in couples I know- "Can we afford a child now?" I wonder why extrapolating this out to a larger scale (the earth's resources vs. our own personal ones) is suddenly offensive?

To grossly oversimplify, I think it has to do with objective vs. subjective motivators. Intelligent people can be motivated to do many things through objective reasoning (facts, statistics, etc), but thinking about your own child is inherently subjective, and (especially once those children materialize) parents cannot be expected to be swayed by objective arguments about having kids. Also, people without kids cannot be expected to be swayed by the subjective reasoning of someone with kids.

On a different note, did anyone consider not having children because they didn't want to bring their kids into a world of war, famine, food shortages, climate change, and peak oil? This question weighs on me heavily. I wonder if I should wait as long as possible before having children, waiting for things in our country or around the globe to improve. (I could wait another 10-15 years, easily.) But, things could also get a lot worse before they get better, and they might not get better in my lifetime. Is global timing a factor for anyone?

Faithful 2 U said...

I love my kids.

Heather said...

Ok ok, I'm commenting again (!), but it just struck me that this THE SAME ARGUMENT that vegetarians and omnivores have all the time, sometimes on this very blog. Vegetarians claim we can lower our footprint by an incredible amount (upwards of 90%, I think) if we'd give up meat and dairy. Well, omnivores say, we like meat and our digestive tracts are meant to digest it (that second point is a weak argument for dairy, by the way). Change "meat" to "having a family" and the digestion part to "it's our right/natural desire to reproduce", and you've basically recapitulated the argument here. Come on- it's eerily similar!

And that begs the question- If people can't be convinced to give up eating meat and dairy for the environment, who on earth would write a book to convince people to have fewer children?

Anonymous said...

The children I know are the most passionate preachers of the green "word" and the most easily taught...I think perhaps those with this point of view might not have the foggiest idea what they are talking about!

But,if someone truly believes that having children is wasteful, environmentally irresponsible and selfish...then they would be a pretty lousy parent and I say thank goodness you've made your choice not to procreate!

Kim said...

I agree with squrrl. Children are not SUV's. I love children and I can't wait to have some of my own. I am 30 and want to wait until I am married but I do know that I would be a good Mom. Children are a blessing not a burden.

abbie said...

Replacement level fertility is theoretically 2. Meaning, 2 kids to replace mom and dad. If each couple had 2 children, there would be no population growth. So in reality, it's the people having more than 2 that are contributing to overpopulation. And the population is growing most rapidly in the developing world, with the majority of children on this planet being born into absolute poverty. Folks who are trying to be environmentally friendly by not having children should adopt some children from the developing world if they really want to make a difference. Global warming is not the only environmental issue we face today, and most environmental issues are benefitted by taking care of people in the developing world. To the people you quote, i say: Don't use environmentalism as an excuse for not wanting children. (And I don't have children, so I'm speaking from my education and not as an offended mother.)

Nabeel said...

this is absolutely ridiculous. It's the same as, drinking to forget your problems instead of facing and solving your problems.

The comments you post are absolutely ignorant and the arguments below intelligence. How bout this for a green idea? Stop using electricity to turn on your computer and write such monstrous and pathetic posts.

ajoyfulmama said...

xwcjThis may sound unenlightened to many of you, but for me, having children is a matter of faith. I firmly believe that the purpose of our creation is to build families and raise children. God has commanded us to mutliply and replenish the earth, and I feel certain that he will provide a way for his commands to be followed. My husband and I hope for a large family, but we will make it a matter of prayer. I suggest that we allow everyone to have that right.

RC said...

Well I plowed through all those replies and I might have missed it, but no one said, "I had kids because I really needed to pass on my genes".
No one {well maybe one person, sort of} said, "more intelligent people should have more kids, so I did that"
And no one said "I better have kids while I am young since medically I have some serious issues and I might be dead by the time I am 30 years old".
I can very proudly say I did have kids for all of those reasons and if they are wrong, so be it.
I have three adult children {around 30 years old, give or take} and a grandchild, a couple of ex-wives.
I love them all, we are all friends, and even though as a parent I was at best erratic, my children do not harbor any animosity.
They all are completely on the Crunchy wavelength as far as environmental responsibility. I take no credit for anything except my own ability to carry on in life despite my extreme and obvious selfishness and insanity. The qualities the children have probably are due to their sterling mothers.
As to those condescending exemplars
who not only chose to not pass on their genes, but feel that those who have are creating havoc by inhabiting the sphere and adding other inhabitants, I very much agree with you and something must be done.
Clearly, the superior individuals who understand the dangers and have taken steps to contract the population are to be commended and may I also offer my sincere gratitude to them should they decide to pursue their logic to its ultimate outcome. Yes, dear model citizens, thank you for killing yourselves.

jennconspiracy said...

sorry, ajoyfulmama - your "god" is wrong. There is no need to multiply and "replenish" the earth.

The problem is that there are too many people on this planet. We're killing it.

Sure - in times of famine and genocide 2000 years ago -- replenish and multiply is necessary. We still have famine & genocide -- but we don't need large families to assuage our guilt for the deaths of Somali children.

Adopt. Volunteer. Change immigration laws. Educate. Don't just procreate -- that's not gonna do it.

Anonymous said...

ajoyfulmama, are you really asking people to kill themselves? You are heartless.

Anonymous said...

oops, I'm sorry it's rc whose heartless not a joyful mama sorry!

ajoyfulmama said...

No, anonymous, I am not asking anyone to kill themselves. That was "rc". I am actually the comment above that.

THE SANDY DOG BAKERY said...

WOW! Such interesting comments!!

this is my journal said...

if your not going to have children and you believe that having children is greedy and so forth then who are you trying to save the world for?
if you want to reproduce then that should be okay to do just as long as you go about it in a responsible manner.

chambilkethakur said...

i agree, the so-called customs had made life miserable.
there are many needy children, who needs parent, producing new one is burden on nature.

Anonymous said...

Wow, well congratulations on blog of note! I'm sort of astonished that someone would ask this question. Would any of us scold our parents for being so selfish as to choose to have us? If you play this out to its logical conclusion, looks like you end up with a planet fit for no one.

mikoberts said...

Hmmmm - so we all stop having children, after a few earthquakes and such, togther with our ability to kill each other anyway, I reckon the planet will be human free in about 60 years or so.

Good job for us all our parents didn't make that decision.

I go with squrrl - children aren't just take, take, take - we can all give, give, give

ajoyfulmama said...

"sorry, ajoyfulmama - your "god" is wrong. There is no need to multiply and "replenish" the earth."

Last time I checked, "my god", you know, the one from the bible, was the one that billions of people believe in. It would be a shame if he was wrong.

All I suggest is that people be allowed to make childbearing a matter of introspection. And if that includes faith in God, then include that as well.

Please note, I didn't attack your postition, all I ask is a little bit of the same respect for mine.

As for the need to volunteer, change laws, and educate, I am already doing all those things. I am also adopted, and hope to adopt someday. And I'm not "just procreating" as you so beautifully put it. I'm ralsing a family of beautiful, loving children. I believe that they are children of God, who are meant to come here to earth, to my family, right now. And I think that choice (and religious conviction) should be respected in the same way you expect your's to be.

AdamRCohen said...

Each baby comes with both a stomach and a brain. Sounds to me like reason for hope.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

My daughter has two kids, and I love them. My son decided not to have kids for environmental reasons. I am proud of him. My wife's siblings have way the fuck more kids than should be legally allowed because the pope(and his predecessors) said it was the will of God. Personally, I think of mata(earth) as a cell, and we ARE the virus. Humans should stop reproducing-period.

RC said...

About that RC guy, I believe the proper term is heartless bastard.
Also, there is a delicately constructed argument woven into that confrontational confession.

jennconspiracy said...

I think RC's point was missed - "thank you for killing yourselves" - ie, the people you'd rather raise and train the next generation are mostly making themselves extinct.

Despite a faulty belief in a fictional deity's fictitious directive (billions?), there are many religious folks who are trying to do the right things for the planet.

ajoyfulmama said...

You know, jennconspiracy, I think it is unfortunate that you have such little respect for other people's religious beliefs. You can't prove that God is "faulty" and "fictitious". I can't prove that he exists. But don't you think that we should both be free to come to our own conclusions, and act accordingly?

rappereater said...

I dont think I'll have kids, to reduce impact on this world and not only that but by the time they would grow up this world will be to big of a peice of crap for anyone to exist.

just ducky said...

From the amount of comments and how some of them have been a little "heated"...I think this is a very good example that whether to have children or not have children should be a personal choice and not regulatory in any way. I think the facts for all sides should be taught--at home, at school, published for others to read/ponder--and then each individual should thoughtfully make their own decision. I would never be annoyed that someone chose not to have children...likewise, I would not be judgmental of anyone who chose to have children. What I dislike more than anything is when people are made to feel "wrong" for choices they make over their own body.

Beth said...

Thanks for having the guts to post this quandry. I'll admit it, today when my co-worker told me she was pregnant, I thought, 'Great, another uber-consumer...'. Of course, I congratulated her instead of verbalizing that thought.

In the end, it's a matter of choice, as I'm completely against anyone telling you how many children you may or may not have. That said, I do think it's ridiculous to have 6+ kids in today's society, but it's my choice to think that.

novemberjuliet said...

The thing is (and I'm sorry if someone has already said this, couldn't get through all the comments), if environmentalists stop having children for environmental reasons, the non-environmentalists will still continue reproducing and raising non-environmentalists.

yeah, I know, my parents aren't environmentalists either but still...

Number 6 said...

Is it morally wrong to have children? No more so than it is to die. Out goes the bad. In comes the...hmmm? Nothing comes in! Another form of natural selection perhaps. Cleansing some might say... is a good thing.

Kat said...

Without children we really have no future. If people really want to go green they don't have to live any different when they have children than they do now. It really isn't about having children, it is how you raise and teach them on the world.

Jack Sprat said...

Honestly, "morally wrong to have children"? What set of moral laws is that related to? Christian, Bhuddist, Hindu, or has that person made up their own? In which case, it has little validity.

Also, are they going to allow the human race to extinct, by stopping our procreation or are these people going to decide who can have children, and what gives Them that right? Are they bastard children of Hitler or of Francis Galton?

Or perhaps they subscribe to the policies of China or Singapore. Eugenics is a dictatorial philosophy.

And how far from natural life are these people? I am absolutely shocked at their attitude. NATURE must not be interfered with in this way by humans. Nature is above us humans.

I am an agnostic, but I do believe that Nature is in a sense our God, and us humans cannot arrogantly assume we are above it.
Recently I read that every species only has a life of about two million years, and I do not believe that mankind has the super-natural intelligence to break that law.

Nature is supreme. Let us leave it alone. We are doing enough damage with our meddling with genetic engineering of foodcrops, and look at the current result, expensive food worldwide.

Look at what industrialism has brought to this planet. The carbon crisis.

Lastly, it is the Nature-given right, not the right of governments or organisations, to take the right of procreattion away from individuals.

I could have composed this letter better, but I have my two younger children playing boisterously and needing my love and attention, so please excuse this hotchpotch of a letter.

Abbie said...

Jack Sprat...
2 million years? I highly doubt Homo sapiens sapiens will make it even close to that long. What are we? Sharks?
I think it's interesting that it's turned into a religious discussion. I'm not a religious person, and I don't believe in any sort of god or higher power, so my mind just never went there. Interesting.

jewishfarmer said...

Greenpa, yes, I know 2 kids isn't replacement rate precisely, but this is a blog post comment, not my dissertation ;-). I also left out the issue of age at first parturition - the fact that everyone having 1 kid at 20 and 2 kids at 40 add up to just about the same thing.

What I would note is to the person who said that world population is going to double, that's just wrong. It isn't - UN projections suggest that we're going to stabilize somewhere around 9 billion - maybe as low as 8.5, maybe as high as 10, and then begin to decline. End of century estimates begin to show up around 7 billion (we're at 6.7 now). TFRs (total fertility rates) around the world are dropping like a stone - they've gone from 5 to slightly less than 3 in a matter of a few decades. Some areas are progressing even more rapidly - Latin American dropped to 2.6 from above 5 in less than 15 years.

That is not to say that 9 billion people won't enormously stretch our ability to function in the world, to allocate resources fairly. But it is, IMHO, important to let the facts, not the myths of reproduction shape things.

Education is a huge part of this. Political power and sexual freedom are another. Being able to see the children you do have live to adulthood makes a huge difference - a woman in India has to have six children to have one surviving child when she's 60. Ultimately, population stabilization depends on sharing more of our resources equitably, so that women have better choices. In the end, it comes around to justice.

Mom said...

I wish I could be face to face with those people, so they could see the pain in my eyes from losing my grandaughter four years ago! I suppose they would just tell me that if my daughter and her husband had done the "right" thing, that I wouldn't have the heartache from her death. Who do they think we are cleaning up the planet for, anyway? Are they implying we live by the same selfishness that got our planet in this shape to begin with? Do they want the inhabitants of the earth to disappear in a generation or two? I have one remaining grandchild and every time I look into his eyes, I see everything that is good about life, and the future possibilities for saving this planet along with it's lifeforms.

MariahK said...

What a sad outlook for the world if people do not see the joy and beauty of children. I cannot imagine a world with out the sound of their laughter. Everytime I am in a store and a small baby or child smiles at me it brightens my day. They are what makes living worth while. Everyday my life is enriched by the sights, sounds and acts of children. If it is the environment you are worried about. Teach children how to live "green".
Saying that people who have children are selfish? the oppisite can be said of people who are childless, a truely selfish person could also be described as one who is not willing to give up 18+ years to the love, guideance, and expence a child is. They take all and only offer luaghter and love in return, they do not bring you more money, or time alone with your spouse. They are always there and need you, but a parent gets that, and is willing to give unconditionally to their child. Being a parent is giving everything you have, and then reaching down to find more to give, but the joy and love of a family is priceless.

Listen Up, MoFos! said...

I just can't believe the lenghts people go to impose their opinions/beliefs on tohers. I recycle, use energy-saving light bulbs, but local and organic whenever possible AND I have a 19 month old daughter. Are those people saying the world would be a better place if she didn't exist? I beg to differ. You cannot compare having 1 or 2 or 3 kids to having 10 or 15 like some people do. Both are extremes. And it's fine if you don't want any kids, that's great for you. But don't insult me for having mine.

Harry J. Sachz said...

I have been browsing around Google blogs for a few hours now, and I was about to give up when this site came around. Its quite inspiring to know that there are people out there that actually put worthwhile and thought-provoking content on the internet.

I don't have anything to add to this conversation about choosing to bring up children and the effects of such a decision, but I wanted to let you know that this site is joining the few blogs on my RSS reader.

Thank you.

Michele said...

I do not have children, however, it is not for lack of trying or a lack of desire. These people that are worried about their carbon foot print as a reason not to have children are crazy. Does anyone remember the 1973 movie "Soylent Green"? It was about over population, food shortages, and all out crazyness. People started to agree to being euthanized to reduce the poplulation. Of course those same people ended up becoming the "Soylent Green" food wafers. Is this what our world is coming to? Are we beginning to live our own science fiction?

squirrel-the-tire said...

Haha...I mean... Seriously, there isn't that much of a problem. Asfor wars over food and water.....What in the crap are you talking about, The only real war here is the "war on terror" which needs to end already.

Even if at first, this post seems to be a joke, and population control is stupid, we the people, have the right to live and come into life. If you think people are a problem, then YOU are the problem, even you believe it, and therefore have no argument.

Ellen said...

OK. my personal opinion. Which, let me say first, involves my FIRM belief that everyone gets their own choice in this matter. Personally, I think 1-2 children is reasonable and more than that (for ME!!) not too healthy for the planet. Because we wanted a 3rd (and possible a 4th), we chose to adopt (from China). Perhaps if I had more of the eco mindset in my late 20's, I would have opted to adopt exclusively and not bear children. As it is, they are constantly being taught and shown by example how to live gently on the earth. For me, it's a good compromise.

Jenny V said...

So should everybody commit suicide to so that the planet could breathe freely? Not having children for the sake of the planet is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Save the tree's kill the babies huh? God gave us the ability to reproduce, and it a a beautiful blessing. He also put us in charge of everything on earth. We should be careful of how we live, such as throwing our trash in a can and not on the street, but to say not have kids is a bit on the mental side. We were put here to love one another and to share the love of Christ. The only way to love one another is to continue the human race. Learn to love people not plants...people love back!

DC said...

Me: Hi God, it's me -- DC.

G: DC, I already told you, I can't "remove" conservative Justices before their time.

Me: No, no, it's not that. I was just having an off day when I asked about that.

G: Well, what is it then?

Me: Well ya see God, there's this woman named Crunchy Chicken --

G: You mean the lady who wants everyone to pee on their gardens?

Me: Yeah, something like that. Anyway, I guess you know -- what with being omniscient and all -- that there's been a pretty heated debate on her blog today about having kids.

G: Yeah, so what?

Me: Well, I just thought I'd go straight to the source -- excuse me, I mean Source -- and ask: "Should we or shouldn't we?"

G: Should we or shouldn't we what?

Me: You know . . . procreate.

G: What the hell kind of question is that? Do you honestly think I would have sent Barry White to your planet if I didn't want people to do that? Do you know how many people were conceived in the 70's listening to his rich, melodic voice next to the soft, iridescent glow of lava lamps?

Me: Good one, G. Hey -- I didn't know you did satirical hyperlinks too!

G: Why does that surprise you? I "made you in my image," didn't I? Or were you asleep the day they read Genesis in Sunday School?

Me: You are really on a role tonight, Dude. By the way, am I going to go to hell for all the asinine stuff I've been posting lately?

G: Where do you think you are now, boy -- Interstellar Disneyland?

Me: You mean this planet is hell?

G: Nah -- Gotcha! -- but you seriously are on the waiting list.

Me: Oh crap!-- I'll stop parodying Cheney, I promise.

G: Ha, gotcha again!

Me: Not funny. Okay, well anyway, thanks for clearing that whole thing up about kids.

G: I didn't clear anything up -- I just said Barry White wrote some good tunes.

Me: Oh no, you mean I'm gonna have to go back and read all 137 comments to figure this out?

G: Well, your kid's not going to fit back in his momma's womb, and you're not planning on having any more anyway, so why are ya stressin' about it?

Me: Good point, I think I'll just fertilize my plants and call it a night. I love ya, Big Guy.

G: Okay, fine by me. I love all of you crazy Crunchies too. Be sure you all love each other, or you're gonna be screwed regardless of how few or many of you there are.

Me: Good point -- thanks.

ITZ 4REAL said...

Wow! There are people out there who actually believe that children aren't a gift from God? I am in utter shock. Let's picture a world in which everyone chose to be like those two couples and not procreate. What would happen? Eventually all humans would die and the only living things on earth would be animals and plants. What a boring world that would be. I'm all for having kids!!!

Crunchy Chicken said...

DC - Thanks for adding in the levity... Even if you are sounding a tad like a paranoid schizophrenic.

Today's comments have gotten so tense I was thinking I might have to have another butts, boobs and boners kind of post for tomorrow.

But, now I can write something else to torque y'all off again. Thanks!

Daniel & Zoe's Mommy said...

You might live a "green" life but several other adjectives come to mind too,

"boring"
"unfulfilling"
"pointless"
"self-centered"
"lonely"
"sad"

People can have children, or not have them. But don't choose not to have them and use the excuse you're being "environmentally conscious." UGH

purrsikat said...

Holy frick dc you are a complete crack up! :D I love it.

I've decided not to have my own kids, originally because of socio-economic reasons (this was when i didn't even understand what 'socio-economic' was or meant, before I turned 10 i think...) and now it's bolstered by environmental issues.

However, that's not to say that I won't adopt from somewhere suffering from issues related to environmental, governmental/tribal catastrophes.

It's also not to say that I'm not willing to contribute towards helping other people raise their kids.

It takes a village to raise kids. If I don't have my own or if I adopt, regardless, I'll sure as hell be helping others raise their kids.

Having said all that, I am disheartened by people who don't even consider the planet or the environment (or future socio-economic issues that are already arising) when having kids.

I'm not categorising _everyone_ who's having kids like this.. just those people who don't even think about it (& may or may not have lots of kids).. similar to those who think that it's ok to live well beyond the planet's means to sustain them. It makes my heart ache with sadness more than anything.

Education is key. Understanding, tolerance & acceptance is key. Let's respect so we can make more progress.

Jennifer said...

jennconspiracy~

on your comment on IUD's in every 12 year old... I don't think it can happen without a LOT of advances in the technology. I know... at 22 I went and TRIED to get an IUD. My uterus is WAY too small. I can't possibly get one until after kids, IF then.

IUD's SOUND great... I cried when i couldn't get one. But, they aren't an answer for young teenagers who aren't even fully grown yet. Maybe they will creat a smaller IUD...

lucy_on_earth92 said...

I completely agree with nikki. We should not be blaming a majority of environmental issues on the reproduction rates of the human race. In my opinion, humans are as much a part of the Earth as insects, birds, and mammals. We too live and breathe this air and have been for many years. Yes, we have come a long way from walking in linen uni sex dresses and getting all of our water from the village well, but that doesn't mean we can't change that.

The REAL issue the the consumption of Americans, Western nations, and the world in general. We need to be more aware of our impact. We need to teach the younger generation and our own cars-as-status-makers generation to RESPECT our mother, Earth. It is a matter of education, not elimination.

If not having children is the way to go, we might as well all die now and let the world be. Because that is what these guilt-trip arguers are going to come to when the thread runs out.

Debbie Out Loud said...

I'd better have a couple dozen kids to make up for these green people. I'll make sure I have green kids, though, for sure.

jennconspiracy said...

ajoyfulmama - I thought long about this and I think that the chief thing that I am reacting to is the fact that instead of fully owning responsibility for your desire to have children (for whatever reason), you're putting off the responsibility for your choice or desire onto a a god (who may or may not exist, not the subject of this blog).


Own it. If someone told you to jump off a bridge, you'd probably tell them where they could go. Someone (the author of a holy book? your minister? tradition?) tells you that the deity you worship wants you to have kids so you cheerfully oblige? I think you're far more intelligent and conscientious than that, so don't play the religious card.

itz_4real -- there are a lot of comments here and it requires a lot to read through and process them. Your response strikes me as not very carefully considered.

I don't think that there is a singler person in this discussion who has said NOBODY should have children.

There are many people who choose to not bear children but that does not mean they don't want to have children in their lives.

And, no - children are not a gift from god. They are the result of a decision -- a decision to get pregnant or a decision to (not) rely on a particular form of birth control with varying results.

Children are a privilege. I think everyone here would probably agree that they are a big responsibility, and that every child should be a wanted child.

The planet is overpopulated, there should be fewer of us on it if we all want to enjoy it but nobody is saying we should stop reproducing entirely and kill off the species. That's a fatuous read of this very involved discussion consisting of nearly 150 comments so far.

Anonymous said...

daniel and zoes mommy,

here are a few of the things i did in my "boring, unfulfilling, pointless, self-centered, lonely sad life this last week:

I had garden club 3x at our local elem. school and amazed some kids with the fact that potatoes grow under the ground, planted bean and cucumber seed and generally had a great time. I did a tad pole release with 7 kids for our community garden. Visited with my 90 year old and 80something neighbors. Enjoyed 3 baby screech owls one night in our front yard with my husband and the neighbors. watched the local foxes sneak around the yard. went up to friends house for a danish cold table and sat for 4+ hours at the table telling stories, singing songs, telling jokes and eating awesome food. planted my sister-in-law's flower pots as a birthday gift. road my bike many places including to a 5+hr meeting to try and stop the corp of engineers from ramrodding a dam on our local river. Went to voter registration training and registed voter at a local grocery store. Had my youngest nephew spend the night, read to him. Took he and my friend's daughter on a bike ride and out to lunch and ice cream plus window shopping downtown. Saw Shawn Colvin in concert out on the lawn while admiring interesting clouds. Had bro and fam over for dinner and games and guitar music (theirs). Dinner out on the back deck almost every night with my honey-bunny, enjoyed fresh veggies from my many gardens. Taking my nephew's dog for walks. Going to court with a friend for moral support. I could go on and on but I'll stop and just say I enjoy life to the fullest and am greatful for every day I have on this incredible planet. Please try not to be so judgemental of others. just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I don't have a life. I included a lot of kid centered activities so that you can see that just because I don't have children, doesn't mean I don't love them and enjoy their company. As the Black-Eyed Peas sang "where is the love?"

diana

Anonymous said...

The earth was never meant to last forever, and it won't be created beings that end it.... no matter how much Al Gore flies his private jet around giving talks about saving the planet. ;)

Brandie said...

Interesting ... someone once told me that if you have kids and want the environment to stay nice, you really are a humanist and your motivation is to keep it nice for future generations. And that if you are a true environmentalists you would NEVER have children because humans are about the worst thing that can happen to the environment.
I don't know ... I think there has to be a happy medium. Just because we haven't been kind to the environment, doesn't mean we can't do that if we simply learned from our mistakes and were convicted to do better.

Neureo said...

Ugh. In my opinion, that's a disgusting mindset, and the _wrong_ way to go about benefiting the environment.

ecomama said...

Well said hit pay dirt. And for the record, I wish you luck, and to all the others who are following their hearts, regardless of where it might take them.

And well, DC, you're right on the money.

Anonymous said...

if all the people who care about the environment never have children, and all the people who dont care about the environment do have kids, then in the long run it will be way worse for the planet.

Kat Vapid said...

Dude. Everyone calm down.

For the record, I care not whether one has or does not have kids, likes or does not like kids. There are legitimate reasons for not wanting kids. Some people who have kids don’t particularly like kids.

Anonymous, to whom do I owe an apology? People who are childless by choice? For what? For saying that there is some element of non-altruism in their decision? I could say the same thing about people who do have kids. People tend to act in their own self-interest: O, the controversy!

I was making a feeble attempt at humor, at facetiousness. If I am sorry for anything, I am sorry for my lack of attention to strict comedic standards.

Jennconspiracy: My “childless swingers” thing was sort of jokey. I was attempting to suggest that I fail to grasp formal logic by inferring an illogical conclusion: viz., many swingers are childless, therefore, all childless humans are swingers. Ha ha, get it? In retrospect, I don’t find it so funny myself. Again, my only apology is for my lack of humor.

Anonymous: I didn’t say that childless people were gluttonous because they were childless, I said they were gluttonous because they were Americans (or Brits, or Westerners, or whatever). Thus, I am calling myself a gluttonous lummox as well. We can all be gluttonous lummoxes together. And “semi-illiterate”? Hmm, I’ve been called a lot of things, but that’s a new one. It might have to do with the fact that "semiliterate" is a word, but not "semi-illiterate." But it does sound preferable to "semiliterate." And please don't lump me in the same category as Danielle, who lacks the ability to spellcheck.

Still, illiteracy is usually a product of social and economic conditions, not necessarily a sign of unintelligence. I think you owe illiterates an apology for suggesting that they are inferior.

Perhaps you meant to say that I am unintelligent. Fair ‘nuff. My IQ does indeed hover in the low-to-mid-60’s. But this is the fault of my genes. My parents shun’t’a procreated.

As for “vitriolic” and “hostile”? Guilty on both counts, but in a good way.

In summary, whoever read my comment and got bummed out, sorry. I sincerely hope I can still count on your vote come November.

Big Momma said...

Nutcase! All of them.
As usual, the terminally selfish try to justify thier decision not to have children.

It is truly because they are too self absorbed to lift a finger to help anyone else!
Losers!

EcoDea said...

I didn't want any children (for ecological purposes) until I accidentaly had one and (of course) my views changed. Who will save the world if environmentalists don't reproduce?? :)

But, seriously, children's impact depend so much on how you raise them!! Some people have one kid that uses as much resources than 5 kids in another family. It's not only about having or not kids, but lifestyle and how you raise them. And I think govt. prohibitions of this kind of thing are extreme - people should know about family planning, etc.

My 2 cents...

Big Momma said...

These people are totally retarded. Thank God they were sterilized.

One poster got it right when she said, "who will save the world if we don't have children?"

In envirnmentalists stop having children, the chhildren of SUV drivers will inherit and destroy the world!

The Quirky Indian said...

While I think it is a great decision not to have children - I don't intend having any - and it will help the environment, and particularly the poorer countries (my country, India, does not need more people, believe me), it has to be a matter of personal choice. It cannot be mandated, institutionalised or made obligatory in any way.

Cheers,
Quirky Indian
http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

QSDH said...

this is hilarious, im a teenager,but i still think it's pretty funny. alot of your blogs are funny you're a great blogger by the way!

Alyssa said...

I am saddened by the idea that people might decide not to have a children as an "enviromentally conscious" decision. By no means should people have a child if they feel they are unfit to care for one, but acting as though it they are benefiting the world's existence by doing so is off-centered. Obviously, human beings were meant to create more human beings, else why would we be here? Procreating is a personal choice and should not depend on how much more waste would be produced on behalf of the child. That idea is minimizing the importance of children in our world. We need children to continue our way of life-if everyone stopped having kids, who would take care of us in 60 years?

Let's not forget that there are other ways to minimize our negative impact on the environment- spread environmental awareness to others and pass that knowledge on to your children. There are SO many other ways to make a statement that we care about our limited resources- so leave the children out of it, if you please.

Atticus Sampson said...

If we don't have kids, then what is the point of saving the planet?
There won't be anyone around to enjoy it?

Anonymous said...

Of course people should still have children. I am child free by choice, and I do think it would be great if people who do not want to have children would stick with their convictions. I think so many people are pressured into having children by society, their families and their significant others. (I picked a husband who also wants to remain child free. To do otherwise would have been wrong for me.)

It would also be great if more folks who cannot have kids, or would like more than one or two biological children, would consider adoption.

Smelling oranges on winter afternoons said...

Somewhere an Einstein was not born because a couple decided not to have him.Somewhere this girl who could discover a great device to save the world, didnt get the chance to exist... Not having children is not any way to save the world. Bringing them up responsibly, is. Lets remain in the middle path. Not fyling anywhere is not an option for those whose work take them to 15-16 cities accross the golbe.

And about children. My daughter is one year old, and no amount of conservation freakism can convince me that this is something I should have avoided. Its worth one more mouth to feed... who knows maybe she will one day discover a new breed of seeds which will feed 7 billion people.

This blog-of-note is an eye opener. Thanks Crunchy Chicken. You are making me hungry now.

Chris said...

A touchy subject indeed, Population growth is a huge problem yet it's almost blasphemous to suggest stopping it.

I recommend people here watch this clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY
He's careful not to prescribe anything like population control, but he really drives home the (unseen) threat of population growth, how it far outweighs any policy or technological change we could muster to combat the enviromental crisis. Scary stuff.

It's unfortunate he is unable to compress it a bit shorter, It's a bit long (1 of 8 parts) and some might find it boring, but I recommend sticking through all 8 parts.

Leviathan said...

Nature cannot evolve a species without the will to survive. Individuals can choose to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but on the whole the species will plow on until they are destroyed somehow or another.

Interesting thought though. I'm going to start a longer analysis on my blog here: http://leviathanwept.blogspot.com

PS - I really like the topics you choose and your analysis. Keep it up!

Rebekka said...

"Take your second poster 'rebekka' she says we should feel "guilty" about having children, what drivel. If our parents hadn't had any children the world would be in a hell of a bigger mess than it is now. just think about that."

I actually said IF you feel guilty about having kids, so be it.

I didn't say you SHOULD feel guilty about it.

And saying that if our parents hadn't had kids, we'd be worse off is a logical fallacy. The world is vastly overpopulated. To reduce the population to sustainable levels, some of us need to not have kids.

I'm not dictating to anyone that they should or shouldn't - or saying who it should be that doesn't.

But I am saying that IF you feel guilty about it, perhaps you should look at WHY you feel guilty and perhaps that guilt will lead you to decide not to have any more.

Whether you like it or not, if you have kids that's a bigger impact on the environment (no matter how small your footprint is) than if you don't. Whether you decide to have them anyway is up to you.

But it's still US who need to act - we can't think that because we bring our kids up to be green, they're going to save the world. WE have to save the world, if it's going to be saved.

Heptanesian Blue said...

What are we saving the earth for? For a group of geriatrics, who wont need it much longer anyway? What is the point in having a clean green earth if no one is going to populate it anyway?

Leviathan said...

"What are we saving the earth for? For a group of geriatrics, who wont need it much longer anyway? What is the point in having a clean green earth if no one is going to populate it anyway?"

I suppose there's something to be said for the other species that might populate the Earth after us.

.när'sĭ-sĭz'əm. said...

so i dont really know anything about saving the environment. i was just browsing and found this fascinating little blog. i love how ridiculous it all is, and it made me laugh and laugh and then feel a little guilty for laughing so much. i even featured you on my blog site, just so everyone could see it.

i do have an opinion though.
for the blog owner, thank you. i like your blog. your well spoken and you have some good points

for the people quoted in this blog however. jesus. you basically called children pollution. but hey its all free speech and such and yes your entitled to it. i guess youll be at the party the day they open the suicide bars and the little blue sterilization pills for everyone over. dont worry the earth will be saved. when EVERYONE dies, but not a day sooner, sorry.

Wild Orchids for Trotsky said...

Here's a quote from Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart:

"As long as human beings are regarded as 'bad,' zero is a good goal. But to be less bad is to accept things are they are, to believe that poorly designed, dishonorable, destructive systems are the best humans can do. This is the ultimate failure of the 'be less bad' approach: a failure of the imagination. From our perspective, this is a depressing vision of our species' role in the world.

What about an entirely different model? What would it mean to be 100 percent good?"

Of course, 100% good is a very ambitious goal, but I think the basic point is very well taken.

TurtleSoup said...

I feel sick to my stomach. I don't often read the posts and today I wish I hadn't. This is the first time I have ever felt ashamed to be part of the 'green movement'.

Brenda said...

If everyone chose to not have children the consequences would be catastrophic to the current population as it ages.

Lack of new births in Japan is raising serious concerns. At the rate things are going there will be no one to do the hard or even skilled labor as we age.

Imagine being 70 and needing the care of a doctor or even a specialists. Because no one had children or enough children there are not sufficient amounts of people to fill these positions. The concern is huge in the health care and food/agriculture sectors.

One other advantage to raising 'green' children is that they can be inspired to find ways to repair the damage and they can be apart of increased number of civilians voting green.

What's next- suicide for green cause?? Are people going to legislate birth restrictions on a free body next?

If green minded people don't raise green minded children- the next generations could lapse backward on the environmental movement due to lack of peer influence.

I mean imagine classrooms full of ego centric, plastic loving, parented children who have no environmental conscious. Isn't it worse that they have no other influences among peers, and that all the 'green' minds are a bunch of old people. :)


We chose not to have more than would replace us. I think it all comes down to planning your parenting,not having babies by default. Hopefully those who birth for the love of their religion will reconsider in years to come.

In the meantime- go hold a baby people- they are amazing little things!

Anonymous said...

I personally don't think having kids is selfish. Except when your having more than you can possibly support w/out gov't assistance. I look at the kids today and see the future teachers, nurses, librarians, storekeepers, judges, police officers and leaders. I see kids who are way more enviromentally aware than I ever was. If people don't want to have kids thats great. If you want kids great. If you want kids but don't want to have stretch marks or can't have your own adopt.

I was told I would never have kids...uh geuss what one came along anyway. Could never repeat it but well I'll be hapy with the one I have. If she hadn't come along I would have adopted. If my hubby and I knew with no doubt we could finacially be able to handle another we would have adopted. Instead we are mentors. We are troop leaders, and our now 18 year old is doing the same-she's a big sister.

If you don't want kids don't have them. If you want them be responsible.

Anonymous said...

I get their point but if we all stopped reproducing the world would die out. I have two boys who are close in age. I am teaching them to respect Mother Earth. We are an eco-friendly household. I haven't had to buy them much because they wear all hand-me downs. I also cloth diaper part of the time. so far, they haven't had too much impact on the earth. I think you can have children without consuming too much.

The Logarithmic Spiral said...

I haven't read all the posts here, but the gist I get from most of them is reminding me a little too strongly of "1984." First of all, the government nor any public institution has any jurisdiction to decide whether or not a person/couple decides to reproduce. Second, where do we draw the line of whether or not man was made for the environment or environment was made for man? It all comes down to worldview here. If your basic worldview is an atheistic stance, than it is perfectly natural to have a "survival of the fittest" approach and kill off all those who don't land in that category. We're entering into Hitler territory.

I'm not saying anyone is suggesting that we euthanize those who don't fit into our idealogies. I am as much for perserving the environment as anyone else (only drive when necessary, energy efficient bulbs, opting for open windows over AC); however, again, where do we draw the line. The minute someone suggests population control in order to "save the planet," the planet becomes supreme above all else.

It begs the basic questions of life, why are we here and what is our purpose?

Ms. Najah said...

"Morally wrong to have children?" That's absolutely upsurd! You have no morals at all to be a believer of that! I'm a firm believer of the bible so if one chooses to have children it would be morally right for you to teach them & lead by example the proper way to live. & still it's not a childs responsibility to be an environmentalists!

Anonymous said...

it's absurd.

Andy in San Diego said...

Responding to Sharon, it is not simply a matter of number of people times resources used per person. If two people produce two people (on average), you have a steady population. If two people produce less than two people, you have a declining population. If two people produce more than two people, you have an exponentially growing population. If two people produce five people, you have a rapidly growing population. So even if those 7 Kenyans used only 1/30th of what Americans use, they will reproduce at such an amazing rate (in the absence of famine, etc.) that they will very quickly overtake gluttonous Americans who are not reproducing exponentially.

But this is average rate. Some people will not reproduce, so some people can have more than two children and still have no population growth (or even population reduction).

And of course, if no one had kids, we'd die off, so certainly having kids is not bad for the planet in and of itself (unless you think the best thing for the planet would be for us to die off, which it probably is).

jennconspiracy said...

katvapid - ROTFLMAO - ok, I get it - that kind of joking doesn't always work in print. :)

ceridwen said...

Whew! Loadsa comments on this one then!

I dont have children by choice - and, yes, I do believe that is THE single best thing I could do for the environment. Certainly - I understand that some people want children - so, for those who do, then 1 or 2 children per woman is okay. I dont understand those who have 3 or more children and call themselves environmentalists! (I could use a very uncharitable word there - but I wont).

Its true too that when I try and guesstimate my carbon footprint I add up my direct one and that for one other person (ie the child I could have had to replace me - but didnt) - as I tend to feel its the only way I am going to get some sort of "reward" for doing the planet-friendly thing in this respect.!

Rebekka said...

"If your basic worldview is an atheistic stance, than it is perfectly natural to have a "survival of the fittest" approach and kill off all those who don't land in that category. We're entering into Hitler territory."

It is really, really offensive to equate atheism with Hitler. As someone with a Jewish background, who is also an atheist, I feel sickened that you would compare the two.

I certainly do not believe in survival of the fittest as a social concept, only as part of the magnificent process of evolution that shaped the natural world. Just because I don't believe in a god or gods does not mean I don't have a well-thought-out set of ethical beliefs. You christians seem to think you are the only ones capable of behaving ethically - it's smug, it's insular, and since your bible says pride is a sin, and also that you should not judge others, you should take a good hard look at yourself.

I do believe the world is over populated, but I also think that the only ethically acceptable way of reducing the population is for women to be educated enough that they choose to have fewer children. Being an atheist does NOT mean you have no morals, it does NOT mean you're okay with killing people off, and it certainly does NOT mean that you support eugenics.

I believe you owe atheists an apology.

Fiona said...

I don't think its wrong to have a child..I have one but there is where I stop. Even my second husband who doesn't have children of his own agreed to not have any children together. We got a cat instead. I do need that at least some of the population needs to have child(ren) or eventually we'd all die out but I do think we should consciously limit how many we have (1 or 2 not 10-20)

Angela said...

Wow, Crunchy Chicken. This is the first time I've ever been to your blog (thanks to your being a "blog of interest" :). I could not believe how absurd it is that there are so many people who really would not have kids just accomplish what they think is a favor to the environment. The thought of such had never and I'm sure would otherwise never have crossed my mind.
If you don't mind, I'd like to put a link to this post on my blog (angelas-notes.blogspot.com). I have my own comments to make on this subject.
Thanks!

Alejandro Baez said...

i am very sorry to hear that a policy meant to benefit us and our children in the future can cause so much confusion and even someone not having children. The biggest advocate of this policy lives a life that not one of us will live to see, advocating one thing and doing the other, feeding of ignorance. I do believe we should live a life that minds the environment, and do everything in our power to change what we can, but deciding on not having a child because of the environment is something I am simply not ready for.

Jen said...

I disagree with the opinion that no one should have children but I do believe that one or two children is best. I doubt that I would have had children had I known then what I know now. They will be faced with hardships I can't fathom.

I do think it is incredibly selfish when people have many children. In this country it stems from religious beliefs and/or "love of kids" (who, in my experience, aren't given much love because mum and dad are spread too thin).

I do think that those with an environmental say would be wrong to not have children and leave all of the procreating to the families of many kids... then the same belief system will perpetuate. For lack of euphemism, stupid people breeding, anyone.

There is an article somewhere (think, think, think) where the author discusses the fact that because the United States has a social welfare system it allows overpopulation to occur. The families of 4+ kids would not be so prevalent if they didn't have a safety net to fall back on should a crisis arise.

There is also the issue of overcoming natural selection. Medical practices allow for a larger population because we can overcome illnesses, disease and physical attributes that would have once killed us. I am unable to give birth naturally and 100 years ago I would have died in childbirth (subtract three from population). I'm thankful I didn't die, but I know that by assisting me the doctor overcame a form of natural selection. Those genes are now, theoretically, passed onto my daughter. There are people with terrible genetic diseases that reproduce passing on these diseases that doctors now make it possible to live with.

Natural selection should also be addressed in terms of population control.

Liz :) said...

What?!? You have to be kidding me! Right? No, you're not kidding me, some people are so selfish that they think that they are the only ones that can "save" the world by the things "they" do. I'm not selfish for having kids, I love my kids and I intended long ago to have at least 4 and if that makes my carbon footprint bigger then so be it because they are not the reason for this world being the way it is.
How hypocritcal of someone to say such a thing, as if they were not "born" themselves, how could they imagine the world without them as they so wish for others to do for their family. If you don't want kids that's okay but this can't be the reason or the want to change others minds not to have kids.

Stephanie said...

Living, in my opion, is about meaningful experiences and connections. Both with other people, and with our environment. Those who have made the decision not to have kids based soley on their lesser impact on the environment are clearly missing something about life in general.

All over the world, in places with the biggest most difficult struggles, yet the smallest carbon footprints per family by a longshot, people continue to have children. Not always because of the unavailabity of birth control or the lack of the basic necessities (but even in the cases where those circumstances are true) they are living and experiencing, joy, love, hope, pain, hate (i could go on forever) from the basic things.Those things typically revolve around their family/community/tribe/village...meals, conversation, play, working together for the common good.

I would would be curious to know if those who made these comments have sincere relationships with others in their own neighborhoods or communities; especially with those different from themselves such as families with children? elderly? republican? etc...Couldn’t they gain from one anothers experiences?

A genuine person with good intent will almost always be listened to. In my case, having children has opened my mind to hear things I was unable to before. I have, since pro-creating, changed the way I live and most importantly, the way I think by watching,listening to and learning from those around me with great information and knowledge. NOT everyone is SO enlightened without certain experiences.

Couldn’t there also be much learned from the child? We have many neighbors, most very different from ourselves, who have gained much from a relationship or connection with our children. This would obviously be a non-existant experience if we had chosen (for the environment) not to have kids.

Isn’t the human experience frightfully similiar no matter who/where you are and regardless of the choices you make and what is thrown at you in life? I believe we should put more weight on being accepting of each other and learning from our differences so we can in turn, be open enough to make big changes in the way we live, for the good of all.

Jamie said...

WTF-ever. Seriously.

The other commenters left far more articulate comments than I can, but let me just say this:

I didn't choose to have a child to carry on my genes, or to create a little mini-me. Lord knows, that was the least of my concerns--I'm adopted, for pete's sake. I'm not really a "carrying on the family line" sort of person.

If this counts for anything, having a child taught me the meaning of love. I don't mean that in a trite, greeting card way. I mean that in the deepest way possible. What kind of a person looks at a child and sees not a unique, wonderful, funky little human being but simply another consumer? Another body that will use environmental resources? Is this what the green movement has been reduced to?

I'm not a big green lifestyle person. I drive an SUV. I leave the lights on and don't eat local food. I feel vaguely guilty about all of this, but honestly...well. I can see sprinkling urine on your veggies, recycling your trash, composting, wiping with a washable cloth, using the diva cup...all of that makes sense, even if it's something I'm not gonna do.

But someone is going to lambast another for having a child? And feels self-righteous for not having the double stroller or a backseat strewn with Cheerios?

Come on.

Anonymous said...

I am the oldest child in a family of thirteen and I find it offensive that anyone would suggest that my parents were selfish in their choice to have a large family. The sacrifices that my parents have made to raise their children as responsible, loving and giving people is immense. They did not have 13 children because they felt compelled by religious reasons or out of a desire to `leave their mark`; they simply, and rightly, realize that children are a gift.

I completely agree that as a society our thinking needs to change. We need to return to a simpler way of living that has less impact on the environment; but what is the point of saving the planet if not for the next generation?

I am appalled by the hypocrisy of people who would deny others the right to life while at the same time continuing to enjoy the privilege for themselves.

Jessica said...

Overpopulation issues are absolutely why I plan on not having children. I would *love* to have a child, but personally, I feel it selfish to allot resources to a child that I can prevent when there are already children suffering due to lack of resources. Or at least *my* resources can help them.

I understand the drive to have you own genetic child, and I blame anyone for it. It's one of the strongest desires humans face, if not the strongest. I don't blame you for having kids. I don't think you are evil.

But by having a child, you are looking at every child who is alive right now, who is living with a shitty foster parent, who doesn't have enough food to eat, who is suffering from AIDs, who is living in a war torn country, or the smart kid down the street who can't afford to go to college and will work at McDonald's all their life or turn to a life of crime, and saying to them that the life of your special unborn child is worth more than theirs.

And I get it if you do that. I do. But please don't get all defensive when I tell you what's what. And recognize what you are doing.

Robbyn said...

Having children is a blessing, as is living in this world. The emphasis should be on rearing responsible, capable, world-changing children. Fewer spoiled idiots does not a better world make...the ones that are left will still grab all the resources if they're here to do it.

jessy said...

i don't think it's morally wrong to have children - i think it's an individual choice and i really can't say if it's right or not. personally, my spouse and i choose not to have children because we do want to keep our impact on this earth as low as possible (a child would really mess up my carbon footprint!). and should a day come and we find ourselves changing our minds - we've decided we'll adopt. 45,000 people in this world die every day due to starvation, disease, and malnutrition. i think i would feel guilty making my own child and not adopting one that is in need of a loving family.

mrs. sarah ott said...

should we only raise children if we know they'll turn out perfect? thats a rhetorical question by the way

Jezabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jezabeth said...

Wow. I don't know what to say about that one. Having children is selfish? There are many prose and cons that can go along with this, but to even think of such a thing is immorally wrong. Well im not saying that i have kids. I'm only 16 but to think something like that is very morbid in my thoughts. Speaking metaphorically to thoughs who agree about this post. If you did have children, would you despise them, not care for them, or just banish them all together? Population is a problem, to tell everyone that they should not have kids just to protect the environment is wrong. I'm sorry but i don't give 2 shits about tree huggers. You can't make everyone conform to your ways. You all should be ashamed to even consider kids being a threat to the environment. Everyone contributes to pollution. Even if you think your not contributing, you really are. If may not be in a way that is noticeable but trust me. "Everyone" is a problem.

kelli said...

Quote from Fiona -"I have one (child) but there is where I stop...We got a cat instead."

This makes me laugh!! I'll stop having kids if someone can find me a cat that empties the dishwasher.


*Crunchy-I stumbled up on your blog...I like many of your ideas.

Chelsea said...

http://www.thestoryofstuff.com

We don't ALL have to live a life of consumer waste and overpopulation. I can have children and teach them to live in harmony with nature. Freegan or otherwise. Human beings lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature... we're not too stupid to figure it out. However, it takes a LOT of changing minds to re-create a harmonious world. In a harmonious world we would want to have children but Nature would only allow so many.

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