Enviros: Go Forth and Breed No More

Like seemingly ever other magazine these days, Parenting is going green, with an essay contest in which parents describe changes they’ve made at home to be more environmentally friendly. Maybe the editors didn’t get the memo, but when it comes to environmental problems, children themselves are public enemy number one. Daniel Engber, writing for Slate, recently detailed the accelerating push to link population control with global warming:

Our other green lifestyle choices can’t even begin to offset the cost of adding a brand-new CO2-emitter to the population. When I ran my own numbers through Al Gore’s carbon calculator, I discovered that a switch to 100 percent wind and solar power would reduce my emissions by just 1.3 tons per year. That’s not even enough to account for one quarter of today’s average American. Meanwhile, I’d have to do quite a bit of driving around in a Hummer H3 to mimic the environmental impact of creating another version of me. Not to mention the fact that my children might eventually decide to have their own children, who would emit even more carbon dioxide down the line.


Of course, some environmentalists have a more complex strategy for depopulation: encourage everyone else to stop having kids but have plenty themselves:

Critics of population-based environmentalism point out that the people most likely to cut back on their baby emissions are also the ones most likely to instill their children with green values. It’s the Idiocracy argument: If all the eco-conscious Americans stopped having kids, their numbers would decline. But having fewer greenies around would be a net loss for the environment only if each greenie baby did more good for the planet than harm—i.e., if the value of his or her vote exceeded the costs of his or her CO2 emissions.

It’s bracing to read about people refering to a new human life as nothing more than a source of pollution. As Julian Simon reminded us, each new human being is not just a consumer and polluter, he is also a individual with a brain and potential for greatness. None of us knows where the next Mozart or Einstein (or Borlaug) is going to come from. There are challenges to having 6.6 billion people living on the planet, but there are advantages as well. When it come to solving the problems facing humanity, a billion heads are better than one.