Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Banging a different drum

My posts have been off topic a lot lately. I haven't been talking about my birds and other animals, I've been posting more about the outdoors and the conservation debate in general. It is easy to pick and choose your battles when it comes to the environment. You can rail against animal testing, hunting, habitat loss, driving Hummers. Take your pick really, but what it all boils down to is sex.

Yeah, I said it. What is really working against the environment is that people keep reproducing. The real fight that needs to be fought if we are to change the planet is population growth and how to control it.

But telling people to stop having kids is, of course, taboo. No politician would ever suggest that maybe a few future voters could be sacrificed. Everyone has the basic right to procreate, isn't that true?

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry should have the right to reproduce as prolifically as he wants. But in reality, this is the real enemy. The only real way to save the planet is to stop it. Sterilize.

Sounds terrible doesn''t it. How can we put the brakes on a basic human need(?)?

According to 60 Second Science, we need to start a serious discussion about population growth and birth control.
Population growth, now at roughly 78 million extra people per year, is the don't-go-there zone of modern environmentalism and political discourse.

But let's go there for the moment: The biodiversity crisis. The water crisis. The climate crisis. Lurking behind all these crises is at least one shared factor: human population. Species extinction? Think land clearing for agriculture to feed a growing population of 6.8 billion people. Water? The majority of water goes directly to growing that same food supply. And giving a helping hand to all these other crises as a result of all the fossil fuel burning needed to power our lives and lift billions out of poverty: anthropogenic climate change.

So is birth control policy and access the answer to the environmental challenges of our time? So argues an editorial in The Lancet, as well as recent research from the London School of Economics, and statisticians at Oregon State University, just to name a few recent examples.

Remember, all these people need to be fed, clothed, housed, and more and more, pampered. Can we sustain a planet if we continue to reproduce at the current rate. There is no way.

But how much difference does one extra child make? You can't look at it that way. It not just one child. How much does every families "one more" child cost?

According to Live Science:

A child's impact

Under current conditions in the United States, for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent – about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible.

The impact doesn't only come through increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — larger populations also generate more waste and tax water supplies.

Other offbeat environmental impacts have been in the news recently:
  • One 2007 study found that divorce squanders resources, because people who once shared resources such as energy now use twice as much under two roofs.
  • The current obesity epidemic may also be hurting the climate, because food production is a major contributor to global warming.

The impact of having children differs between countries. While some developing nations have much higher populations and rates of population growth than the United States, their overall impact on the global carbon equation is often reduced by shorter life spans and less consumption. The long-term impact of a child born to a family in China is less than one-fifth the impact of a child born in the United States, the study found.

Terrierman has talked about population control on his blog quite a bit. Population studies is how he earned his living for a long time. So what does he say, a guy who writes about terriers?

Next time some vegan spouts nonsense to you about how the world is going to hell in a hand cart because there are too many people eating cows and chickens, do what I do: Suggest they get themselves sterilized and that they support immigration reform.

If that sounds harsh, be advised that voluntary sterilization is the most common form of birth control in the world. And yes, I advocate men get the procedure as it's a simple in-and-out operation for us.

So, instead of railing against industrialization. Instead of blowing up subdivisions because they plowed the trees. Instead of trying to stop well meaning people from raising their own food.

Control your own behavior, get yourself fixed.


PBurns said...

Love this post (and you knew I would).

Want to read a POSITIVE story about population and the environment?

See this one about Holland (just put it up) >>

We CAN do right by the birds and all other living things!


Doug said...

I thought you might. But it is so true.If we can control that one variable - everything else will be easier. I'm checking your link.