Population control remains the single most important measure in the long term control of green house emissions, yet the right to have as many children as one wishes remains enshrined in liberal democracy. The issue was brought home to me when I heard a short interview on the ABC RN Science Show. Robin Williams having had a series of climate change ‘heavies’ on the Show decided to have a younger generation view point. This was a young conservationist with an award for her work. She made many good points about improving communication between scientists, public and government when she spoke at the Ecological Society of Australia. Several speakers had indicated that at least one solution to climate change may be to have fewer children. Robyn Williams embellished this point, stating that having two children instead of three cuts a family’s carbon emissions by the equivalent of 620 return flights from London to New York. In response the young conservationist said.
“That fact contains two counterproductive measures; the shock factor and the forbiddance factor. This approach is useless if you want to appeal to my generation. We’re often fairly apathetic, we’re difficult to shock and no one responds well to repression. An approach more relevant to the 21st century, particularly in relation to environmental issues, is not behaviour limitation or repression but behaviour modification. You can tell me, as someone in their early 20s, that my mobile phone is bad for the environment, but I will never part with it. You can tell me to have two children instead of three, but if I want a big family I’m going to have one….”
Game, set and match, all of us can agree to disband DEA and go play golf on Greg Norman’s new green course in the middle of drought ridden Yorke Peninsula.
Western society pays great premium to individual liberty over collective need. It provides this emphasis in the legal system, in government thinking and action, and in the individual’s choice of government. Perhaps we should not be surprised by the conservationist’s response. We have brought up our children in overt liberal democracy. However all the evidence suggests that we will not curb rising emissions of the basis of behaviour modification alone. We are going to need enforced rules whether at the collective level through carbon trade with penalties OR at the individual level. Eventually society will have to choose between absolute individual liberty and life.
A first step must be education of government in the nexus between climate change and population growth. Population growth is the mantra of most states to boost everlasting economic growth.
The previous treasurer’s 4,000 dollar “baby bonus” in a bid to boost the birth rate must be condemned. Professor Barry Walters at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth in a letter to the MJA has criticized the baby bonus and states ” Every family choosing to have more than a defined number of children should be charged a carbon tax that would fund the planting of enough trees to offset the carbon cost generated by a new human being…… They should pay 5,000 dollars (4,400 US) a head for each extra child and up to 800 dollars every year thereafter”
DEA has a population policy. It doesn’t include this measure but it does put our responsibilities in a global context and I would recommend it to you
Finally as a confirmed insomniac I am suddenly conscious of the fact that I am writing these few words early on Christmas morning. I am reflecting on the fact that the birth of one single child was a momentous event for the world. My theological knowledge doesn’t go far enough to tell me whether this was a one-child family. If so it was to be applauded.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of DEA. Those who wish to disagree can do so through the blog