Sunday, August 10, 2008


According to The Optimum Population Trust (a UK think tank on population policy that is absolutely opposed to any form of coercion in family planning), each new birth in the United Kingdom "is responsible for on average about 160 times as much climate-related environmental damage as a new birth in Ethiopia or 35 times as much as a new birth in Bangladesh." It'll be much worse in Canada and the US, I'm sure.

The reference for these stats was in an article in the July 25, 2008 Telegraph (a UK newspaper), by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor: "Limit Families to Two Children 'to Combat Climate Change'." The subtitle was "GPs should tell parents not to have more than two children to help in the battle against climate change, according to doctors."

According to the article, John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health, at University College London and GP Dr. Pip Hayes, from Exeter, suggested in the British Medical Journal that "GPs should talk to their patients about the consequences of having a large family, and provide advice on contraception, population and the environment."

The authors said, "We must not put pressure on people, but by providing information on the population and the environment, and appropriate contraception for everyone (and by their own example), doctors should help to bring family size into the arena of environmental ethics, analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high carbon cars."

What an enormous stride ... suggesting population policy because of climate change! But while we're making suggestions, why not suggest one-child families? If we all keep replacing ourselves (with two-children families), how are we to bring the global population down?

Is having fewer children an effective way to tackle climate change? Is there an ideal number of children? Should doctors talk to their patients about family planning from the perspective of climate change? Have you ever broached this topic with friends or family of child-bearing age? If so, what kind of response did you get? I'd like to hear from you.

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