Population, reproduction and the environment: a thoughtful discussion…

This is the first time I’ve ever seen/read/heard such a peaceful, thoughtful and nuanced discussion of the important issues of the environmental impact of human population and the ethics of having children in relation to this impact. Every other time I’ve read an article or heard people discussing it, it seems that most people take extreme views, one way or another, and aren’t actually interested in thinking about the very complicated and varied opinions involved in this issue. Most people seem to have their minds made up and aren’t interested in changing their thinking at all, no matter what anyone else has to say. It was SO refreshing and extremely thought provoking reading this blog post, and for the FIRST TIME EVER, actually reading the comments people made without becoming infuriated by people’s close-minded or judgemental statements.

I think this is a discussion that every one of us should be involved in, and preferably, with a compassionate and open mind. There is no doubt that the environment is effected in huge ways by human activity, consumption and waste production, etc. and I question the sanity of anyone who denies this fact. I am not completely convinced that population is the number-one problem, but I do think that the way we humans consume the earth’s finite resources and our failure to realize the actual impact of our consumption on the planet are having and will continue to have devastating consequences for all of us living now, as well as future generations.

One reason I don’t feel quite as concerned about population growth as the top environmental concern, is that as countries become more developed, with better education and greater wealth, etc., population growth stabilizes or birth rates actually fall. This has happened in the West (as you can pretty much see demonstrated by any Western European country), and is happening as countries around the world become more developed and affluent. I think consumption is a far greater worry, because as countries become richer, they follow the lead of the West and consume more, create more waste and pollution, and so much of cultural and societal identity becomes caught up in this dynamic. The number of people might not be the top problem, but our ravenous devouring of energy, natural resources and products is definitely a HUGE problem.

Anyway, I’m no expert on these issues, but I think they’re definitely worth considering. I am obviously choosing to have a child, and am very happy and excited about it. However, I think it is important to try to be as responsible as possible when choosing to have children, taking into account the potential environmental costs involved. I am starting to think about how to be as ‘green’ as possible in all of this; breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, hopefully avoiding the excess of plastic toys and all that. Plus, I really hope to continue simplifying my own life, living more environmentally consciously and by example teach my future child to be a responsible person who cares about all life on this planet. Having said all that, I equally respect people who have decided not to have children, for environmental or other reasons. I certainly appreciate hearing people’s different opinions on the issue because it makes me think more and be more deliberate in my own actions and lifestyle choices.

So, I will be researching ways to give Baby the greenest babyhood we can and see what I come up with. As with everything, it’s all about taking one step at a time, and gradually making these important changes, because every little bit does count. And I definitely suggest checking out this post by Beth Terry over at My Plastic-free Life- I’m An Environmentalist and I’m Not Having Kids.


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