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The Two Child Solution

Robert Downes - April 28th, 2008
The Two Child Solution
Want to save the planet? Then forget about solutions like wind power and Earth-friendly fluorescent light bulbs. Forget recycling, “green“ building and carpooling. Forget buzzwords like “sustainable resources“ and all of your good intentions, because they do far too little, too late. There‘s only one obvious way to stop global warming and save ourselves.
We need fewer people on Planet Earth.
At present, there are nearly seven billion people on Earth, pumping out 3.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year into the atmosphere.
So what will happen by mid-century when there are 10 billion of us?
There were only three billion people on Earth when I was born in the ‘50s, and only 150 million Americans. Global warming wasn‘t a problem.
But with 10 billion people expected on Earth by 2050, the “solutions“ we‘ve come up with for solving global warming are feeble when you consider the overwhelming weight of our numbers.
Let’s imagine that every soul on Earth switches to fluorescent light bulbs tomorrow. Let’s say we ditch our coal power plants and switch to wind power, nuclear energy and electric cars... That still won‘t save us if we have 10 billion people fighting for water, migrating from drought and starvation, and pouring over their borders.
If you think Al Qaeda and illegal immigrants are a problem now, just wait until the consequences of global warming kick in...
In the 1960s, an outfit called Zero Population Growth (ZPG) argued that the human race needed to trim its numbers or risk facing a Malthusian apocalypse with not enough food to go around. That dire prediction was scuttled, thanks to the so-called “Green Revolution” of the ‘60s, with new fertilizers and pesticides making it possible to feed the hundreds of millions of folks crowding places like China and India.
Today, however, those fertilizers, pesticides and hormones are coming back to haunt us in the form of groundwater pollution and public health issues. Go figure.
But ZPG is still around, only now it’s called Population Connection, an organization that’s trying to educate the public on the perils of overpopulation.
Controlling human population doesn’t mean sending anyone off to a Soylent Green factory or dropping bombs on China. Population Connection says it simply means that the human race must make a commitment to having no more than two children per couple.
The claim is that with only two children per couple, we will replace ourselves as individuals, but add no more people to the planet. Over time, the attrition of the human race through natural death rates will bring our numbers down to saner levels -- say two or three billion.
A more radical idea is proposed by author Alan Weisman, whose book, “The World Without Us” suggests that we could create a paradise on Earth through a commitment by each couple to have only one child.
If every couple on Earth produced only a single child, we would have a global population of just 1.6 billion by the end of the century, Weisman claims -- the same number as existed on earth in 1900. That would mean no more global warming, no struggles over water, fewer refugees and no need to fight over scant resources.
Obviously, this utopian idea is not likely to happen. In China, for instance, people regularly thumb their noses at their country’s one-child-per-family rule.
Ironically, we in the Western countries have done a great job of controlling our population numbers. Couples in America and Europe have on the average gone with a two-child-per-family approach that has kept our population under control (see graph). The increase in population in Europe and the U.S. is a result of immigrants from Muslim countries or Mexico.
But in Third World countries like China, Brazil and India, people have lots of kids because that‘s their “social security“ system to care for ma & pa when they get old.
Consider India: It‘s half the size of the United States, but has more than twice our population -- one billion people. India churns out 130,000 new births every day of the year -- the equivalent of a new city each day. So here‘s the joke: How many Indians does it take to screw in an Earth-friendly fluorescent light bulb to save our planet? Fill in the blank.
The Bush administration has encouraged this population time bomb by denying funds for family planning programs in poor countries where they need it most. And the Catholic Church, among other religions, actually encourage its followers to have more children.
In medieval times, it made great sense to pump out more Catholics (or Hindus or Muslims, etc.) to have more believers to fill church coffers or pump-up the ranks of armies. More people meant more power.
But today, encouraging the poor to have more children is a recipe for cannibalism in the long run. Religious leaders need to lead the way with a more responsible message or our goose is cooked, literally.
Fortunately, recent studies show signs that people in Mexico, Brazil, India and other poor nations are starting to adopt the two-child-per-family approach that’s the norm in America and Europe. Having fewer children is the new “in” thing in the Third World. Maybe we’re pulling back from the brink.
 
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