Does Having Children Harm the Earth?

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Children in Bulk: Are Big Families Eco-Friendly or a Carbon Footprint Nightmare? @

"Are you done yet?"

If you have two or more children, I guarantee you’ve heard this question, likely from someone you’d barely deem an acquaintance and usually when the second child is barely used to breathing air yet. Brace yourself for the onslaught if you have three or more.

Is anything more personal than a husband and wife’s decision to have children as a result of their consummate love for each other??? Yet somehow it has become acceptable and commonplace in our backward society for anyone to inquire about a couple’s bedroom habits and future family planning!


Pet peeve central over here.

And while we’re peeving…how about taking that interference in one’s family size a step further by denigrating big families and judging parents for having "too many" children?

My post at Green Your Way today is an attempt to counter some of that negativity by exploring some really positive environmentally friendly habits that generally come out of big families – the opposite of what media pundits would claim: namely that having more than two children is a "drain on the earth’s resources."

A peek at "Children in Bulk: Are Big Families Eco-Friendly or a Carbon Footprint Nightmare?":

I have five children, and I don’t even own a farm. Traditionally, big families were necessary to help with the harvest, and there was also an understanding that some children may be lost to disease. Now we have tractors, and everyone is going to make it through the winter.

Big families are very rare today. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have a friend who came from a big family. Today, big families are like waterbed stores; they used to be everywhere, and now they are just weird. Admit it, whenever you see a waterbed store, you think, “Wow. That has to be a front for something illegal.”

–Jim Gaffigan in Dad is Fat

If we’re running out of anything here in America, it’s not resources – it’s restraint.

We drive wherever we want to go, we turn on a plethora of lights and gadgets, we eat big meals, and we live in a disposable society.

We are not, as a general rule, gentle on the earth.

As Jim Gaffigan humorously points out, large families used to be the norm 50-100 years ago and no longer are. In fact, some countries are not even reproducing at replacement rate, yet the fear of running out of food in the future still reigns among those who believe in overpopulation.

The over-population advocates suggest that procreating beyond the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman is reckless, irresponsible, harming the earth and even selfish, but I disagree wholeheartedly.

In fact, I think the opposite may very well be true: Large families are an environmental dream come true and naturally foster a spirit of eco-friendliness.

Read the rest right here…

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4 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Sarah says

    Woo-hoo! I wanted to jump up and down in hearty agreement. I had been wanting to write about the same issue but, I do not have a blog. Another thought to add is, due to the cost, we “large” family groups do not eat out very often. A big savings on carbon footprints.

    The overpopulation scare tactic pushed on the public and especially children is dangerous. I could go on and on.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. says

    LOVE this post and so happy to have found your blog! Yes it is sick how people intrude in general into a person’s family planning. I’ve actually had it both ways, where people ask me why we don’t have more children ( hoping to have number 2 soon) versus the others who think we should only have one. I find it no one’s business frankly! Children are a blessing!
    On another note I find myself wanting to tell these people that perhaps the reason our world is a mess is because our current systems do not raise kids who know much about eco friendly living, compassion, responsibility, holistic eating, and critical thinking. We homeschool because I feel so strongly about how these crucial elements that are destroying society and the environment are left out.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Welcome aboard, Elizabeth! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. says

    Hi Katie…interesting post. I personally life a green and eco-conscious lifestyle and have no children by choice. While I don’t necessarily agree that anyone should tell anyone else to have children or NOT have children…I would agree with you that it should be a personal –but very conscious–choice that each of us should consider very carefully. If every child conceived and brought into this world were loved and the parents (together) decided to devote the time, energy and enormous amounts of resources on their children I would completely agree with you. Unfortunately, we all know sad tales where far too many have kids just because they can and/or see no other alternative and then many of the rest of us have to pick up the slack…and yeah, that means Mother Earth too. So while I’m sure some of your supporters will find issue with my perspective, please consider that some of us who are childfree by choice never get any respect or consideration for our personal decision as well. When we learn to be respectful of both positions, perhaps the discussion will be more fruitful.

    [Reply to this comment]

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