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Personal greenhouse emissions: procreation vs driving a hummer
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Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Personal greenhouse emissions: procreation vs driving a hummer on 06/26/2010 18:41:00 MDT Print View

Many of us here are obviously interested in reducing our carbon footprint. So I pose a question. Which of the following hypothetical persons has a larger carbon footprint?

1) Bill. Bill drives a hummer. He drives it all over the place, even in situations where he could walk or cycle. He also eats big fat juicy steaks and imported bacon whenever he feels like it. Bill does not have kids and has made a choice not to in the future.

2) Karl. Karl commutes via bicycle or drives his hybrid car. He utilizes solar panels on his house and his diet is mostly local and vegan. Karl has 3 kids and plans on having one more.

Obviously there is no answer to this but I pose it to you as ethical food for thought.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Personal greenhouse emissions: procreation vs driving a hummer on 06/26/2010 18:48:10 MDT Print View

It depends more on how big of a house Karl has for his kids, whether they breast feed the babies, how they diaper them, etc, etc.

Personally I just don't care how many kids a family has - if they can afford them it is their business.

And big juicy steaks are what makes life great.

And as well, even though Karl is all "green" his solar panels have a carbon footprint, the same as his hybrid car does.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Though I should add on 06/26/2010 18:52:31 MDT Print View

That I am sure my carbon footprint is mighty big and I am OK with it. I have kids, live in a medium sized house and drive a truck with a V8 and a gas guzzling SUV (though we do also own a bio diesel powered car). I don't have an issue with that we as 2 adults have 3 vehicles and don't feel shame over it. We use and enjoy all 3 in different ways of life. As well, I see nothing wrong with a large family (more the merrier). I love kids and have no desire to be so pious that I miss out on having them.

Yet.....both my husband and I work out of our house - something that in itself lowers our footprint - no commuting. And that in itself is priceless.

David T
(DaveT) - F
population growth. on 06/26/2010 18:56:12 MDT Print View

Population growth will eventually destroy everything (well, not everything, but most things).

Oh boy, yet another Chaff thread. Isn't it time to go hiking people?

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Agreed Sarah on 06/26/2010 18:57:57 MDT Print View

Also, if the world ends in 2012, then the kids haven't had much time to exponentiate Karl's emissions.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Re: population growth. on 06/26/2010 19:06:19 MDT Print View

Dave, its all good. We are adults here. I'm sure we can all do a great job of respecting other's chosen paths in life. I'm not bitter. I just think it is interesting to think of one's total effect on this Earth. Call me an economist, academic, or even a troll I guess :)

As for hiking, I'm taking this weekend off!
Here's me last weekend @ 5000' fishing for brook trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 06/26/2010 19:09:52 MDT.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Numbers on 06/26/2010 19:31:18 MDT Print View

From the NY Times:

"Take, for example, a hypothetical American woman who switches to a more fuel-efficient car, drives less, recycles, installs more efficient light bulbs, and replaces her refrigerator and windows with energy-saving models. If she had two children, the researchers found, her carbon legacy would eventually rise to nearly 40 times what she had saved by those actions.

“Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle,” the report states."

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Numbers on 06/26/2010 19:34:47 MDT Print View

Cool pic Steve-O!

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Personal greenhouse emissions: procreation vs driving a hummer on 06/26/2010 19:51:52 MDT Print View

How many trees do each of Karl's kids plant?

How many go of Karl's kids go to war, how many people do
Karl's kids kill. How much will the now extinguished
carbon footprint of those dead help mitigate Karl's
kids carbon footprint?

Compare that to how many deaths the Hummer driver is indirectly
responsible for, due to the middle east wars over oil
(since he is assumed to use more oil than Karl, at
least pre-kid) and how that mitigates his footprint.

Now, who is going to pay for the Hummer driver's

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Personal greenhouse emissions: procreation vs driving a hummer on 06/26/2010 20:19:26 MDT Print View

George Carlin made some fine points on the subject:

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Personal greenhouse emissions: on 06/26/2010 21:20:52 MDT Print View

If someone is really stumped by this "ethical" dilemna, the only logical answer for them is to neither procreate, or continue to exist. The truly concerned can easily help by removing themselves from the equation. Just have to have the faith of their convictions.

Hey, I can troll too!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: population growth. on 06/26/2010 21:37:12 MDT Print View

"Population growth will eventually destroy everything (well, not everything, but most things)."

Just most higher life forms. The bacteria will be doing just fine at the Last Supper. ;}

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: population growth. on 06/26/2010 23:06:11 MDT Print View

Fact #1: Countries with advanced economies ALL have low population growth.

Fact #2: Countries with underdeveloped economies pretty much ALL have high population growth.

It's economics. As a group, people will have lots of children when it pays -- and vice versa.

In poor countries -- an additional child is basically just an extra mouth to feed (cheap as heck) -- and they can start helping out in just a few years.

In rich countries -- people have higher expectations (colleges, etc.) and children are expensive as heck to raise.

People who fret that population growth will just continue until humanity consumes the whole Earth have a fundamental misunderstanding of population growth. Poor folks consume very little. But as their economy industrializes and they grow wealthier -- they reduce the number of children dramatically. Pretty much always. Economics.

Remember when we used to fret about folks in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy multiplying like rabbits? Well, now that they are relatively rich and developed, they have some of the LOWEST birth rates in all Europe!! And in Asia, newly rich countries like Taiwan, Singapore, S. Korea now have extremely low birth rates as well. China and India's newly emerging upper-middle class also have very low birth rates. Economics.

The BEST way to solve high population growth in any country is to develop (industrialize) the economy -- at least to middle-income status!! That's it!

By the time a country has developed/industrialized its economy, high population growth would have solved itself. The problem facing some rich countries is often a different one: curbing high per-capita consumption (a big problem in the US).

Back to Steve O's 2 scenarios -- taking the US as a whole, scenario 1 is quite common whereas scenario 2 is actually quite uncommon -- for the reasons stated.

Edited by ben2world on 06/26/2010 23:56:56 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Confused. on 06/27/2010 01:32:55 MDT Print View

Your argument doesn't seem logical, Ben.
Are you saying the way to cut down on industrial pollution is for poorer countries to start industralising and therefore pollute more than they did before? How does more countries producing emmissions reduce the planets total emmissions? Not only do you then have more countries producing more emmissions, you also get the secondary effect of the newly rich in those countries having disposable income to spend on more emmission generating products. Surely?
I think it is impossible to stop the inbuilt human drive to 'better' themselves volountarily. How you do that is a different subject. :)

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Confused. on 06/27/2010 11:01:08 MDT Print View


Actually, yes.

In a subsistent economy, folks will generally have tons of children because it makes economic sense. Initial industrializing will mean trashing the environment -- but people will mostly be happy because they are simply desperate for jobs. As kids go to school and livelihood improves -- then people will have higher expectation. Also, with a growing economy, by and by, people will also have more options and choices.

With time, people will no longer wish to live next to crappy factories and will demand a cleaner, safer environment. Quality of living is suddenly more important than just getting a job -- and this is also the time that folks want less children. Equally important, the country as a whole can afford to improve the environment!

The US and Western Europe both trashed their environments up to the 1950's. Starting in the 1960's but accelerating in the 1970's and on -- both embarked on clean-up campaigns. Their citizens demanded it and they could afford it.

Ditto for Japan in 1970's. Ditto for S Korea and Taiwan in 1980's.

Pretty much ALL countries have excellent laws against exploitation of labor and environment, etc. -- but the fact is simply that laws never really get enforced until the society has progressed sufficiently and is ready to enforce and wants to enforce.

So yes, FOCUSING intensely on economic development is the way to solve population and environmental problems. The people will want it and will have the means to pay for it. Poor people will just want jobs at almost any cost. It's also why illegal poaching and hunting are such issues in the poor world but not in the rich world. Nothing to do with ethics -- it's economics.

It is no coincidence at all that rich countries have smaller families and cleaner environments than poor ones. However we define "better" -- people will better themselves when it pays for them to do so.

Edited by ben2world on 06/27/2010 11:21:06 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Round and round on 06/27/2010 11:45:05 MDT Print View

So it will never stop until every poor country's cheap labour is exploited? By then, the present day rich countrys will have become the new poor, desperate for any jobs, and the cycle goes on. :)

We need a single world dictator to sort things out. ;)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Round and round on 06/27/2010 11:46:55 MDT Print View

"We need a single world dictator to sort things out. ;)"

We do. It's called the WTO ...... or is that the World Bank? I forget....

Edited by idester on 06/27/2010 11:58:57 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Round and round on 06/27/2010 14:14:40 MDT Print View


That shouldn't be a surprise if we look back to history. Sure, things change, but the general ebb and flow are cyclical. Methinks that's because basic humans traits pretty much remain the same all throughout.

But the rich need not be condemned to start in the economic abyss all over again. Your own country has been doing well since the heyday of empire -- and is continuing to do well.

There are cycles, but there are also things people can do to steer their collective directions. I suppose what I am really saying is that the linear, geometric growth model contained in so many "doomsday warnings" are not supported by any actual experience over time -- and are actually flawed because they put the cart before the horse (i.e. having tons of kids drive poverty) -- when the reality is that poverty (and other economic factors) are what drive population growth.

BTW, once the economy gets going, the VEST BEST WAY to deploy new resources is in education -- esp. educating girls. Few educated people (esp. educated women) want to deal with raising 13 kids in an advancing economy where kids are expected to go to high school and then college and all that.

Edited by ben2world on 06/27/2010 14:33:34 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Round and round on 06/27/2010 18:46:05 MDT Print View

"We need a single world dictator to sort things out"

We already have one: Mother Nature. She's in the process of sorting things out as we post. I don't think we're going to like the end result, but what can you do? Dictators get to do as they please.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Round and round on 06/28/2010 01:43:51 MDT Print View

Tom, correct. Mother Nature is soon going to confirm that the Cult of Carbon Culpability is a pseudo-scientific folly band-waggoned by fraudsters (politicians) and believed by the gullible. It has cost the honest tax payer many billions of dollars in the last 20 years, and has been hyped at the expense of real, solveable problems like clean water provision.