Babies Are Good for the Environment? Say What?

April Peveteaux

big families good for environmentIf you've committed yourself to the greenest of lives, it’s possible you've taken the whole “small carbon footprint” thing to the extreme, and decided having children is bad for the earth. After all, overpopulation sucks up all the earth’s resources, while spitting out enough toxins to get under the skin of all 10 billion of us that will be here sometime around 2100. Chances are you look upon a minivan full of children as a crime against the earth. But I happened to be listening to the radio the other day, when one dad and writer said we should stop bemoaning the damages of creating all these babies and wake up to the reality that big families could be saviors of the future, economically as well as environmentally.

Bryan Caplan, author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, explains how more people lead to more innovation. The more children you have, the better chance that one of them could be an innovator and change people’s lives for the better. After all, what if Bill Gates's mother had stopped at just one?

Caplan points out that almost all innovation has come from densely populated areas, and in fact, isolated areas can kill technology when the one guy who knows how to make a fish hook gets killed in a boating accident. Touché, Caplan.

The huge flaw with this argument, and the one before it that says we should all have only one child, is that when it comes to having children, we don’t look at statistics, we search our hearts. If everyone were to wait for the right economic circumstances to have children, a hell of a lot of us would have never been born. If we all stopped to consider the environmental impact on our disposable diapers, the cloth diaper industry would be even bigger outside of the liberal pockets of America.

Having children is an emotional choice. If you want something else to justify your decision to have a large brood -- or none at all -- you can point to these opposing arguments. But you know, in your heart, you will or will not have a child based on pure emotion. And for those of us who understand our limits, we'll stop procreating at a certain point for pure self-preservation.

Did you take the environment into consideration when you had kids?


Image via Spigoo/Flickr

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