Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ballistics From the Bullet in Your Foot Match the Gun in Your Hand

Barry Walters, an associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, expressed his wish recently that his country would stop paying a baby bonus to women who have children, and would instead levy a carbon tax against families when they have more than 2 kids.

Mr. Walters wants to follow reproductive role model nations like China, because "every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society." What, do Australian kids fart a lot?

I wonder if he's familiar with TFR - Total Fertility Rate. This is a measure of how successfully a nation is replacing its population. If the average woman has 2.1 children (2 to replace her and her husband, and 0.1 to replace the fraction of infertile or celibate women and women who die before having the opportunity to have babies) then the country's population will grow; if any less, it will shrink.

So one must assume that comments from such a learned individual imply that Australia is well over the 2.1 mark. Not so. As of 2005, they were hovering around 1.70, and aren't projected to climb back to 2.1 for the foreseeable future. Were it not for immigration, their population would be shrinking (look about halfway down that page and imagine what the graph would look like if the immigration number was 0 for each series). Much like Canada - we're less than 1.50. Britain? 1.60. France? 1.89. Italy, Germany, Spain? 1.23, 1.35, 1.15 respectively. What about the US of A? They're at a solid 2.11, the best rate in the Western world. This is one of the prime reasons why America continues to dominate on the world stage.

I get so tired of these talking heads who see children only as an expense on society. If, as Mr. Walters claims, a child does nothing but consume oxygen and resources, producing nothing but CO2 for the duration of his life, then I could see where he was coming from. But the child is solely a consumer for only the first 20 years or so, at which point he becomes a productive contributor to society. So when we have more kids, sure we have some short-term pain in regards to forking over the dough for the investments in the future they represent, but in the long run it pays off big-time.

If I felt like it, I could continue to crunch numbers for you (because I know how much my readers like math!) and prove economically that it's a better idea to have more children than fewer, but the argument should not hinge on economics. We must realize as a species that the mystery of new life is too amazing to pass up; we participate in God's creative design for the universe when we bring a new baby into the world, and to de-mystify the glory of this with mere money would be shameful.

This is what Mr. Walters has done. Fortunately, others have already put him in his place:

Australian Family Association spokeswoman Angela Conway said it was ridiculous to blame babies for global warming.

"I think self-important professors with silly ideas should have to pay carbon tax for all the hot air they create," she said. "There's masses of evidence to say that child-rich families have much lower resource consumption per head than other styles of households.


  1. Yes, we must be responsible about our personal consumption, but not limit reproduction because of that. You do not see animals slaying any offspring they have over and above 2! But they do "live responsibly" as far as consumption goes...they live for their needs, not luxuries.

  2. I whole heartedly agree with the above comment. It is not a case of size of population that is causing environmental stress. It is the greed of the few, raping and pillaging our God given resources in an attempt to slack their Shelob proportioned need to consume that is affecting the poorest of the poor, the children. Infact, their greed in many cases attacks the most innocent of these, killing them in the womb out of selfishness. What say they to the "environemental footprint" such procedures leave? Their poplulation is dying. Their culture is dead. Our consolations is that we shall breed them out of existence. And the likes of the dingbat Walters had better find an ounce of humility, for whom exactly does he propose will care for him when he is tied down to a hospital bed, creating noxious carbons as Dr.'s attempt to keep him alive in his last hours?? Who will pay for him to continue to be obnoxious and bigoted in his retriement years?? No reproduction? No social care. Full stop. And besides which, the planet will kill us off long before we can do any permanent damage to it. We could throw every nuke we have at the planets core and it would go on, finally rid of it's greatest danger: irresponsible humans. It would regenerate itself and life would continue on, ruled by the greatest of environmentalists, The Cockroach!!!

  3. Um... wow. That's some zonked-out diatribe ya got goin' there. Cool.


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