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Family Size and the Ecological Footprint - Page 7

post #121 of 170
Japan is a very patriarchal society. I have had the opportunity know several Japanese mothers, and the ones I know are totally devoted to family life. They spend hours preparing food for their families, washing, cleaning, and in general doing just about everything for their husband and child or children. And Japanese women are very educated as well, so if they want to have a career, something has to give. Being a rather male-centered society, many men want a woman who will stay and home and serve their every need. Men want to find a woman who will stay home, and if they can't find a partner they deem suitable, they can just live at home as an adult, and their mum will continue to do the job she has always done for them. As usual, this is a complicated issue, and I don't think its just the Japanese women who are 'selfish'. Is it selfish to want a life outside of home? Is it selfish to want a partner who will be at your beck and call, waiting to serve your every need? I think I know which scenario I find selfish.
post #122 of 170
Yes, there is a lot of sexism within Japanese society.

I think the Japanese generally love children, however. There was an article in Mothering Magazine in the early '90's that compared parenting practices and attitudes in Japan with that in the west.

Perhaps it's in the archives.

OT, I agree with Aussiemum's observations about retirement age. When the retirement age was 'set' in the US at age 65 the average lifespan was 65 (a statistical wash for the government) Now our lifespans are in the '80's and people still expect to retire at 65.

Not only this but most people didn't work as teenagers and the majority of people are attending college for several years. Our number of years working and putting money into a pension fund (or social security for that matter) is less than it was back in the 1930's when the system was initiated.

This is a generality and I know there are major and minor exceptions but have you seen the typical retiree?? They have no greater purpose in their lives, I don't want to be in that situation however leisurely it might appear. These comfortible seniors are the most selfish, self-centered and wasteful people I know. They drive and fly here and there and paste bumper stickers on their RV's that brag about squandering their children's inheretence.

Yuk, yuk, yuk.

post #123 of 170
Originally posted by trabot

"The depopulation crisis has already forced Japan to slash pensions and raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 to keep pension funds afloat. By 2040, says the OECD, the rise in the ratio of dependent old to working young may be reducing Japan's growth in living standards by three-quarters of a percent per year, cutting Japan's GNP by 23 percent by midcentury.

Accepting this as a "crisis" means that we cannot see the wisdom in Edward Abbey's statement "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

Edited to add: for years, most countries have financed retirement plans on the hope/assumption that the economy will continue to "grow". Well, when our economy went stagnant a few years ago due to "low consumer spending and lack of consumer confidence", I was laughing through my tears. Something that none of the business pages seemed to consider was the possibility that everyone just HAD ENOUGH CRAP AND DIDN'T WANT ANYMORE: ! I mean, just how many pairs of flourescent fake fur ear muffs can one person want?!!?!?!??!?!

And then when the marketers complained at Christmas time that there weren't any "innovative signature products that are just must-haves"! Well, damn, NOW I know what's been missing from my Christmas/Channukkah. I guess I just wasn't buying enough stuff. I gotta stop pouring some of my husband's homemade beer on the roots of the apple tree hung with ribbons and jelly-candy covered popcorn balls and lighting the lights on the menorah and get back into the mall and SPEND.

Uh, sorry, I think I've just gone off topic.
post #124 of 170
Good point, sohj,

How *dare* we live within our means, avoid trendy marketing gimmicks, and share our holidays with our family on a more spiritual level!!!

It's *bad* for the economy.

post #125 of 170
I suppose my view is very different from that of most here. More people doesn't simply mean more mouths and more consumers. It also means more minds to think up new and vastly more efficient ways of doing things. IMO, what matters is not the number of children one has but how well those children are educated - to tread as lightly as possible, to dream up and make reality better ways of living.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that there is enough to go around, and I think the main reason we've had so much progress in the last century (of course, "progress" is an arguable designation, but surely we all agree that there has a been an explosion of ideas, including in the environmental arena, i.e. wind and solar power, recycling) is because we've had so many more people to think new ideas. The human imagination is wonderful, and will come up with solutions to problems, so long as someone can recognize something (i.e. environmental degradation) as a problem.

I won't hesitate to have a large family. I feel my responsibility to the earth is to make sure my children, whether I have 2 or 8, can think for themselves and leave "a light footprint."
post #126 of 170
ITA, yequanamama, well put.

You know, DH will be forced to retire at age 50! He says that's practically a baby - lol! His union has to give him a raise of so much, and save for his pension each year that by the time he is 50 they won't be able to afford him anymore! : Though, this is actually good for us, as we do not hold to the idea of retirement, and he fully intends to pursue a career in another trade that interests him. We'll see when the times comes, 50 is still a long way off for us.
post #127 of 170
IMO, what matters is not the number of children one has but how well those children are educated - to tread as lightly as possible, to dream up and make reality better ways of living.
Well said yequanamama!

Sohj, I too have an ironic laugh every year when they predict a "crisis" of low holiday spending. : The waste in excess packaging that is put out to trash is enough to gag on each year.

Debra B it does seem that the new american dream is to retire early, travel around in an RV, and take cruises each winter. :
post #128 of 170
I still think that the problem of how to provide for our elderly folk is one that too many population-worriers (for lack of a better term?) gloss over in their handwringing.

Of course, so does just about everyone else!!!

Still, the way to solve that problem will need to start with today's young people being educated in how to manage money at least semi-intelligently, as well as educating people that social security and other programs are pretty damn pitiful, and were never meant to support you! I know very few people who know the first thing about saving for their less-productive years. And very very few people who even think about squirrelling away even $20 a month!

It breaks my heart NOW that so many elderly people are warehoused in nursing homes or inadequate group homes when they deserve to be loved and cared for and cherished. If beginning of life care is supposed to be tender and loving (even though it can be rather gross, trying, and expensive at times), then end of life care should be the same way!!!

Our family has also made provisions and plans to care for my parents and at least one of my husband's parents in the future. I wish I had a responsible sibling to share this with sometimes, but I'm an only and that's just how it goes. Once the kids are all preschool age, we plan on 'adopting' some seniors in our community too. I hope by that example, and by getting the kids comfortable with the idea, that my husband and myself will be cared for in the same way if/when we should need it!

To me, this is all connected. If you don't teach your kids to love and care for old folks, then why should you expect them (or the government that they'll be running in the future) to give a damn about you when you need that care?

That's why the whole "family size" thing is so complicated. There's a lot more tied into it than just the environment, just the future, money, ect. :/

Talk about social security and the like always makes me sad though. Abandoned elderly people break my heart as much as abandoned kids, but at the same time I'm frustrated that most people don't really do anything to help themselves out in their younger years, KWIM?
post #129 of 170
Right now the more people means more clever minds to think up new solutions to problems approach just isn't working for me. I see no indication that the human species is getting any better at looking after itself and its habitat. We have worked out how to make solar cells and derive energy from the sun. And how many of us are using it???

Global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, increased CO2 in the atmosphere, thinning ozone layer, etc. etc., and how hard is it to get people to even recognise that???

For every clever invention in the environmental arena, there are who knows how many more that are directly destructive to the environment. And just how sure can you be that your kids are going to turn out the way you envisage them to be??

I'm not handwringing, I'm trying to do the right thing here and compromise with things I want to do with my life, or have done with my life, such as having kids.

Living in a country that is mostly desert or semi-desert (Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth), in the middle of the worst drought we have ever had, has given me a lot to think about. Running out of water is something that could happen soon to us here. Last I checked our water supply has about 12 months left in it here where I live if we don't get a major wet season here this year. Our cropland is very quickly being ruined thru irrigation, turning it into a salted wasteland, much the same situation you have in parts of California. Increasing crop production to provide enough for all comes at a cost. I see the dust from the storms settle in a thin layer on my furniture, and i wonder when it will rain, so maybe I'm handwringing over that. But I also see what happens to people when everything doesn't turn out 'all right', when we just aren't clever enough to work out how to make it rain.....
post #130 of 170

Now, I may be way off base here, but I really don't think if you culled the population of world to one child per family that it would make it rain in Australia (or in Western Washington, USA< for that matter...we need it too!). So, if you're looking for population to solve the problem of us screwing ourselves into global warming--well, yeah, that's pretty unproductive.

That damage is done, we're going to reap the benefits no matter what for a few years. We need to figure out what we can do now with what we've got, as well as how we (industrial countries) are going to counterbalance the developing countries (because that's REALLY where the population boom is, as much as it's popular to point fingers at the fat-cat Americans and Europeans who are having more than 1.2 kids or whatever).

Clearly, it's not a matter of minds to solve the problems and slow down the damage we are creating. It's a matter of @$$es, namely EVERYONE getting off them and doing what they can. I don't believe that the majority of folks in the USA, Australia, Europe, or anywhere else where we are blessed with the ability to be able to do that ARE.

Kids or no, most people in our societies are vomitrociously wasteful, no? So wouldn't it make sense to work on the wasteful FIRST before automatically beating on large families? Blaming large families for global warming, when it only takes one rich guy to own a factory that belches out pollution or one cattleman to own a legion of meat animals to do the same, seems to me to be a lot of heat and no fire.

Just my opinion, though. I get awfully tired of being automatically labeled "the enemy" due to a freak accident of nature, when I'm actually probably on the label-er's side. It's not practical to police eggs popping out of ovaries and sperm finding them. It is practical to police the insane amount of waste that occurs due to consumerism.
post #131 of 170
Sorry to hear that you get labelled because you happened to get lucky in the life lottery and get twins. Coming from a family (a big one!) with lots of twins, I can appreciate how truly marvelous and challenging life can be with twins. I also have a greenie friend who thought she'd stop at two, and surprise! -she had twins with the second pregnancy. Really, all this discussion is about challenging our current point of view about the world we live in...and i don't mean to pick on the big family people...
post #132 of 170
Global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, increased CO2 in the atmosphere, thinning ozone layer, etc. etc., and how hard is it to get people to even recognise that???
aussiemum, I Just don't see that having less people is going to fix any of the problems you've mentioned. However, as stated before, having more well educated people very well may.

I do, however, think that it's great that you are doing what you feel is most important for the enviroment! If you can scarifice to do what is important to you, than you're doing the best you can. I'm doing the best I can, too.
post #133 of 170
Tigerchild: loved what you said about teaching people to save and also about looking after loved ones.

I also wanted to ask a question of you all: many people have commented on the wastefulness of air travel. But I believe that a well-travelled child is an asset to the planet. Who better to recognize what a narrow view we have of the world here, than a child who has seen how others live in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, etc. And how can you travel to those places without using a plane or a boat?

While air travel may be "unfriendly", I worry far more about a nation of people who have never left its borders, making decisions that affect the planet...

Just something to think about.
post #134 of 170
You bring up a good question, piglet..... That's a tough call. For me, I think a well rounded child might outwiegh the damage depending on how great the damage is.
post #135 of 170
But I believe that a well-travelled child is an asset to the planet.

I know that I would have been a bit more comforted if our current president had traveled internationally before becoming president.

instead he had not been to europe and within 400 days of taking office pissed off most of europe and certainly pissed off muslims around the world. Let's see who is next.
post #136 of 170
continuing the OT topic:

As I've mentioned before, I've lived abroad. And I have, when living abroad, been forced to occasionally interact with other Americans who live abroad. Just because someone trravels, it does not mean they learn anything about the countries they visit/live in. I met DOZENS of people (a SHOCKING percentage!) who had lived in Spain for years and did not speak spanish. Let alone Catalan, which was actually the local language. (Spain is far from a mono-culture.) When I lived in Britain, I met "yanks" who only socialized with other "yanks". Some have been defended to me as being people who didn't really want to go where they are but were forced to by family situations (ie: husband's job). Whatever.

By no means was this the rule, as there were lots of non-Spanish I met in all sorts of places and groups, but it was really surprising how many people did this. And it happened with just about every nationality to some degree. I did notice that Canadians, French and Dutch seemed to suffer from it less than some others. But, I did not do a scientific poll.

This is trite, but true:

Wherever you go, there you are;

One tends to see what one is looking for;


Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open.

Not to mention, open-minded thoughts existed in the writings of many who rarely travelled: like Erasmus. And Emerson who, though he travelled to England, had already done a good deal of his writing.

And Christopher Columbus travelled a lot, but he STILL thought he made it to China.
post #137 of 170
On the OT topic as well:
I know that I would have been a bit more comforted if our current president had traveled internationally before becoming president.
I did not know that. I hear a new thing every day about this man that just pisses me off more. grr!

I agree that many people who travel still do not have a clue about any other culture than their own. However, if you are traveling with the purpose of learning about other cultures, and becoming more well rounded I think you will achieve that.
I went to TJ Mexico when I was 13. We built a house for a family. It was considerably smaller that most garages in the U.S. but compared to the literal cardboard box these people lived in it was amazing! The moved all of their extended family to this house after it was built.
This experience forever changed my life.
post #138 of 170
While air travel may be "unfriendly", I worry far more about a nation of people who have never left its borders, making decisions that affect the planet...
I lived abroad as a child, and I do think that it shaped who I am and gave me a broader, more global, world view than my peers. (Or perhaps it had to do with the type of people that my parents were, and the fact that they treated me as an intelligent person and not simply as a child that wouldn't understand adult conversation.) My point being, that I do think that traveling abroad was benificial to me. My teenagers have also had the oppertunity to experience other cultures through travel. How other cultures live (especially their music) has always been a topic of intrest in our home.

I do think that travel can be of great benifit in forming one's world view, however, as sohj said, one must be open to other cultures and ideas in the first place. I also believe that forming a global world view can be done without ever leaving one's hometown.

I also think that traveling abroad by air a few times is not nearly as damaging to the enviroment as traveling around the country on buisness trips every week or so, and the yearly family vacation to disney world.
post #139 of 170
The vast majority of people in the world will not have the opportunity to travel for leisure. And of the small percentage that are affluent enough to do that, what percentage of those had their minds/worldviews changed *because* of travel, or did they travel because their minds/worldviews had changed?

This just points to another dilemma about environmentalism, though...just because something is wasteful, does that always make it "bad", or are there some things that are worth a bit for the tradeoff? I don't really know the answer to that question.

Air travel is time-conservative but resource-wasting. But man, oh man, ships are pollution hell too. I could broaden my mind by getting into personal relationships via pen-pal-ing, but hell, if the airplane's delivering my letter, why not *me*? Or I could do it via the internet, and hang out on e-communities with lovely people like y'all--and just hope that I can find a computer recycler who doesn't just take my $$ and dump my box in a landfill when my machine bites the big one?

I've lived all over the US, and several places in Europe. (And dare I say that the US is a rather large country with many cultures, and I really wish *that* was recognized sometimes--I wonder if people in the EU are going to feel that pain in about 50 years or so?) I know people who are far less travellled than I that are much more global concious and who have been globally conscious for far longer--and people who are more travelled that I who couldn't put themselves in anothers' shoes if their lives depended on it.

Just because one goes to one of the Gulf resorts in Mexico or visits Rio or backpacks through Bali doesn't mean that they've read up on Mexican politics or understand the history and horror that the US has supported in central and south america or want to know about what we supported in East Timor.

I fear more a nation who steadfastly refuses to read even unhidden history more than one where most people don't travel outside their cultural comfort zone. :/
post #140 of 170
what percentage of those had their minds/worldviews changed *because* of travel, or did they travel because their minds/worldviews had changed?
Good question Tigerchild. You have made some excellent points and given much food for thought.
I fear more a nation who steadfastly refuses to read even unhidden history more than one where most people don't travel outside their cultural comfort zone.
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