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Family Size and the Ecological Footprint - Page 4

post #61 of 170
I just wanted to say that I've learned a lot from the dialogue in this thread, and it's given me a lot more to think about.

I appreciate everyone's perspective on this issue.
post #62 of 170
Wow that was cool, I got 3.2 (average in area was 5.3) - how do you guys use so much...?!? I live in London btw. And 1.8 of my score was food, obviously where I need to watch out.


Lil


Edited to add :

OMG -Just realised that 3.2 is divided between me and my husband!!!!!!!! We use 1.6 each!!!!!!!!!! I'm sorry but I don't live massively eco friendly but have a small score, some of the 'perfect' families are using far more than I ever could or would even if I had 20 children! I think the 'large families are bad' attitude is slightly misguided as I have seen no evidence that a smaller family uses less acerage based on what people are saying on this thread....How do you come to your conclusion?
post #63 of 170
ITA with Irishprincess. Having more than 2 children is horrible for the environment.
post #64 of 170

Boy, flying makes a difference!

In a town where people average 24, we scored a 21 (I fly a lot for work). However, when I did it without the flying, we scored a 9! I think I could improve on what we eat, though, since half of our food isn't from local sources. When we buy a house this year, I plan on growing more produce, which should help.

We have one child, and won't have more for a variety of reasons, but ecology plays a big role. I tend to think that if I had more, I'd feel like I needed more "things".

Great food for thought!
post #65 of 170
that New Yorker quotation: "We all gain from having more people going to college and becoming productive workers. And all of us—even those who have no children—expect that we will be taken care of by others in our old age. The United States has $6.7 trillion in debt and forty trillion in potential obligations to the elderly or soon-to-be-elderly, and we’re sticking future workers with the bill. Even if the American birth rate stays where it is, we’re headed for serious trouble. If it drops, look out. "

This is a bit of a red herring....the US has huge debt because of the government's priorities, NOT because we don't have enough people to work here. We have HUGE unemployment and more jobs leave this country all the time. :


And a note on the flying...it isn't actually the airplanes that make flying so environmentally costly, it is all the infrastructure required to support them: miles of runways, construction costs in "structurally challenging" areas (airports are frequently filled marshland because it is flat -- wasteful to the environment to lose it and tricky to build on), the fossil fuel industry for power, transportation to the airports for the passengers, packaged food on board, etc., etc. Airplanes are actually very efficient per mile if you can separate them from all the other stuff. And, no, helicopters aren't better because they use less space: they require waaaaaay more fuel per mile than an airplane.

I would require 1.3 planets.
post #66 of 170
Quote:
Originally posted by EFmom
ITA with Irishprincess. Having more than 2 children is horrible for the environment.
Like many people have said, it's pretty pointless to pick one issue and claim that those people are ecologically irresponsible, and forget about the many, many other factors invovled. I guess no one is going to change thier mind, but I'm glad that some people at least appreciate the different oppinions. I'm just a little amazed that after all that has been said about this, some people just don't see it. Barbara's family of 9 scored a 7 (that's 0.7 acres per person,) where the average person scores 24 (that would be 94 acres for the "perfect" family of 4.) I guess I just don't understand some of the logic. Certainly it would be less acrage for barbara's family if there were only 4 of them (2.8 acres for her "perfect" family of 4) but it's still pretty amazing that these 9 people live so gently! Just for a comparison, Irishprincess (I'm really not trying to pick on you ) with her family of 4 scored a 13.

I would still prefer to have a large family, and live as gently as we can, rather than have a family of 4 and be able to have the average amarican lifestyle. Irishprincess and others feel the opposite, and that's ok, they should be able to have whatever kind of family they want, especially if they are being "ecologically responsible."
post #67 of 170
Interesting thread.

I am not at all surprised by the people who think the majority of the answer lies in each couple only having 2 kids. I was thinking that if people who are not at all otherwise environmentally conscious, were to not have kids at all, then we more environmentally conscious folk could have more than 2, but that is just a thought, as I am sure there are more people out there you don't give a *darn* about the environment, than there are those who do care deeply and want more than 2 kids

But then again this comes from the perspective that each person is very important and I hope the child I am now carrying #3 proves to be as useful a person as my first 2 are: As I suddenly feel that he/she will have to prove their worth in the world (and gasp- I am #4 in my family, so I have a lot of worth to prove LOL)

Also, I agree that adoption can be a wonderful option and I am a person who intends to adopt in the future, as my brother and SIL have just been through the process and it was heartbreaking at first and beautiful in the end.

Interesting how this plays out for different people.
post #68 of 170
Quote:
Originally posted by jess7396


I am not at all surprised by the people who think the majority of the answer lies in each couple only having 2 kids. I was thinking that if people who are not at all otherwise environmentally conscious, were to not have kids at all, then we more environmentally conscious folk could have more than 2, but that is just a thought, as I am sure there are more people out there you don't give a *darn* about the environment, than there are those who do care deeply and want more than 2 kids

But then again this comes from the perspective that each person is very important and I hope the child I am now carrying #3 proves to be as useful a person as my first 2 are: As I suddenly feel that he/she will have to prove their worth in the world (and gasp- I am #4 in my family, so I have a lot of worth to prove LOL)
Very good point, jess. I certainlly hope that there is a lot more involved in deciding to have children than merely replacing oneself.
post #69 of 170
IMHO I think that the environment is most happy when people live more natural lifestyles. I think that since nature sometimes allows women many many children, it cannot be bad for the enviroment of itself. If a woman was to have many children who lived unnatural lifestyles THAT would be bad for the enviroment.

But it seems foolish to say that having lots of children, in and of itself, is bad for the enviroment because otherwise one would think nature would prevent most women from conceiving more than 2 kids.
post #70 of 170
ITA, Paxetbonum!
post #71 of 170
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy : :

Since I seem to have opened a huge can of worms let me make a few points......

1) My stance on adoption comes more from the love and pain that I feel for parentless children then it does from my love for the environment. There are MILLIONS of children in this world that NEED love and good homes. Being blessed to grow up and live in an industrialized country should spur us to want to share those blessings if possible. And if you have enough love in your heart to want lots of children, why not consider adoption.


2)
Quote:
I think that since nature sometimes allows women many many children, it cannot be bad for the enviroment of itself
Sorry but this does not hold water simply because until the last 100 years women NEEDED to have many children because most did not survive to adulthood. In America in the 20s the average lifespan was only 40 yo. Now it is 70 yo. The advent of indoor plumbing was THE biggest influence on increasing life expentancy. Antibiotics and other medical breakthroughs have added to that. As humans we no longer NEED to have lots of children to make sure that the human race survives massive outbreaks of small pox, bubonic plague, etc.

3) If you want to have lots of children, that is fine. But don't claim that it is best for the environment and I won't claim that a 3,000 square foot home with a large back yard is best for the environment. It is just a choice of lifestyle.

4) We all seem to be using this test as a means to prove or disprove the impact of many kids on the use of acreage. However, many people here are not taking into account that this is only an initial useage.

A) when I took my test I did not say that I always drove with someone even though DS goes with me everywhere. I only put sometimes because I only considered carpooling with other adults (trips to malls, farmer's markets, zoos and museums) as truly environmentally benefitial.

B) The simple math is our house of 1500 sf + DS#1 grows up and gets a house of 2000 sf and DS #2 grows up and gets a house of 2000 sf = 5,500 sf. Barbara's house of 1000 sf + DC#1 house of 1000 sf, etc. = 8,000 sf.

C) Water usage - fresh water is the number one resource that our planet will run out of first. Someone pointed out that as American's we use 30% more than most other countries. A big part of this comes not from watering backyards but from showers, toilets, simply cleaning for the sake of cleanliness, and just plain having and drinking as much water as our bodies need. Most people in this world do not even use as much water per day as the average American drinks daily.

Lunar Forest - I am not trying to feel like you are picking on me. However, I have tried in every post to reiterate that as strongly as I myself feel about adoption I don't believe it is the entire answer to the problem.

I just believe that from everyone that I have talked to who have personally adopted it solves several problems at one time. For someone who has the capacity to love many children it gives them the children to love, it does not add to an overpopulated planet and it gives a child or children a home, a family and the love that they need and deserve.
post #72 of 170
Quote:
I think that the environment is most happy when people live more natural lifestyles
Unless you live a hunter-gatherer existence, you aren't living a "natural lifestyle." Since you are posting here at MDC, my guess is that you don't. Nature intended you to die young and for the bulk of your offspring to die before they reached reproductive age. Visit a cemetery from the 1700s and look at the headstones and see how and when people died, and even that's much better than what nature intended.

The major issue with large families is not the resource use of the family of origin. It is that the children reach adulthood and go out and establish a much larger number of households, each of which consumes resources.

I come from a large Irish catholic family. My parents had six children. My aunts and uncles on my mother's side had nine, seven, four and three children. None of my brothers or sisters or cousins had extremely large families, but several of my sibs had three and many of my cousins had 3-5 kids. The annual family reunion gives me the cold shakes every year without fail when I see how many people have resulted from my grandparent's marriage. It is simply not sustainable for the planet.

I am an adoptive parent. I don't think it's a solution for everyone either. Adoption isn't always easy for anyone in the triad, but it is a fabulous way to make a family. I do wish, however, that I had a dime for every time I've read or heard from the people who want big families who say that they'll give birth to one or two or ten and then adopt. Yeah, right.
post #73 of 170
"I do wish, however, that I had a dime for every time I've read or heard from the people who want big families who say that they'll give birth to one or two or ten and then adopt. Yeah, right."

I am very sorry that your experience has not allowed you to know many families who do this, my life experience has allowed me to see this first hand, and it is beautiful
post #74 of 170
Well, since my family is being used as an example, I figured I'd put some 2 cents in. I really would have liked to see this thread discuss the positive things we can do to live gently and simply, so as to leave minimal, gentle footprints on the enviroment.

I am aware that less resources would have 'wasted' were I to have not had children (or fewer of them.) However, I know that the world would have been a less beautiful place spiritually. I'm sorry, but I do not seperate the spiritual aspects of the world's enviroment from the physical ones. This is my opinion, and I am well aware that it is not a popular one, and I will probably be flamed for it. So be it. At this point in this thread I feel that it needs to be said.

There was a beautiful woods behind our house for the last 25 years where deer, skunk, bats and birds made their home. It has been torn down to build storage garages so that the people living in Apts. on the lake will have somewhere to store thier 'stuff.' Perhaps if those people would consider having less 'stuff' there would be more room for living things. That was all I was trying to say. I think that people and animals are more important than well manicured lawns, extra rooms of funiture, dishwashers, cars, boats, 4-wheelers, disposable plates, cans, meal packaging, diapers, tablecloths, clothes, and whatever else we 'need.'

I am speaking to myself as much as anyone. I need to re-think how I live and how my 'trash' effects the enviroment. I need to reconsider how often I am wasting water by letting it run while doing dishes, brushing teeth, or enjoying a long shower. I want to re-examine long trips where I will directly effect the enviroment with unneccessary use of gasoline. These are things that I can directly do to make a difference.

Adoption is a wonderful and blessed thing on so many levels. It certianly deserves a thread of it's own. As far as the impact it can have on the enviroment, I am unsure. I am all for reform of the adoption processes in this country and others, so that it will be a more viable option for those that are not middle class or wealthy. For the children's sake I would like to see speeder adoption processes so that more children can be adopted into homes in the early months of life when the transition for everyone is more optimum.

Now, if everyone would consume less and eat less, or no animal products, the earth could more easily produce the amount of food needed to feed the population.

We can all do something to make our footprints more gentle, for some it may be to limit the amount of children they bring into the world, for others it may be to geat more naturally and consume less waste products. For others it may be to find an occupation that does not require them to go to places where they will need to fly or drive large distances. And for some it will be to live where they can walk or bicyle to work or work out of thier home.

We all can do some things to help the enviroment and live more gently, let's focus on what we can do and not criticize others for not doing the things we do. That really isn't helpful to anyone.

Maybe if we stopped waging war we would have more resources available to love one another. Just a thought.
post #75 of 170
Barbara

I loved all of what you just said, and this part in particular:
"I am aware that less resources would have 'wasted' were I to have not had children (or fewer of them.) However, I know that the world would have been a less beautiful place spiritually. I'm sorry, but I do not seperate the spiritual aspects of the world's enviroment from the physical ones."

I had been trying to think of a way to say just that, and you said it so much better than I could have.
post #76 of 170
EFmom it appears we posted at the same time.
Quote:
The annual family reunion gives me the cold shakes every year without fail when I see how many people have resulted from my grandparent's marriage. It is simply not sustainable for the planet.
How sad for you. Which one of your siblings did you wish your parents didn't have? Or would it have been better if your grandparents hadn't had any? Then you wouldn't be here to be having this discussion with us. Do you not see the spiritual implications of what you are suggesting??

I also know several families that have adopted. One has adopted 4 and always have at least another 4 foster children living with them. These people are 'saints' to say the least! These families adopt out of thier love for the children, not for enviromental reasons. I also know many families (our own included) that would like to adopt, but do not have the resources to do so. (For many adoptions and foster care situations, each child must have his or her own room, IMO this is a waste of resources!)

I have dear friends that do have a large family and have also adopted. They have perhaps saved the life of child they adopted, but the crap that child and the family had to go through is a crime, and will impact this little girl for the rest of her life. Reform is needed.

Again, adoption is another thread, sorry if I hijacked this one with my experiences.
post #77 of 170
Quote:
Which one of your siblings did you wish your parents didn't have?
That's a fairly curious way to look at the situation. I don't sit up nights worrying about all the additional siblings I might have had if my parents had had a little more privacy... I don't waste a lot of time mourning the extra nieces and nephews my sisters might have had if only they'd met their spouses earlier...

No, I don't see any "spiritual" ramifications whatsoever to not overpopulating the planet, other than responsible stewardship of the earth, but this line of thinking belongs on "spirituality" not here I guess.

I know quite literally hundreds of adoptive families and do not know one where the family adopted in order to have a large family in an environmentally responsible manner. I don't think adoption should ever be entered into to "save" a child--it's the wrong motivation and it's damaging to the child.
post #78 of 170
I think people may be missing the point here. It's not so much how bad the "action" is, it's how many people are doing it.

Owning a private jet, a speedboat, and five cars is definitely bad for the environment - but is this a contributing factor to our planet's distress right now? No. It's the millions and millions of people who own 1 or 2 cars that are the problem.

Similarly, while having a large family does contribute to the population problem, there simply aren't that many people having large families anymore. So I don't think it's fair to act as though anybody who chooses to do so is "inconsiderate" of the environment.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone..."

And let's try to stay respectful of the diversity of families and lifestyles on this board, 'kay?
post #79 of 170
EFmom, I guess my point about the spiritual aspects of enviromentalism was lost on you then.

I must have missed something, because I certianly didn't say my friends adopted to save the child. I said that, because they did adopt her, I'm fairly certian that they did save her life. That is a pretty big difference.

Also I wasn't the one that said one should adopt for enviromental reasons. That was Irishprincess who said that, I was simply replying to her post.



edited to add that I'm really sorry we digressed here. our planet will only be changed by love!

post #80 of 170
Barbara -

I 100% agree with your entire post. And it scares me that so many people have taken so many of my words and intentions out of context. Although I don't believe that it was intentional. (It does give pause to consider the art and difficulty of diplomacy though).

Personally, for ME I want a large family but I do not feel comfortable bringing that many children into the world. First and foremost because too many other children need the love that I have to give. And a very distant second because there are already too many people on the planet.

But I don't believe it is fair to children to ever bring them into your home (bio or otherwise) with anything other than love as the intention. Don't give birth to kids simply because your parents guilt you into it, your religion tells you not to use birth control, don't bring other kids into your home because you want the money of foster care, you want to "spiritually" save a child, you want to "save" the environment. Bring any and all chldren into your home because you want to love them.
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