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Family Size and the Ecological Footprint - Page 5

post #81 of 170
I am sorry if my post was interpreted as being anti-adoptive.

I am totally for adoption and probably more por-adoption than most people as I think it is the BEST option for unwanted pregnancies. I grew up with lots of adopted friends and appreciate the sacrifices their biological and adoptive parents made.

I simply think it is wrong to accuse large earth loving families who live sustainable lives of being a threat to the environment when they are only living the lifestyle they think is the best.

I'de like to add that most people spend the money they save from not having kids buying sports cars, fancy vacation homes and using up earth's resources much more than having a child would have.

Just one more thought here. . .

My friend who has five children and siblings with large families once was at a family reuinion and the grandfather griped about how they all needed to "quit" and that there were too many kids already. My friend's youngest turned to him and said "which one of us do you want to go away grandpa ?" He never made any comments again.
post #82 of 170
Thread Starter 
I just want to echo Piglet in asking that everyone stay respectful of folks' lifestyles. It's like we're forming two gangs here, and starting to rumble... Listen-- we all want the same thing, healthy thriving loved families on a healthy, thriving liveable planet. We're coming from different perspectives, but that's no reason to accuse people of not getting their "spirituality" of environmentalism, or to feel attacked because you have 8 children.

"I'de like to add that most people spend the money they save from not having kids buying sports cars, fancy vacation homes and using up earth's resources much more than having a child would have." --- Paxetbonum, I take issue with this. Many of us don't have more than one or two children simply because WE CANNOT AFFORM THEM. I certainly won't be using any money we "save" from not having a large family to buy a fancy sports car or rabidly consume earth's resources in some other way-- I'll be putting money away so my son can go to college if he wishes. ... And he'll never be bankrupt in love....

"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."---- EF Mom, I totally agree with you, and I don't understand how this is being misinterpreted as an attack. It's just exponential math, and bears true in any animal population. No matter HOW softly we live on the planet, each being consumes resources.

Instead of arguing with each other, we should be finding the common ground from all sides of the issue to make real sustainable change for the planet.
post #83 of 170
No offense ment, Island mama. I said "most" not "all."
post #84 of 170
I know, I know simple math. But... my grandmother was one of 13, she had one, my parents had 4, and of the four, I am the only one who will have children of my own, the rest will adopt and not have any biological children. Also, as someone pointed out before, your 2 children might choose to have big families, so you can only be responsible for the next generation, but even then, I still agree that more children cannot be compared to disposable diapers, SUVs, and all other wasteful things, sure there is more opportunity when there are more people to "waste" but people bring about good in this world, and none of the disposable diapers I have seen do much of anything good (OK, now someone flame me and tell me how a disposable diaper has taught them so much and cared for them when they needed it LOL-just a joke people )
post #85 of 170
Instead of arguing with each other, we should be finding the common ground from all sides of the issue to make real sustainable change for the planet.
Agreed! I think this is what we are all saying.

No question your math is correct, but as others have said, math alone does not take into account the spiritual effects of those lives. Comparing generations of people to the effects of airline exhaust, and chemical and human waste build up of disposable diapers, etc. does not, IMHO, reflect a consideration of the spiritual enviromental aspects of this planet.
post #86 of 170
BTW did you all know with the amount of grain it takes to produce one beef steak you could feed 10 men! (and that does not even take into account the vast amount of land and other energies it takes to raise and house that one "steak." )
Many tribal men have never eaten that much grain in one meal. Just think how we can effect the planet with a vegetarian or vegan diet.
post #87 of 170
Jess, barbara, Paxetbonum - good points all around!

I would much rather have my too many children respecting and loving the earth and animals than have the perfect family that eats, wears and otherwise abuses them! I agree that the spiritual impact is one that should be taken into account. I also agree that everyone should be respectful of eachothers choices, even if you truely believe they are wrong - it's not your choice to make!
post #88 of 170
"I still agree that more children cannot be compared to disposable diapers, SUVs, and all other wasteful things"

"I also agree that everyone should be respectful of each others choices, even if you truely believe they are wrong - it's not your choice to make!"

I'll respect your environmentally irresponsible choice to have a large family if you respect my environmentally irresponsible choice to use disposable diapers. Deal?
post #89 of 170
I did not say that I would make any choice for you, I said disposable diapers and SUVs cannot be compared (in worth) to children. They are not equally "good" IMO, that is the point I was making.

I know none of us makes all environmentally conscious decisions all the time, I just resent my choice of a third child being compared as equal to a choice of sposies and SUVs.
post #90 of 170
Oh my!
post #91 of 170
ITA jess.

I think quality of life, not quantity is the issue here.

I love my "irresposible choice. " . . . and look forward to more.
post #92 of 170
Originally posted by jess7396
I said disposable diapers and SUVs cannot be compared (in worth) to children. They are not equally "good" IMO, that is the point I was making.
Absolutely. Children are worth a lot more than disposable diapers or SUVs.

All this "respecting each others choices" is easier said than done. I'm expected to respect another's choice to have a large family. But comments like the ones I quoted in my previous post make me feel like my choices are not respected at all. That is the point I was making.
post #93 of 170
Ya know what nataliekat, I do respect your right to make the choices that you feel are best for your family and I would hope that you and others would at least try to understand that others also make choices that they think are best for their family. Some of these choices are also best for the enviroment and some are not. The choices are made by individual families, and thank God we have the right to make these choices, unlike states like China, where the Govt. makes the choice for families!

I think that we can all learn a lot from each other even when we don't agree. I am inspired to hear that some of the mamas here are using all solar and water powered energy for their homes! Wow, I would love to be in a possition to do that and am inspired to strive for that goal! Other's are composting much more than I am at present and it has inspired me to do a better job in that area. There is so much that we can do, it is a shame to focus on what other's are not doing. It may make us feel better, but it doesn't inspire us to do better!! and
post #94 of 170
I think what is being said is the vast majority of one or two child families are *not* making choices based upon their concern for the environment.

I would dare to farther and say that many (perhaps most) larger ecologically sensitive families have a much smaller footprint than the typical three or four person American family (remember my large family scored a 12 or 13 'can't remember) and the average here is 24)

OTOH, I understand that I am extremely blessed to be able to have a large family. If I was living elsewhere I would likely have not been able to have my family.

I think the two sides being articulated here can have peace with one another.

post #95 of 170
OTOH, just because a family has a lot of children does not neccessarily mean that they are also ecologically-sensitive either. I think there are probably equal percentages to both in Canada and America. Also in using the original test - the point system is based per person in your household. There is a huge drop in points given based on the number of people per household. I was at 18 for 24 until DH included our coming baby as a household member then we dropped to 13.
post #96 of 170
I agree that large families are not necessarily going to be ecologically friendly either I think we all can learn a lot from each other about how to be gentler to the Earth. My point is simply that children bring about good, people are capable of bringing great good to the Earth, to other people, to animals, etc., whereas other wasteful things cannot, YK?

I realize that larger families will raise children who will each head a household and in theory that will make more waste than less children would. I am just trying to say that that doesn't make the case for me that lessening the number of children you have is worth what is gained, for some of us.

I suppose that there are people who so that they can spend more time with their children (or some other reason) choose to use disposable diapers, heck, many choose to use disposable everything or over use other resources in a wasteful way, and I cannot judge them for that.(cause I don't knwo their reasons)

Sure there are many ways to live more gently, I just think even though less children might save a lot, a lot would be lost as well, and what would be lost is more important than any "item" in my opinion.

I think we can all learn a lot from the other thread that was started with the purpose of showing many different ways to live gently, instead of focusing on lessing the number of children as the "best" answer.

Did I make things worse?:
post #97 of 170

assorted musings

Yes, a small family is not necessarily a more ecologically-living one than a large family. It does indeed depend on the choices made as far as one's posessions and transportation and eating habits, to say the least.

However, more people is more people. Several years ago, I photocopied an article in Scientific American Magazine about some archeological work done investigating the soil strata in one area of the Mediterranean. (I think it was in Greece. I'll try to locate the citation and post it here someday...all my "archive" folders are currently in storage.) The conclusion of the geologist-archaeologists was that, judging by the thickness of the organic-based soil layers (as in not just chemically weathered rock layers, and I don't mean "chemical" as in someone pouring lye ove the rocks, I mean "chemical" as in acid/alkaline reactions from groundwater and atmosphere), people settling in an area impoverished the soil. This was a location that had human inhabitants several different times with periods of "lying fallow" and free of human settlement in between. The layers that also contained 'artifacts' (as in things made by humans and then left in or on the ground) were thin and depleted. The organic soil layers that accumulated during periods of no people, or only hunters or gatherers going through, were much, much thicker.

The article postulated (I think, maybe it is my own memory of the writing that makes me extrapolate this idea) that here was proof that even organic farming ultimately depletes the soil and people had to move on to be able to plant and grow food. Human life was ultimately a less-than-zero-sum game.

AND, for those who think that hunter/gatherers are 'in harmony' with nature, just remember, it was most likely human hunters who made the wooly mammoth and mastadons extinct. There is a lot of evidence of this in North America. And the hunters who caused the extinction in N. America were the ancestors of the aboriginal nations who so many romantics revere as ideal natural people. We are all human and truly there are more similarities than differences among us, in our faults as well as our good points.

I am reminded at this point of a chapter in the first book (The Trees) of Conrad Richter's trilogy The Awakening Land. For those of you who aren't familiar with this book, it is by the same person who wrote The Light in the Forest and is about settlers in the early 1800s. I believe the name of the chapter was "The Great Hunt" or "The Big Hunt". Someone had lost animals to or was mauled by a wolf (I think) and most of the men of the area (along with cheers from most of the women) got together, made a HUGE circle around the forest for miles and walked toward the center, killing a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g within the circle. Several weeks later, Sayward Luckett, the protagonist of these books, is pregnant and near starving, there is snow on the ground and she goes out into the woods, hallucinating and looking for something to shoot to eat for her family (her husband is away for some reason, don't remember). She is blessed to see, and hit, a big turkey.

My brain skipped over to another neuron and I am now wondering if these guys were ancestors to all the people I know who buy ATVs and SUVs and rip up the land, roaring around in search of a good time and get angry when we 'tree-hugging luddites' try to keep them off our property. But that is totally off topic.:

AND, I also wonder about all this call to be so very careful of "not judging" other people's lifestyles when they include things that have a large impact on the human race. Perhaps you have never lived near a garbage dump. Perhaps you have always lived blissfully far from an industrial area. You are lucky. I do 'judge' people who 'choose' to use disposable diapers. I have seen piles of garbage sixty feet high where the amount of diapers (all with human waste on them) has been six percent.

Imagine a typical relatively small solid waste disposal facility (ie: a dump): 400' long x 400' wide 60' high (this is REALLY small, ok?).

That is 9,600,000 cubic feet of trash. 6% of that is 576,000 cubic feet. So, that means half a million cubic feet of convenience and lifestyle choice. 'Scuse me while I bark and guffaw and just plain old laugh at that. How in blazes am I to accept that 'lifestyle' choice without being a little bit judgmental?

Another way of looking at it is the estimate that a child will use 8000 diapers (got that from a link in another thread on this board http://www.checnet.org/healthehouse/...sp?Main_ID=554) between birth and toilet training being completed. Estimate (generously) that a cubic foot of space (visualise a box one foot high, one foot deep, and one foot long) can accomodate about ten used disposable diapers. That is 800 cubic feet of diapers for each child. So, that figure above of 576,000 cubic feet of diapers in a landfill is only accomodating 720 children.

I also fear that I have been known to rant nothing but obscenities at seeing the bumper sticker "It's a child, not a choice" on the back of an SUV. (Not to imply all SUV drivers are anti-choice, nor that all anti-choice people are polluters. Ok? It is just that I've seen this particular combination several times and, no, it wasn't the same vehicle passing me repeatedly!) How DARE they not only get mixed up with MY womb and MY body, but they also want to lessen MY quality of life and destroy OUR atmosphere!! At least, that's one of the more printable things I said at the time.

And I just don't buy it that you 'have' to have an SUV because you've got too many in your family for anything else. I'm sorry. I do indeed judge there. You could live somewhere that everyone could walk to what is necessary and you could rent/buy a diesel van or small schoolbus for those longer trips. If it had a diesel engine, you could run it off biodiesel or vegetable oil. I'm sick of people buying good farmland or woods and turning it into house lots. It's screwed up the migration and hunting paths of mammals, it is changing our watertables and it means that more people have to have the infernal combustion engine. It also results in more paved roads and more retention of heat in the atmosphere.

Entropy, its the law!

edited for a silly grammer mistake!
post #98 of 170
Just wanted to say that SUVs are rarely owned by "large" families, they don't seat all that many people (most of them anyway). Also, not many large families can afford SUVs.

It's funny though, cause compared to the mainstream, we are all really eco-friendly people, and no doubt we all have room for improvement, and I'll even go so far as to say that those of us who choose large families have an even greater responsibility to live gently and teach our multiple children to do the same, but alas, I am spouting again. I should try to stop that
post #99 of 170
Okay, I would dearly like to know WHAT all you large families do drive. We are planning on our next vehicle being an SUV simply because I have no idea and have not seen a current car that will hold more than 2 car seats at a time and since DH and I intend to have 4 children in the next 6 years 2 of them will be in car seats and 2 in booster seats according to CA law. If you have another cost effecient way (short of changing jobs and moving to another state to avoid needing a car completely) I would love to hear it. If and when they come out with a reliable hybrid SUV that will hold 6 or more people I will be the first in line to get it.

Also, I do use disposable diapers and by my calculations we will use approximately 3,570 diapers by age 2. That is an average, we used more when newborn, less now. Also because of the way disposables are made these days I can fit 35 diapers into a 10"x10"x8" container (less than the described cubic foot container).

Now I know that I am not being the best ecologically conscious person by making this decision and you may judge me if you want. However, in Southern CA where drought and water conservation are MAJOR deals that did add to my decision about whether or not to use cloth (the water in flushing the toilet and washing the diapers). And the chemicals used to treat the diaper services are not good for the environment either so that was a consideration also.
post #100 of 170
We have a GMC Safari for when we're driving together as a family and a Honda Accord for trips with fewer people.

In the next few years we'll have two more children going to college. Likely my son will go away to school but I think my daughter will stay around home.

When we need another vehicle I will opt for a smaller (more fuel efficient) van such as a Honda Odessy or a Toyota Sienna(?)

Before the van we had a station wagon. We have always had a big and a small car/van so we could downsize when we had fewer people riding with us.

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