What can we do about it?

Michael.Chamberland 23274MJC at MSU.EDU
Wed Mar 29 23:52:00 CST 1995

> In-Reply-To:  <01HOPG830Y7M8X5BZH at KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
> PeterR:
> Perhaps i expressed myself badly: certainly I did not intend to imply
> that overpopulation in and of itself is not the problem. Forgive the
> crudity, but this earth has too many f...ing people (which results from
> too many people f...ing without "protection," of course)--that's a given.

Unfortunately it is not quite so simple.  People living in many undedeveloped
countries do not have IRAs or pension plans.  They must depend on thier
children for support when they become too old to work.  Therefore, everyone
tries to have as many children as possible to provide a "safety net".
In fact, I heard that a certain Asian country has made it a law that
children must financially support their parents.  The reason being that
this supports "family values" and frees the government from obligation
to provide social security and welfare programs!
Add to this the many religeous oppositions to birth control, and the
general ignorance of reproductive biology, child-raising costs, and the
very existence of a population crisis.

> What I was trying to get at was the need to reduce overconsumption in
> this country so that we have more credibility when we decry excessive
> baby-making in other countries (for exactly the reasons that have been
> pointed out inthis thread). When asked "what can we do about it?",I think
> the answer is to get ourselves under control before trying to control
> someone else.

As heterotrophs, we must consume to survive.  How much consumption is
overconsumption?  How is standard of living measured, and what standard
of living is "to high"?  I think we must look at the destructive
potentials of certain activities over others, rather than limit all
"consumption"  across the board.  Unfortunately it is often hard to
know how destructive was the construction of the products we buy.

Even worse, the talk of limiting consumption leads one to the
eventual conclusion that the best thing that a person can do for
the environment is to go out in the woods and shoot oneself
someplace where your body can feed the most endangered animals.  :-(

With this as the "ultimate" sacrifice towards lessening consumption
all other efforts seem like merely a less lethal form of "bleeding".

I'd rather see a list of things I CAN do with my life, which won't
harm the environment much... rather than a list of things I should feel
GUILTY about if I do them.

And certainly, if someone is willing to make only one personal
sacrifice to help the environment, deciding not to have children is
definately the best choice.  Abstaining from having children beats
years of sorting cans!

Michael Chamberland

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