HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
I'm mad. I'll admit it, I'm not feeling any particular desire to respond to the Optimum Population Trust rationally. I kind of want to rant and suggest how they could reduce the population in their own homes -- but I won't. Instead, I'll tell them a few things that I wish they would, themselves, be rational enough to consider.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT has this to say: "The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."
Let's get the first thing straight. I help the future of this planet by having a large family. I make it a better world by increasing the ratio of good people to twits like Guillebaud. I raise them well, with values like "thou shalt not kill" and "love your neighbor as yourself." I'm not perfect as a parent, and my children do not learn these lessons perfectly but there is no doubt in the mind of any person with values who knows them that every blessed one of them is, indeed, a blessing to and an improvement in the world. My children bless the world with their charitable acts, with their volunteering, with their willingness to grow, and with the love they spread in the world. It is indisputable that if any one of them did not exist, the world would be a less good place.
Let's get a second thing straight. My children will pay Guillebaud's social security one day, and mine too, unless the Guillebauds of the world have their way and decrease the population sufficiently to eliminate the possibility of receiving social security before I reach retirement age.
Let's get a third thing straight. Those who seek to trample the religious liberties of people who disagree with their own religious perspectives are doing a grave wrong. The idea that animals are more important than humans, or that human existence is inherently bad is a mistaken religious ideal. the members of OPT certainly have a right to believe these errors, let's be honest about what it is that they are proposing: an alternate set of religious values. They are seeking to sway those who hold to other religious views, such as Judeo-Christian values and secular humanism.
Every human being has worth, and if I ever meet a person who dares to tell me to my face that one of my children is a waste of oxygen and should not exist, they will have to invent a new language to hold all the vocabulary I'm likely to spout.