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Opinion: “The appeal of self-appointed intellectuals to reduce the number of children because of ‘carbon cost’ of each new life is insidious”

Lifestyle Inside Ireland

A 2017 study found that not having children was one of the most effective ways of reducing carbon emissions.
'A 2017 study found that not having children was one of the most effective ways of reducing carbon emissions.In this week’s opinion piece, Stephen McGroggan argues against this and writes that as China’s One Child Policy was an ‘insidious form of state control, no less insidious is the appeal of self-appointed public intellectuals to reduce the number of children because of the ‘carbon cost’ of each new life.’ For whom are we saving the world?By Stephen McGroggan There is all too much pressure being put on the next generation, so much so that we are even blaming them for destroying the world before they are even conceived.It has been suggested by environmentalists, including Jane Goodall of Population Matters, that population growth contributes to environmental decay, including global warming.The implication is that by having big families couples are somehow being neglectful of the green revolution and the future of the planet.There is even a community called the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement which proposes that the world would be a much better place without humans in it and therefore it is immoral to bring children into the world at all.That such an asinine proposal has gained credence amongst environmental circles shows how even undeniably good motives can be manipulated to immoral ends.That there should be social pressure of any kind on childbearing should be anathema in any modern, liberal and egalitarian society.China’s One Child Policy was an insidious form of state control.No less insidious is the appeal of self-appointed public intellectuals to reduce the number of children because of the ‘carbon cost’ of each new life.Against such critics of the value of new human lives, the question arises – what is the point of saving the world, if not for the next generation?The value of a human being What this scientism shows is what happens when people go too far with just one thought rattling around their heads.If we only value the earth, then it makes sense to sacrifice everything to it, even the future of the human species.With such a position gaining ground in scientific discussions, it is perhaps not surprising that we see something of an existential crisis in the younger generation.During the past ten years there has been a significant rise in instances of anxiety disorders, as well as a near doubling of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers.While such trends are hard to attribute to exact causes, the growing despair of the young should at least give us pause for thought as to how we educate and inform them around the worrying topic of climate change.It is sad that we live in an era when an argument for the value of the human being needs once more to be made.To paraphrase Pascal, humanity is better and worse than everything else that exists in nature.Worse, because it is capable of evil.Better, because it is capable of good and knows that it is.The subjectivity of man gives him a ‘world entire’ over and above the physical world which it can never understand, a world where love and the appreciation of value exists.What would it mean to say that a planet had value, if there was no mind left to appreciate its value?A world without children?That human lives should be put in the balance with the physical world is a comparison between incommensurables.We should want to save the world so that we can save all the children in it, not vice versa.And a world without children would be, at best, morally ambivalent.For example, why do we imbue so much more love in Earth than in Mars?The answer is, of course, life; particularly human life.Is it good to bring another innocent life into such an environmentally endangered world, full of problems so complex that even adults are struggling to comprehend them?The answer to this is also the answer to the value of one’s own life.Who are the real culprits?The platitudinous solution to global warming regularly churned out for public consumption is that we all must do our small part to save the world.While this seems inclusively democratic and responsibly civic, what it really tends to do is to distract the public gaze away from the real culprits of the piece.By far the most important factor in producing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity, heat and transport.Coal fire (Pic: InsideIreland.ie) Electric cars are not the answer unless the production of electricity is also green, so unless governments are serious about pursuing renewable energy at the expense of their coal, oil and gas industries, it simply does not matter what each of us individually do.China and the USA are responsible for 42% of the greenhouse gas emissions, while Ireland is responsible for 0.13%, so unless the large oil producing corporations and nations are stripped of their economic reason to be, we can all recycle until the cows come home and the only people benefitting will be the recycling companies turning a profit.A healthy sense of communal responsibility is starting to give way to an unjustified sense of communal guilt.It is felt most by those who are most innocent of it – the young.Governments are quite happy to tolerate and propagate the lie that we are all equally to blame while feeling none of that compunction themselves to do anything about it.There is something deeply wrong about children feeling the responsibility to strike and stand protesting in tears about global warming.Childhoods, and increasingly lives, are being stolen.We must, at the very least, no longer suggest that there is anything wrong with a child simply being alive.The problem lies elsewhere and as normal it revolves around profit.It would be even better if, as they learn about the problems of climate change, they also learn that they are not their fault.It is for those of us who can vote for governments to bring about legally enforceable international changes, who must shoulder our share of the blame if we waste our vote.Stephen McGroggan is a writer based in Co Kildare.The opinions expressed in this page does not necessarily reflect that of Inside Ireland.ie.Opinion: “We are only free, if we are free to think the unthinkable” . The post Opinion: “The appeal of self-appointed intellectuals to reduce the number of children because of ‘carbon cost’ of each new life is insidious” appeared first on Inside Ireland .'