On Wednesday The Chicago Tribune turned its pages over to advocacy journalism representing the unfortunate attitude that the West knows best, and the "poorer parts of the world" must conform to the rules established by modern experts to keep the world from falling into a state of calamity. This article by the Tribune's London correspondent Laurie Goering proclaims that everyone should have fewer children (though it fails to provide the precise number) in order to prevent global warming and keep the planet from over-populating. If you think about it, the new scientific consensus, at least according to a month-old editorial in a British medical journal, states the obvious:
LONDON -- There are plenty of ways to cut your carbon footprint, whether it's driving less or buying an energy-efficient refrigerator. But the British Medical Journal, in an editorial last month, urged a more controversial one: having fewer children.
With 60 million people already living in one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the journal said, British couples should aim to have no more than two children as part of their contribution to worldwide efforts to reduce carbon emissions, stem climate change and ease demands on the world's resources.
Limiting family size is "the simplest and biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren," the editorial's authors said.
Yes, if humans disappeared from the face of the planet, global warming would probably decrease. Maybe. Forget any room for counterpoint on this new alleged scientific consensus.
The article gets better. Not only would "no more than two children" prevent worldwide calamity, but having more than two children should be considered a "sin." An evil act. An offense against the Creator. A violation of a moral rule. As a reader who kindly sent us this article said, this type of assertion, made without any sort of qualifications, makes one's jaw drop.
One has to believe that there are a few church leaders that object to this viewpoint, but you would not know that from reading this article:
Family planning as a means to reduce climate change has been little talked about in international climate forums, largely because it is so politically sensitive. China's leaders, however, regularly argue that their country should get emission reduction credits because of their one-child policy, and many environmentalists -- and even a growing number of religious and ethics scholars -- say the biblical command to "be fruitful and multiply" needs to be balanced against Scripture calling for stewardship of the Earth.
Europe's rates diving
Increasingly, "a casual attitude toward global warming ought to be viewed as a sin," argues James Nash, director of the Churches' Center for Theology and Public Policy, a Washington-based research group that studies the relationship between Christian faith and public policy.
The appeal to have fewer children sounds a bit odd in Europe, where one of the biggest worries these days is plunging birthrates. German women today bear an average of 1.3 children, fewer than women in China, where the one-child policy is fast weakening. Even British women are giving birth to just 1.9 children on average, a level below that needed to produce a stable population.
The "growing number of religious and ethics scholars" is a great journalistic trick. Perhaps there are a growing number, but I would like to see the evidence. Also, consider this balancing test of the "fruitful and multiple" clause (to use a legal phrase) with Scripture's call "stewardship of the Earth." Since we are using the Bible as our guide in determining social policy, where in the Good Book does it say to conduct this balancing test? Does it suggest anywhere that those two goals are inconsistent with each other?
Not once does the article propose practical policy solutions for accomplishing this goal. They sound fine as suggestions, but at what point do they become government policy as they have in other parts of the world? The United States Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court closely guards the right to procreate, but what about other areas of the world?
The general policy of "family planning" is thrown about in the article, but nowhere does the article actually explain what that means. All this is high-minded fluff that fails to address how to fix real concerns and problems in the world. And yes, an appeal to have fewer children in Europe is not just "a bit odd." It is odd in the extreme. These ideas are presented as quite reasonable in this article hiding the reality that they are in fact quite extreme.