[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
Politicians who bow to the demands of the world’s climate alarmists have long sought various means of reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. To date, the measures they have proposed have been rather mundane, focusing primarily on reducing emissions associated with one’s household activities and transportation habits. For example, we have been encouraged to replace our incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient ones. We’ve also been asked to participate in municipal recycling programs, to drive less, to car pool or to utilize public transportation. But the "rules of the road" will soon be become much more stringent, and you and I may be asked – if not mandated by law – to make an unprecedented lifestyle change that could dramatically curtail one of our most cherished personal freedoms, all in the name of "saving the planet."
Writing for the scientific journal Global Environmental Change, two academics at Oregon State University – Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax – identify this lifestyle change in a paper entitled "Reproduction and the Carbon Legacies of Individuals." In this treatise they attempt to quantify, in their words, "the carbon legacy of an individual," and to examine "how it is affected by the individual’s reproductive choices," based on the premise that "a person is responsible for the carbon emissions of his descendants, weighted by their relatedness to him." So what did they find?
The two researchers calculated that a woman in the United States would reduce her lifetime CO2 emissions by about 486 tons if she implemented the green-approved household and transportation activities mentioned previously. But they estimate that if she were to have just one child, that child, over its lifetime, would eventually release nearly 20 times more CO2 to the atmosphere than the reductions achieved by its mother via her more mundane green activities.
In light of these calculations, Murtaugh and Schlax conclude that "the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle," adding that "enormous [our italics] future benefits can be gained by immediate changes [our italics] in reproductive behavior," and, therefore, that "an individual’s reproductive choices can have a dramatic effect on the total carbon emissions ultimately attributable to his or her genetic lineage."
We can only hope, in this regard, that everyone’s future reproductive behavior will continue to be a matter of choice. But in light of the supposedly "enormous" CO2-related "benefits" of curtailing child-bearing – especially in the United States – no one can assume that such will continue to be the case, especially in light of the claims of climate alarmists such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama, who consider CO2-induced global warming to be the greatest threat to the survival of civilization ever to be encountered. Faced with such a unique and unparalleled threat, we could well awake one morning and find ourselves with no choice in the matter, mandated by law to onlyprocreate to the extent deemed ecologically appropriate by those enlightened few who somehow simply "know" what is best for the biosphere.
It may seem unthinkable today that our government – of the people, by the people and for the people – would ever assume the power to tell us how many children we can and cannot have. But much has happened in the past few months that truly was unthinkable, and only a single year ago. And if it’s happened before, it can happen again; for in times of crisis – either real, as in the current economic crisis, or imagined, as in Al Gore’s climate crisis – normally-rational people can do some wildly-irrational things. We must, therefore, maintain the eternal vigilance that is needed to preserve our God-given rights that no one has the authority to rescind. Stand up with us and demand that your elected officials carefully scrutinize both sides of the CO2-climate debate and think for themselves. We need thoughtful men and women of integrity to guide our nation, not mindless lemmings.
Murtaugh, P.A. and Schlax, M.G. 2009. Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals. Global Environmental Change: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.10.007.