Having large families is an eco-crime
- Having large families `is an eco-crime'
Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Correspondent
May 6, 2007
HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an
environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent
long-haul flights, driving a 4x4 car and failing to
reuse plastic bags, according to a report to be
published tomorrow by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) 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.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus
professor of family planning at University College
London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one
child less is an order of magnitude greater than all
these other things we might do, such as switching off
lights. An extra child is the equivalent of a lot of
flights across the planet.
"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help
the future of the planet would be to have one less
In his latest comments the academic says that when
couples are planning a family they should be
encouraged to think about the environmental
consequences. "The decision to have children should be
seen as a very big one and one that should take the
environment into account," he added.
Guillebaud says that, as a general guideline, couples
should produce no more than two offspring.
The world's population is expected to increase by 2.5
billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. Almost all the
population growth will take place in developing
countries. The population of developed nations is
expected to remain unchanged and would have declined
but for migration.
The British fertility rate is 1.7. The EU average is
1.5. In some countries, such as France, the government
is so concerned it has introduced financial incentives
for women to have more than two children.
Despite this, Guillebaud says rich countries should be
the most concerned about family size as their children
have higher per capita carbon dioxide emissions.
The suggestion has been criticised by family rights
campaigners. Eileen McCloy, a geography graduate from
Glasgow with 10 children, said: "How dare they suggest
how many children we should have. Who do they think
are going to look after our elderly?
"According to this I would have five couples' quota of
children. I believe my children will be productive
members of society."
For more on the environment, read the Eco-Worrier blog
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