Thursday, 18 May 2006

The last survivor

I am often asked 'What is the best thing one can do for conservation?' There are lots of practical steps one can do which range from a bit of greenwash, right through to hair-shirt dark green environmentalism, cycling everywhere, never flying, growing your own veg', composting etc etc. But the simplest way of helping assure the future of the world is to not reproduce yourself.

I recently looked at my own family's reproductive abilities. Many years ago I made a personal and very deliberate decision to never reproduce, but it is pure coincidence that the rest of my family has also moved towards extinction. My grandparents had three children, and had they all continued to reproduce at the same rate, there could now be 27 surviving offspring, and a potential 81 in the next generation. However, most of them have not reproduced, there is only my niece surviving, to the generation after me, so instead of 27, there is only one, and possibly her offspring in the following generation. Currently 26 fewer consumers of energy and other resources.

Add up all the resources 81 children in next generation in the developed world will consume in their lifetime, and it is easy to see why reproduction, or lack of it can be the greatest single contribution the individual can make to the future of the planet. Even if I took half a dozen holidays annually to Australia, drove a Chelsea Tractor, and used a Patio heater all summer for the rest of my life, I would still not use anything like the energy that producing future generations does. It's the great unspoken message, and probably politically incorrect to even mention it.

1 comment:

  1. Hear him, Hear him! I made the same decision. (I'd be a lousy parent anyway.)
    Take the case of my own branch of Burtons. My grandparents had five children (poor Grandma!). That would make 125 grandchildren at the same birthrate, but only two of their children had families, producing only 5 grandchildren. A better ratio than John's family. It would have been better still but I was an unplanned afterthought!

    John Prescott cannot be wholly blamed for covering the south-east with houses. The population has to be housed. Back in the 60s Harold Wilson was asked by a group of eminent scientists for his views on overpopulation. Part of his answer was that a rising population was good for productivity (including house-building, no doubt). Was Man made for productivity or productivity for Man? (I paraphrase) Prescott may be guyed as Two Jags and Two Shags, but Two Kids is not yet a term of scorn.