Jonathan Porritt, the chair of the U.K.'s Sustainable Development Commission, has recently advocated a profoundly unpopular opinion: that couples who choose to have more than two children are environmentally irresponsible. “I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,” Porritt said.
Sure, climate change is linked to a growing population. But this kind of a hard-line stance, which gnaws away at some of our most ingrained personal freedoms, is not really helping the matter. We've seen a prevalence of green grinches lately - my other favorite example being the Slate author who told us to break up with long-distance lovers to save the environment. Flights to see a significant other who lives far away sure are bad for the earth, especially if they're frequent. So is bringing another polluting, consuming human into this world.
But you know what? There's a limit to how many things green consultants can limit before the general public writes them off as being part of a cruel green dictatorship. Aiming for our hearts by suggesting where we should find love and how many children can follow is a fast way to create a backlash. Like I said earlier about the Slate article: It's not green to travel the world and experience other cultures. It's not green to go to a symphony or a museum, and it's certainly not green to make a feature film. If being green is promoted as living a completely joyless existence, I can see why the whole world would be reluctant to jump on board.
As for these helpful green consultants - perhaps they could focus on a way to help us raise those children and their multiple siblings to respect and understand the environment, instead.