This is a follow-up to my earlier article on Professor David Shearman, MD, of Adelaide University, and ‘expert reviewer’ for the IPCC.
Professor Shearman also has an article on the website of the organization Doctors for the Environment Australia (which he is president of), in which he worries that the ideal of behavior modification pursued by most global warming activists is largely negated by the fact that today’s generation has been raised in a liberal democracy, and therefore simply will not do as it is told:
We have brought up our children in overt liberal democracy. However all the evidence suggests that we will not curb rising emissions of the basis of behaviour modification alone. We are going to need enforced rules whether at the collective level through carbon trade with penalties OR at the individual level. Eventually society will have to choose between absolute individual liberty and life.
The first step to overcoming this obstacle, Professor Shearman writes, is persuading the governments of the world that curtailing the right to have children is an absolutely essential part of the fight against global warming. He quotes a letter in to the Medical Journal of Australia which notes that
Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society
Barry N J Walters, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetric Medicine, Department of Women’s and Infants’ Health, University of Western Australia, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA.
What’s deeply worrying here is the reply given by the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, which agrees with the spirit and demand of the letter, and calls for ‘a second ecological revolution':
In reply: I agree with Walters. One must wonder why population control, which was such a popular topic during the 1970s, is spoken of today only in whispers. Is this because of the discovery of new oil in the 1980s, taking resource scarcity off the public agenda? Is it because of politicians and economists, so keen on the growth trail that “. . . one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”1 seems an easy solution? Or is it the great religions, intent on outnumbering each other?
Population remains crucial to all environmental (and subsequently, health) considerations. The debate needs to be reopened as part of a second ecological revolution (following the failure of the first in the 1960s and 1970s).2 Doctors, as opinion leaders in the community, must be at the forefront of this debate.
Garry Egger, Director1 and Adjunct Professor of Health Sciences21 Centre for Health Promotion and Research, Sydney, NSW.
Professor Shearwater adds his support to this argument, and proposes a punitive tax on children in an article entitled “Please Pay the Climate Change Tax on Your Children”:
Every family choosing to have more than a defined number of children should be charged a carbon tax that would fund the planting of enough trees to offset the carbon cost generated by a new human being…… They should pay 5,000 dollars (4,400 US) a head for each extra child and up to 800 dollars every year thereafter”
Over 18 years, that works out to a climate change child tax of approximately $18,800 US. Professor Shearwater doesn’t comment on what penalties would be imposed on couples failing to pay the tax. Perhaps confiscation is a possibility. Who knows?
The link between children and greenhouse gases is becoming increasingly popular within the climate change community, with the New York Times columnist, Andy Revkin commenting in 2009 that:
More children equal more carbon dioxide emissions.
Revkin raises a possible solution, but is alert to the sensitive nature of the topic and puts the idea of “Baby-Avoidance Carbon Credits” forward as a “thought experiment” for the readers of the New York Times:
I recently raised the question of whether this means we’ll soon see a market inbaby-avoidance carbon credits similar to efforts to sell CO2 credits for avoiding deforestation. This is purely a thought experiment, not a proposal. But the issue is one that is rarely discussed in climate treaty talks or in debates over United States climate legislation. If anything, the population-climate question is more pressing in the United States than in developing countries, given the high per-capita carbon dioxide emissions here and the rate of population growth.
Expect more discussion of the idea of a carbon tax on children over the next year or two, following the failure of cap and trade.