Don’t Have Kids

by on Sep.25, 2009, under Politics

Yeah, yeah, all of you who know me are thinking. Here comes the predictable rant about Park Slope parents blah blah.

This time that’s not what I have in mind.

Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.

The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

And that assumes several things I don’t believe will happen, for example, that the U.S. Senate will pass the global warming legislation currently on the table without weakening it even more.

In fact what’s happening is that because the Senate almost certainly won’t pass ACES by December, the U.S. won’t be able to participate realistically in negotiations for the successor treaty to Kyoto. And without meaningful U.S. participation, the Copenhagen negotiations probably won’t go anywhere, at least for a while.

Obama said earlier this year that he would like to show up in Copenhagen with a climate bill passed by the Senate in his hands. However, with the debate on health care raging and the fragile economy just getting off life support, some have expressed doubt that lawmakers have the political will to pass a bill.

Without a commitment from the U.S. to significantly reduce its industrial emissions, the best that environmental advocates can hope in Copenhagen is an extension of negotiations.

Here are three small reasons I’m pessimistic today.

1) Rich nations are already failing to live up to their promises about helping poor nations adjust to global warming, even though rich nations are causing the problem and the global poor are the ones who will suffer.

2) I saw this post from the liberal AmericaBlog: Enviros want your quilted toilet paper. Yes we do. Because only old-growth trees have the long fibers needed to make puffy paper, and we’d really rather you use recycled paper to wipe your ass. If we can’t even make that small step (and judging by the comments, even liberals aren’t willing to) can we really make bigger steps like reducing our meat consumption?

3) Oh, speaking of meat consumption: “For every newly converted vegetarian, four poor humans start earning enough money to put beef on the table.”

Those of us in our thirties now will probably die before the worst of the climate catastrophe, though our lives won’t be as nice as our parents’.  Children born now won’t be so lucky. Think twice before you inflict the coming world on them.

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10 Comments for this entry

  • Eustacia Vye

    But who will take care of Mr. Vye and me in our dotage? And on whom can we project our regrets and failings?

  • Amy

    I’m so happy I’ve never read your ranting about park slope parents. Those essays always irritate me.

    In my opinion, it’s life now that is the nightmare. I hope in several generations, the energy crisis will have forced people to power down to the point that we live in a way that resembles the sustainability of our ancestors. I’m educating my child to have the knowledge, tools and creativity to help deal with the problems that we will be facing as the power down continues. Don’t worry, we’ll not all be able to eat beef for dinner in the coming years. There will be a lot more veggies in the future..

    As an added bonus, I thought I’d share this brilliant talk with you; it’s a great antidote to pessimism.

  • Joshua Malbin

    I’m so happy I’ve never read your ranting about park slope parents. Those essays always irritate me.

    In fairness to me, I’ve never written any.

  • brad

    But *somebody* has to fight the good fight when I’m gone.

  • brad

    @Amy- I’d say that the sustainability of our ancestors might be great, but that their lifestyle was highly overrated. I mean, old-school ag is great (assuming your crops don’t fail and you don’t die) but old school cities were often kinda shitty, farming is a pain in the ass, and old school medicine full-on sucked.

    (And I’d love a rant about ps parents. Preferably centered on their strollers. and possibly touching on the co-op.)

  • Josh K-sky

    Brad says he’s looking for a rant, but he’s really trolling for instructions. You big breeder, you.

  • Joshua Malbin

    Who says our ancestors were sustainable, anyway? Humans hunted big animals extinct everywhere they spread, and burned the landscape around them to hunt and plant. That we think of their lifestyle as sustainable is mostly a function of their relatively small numbers and the misconception of European colonists that native societies were living in a state of nature.

  • Josh K-sky

    trollingtrawling for instructions. Right?

  • Amy

    I’d say 100,000 pre-industrial years of human existence (genetically the same as us) on earth have done a lot less damage than post industrial humanity, simply because of our access to cheap energy. Even if more recent ancient societies have not been sustainable, they still historically haven’t been able to do the damage that we have (toxic waste, landfills, multiple islands of trash in oceans, coal sludge, etc etc). I’ll take 50,000 years ago over modern society any day. Or even 8,000 years ago even if there was some deforestation going on..

    @ Brad, it seems that we’ll have to go back to old school ag, city-states, or hunting and gathering, whether we like it or not. Modernity has reached the limits of its growth.

    Oh, also, with regards to old school medicine full on sucking–tell that to the Amazonian tribes whose plant medicine technologies are currently being raided and patented by drug companies because they have some of the most sophisticated healing knowledge ever developed.

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