Why climate activists cannot agree if we should be having fewer children
As of the start of this month, we have consumed as much of the Earth’s natural resources so far in 2018 as we should have done for an entire year.
This includes food, water and carbon, according to research organization Global Footprint Network, which also estimates that we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to maintain current consumption levels, independent.co.uk reported.
It sounds scary, but statistics like this are unlikely to compel you to leave your car at work this evening and take the bus home. We are inundated every day with predictions and terrifying data on the damage we are causing to the planet, but they lose their edge in a world where we have very tangible problems to deal with in our everyday lives, and for a long time, they have remained too abstract to scare individuals and governments into enacting enough change to reverse trends. But now the stakes are getting personal and we are starting to listen.
There’s an argument steadily gaining ground suggesting that — since individuals in developed nations have huge carbon footprints, with all the eating, driving, flying and keeping warm we do — the best way to avoid this damage is to consider having fewer children, or none at all.
And the proliferating organizations arguing we should consider smaller families are being bolstered by recent reports. A major study last year concluded that not having children is one of the most effective ways of cutting our carbon footprint, and that a US family who chooses to have one fewer child would provide the same level of emissions reductions as 684 teenagers who recycle for the rest of their lives.
Last year, researchers recommended four ways to contribute to lowering our emissions, including having one fewer child — the equivalent of 58.6 tons of CO2 emissions every year. The other three suggestions — avoiding airplane travel, ditching the car and eating a plant-based diet — totaled a fraction of the emissions of having a child.
The debate is often narrowed to one of population control, but other organizations argue this is part of a much wider debate. Conceivable Future, a US organization encouraging conversations around climate change, has grown accustomed to being mentioned in articles arguing the need for population controls.
Founders Josephine Ferorelli and Meghan Kallman, however, argued that the question should not be whether people have fewer children because of their future carbon footprint, but why we live on a planet where there is such a carbon cost to having a child.
“It’s preposterous to think a bunch of people deciding not to have children will solve climate change. I could kill myself now, remove myself as one of around seven billion people, and climate change would continue. It’s a socially and morally bankrupt argument,” Kallman said.
“It’s not about individuals choosing to do something or not do something, but about people coming together. If you look at the civil rights movement, the only reason the Montgomery bus boycott worked was because people did it en masse.”
But Rivka Weinberg, a philosopher and the author of the book ‘The Risk of a Lifetime: How, When, and Why Procreation May Be Permissible’, doesn’t think we can do much to improve climate change by having smaller families, and that change can only happen from a policy level.
“Some people are saying you can’t have children and I don’t think that’s at all fair. It’s not that you can’t have a wonderful life as a childless person, but you can’t understate the effects of
having children; it’s visceral, it’s a special relationship that no other relationship will substitute,” she said.
Another argument for having fewer children is how dangerous the world will be for future generations, which Weinberg said is the more pressing issue.
“On an individual level, each person has to decide whether it’s morally permissible for them to have children and climate change makes that a harder choice,” she said.
“It presents future children with more risks that parents are ill-equipped to do anything about.”
While climate change currently affects those in developing countries the most — in Vietnam, for example, the average temperature has risen by 0.5°C over the past 50 years, and sea levels have risen by about 20 centimeters — she said at some point it will affect us all. But deciding not to have children would be a ‘premature reaction’ now, she added, because there’s still time to adapt.
“To say someone shouldn’t have children is very premature and unfair — there are other things we can do first, there are less draconian ways of approaching the problem.”
And when it comes to fighting for political change, Josephine said, ironically, having children can help.
“For the most effective activists, their reason for doing this work is because of their children.”
Rebecca Kukla, associate professor of philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa, said we need clarity around the fact that industry and infrastructural systems are the main threat to the environment, and not individuals.
“Our primary goal, if we want to protect the environment, should be on systems-level reforms, infrastructural development, and strong checks on industry. Even more basically, our goal should be reducing income inequality and poverty, since it is really people in poor and disempowered regions that are under serious threat from climate change,” she said.
“All these discussions about lifestyle choices should be put in perspective. Anyone who chooses not to have a child for environmental reasons should be fully aware of the scientific facts as we know them, including all the facts showing that individual lifestyle choices are not really the main things that need to change.
“Of course, corporations and capitalist institutions are motivated to hide these facts, and it would indeed be deeply troubling if people gave up the chance to parent based on misleading propaganda.”
Unemployment factor in homelessness rate in Australia
Australia’s Gippsland Homelessness Network met with a number of local politicians ahead of Homelessness Week this week to discuss what can be done to assist community members who are, and are at risk of, homelessness.
The coordinator of Gippsland Homelessness Network, Chris McNamara, met Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath and the opposition housing spokeswoman, Georgie Crozier, on Thursday to discuss factors that were contributing to high levels of homelessness locally, latrobevalleyexpress.com.au reported.
“I think it is going to become a crisis unless there is some action actually done,” she said.
“In the last census in 2016 we had 692 people who were homeless with 522 who are at risk of homelessness.
“We don’t really know exactly the extent of it, but it is moving.”
McNamara said it was important politicians were aware of what could be done to improve the plight of the homeless locally.
“We have taken the opportunity to go across the region and speak to politicians about the housing situation with homelessness services and people who have a lived experience of homelessness being a part of those meetings,” she said.
“We want to work with politicians to make sure that they’re familiar with the issues, that we are keeping them up to date with awareness.”
Crozier said she had heard from discussions with service providers there were an ‘alarming number’ of young people leaving home care with ‘nowhere to go’ as well as women over the age of 55 experiencing, and at risk of, homelessness.
“It is complex, but there are situations [women over 55] have found themselves in, they might have come from a family breakup, they may be experiencing family violence, their partners or husbands may have died, they may not have been in the workforce for a long period of time,” she said.
“So they just don’t have that financial backup. There are far too many women I am hearing about that are finding themselves in that situation.”
Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath said combatting homelessness locally would take a ‘multi-pronged’ approach.
“I think first of all, if you look on a macro level, the cost of living is huge. We have high unemployment, we have high electricity bills,” she said.
“We have 7.7 percent unemployment rate in Gippsland. It is a multi-pronged issue, in truth, because we have unemployment that is massive ... and people are hurting and it is really important that we address this on a holistic program.”
Iranians’ annual per capita milk consumption has dropped to 70 kilograms since March 21, 2018, from 100 kilograms in 2017, said Morteza Safavi, an Iranian nutritionist, adding further decline is expected due to rising price of the product.
Number of unemployed Malaysian youth reaching alarming rate
In Malaysia, young people are basically competing with matured adults with more work experience, which is worrying.
According to a report by The Star compiled by AmBank Head of Research and Chief Economist Anthony Dass, the country’s youth unemployment rate is 10.8 percent in 2017, more than three times higher than the overall unemployment at about 3.4 percent.
This includes unemployed individuals aged between 15 and 24, which covers those who have just completed secondary education or graduated from colleges and universities.
So, why are local employers not hiring young people in Malaysia? More so, why can’t Malaysian youth seem to secure the right jobs in the country?
One of the main reasons by Dass is slower hiring as many businesses are being cautious about expanding their workforce due to moderate economic performance.
There is also a wide gap between unemployed young men and women.
The labor force participation rate among young males is reportedly at 53 percent compared to 37 percent for young females — that’s a 16 percent difference!
Over the years, the workforce as a whole has become more educated.
However, jobs created are mainly focused in the low to mid-skilled jobs. Other sectors like domestic industries would rather attempt to stay cost-efficient and depend on cheap labor, including hiring foreign workers.
The report predicted that jobs in the service sector will be the main driver in creating more job opportunities in the future, while agriculture and manufacturing employment continue to decline.
Besides that, another reason for the high youth unemployment is also because many find it difficult to secure jobs right after graduating.
These young people are basically competing with mature adults who have more exposure and work experience, while everyone is facing the exact same economic situation.
This is especially true when there is more supply than demand in labor, where more people are competing for a limited number of jobs.
In a way, employers would no doubt turn to adults with a longer history of work experience.
Young people also often lack in terms of job search experience. For example, many youth rely on finding work through family or friends, or by word-of-mouth. Otherwise, they would not know where or how to look for jobs.
On the other hand, adults have the advantage of references from previous employers or colleagues, as well as work connections.
In Malaysia, the employment rate reportedly shows that 52 percent of those employed are mid-skilled, while 28 percent are low-skilled.
Dass stressed the importance of addressing the failure of the basic education system. There is a mismatch between the skills required for jobs and the level of skills our youth have when they leave school.
So, there is an urgent need for educational reforms.
Tertiary education in Malaysia should not only focus on academic, but also on industrial training, communication skills and developing self-esteem.
“It is important to look at the levels of the education system across the board and institute changes across all levels of the education system so that we can place the right person in the right job,” Dass wrote.
Malaysia need to start thinking about the traditional education system in the country, and how its universities and apprenticeships should enhance the skills of youth for jobs.
South African man takes to social media to celebrate his divorce
While divorce may be an upsetting time for some, one South African man has taken the time to celebrate his joy.
Divorces do not always end up being a sad affair. For some, it is clearly a happy beginning they are looking forward to, but, for others, it is a time of mixed emotions and grief, ecr.co.za reported.
It seems like Bongani Sebuzo from Kimberly took the high, joyous route when he took to social media to share his excitement on the day he got divorced. According to Daily Sun, Sebuzo tied the knot back in 2011 and filed the papers for divorce in 2015.
Last Friday, he took to his Facebook page to share a series of pictures and an even a video of him writing the words ‘just divorced’ on the windows of his car. Ironic, because many newly-married couples normally write ‘just married’ with rattling tin cans hanging from their back bumper.
The act of celebrating a divorce is not a new concept. Christine Gallagher has made a living from planning divorce parties. She threw her first party for a divorcee back in 2013, and the need for celebrating divorces has grown over the years.
“All the other significant events in life have ceremonies or rituals. The party can mark the end of something, the beginning of the rest of her life. The point of the party is to own what’s going on, to push aside old ideas of shame around divorce,” she told Mirror.