Friday, September 7, 2012

Stop reproducing!

We live right in front of an elementary school. Every day at 8:15am and 3:15pm, our street packs up with SUVs, station wagons and minivans, and the procession begins. Kids and parents tumble out of the vehicles and hustle around the corner to the school. There are also a number of people with strollers and all manners of bike transportation devices. There is one lady I always see. She has a baby strapped to her front, a child in a stroller, and she is holding the hand of her school-aged kid. She is walking slowly and evenly. Every time I see her, I shudder to think about the administration and corralling involved in getting such a convoy out the door. Anyway, every time I look out the kitchen window and see all the kids piling in and out of the cars and strollers and trailers, I always have to fight back the urge to yell "STOP REPRODUCING!".
I don't really know where this urge comes from, and I'm sure it makes me a bad person. Sorry. It is clearly no crime to have three or four or seven children (as did the nurse at the clinic the other day). And we have just reproduced ourselves! Ha! So really I have no right to be opinionated about people having kids, but I'm going to be unpopular and do it anyway.

Perhaps seeing all the reproduction underscores just how resource-intensive our lives are here. It seems to flaunt the abundance of it all. Not that it wasn't like this in Canada, too, though there are a few differences. Here we have a big old lawn (I'm not sure I've seen very many houses here that don't), and we'll get a ticket from the city if we don't water it and let it go brown (never mind that we are in the middle of a drought in a state that doesn't have its own water supply). We also have private garbage collection, which means we can throw out whatever the fuck we want. And despite the fact that Fort Collins has an excellent bike infrastructure, I have been really disappointed in the last few weeks to discover just how car-centric this city actually is, especially if you are hoping to attend kid-themed events. Still, I can't count the number of times that people have told me that Fort Collins is "a great place for kids." And it is, I guess, in that we really have so much here. But that's just the thing, it takes so much to be a "great place" for kids.

I don't want to become a hater who suggests that people have fewer children to reduce their impact on the environment but.... the nature of everyday life here could lull one into adopting the false belief that everyone has such riches at their doorstep. So I'll continue being unpopular in this post and say that maybe people should consider having fewer children to reduce their impact on the environment! It is actually kind of self-evident if you think about it (more people = more resource use, and more potential for reproduction = yet more resource use), but there is also some math to back it up. From that article: "the summed emissions of a person's dependents, weighted by their relatedness to him, may far exceed the lifetime emissions of the original parent." Yes, ok, it really is obvious, although you probably won't make many friends with these kind of arguments. Plus, who really thinks of kids in these terms?

Reflecting on this makes me realize how incredibly lucky I have been to have siblings (the whole family blogs now: Hey Sare! Hey Graham!), but as of right now, I'm not sure Heiko will have the same privilege. Of course, there is a lot more to that decision than just considering the environmental impact, and I won't go into those other matters here. We have some time to figure it out. Right now, it's almost 3:15. I need to go rage from the kitchen window.


  1. If their parents could just get their acts together (and get jobs in an acceptable Cdn city) then Heiko and Aleen could be surrogate siblings to one another. We just need to figure out how to make them competitive with one another.

  2. Oops. Apparently Colorado does have its own source of water, it just comes from the west side of the rockies.

  3. counter rant.
    Ration consumption not reproduction (no implied messages here!). T Veblen (conspicuous consumption), JK Galbraith (the affluent society), W Rees (ecological footprint) all thinking about consumption on a planet with finite resources. Consumption by the wealthy, and by wealthy nations, must be restrained. It's the only way to ensure fairness for next generations.

    1. Hmm... I wonder who wrote this one!? Thanks Dad :)

      Of course this makes perfect sense. I suppose I'm simply saying that on an individual level, reproduction IS consumption. It would certainly be possible to have a huge family and yet live minimally and sustainably. However, this isn't really how most people roll.

    2. most people = myself included

  4. Though it is clearly lame to comment on my own blog post, I do want to record a link to the following article:
    Miss minimalist strikes again!