Today, I’m going to talk about babies. What would you think of when you hear the word babies? Those adorable squeezable cheeks? The lovely innocent gazing gazing at you? Well, some people think of babies as pollutants, much like disposable chopsticks and plastic bags. A recent study at Oregon State University, titled “Reproduction and Carbon Legacy of Individuals” concluded that in the United States, the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas impact of having a child is 20 times more significant than the common environmental practices one would employ in their entire lives-things like driving high mileage cars, using energy-efficient applicanes or recycling.
So, what is your reaction to such a finding? There is an increasing group of people who believe that having a baby pollutes the earth-and that never having a baby is the most environmentally-friendly thing they can ever do. I read an article in the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, about 2 women who decided to go for sterilisation in order to save the planet. They are now campaigning to raise awareness among other womne. One of them, aged 27, got pregnant accidentally despite being on the pill and went for an abortion immediately. According to her, she never felt a tinge of guilt and thought it would have been immoral to give birth to a child whom she thought would only have been a burden to the world.
I cannot help but disagree with such an argument, and am here today to tell you why we should not adopt such a point of view. Firstly, I have no issues with couples voluntarily remaining childless. For some, they are career-minded. For others, they prefer to spend quality time with each other till old age. After all, having a child is a personal choice. What I find unacceptable is to denounce couples with parents as selfish beings who only seek to maintain their genetic line at the expense of the planet.
To label having babies as selfish would be a great injustice to all the parents out there. A parent’s love for the child is unconditional and immeasurable. We often hear stories about parents sacrificing themselves for the sake of their child. In fact, I would say that having a child is a selfless act of love, hope and trust. The time and energy spent on nurturing a child cannot and should not be measured by any amount of carbon emissions reduced by not having the child.
Also, asking people not to have children in order to save the earth defies the fundamental reason for environmental conservation. Indeed, the strain on the earth’s resources would be over if humans went extinct, but that would also defeat the whole purpose of it all. Caring for and preserving the earth is important precisely because our future generation will inherit the earth. By not having babies at all, why care about what the earth would be in 50 years time? We would probably be half-dead by then.
In addition, over 90% of couples in Singapore have children. So are they supposed to feel guilty all their lives for having increased their carbon footprint? What are they supposed to do with their children then? You can switch to a more environmentally-friendly car, but you can’t switch to kids with lower gas emissions.
Not having babies is not the solution to saving the planet. Killing a child because it’s an environmental inconvenience is deplorable. The key here is responsiblity. Irresponsible people do not make good parents. Similarly, going green requires a great deal of responsibility and self-discipline in order to keep track of our carbon footprint. Hence, all of you nature-lovers should not hesitate to become good parents.
What we should do is to educate our children about environmental conservation and nurture them to become responsible and environmentally-conscious adults. In this way, they can then pass the knowledge on to the next generation, and the one after that. Only then can we preserve the earth’s resources without leading to the extinction of the human race.
The child of the woman in the article might have grown up to be the world’s greatest eco-warrior, but in the end it never got a chance to be anything.
This was my speech for COM205, but obviously when I went up to speak, it became a piece of trash. I stammer and sound incoherent. My speech is reduced to bits and pieces. Sian. I can type it out by heart, but I cannot remember anything when speaking in front of a crowd. I am so going to fail this module. On the bright side, I will probably shift the bell curve to the left. So those taking the module this sem, rejoice.