During the climate summit in Copenhagen, the Times interviewed two British families. By assessing the different carbon footprints of the two families, I hope to explore the question: Is climate change a problem of overpopulation or a problem of excessive resource consumption?
The United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen, for the first time, blamed the large families with large populations because of global pollution problems. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the world’s population will grow by 2 billion over the next 40 years. If we have fewer children and we will control the population growth to less than one billion people by 2050, then we can save 2 billion tons of carbon per year.
These numbers are really hard to imagine. So, I went to interview two families of different sizes in the UK and wanted to see if their carbon footprint was very different depending on the family size. The two families are a family of three and a family of eight.
This is a family of three, Andrew Watson, Zoe Watson and their two-year-old daughter, Polly. However, they will soon be welcoming the fourth family member, and Zoe is pregnant. When I arrived at Watson’s house, I still had a bedtime from my child, but the big house was quiet. The Watsons tell stories to their children in bed, and Polly is quietly crowded around his parents to listen attentively.
The Watsons each have two brothers and sisters, which is common for people of their age. The 1960s was a birth boom in the UK: every woman of childbearing age in the UK gave birth to an average of three children.
The Watsons felt that the two children were just right. Today, most British families have two children. Andrew said that the cost of living is a factor they have to consider. “This is becoming a more and more prominent problem,” he said. “I noticed that the hotel room is for 4 people, the car can only carry 4 people, and our house is just enough for 4 people. A child is completely redundant.”
“It’s just two children, and you need to take some money from the first child to raise a second child,” Zoe said.
The fertility rate of women of childbearing age in the UK is on the rise. From 2001, the average birth rate of 1.63 babies per woman of childbearing age rose to 1.96 in 2008. This is the result of a large number of immigrants. Statistics show that immigrants, especially those from Poland and Pakistan, are more willing to have more children than women born and raised in the UK. Due to the influx of immigrants, the population of the UK is expected to reach 77 million by 2050. However, these immigrant children will tend to return to British standards when they grow up, because the world is getting richer and less likely to have more children.
For Andrew, the reason he didn’t want to have more children is to keep the beautiful wilderness of his hometown Scotland and no longer burden the ecological environment. “The Pope said that if you don’t have children, then you are selfish.” He said, “But I think if you have more children, you are selfish. I grew up in the beautiful Scottish countryside, thinking that the whole Britain will no longer be I feel chilling when I have an idyllic setting and become a modern metropolis.”
”I know that Polly’s future life will definitely be different. Maybe at that time, all kinds of quantitative distribution will be full of her life.”
After saying this, Polly fell asleep, and I also left the Andrews to leave.
The next stop is the home of Sky TV news anchor Colin Bregel. This is a family of eight, Colin, his wife Joe and their six children, the largest 10 years old, the smallest is only 6 months.
This is not a typical British middle class family. In developing countries, poverty and high fertility are always accompanied. In fact, in Western countries, the situation is often the same – large families with large populations are more common among poor immigrant families and poor families in the UK. Colin said: “The big families in the lower classes are more common, so the big family seems to have some kind of ‘lower layer’ genes.”
Colin’s wife, Joe, resigned from the company’s executive position after giving birth to her second child, and concentrated on bringing her children at home. She said: “Because many people want to know if you can get 6 children.” So she tried her best to let the children dress well in public and behave well.
The Bregel couple never planned to have so many children. But when they have three children, they are all right. Why is this so? Because they get more and more returns. Since then, Colin’s career has flourished. He has contributed ideas to a citizen organization that advocates more children, and has written a blog about how to be a father of six children. He believes that Westerners need only one child’s philosophy of life to ruin all the benefits of the “big family”: the big family is conducive to improving the financial efficiency of the community and promoting the emotional education of the community. Colin is worried that in the future society, many families can only find the warmth and comfort of blood relatives from the older generation.
Isn’t Colin not worried about the more people there will be, the more intense the competition for limited resources will be? In this regard, Colin said: “In the UK, this is definitely not to worry.”
Their intensive lifestyle explains why a family of eight, such as Bregel, has achieved good results in environmental assessment. It is because they are a family of eight, they have to some extent have to live a low-consumption green life–they know how to save and share more than small families, and they don’t often go out on vacation. Joe has not been on a plane for six years. Colin said: “Our holiday is to relax in the bar.”
However, 20 years later, their six children will each organize their own family, and the Bremer family’s carbon emissions will be a time bomb.
There is no doubt that people are becoming more and more affluent on a global scale. This directly led to the following two results: First, the richer people, the less willing to have more children. Second, the less children are born, the more affluent they become, and at the same time, the more energy people consume.
At present, the global birth rate is declining at an alarming rate. It is now averaging 2.6 children per woman of childbearing age, which is half that of their previous generation. By 2050, the world’s population will reach its peak, but the number of babies at that time is relatively small, and the phenomenon of aging is even more serious. Therefore, the focus of debate should not be on overpopulation, but on the problem of excessive consumption of resources.