Lefty intellectuals have been riding the "Population Bomb" hobby horse for almost 40 years — from predicting a world population hundreds of millions below the current level was not possible (we'd have run out of food), to the idea that all those people would consume all the oil already, and we'd be back to the stone age. Blah, blah, blah.
But that self-loathing — human-loathing, is more accurate — has been taken to a new level by Alex Renton at that flapping standard of Euro-leftist thought, The Guardian of London. His thesis: Couples in the Western world need to restrict themselves to just one child, so to reduce their family's carbon footprint one generation at a time. This loony theory presumes (1) that carbon emissions are killing the planet (I don't), and (2) the technology your children and grandchildren will move away from carbon-based fuels (history shows that will happen, when we need it to). But it does have a sick logic to it: If every couple over the whole planet had just one kid, the population would be cut in half one generation at a time. That adds up pretty quick.
But Renton is so consumed with guilt over the life-improving and life-extending technology Western Civilization has created, that he goes even farther off the deep end. It's only those who live in the West who must show restraint. And, naturally, he want to provide incentives for couples in America, Australia, Britain, etc. to have fewer children:
Could children perhaps become part of an adult's personal carbon allowance? Could you offer rewards: have one child only and you may fly to Florida once a year?
Note the leftist impulse. An "incentive" is not really an incentive, but a totalitarian mandate. If you have only one child — and, presumably, present proof to the state that you have been sterilized — you "may" fly to Florida. Everyone else would not be allowed to fly to Florida, or the "incentive" is meaningless. Say goodbye to the vacation dollars of people from Utah, Mickey Mouse!
How can this abhorrent and stupid idea get worse? Here's how: Renton would let the "Third World" continue to have as many kids as they'd like.
In 2050, 95% of the extra population will be poor and the poorer you are, the less carbon you emit. By today's standards, a cull of Australians or Americans would be at least 60 times as productive as one of Bangladeshis... As Rachel Baird, who works on climate change for Christian Aid, says: "Often in the countries where the birth rate is highest, emissions are so low that they are not even measurable. Look at Burkina Faso." So why ask them to pay in unborn children for our profligacy..?
Ahhh. If we could only all live in the idyllic paradise of an African backwater like Burkina Faso. But what is so asinine about this line of thinking is the fact that the poorer your country, the dirtier it is. The Third World, and even advanced economies, like China, use the oldest, cheapest and dirtiest energy technology.
Besides, as Mark Steyn relentlessly points out, the West (with the exception of the United States) is already well into a negative-birthrate spiral. And any increase in population in the European West these days is from immigration from the Third World — and they tend to set up shop, consume lots of carbon, and have lots and lots of babies.
But why should facts, logic and something as basic as reproductive freedom (gasp!) get in the way when there is power over our lives to be grabbed?