Motherhood goes with apple pie – but what are the implications for the planet?

We missed any follow-ups on the parturiency of Alice Snedden, described as a comedian, writer and improviser.  But when news of Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy first broke, Snedden announced she was genuinely, inexplicably happy .

I’m not sure if that’s how everyone experiences cluckiness, but for me, there was a direct correlation between how much I all of a sudden wanted a kid and how hot I suddenly was for dads. It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon and I don’t think I’m the only one affected.

Ardern, of course, has returned to work after bringing daughter Neve into the world.  Indeed, the baby may well become a prime ministerial accessory akin to Margaret Thatcher’s handbag (although the handbag didn’t require feeding).

Green Party MP and Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter has subsequently cycled to hospital (virtuously minimising the greenhouse impacts from her birthing experience) where her son was born and the New Zealand population got that much bigger.

A year ago, a group of Nobel prize-winning scientists identified overpopulation and destruction of the environment as the two greatest existential threats facing mankind.

The Government is doing its bit to tackle one of those threats with a suite of environmental policies such as the zero carbon bill.

Announcing that more than 14,000 submissions on the bill had been received during a six week consultation, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said:

““People have told us they are already concerned about the damage they can see from climate change; the increase in storms and droughts, and rising sea levels.

“Not surprisingly, the more ambitious voices we heard were young New Zealanders. They will be living through the impacts of our decisions by 2050.”

While enthusing about the carbon zero targets, Ardern and Genter will benefit from family-nurturing policies which were introduced without much regard for population growth and how it affects the environment.

Under the Government’s Families Package, which took effect on July 1,

Working for Families provides extra financial support to thousands of New Zealand families, making it easier for Kiwis to work and raise a family.  If you have children and your household earns up to $81,000 a year, you could be eligible for Working for Families tax credits. Some larger families earning more will also be eligible.

Best Start is a payment to help families with costs in a child’s first three years. If you have a baby born on or after 1 July 2018, you will receive a $60 weekly payment until your child turns one. For parents who are taking paid parental leave, this payment begins after that leave ends. If your household income is less than $79,000 a year, you will continue to receive Best Start until your child turns three.

Paid parental leave has been extended to 22 weeks, rising to 26 weeks by 2020.  Paid parental leave is available for new parents and other primary carers, such as adoptive parents and grandparents with full-time care.  Once Paid Parental Leave is finished, Best Start payments for families begin. For families receiving Paid Parental Leave, the Best Start tax credit will begin after Paid Parental Leave ends.

These are not intended to be disincentives to population growth.

The threats from overpopulation and environmental degradation were identified by the Nobel prize-winning scientists a year ago in a widely reported survey.  In London, The Times wrote: 

Nuclear war, misinformation, drug-resistant diseases, artificial intelligence and Facebook were among the other phenomena regarded by 50 laureates as the most serious risks.

More than a third cited the strain placed on the planet by our growing numbers.

Sir Richard Roberts, who shared the 1993 prize in medicine for discovering that genes could be cut and pasted, urged priority be given to using genetically modified plants and animals to feed the world.

“To tell people that they cannot eat or grow a food type which might stop them from starving is plain disgusting,” he told Times Higher Education, which carried out the survey with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, a series of annual conferences in Bavaria.”

That advice won’t fly in this country.  The Greens are fanatical opponents of GM science.

Warnings about overpopulation being the main threat to the planet have been sounded for decades.


The article says:

Today is Earth Day.  For 45 years, the secular holiday has brought people—along with their ideas and enthusiasm—together to confront the world’s environmental challenges. There will be speeches about sustainability, discussions about air quality, and pamphlets on how to reduce your carbon footprint. You might even learn how to help save some sub-Saharan elephants, but nobody will be addressing the elephant in the room. That’s the fact that every single environmental solution is addressing the same, ugly problem: The world has to support a lot of hungry, thirsty, fertile people.

“No question, the human population is the core of every single environmental issue that we have,” says Corey Bradshaw, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia. There are seven billion of us and counting. And though people are developing technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the Earth, a number of environmentalists believe that these fixes will never catch up to the population as long as it continues to grow. The only way to save the world is to stop making more (and more, and more, and more) humans.

ScienceDaily reported almost 10 years ago Worst Environmental Problem? Overpopulation, Experts Say

Overpopulation is the world’s top environmental issue, followed closely by climate change and the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels, according to a survey of the faculty at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Just in time for Earth Day (April 22) the faculty at the college, at which environmental issues are the sole focus, was asked to help prioritize the planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

Overpopulation came out on top, with several professors pointing out its ties to other problems that rank high on the list.

Further back, in 2006 The Independent reported; 

Climate change and global pollution cannot be adequately tackled without addressing the neglected issue of the world’s booming population, according to two leading scientists.

Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, and Professor John Guillebaud, vented their frustration yesterday at the fact that overpopulation had fallen off the agenda of the many organisations dedicated to saving the planet.

The scientists said dealing with the burgeoning human population of the planet was vital if real progress was to be made on the other enormous problems facing the world.

“It is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about” Professor Guillebaud said. “Unless we reduce the human population humanely through family planning, nature will do it for us through violence, epidemics or starvation.”

Rapley said the extra resources needed to sustain the projected growth in the world population would put immense strains on the planet’s life-support system even if pollution emissions per head could be dramatically reduced.

“Although reducing human emissions to the atmosphere is undoubtedly of critical importance, as are any and all measures to reduce the human environmental ‘footprint’, the truth is that the contribution of each individual cannot be reduced to zero. Only the lack of the individual can bring it down to nothing,” Professor Rapley says in an article for the BBC website.

“So if we believe that the size of the human ‘footprint’ is a serious problem – and there is much evidence for this – then a rational view would be that along with a raft of measures to reduce the footprint per person, the issue of population management must be addressed.”

Rapley said the explosive growth in the human population and the concomitant effects on the environment have been largely ignored by many of those concerned with climate change.

“It is a bombshell of a topic, with profound and emotive issues of ethics, morality, equity and practicability,” he says.

“So controversial is the subject that it has become the Cinderella of the great sustainability debate – rarely visible in public, or even in private.

“In interdisciplinary meetings addressing how the planet functions as an integrated whole, demographers and population specialists are usually notable by their absence.”

Guillebaud, who co-chaired the Optimum Population Trust, said it became politically incorrect about 25 years ago to bring up family planning in discussing the environmental problems of the developing world.

The world population needed to be reduced by nearly two-thirds if climate change was to be prevented and everyone on the planet was to enjoy a lifestyle similar to that of Europeans, Guillebaud said.

Among a plethora of other articles dealing with this we noted Human Overpopulation: Still an Issue of Concern? and Over-population: the most serious environmental problem for science .




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