A friend once asked me, “Why are you an environmentalist?” In essence, he was asking me why I cared so much. Of all the issues to be passionate about in life, why the environment?
I wasn’t sure how to answer him at first. I could have replied with any one of a hundred reasons. I thought about mentioning global warming, or cancer villages, or rainforest deforestation, or even oil spills. I had so many reasons that it felt impossible to answer the question with a single sentence.
But eventually, I decided to keep it simple. I told him that I was an environmentalist because I cared about protecting people.
In the end, I wasn’t an environmentalist because I cared that much about nature in itself. Preserving the earth’s ecosystems as its own end goal isn’t worth getting passionate about — but protecting people is.
Unfortunately, many environmentalists don’t share the same motivation. In their zeal to protect our planet’s beautiful ecosystems, they have forgotten the humane motivations behind their work. Instead of protecting people, they advocate that we kill them instead — in the form of abortion — to lower our environmental footprint (1).
They think that by having more children, we will only place greater pressure on the earth’s ecosystems. If we could only limit the birth rate, there would be fewer people alive to pollute, which would lower overall greenhouse gas emissions. Any method of population control, including killing the unborn, is a noble cause for the sake of the environment.
The Bible speaks so clearly against abortion that it leaves no room for debate. Even when a fetus is still in his mother’s womb, God considers him to be a human. As it says in one poem:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)
From the moment of conception, we human beings bear the likeness of God’s image. Human life has sanctity — no one is allowed to arbitrarily take life away. As it says in the Bible:
You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13). Terminating the life of another human, no matter how young or how small, regardless of the
noble environmental intentions, is still murder.
The irony with abortion is that it doesn’t really solve any environmental crisis. In fact, we have many reasons to suspect that more abortions will simply increase our net environmental footprint.
The underlying root cause of environmental crises is overconsumption, not overpopulation. In the past, hundreds of millions of people inhabited planet earth without causing any of the environmental crises we face today. There were no problems with carbon emissions, landfills, e-waste, smog, or shrinking oil reserves. So clearly, these problems aren’t caused by overpopulation alone. It takes a short-sighted, modernized, Western culture to produce such catastrophes on a global scale.
A country’s population actually has very little to do with its levels of pollution. That’s because not all people pollute equally. The amount of pollution a person generates is roughly proportional to his wealth, since money represents control over natural resources. 80% of the world’s global income is controlled by the hands of 20% of the earth’s population. These wealthy 20%, located mostly in Western countries, are responsible for the vast majority of oil consumption, e-waste, and global warming. The remaining 80% of mankind survive on less than $10 each day; they are simply too poor to do much harm.
Ironically, it’s precisely those countries with low birth rates that are causing the most environmental damage. These nations tend to be wealthier and have stronger consumer cultures. Think of it like this: A single wealthy suburban American can produce more pollution than a hundred African slum-dwellers combined. The American lives in a McMansion, drives an SUV, takes cruise trips to Europe, eats fast food, and buys tablet computers. Slum-dwellers can’t really afford to do much besides buy food and water. And even when it comes down to basic essentials like water, we somehow manage to waste more per person as Americans than the rest of the world.
Encouraging a Westernized, child-free lifestyle, along with abortion, will probably make environmental crises worse. This is because families with children tend to pollute less per person than families without children. If a married couple has ten kids, they will be forced to spend most of their income on basic essentials like shelter, food, and clothing. Even if they wanted to pollute, they wouldn’t be able to afford to — they have too many mouths to feed. However, a married couple with dual-income and no kids will have plenty of extra cash. They’re more likely to buy sports car, SUVs, mansions with private swimming pools, round-the-world plane tickets, cruise vacations, and wide-screen TVs.
Clearly, what matters is not the absolute number of people on the planet, but our per person rate of pollution. This rate is determined by how much a society is influenced by our Western, consumer culture.
Sadly, most policymakers still think that murder by the millions is the appropriate solution. They’re even trying to export this atrocity to the developing world. Yet at the same time that we advocate abortion, we’re also advocating the American Dream.
We have seen this policy fail before. Since the 1970s, China has followed a one-child policy, which fines families for having two or more children. As expected, China’s population growth is slowing. However, its carbon footprint is growing exponentially. Within a few decades, it may even surpass the USA!
This child-free, consumer culture may also catch on in India. Yes, abortion would result in fewer people, but expect the total pollution to skyrocket. If more Indians start driving cars, eating fast food, and buying consumer electronics, pollution will rise even as the population remains stagnant.
Ultimately, there are two ways to view our planet earth:
On one hand, there are those believe that earth’s resources are scarce. Life is nothing more than an endless competition for limited natural resources like food, water, land, and oil. To survive, it is necessary to steal, attack, and kill. Unborn children aren’t human beings — they’re just competitors. So the less children we have, the greater our own share. Ultimately, this belief is either fueled by ignorance or by sheer greed.
On the other hand, there are those who believe that the earth has plenty. If society would only plan for sustainable development, there would be enough to share. Wise stewardship, not competition, would be the solution to our present environmental crises. If we only gave up consumerism, it would be possible to house, feed, and clothe all of earth’s billions of people.
There’s no false dilemma between caring for the environment and caring for humanity. They are one and the same. After all, that’s why I’m a Greenimalist — so that our future children can enjoy the earth for decades to come.
- Abortion is murder, plain and simple. However, most
environmentalistsare willing to consider it. Grist, for example, consistently advocates this atrocity. These
environmentalistsforget that the reason we protect the environment is to protect people, which include the unborn.
- Photo credits: tonrulkens, CC BY-SA. PlatypeanArchcow, public domain. Dbachmann, CC BY-SA. Date 360, United Nations Human Development Report 2006.