I watched a video a few years ago about high density livestock grazing and its healing effects on the land. Sounds counter intuitive, right? How could high density grazing (packing large numbers of animals on small amounts of land) possibly work to HEAL the land? But it does, and the results are truly incredible (video included at the bottom of this post, if you’d like more information.) It works because, contrary to popular understanding and most current agricultural practices, large numbers of animals grazing the land are beneficial for that land, if certain practices established in nature (such as rotational grazing) are in place. It turns out, we’ve been getting it all wrong. The more animals are on a piece of land, and the more aggressively they eat (and poop) on it, the healthier the land becomes. It’s actually a fewer number of livestock, continually grazing the same amount of acreage, that will cause the most problems for the land.
I have a feeling our understanding of “carbon footprints” works the same way. It seems to me that over the last decade or so, there has been a subtle (and not-so-subtle) cultural push to decrease the number of children born into our society and environmental concerns have played a large part in this cultural shift (interestingly enough, it was eugenics that played the biggest role in the last century, although most people are unaware or willfully ignorant of this fact.)
But what if we’re wrong? See, I’m just crazy enough to believe that when God called children a blessing, He meant it. But of course we all know that if everyone were to follow His advice and “be fruitful and multiply,” the earth wouldn’t be able support all the people on the planet and the world would end.
Or would it?
Maybe the problem isn’t that Planet Earth can’t support a large population. Maybe the problem is that Planet Earth wasn’t designed to support the population the way we’re currently being supported.
I have this funny feeling that my large family and other large families I know are contributing far fewer “carbon footprints” than the vast majority of people in the Western World. Most of us don’t purchase each of our children cell phones, tablets, MP3 players and video games, which are produced at an extraordinarily high cost to the environment. We don’t bow down to social expectations and buy hundreds of brand-new clothing items each year or make sure we all have a different outfit for every day of the week. Most large families I know grow much of their own food which, if practiced on a wide scale, would save billions in fuel, not to mention heal the land of monocrops and CAFO’s. Most parents in large families are not divorced which means, with the entire family living under one roof, we need half as much material to build our homes, use half as much energy to maintain our homes, and (because most moms of many stay at home,) use half as much fuel getting to and from our homes. We rarely eat out, we use cloth instead of paper, we hang our laundry out to dry, we don’t have air conditioning… (well, they don’t have air conditioning. I have air conditioning and have no intention of giving it up!) Although these things are all hugely beneficial to maintaining the integrity and health of our environment, I’ve heard very few calling for a cessation on the use of toilet paper, washers and dryers or electronic devices. I’ve never heard a politician (in this generation) urge our citizens to start growing their own gardens. I’ve never heard one single environmentalist decry the skyrocketing divorce rate.
It seems we all want to save the planet, but we want to do it at the expense of other people – those already on the planet and those yet to exist. We want to stop the creation of new life so we can selfishly squander our own. I find it interesting, in a culture which murders its own babies and sells them for parts, that it’s the number of people on our planet, rather than what those people are doing, that most often gets blamed for the degradation of our environment.
You know what else I’m crazy enough to believe? I’m crazy enough to believe that my children are going to improve the environment. I’m crazy enough to believe they’ll leave this world better than it was when they came into it.
Maybe the problem isn’t the number of children we’re having, but how we’re raising them.