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back to article Doctors: Third babies are the same as patio heaters

A pair of doctors have said that British parents should have fewer children, because kids cause carbon emissions and climate change. The two medics suggest that choosing to have a third child is the same as buying a patio heater or driving a gas-guzzling car, and that GPs should advise their patients against it. Writing in the …

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Anonymous Coward

Doctors on Population Control.

Or we could just ban Doctors as a form of population control.

Extending the carbon producing life of people beyond their productive years is presumably just as bad as having a patio heater, gas guzzling car or third child.

It would have the nice side effect of cleansing the gene pool, something which is long overdue.

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The policy no-one dares push

This used to be a tenet of the Ecology Party way back, when. However the policy got quietly brushed under the carpet as they metamorphosed into the Greens. The obvious reason being that, while a logical extension of "use less, save the environment", it's incredibl;y unpopular - most of the party's supporters being parents (and all having been children) 'n' all. Principles are one thing, getting a shot at power is something else.

Recent events (petrol/gas/leccy price rises) have shown us that, when people as a whole are put in the position of deciding whether to consume less energy, or pay more for it, they want to carry on as they always have - the Centrica chappy's unpopular comment about having to wear another sweater being a classic example. No doubt when the greenies are given the choice of not having more kids or saving the planet they'll make a similar lifestyle choice.

I wonder what it'll take to make us all start living up to the principles we espouse? Actions speak louder than words.

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Madness

The UK has a low fertility rate of only 1.66 children born per woman. Those having more children should be encouraged and rewarded. The size of the population in western countries is not the problem. They're going to go into a long term decline unless the births collapse is reversed. Non environmentally damaging energy sources like nuclear need to be increased rather than promoting a population decline. More young people are also needed to help pay pensions of the aging population.

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Anonymous Coward

Dr Jamie is in the house...

Here's a suggestion for these "doctors" - concentrate on doing what you're supposed to - delivering a decent service for your patients!

I've had lots of bother with the NHS, from failing to treat a dying man with dignity to thinking a critical illness was a panic attack, failing to provide any kind of quality of life after that critical illness, stupid narrow minded GPs refusing to take my word for the symptoms I was dealing with, one telling me to eat more bananas to stave off the cramps I was having, another prescribing medicines from afar and refusing to see an ill relative.

Don't get me wrong, the NHS can be good, indeed excellent in some areas. But it fscks up far too often.

When "doctors" start making this kind of moral judgements it is time to question a) if they deserve the salary they are gettings and b) are they really providing a good service to patients.

Medics treat those who need medical services. As the Hippocratic Oath says, "Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice". The GMC puts it this way: "Patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health. To justify that trust you must show respect for human life".

Dr Jamie's prescription: Get off your soapboxes and treat your patients, remembering the Hippocratic Oath and the GMC's Good Medical Practice. I've had cause to get on my soapbox about poor medics in the past. If that soapbox comes out again, you'll be the ones getting a slating.

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Anonymous Coward

imagine the BNP's response

Something along the lines of "The British Race is dying" and tbh I'd probably agree :(

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Flame

Been waiting for this...

So THIS is how they're going to ease in the one-child-one-family initiatve. Great.

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Ummm

Doesn't Britain have the same issues with too few children to sustain the population long term as the rest of the first world?

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Been saying this for years

We're still having the baby boom sixty years after the war ended. Stop it, people.

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Flame

The Real Green Agenda?

So this is what it comes to - measuring human life in terms of being a "Carbon Burden". Sounds a bit too much like "the final solution" for my liking. The creepily named "Optimum Population Trust" should do us all a favour and take a running jump, thus solving their own problem and giving us some peace from their incessant unpleasant whinging.

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Oh dear

Perhaps someone should tell the government to stop paying chavs to pop them out in the vain hope that they'll prop up the pensions system then? I mean if one 16 year old chav can pop out Chantelle, Lyam, Shaniqua (cos it sands egsotic dunnit) and little Beckham during their lifetime and get paid for the priviledge then what are the chances that the mini chavs will do the same? Mostly they're going to grow up on benefits and suck the system dry too, so where's the payback?

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Anonymous Coward

yeah but while we're at it....

..let's face it some people's kids are better than others, why not make the parents apply to have kids, if they have sufficient green credentials then they can reproduce.

Of course why not then make it harder for obnoxious people to pass the test, and ugly people, and smokers, and... ...just think of the society we could create, full of beautiful 'green' people!

Sound familiar yet?

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Stop

Somebody has to say this

"Maybe the docs should leave the eco advice to climate scientists or someone like that."

Politicians and the general public, i.e. us, don't seem to be listening to the climate scientists. More and different voices are needed to get the message across and should be welcomed.

One way of limiting the ecological damage we export would be to reduce the UK population to the point where it can be sustainably fed by UK farms. As the resources consumed by each of us are considerably higher than before the Industrial Revolution, it follows that the modern sustainable UK population is necessarily LOWER than the pre-industrial one. This point applies equally to all nations.

Remember, too, that the ecological damage due to a child is not just the family's increased environmental footprint while its growing up. Its true footprint includes all the resources it will use during its lifetime.

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Paris Hilton

Offsetting a species guilt for its proliferation

Carbon offsets are the modern equivalent to indulgences.

Paris, she's not feeling guilty.

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Paris Hilton

Solution

Is of course to shag like crazy and then export all newborn immediately to Ethiopian nannies.

Paris... well I did mention shag.

Efros

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Voluntary birth control cannot save the planet

For the simple reason that those who want to have many children, will eventually outbreed the ones that are content with two or less.

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Coat

I'd go for the patio heater any day...

They aren't nearly so disgusting as babies. Also, I might one day come up with a clever way to make it run in an ecological manner. I reckon I'd only need a windfarm the size of South Lanarkshire to do it...

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IT Angle

Sign up today!

Yes folks the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is waiting for your call!

Now at last you can do more for the planet than knit-your-own yoghurt, organic windmills and home-grown bicycles.

http://www.vhemt.org/

The IT angle's obvious, a honking great biometrics database will be needed for citizens of the future to be able to prove they've got a License to Exist ,rather than being an unlicensed, third fourth or fifth child. At last a use for the cyberloos, roaming packs of death-dealing robot drone aircraft, Roombas and Asimos.... tool 'em up an let 'em rip!

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Bwahahahaaa!

"she herself is off on sabbatical to Madagascar and Australia - no doubt having offset the carbon from her flights."

I get quite a bit of mileage off a greenie friend who loves "the Amazing Race"... Each week I give her the approximate carbon amounts according to http://www.carboncounter.org/offset-your-emissions/personal-calculator.aspx

Yeah, my day job is a BOFH ^_^

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Unwanted children

I suppose if your name is Pip you know what it is to be an unwanted, spare child. Bound to affect your disposition.

What is wrong with the medicos, why are they such psycho types? Do they recoil so far from seeing so much human suffering that they just end up dealing with meatsacks. Once they become that desensitised they start applying good accounting practice to populations of Human Beings and tend towards Shipman behaviour.

The solution must be to have everyone who sees a doctor call back a month later. Then they can thank the nice doctor and assure them that the medical problem cleared up nicely, shake their hand and just say thank you. All this perceived pain, misery and ingratitude is clearly bad for the docs disposition.

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Anonymous Coward

I can't help but agree

What happens when we have 80million people in this country? 100million in this country? 120million? Meanwhile there are sodloads of single mums, young mums, etc. etc.

There's so many times you see stories in the nationals about bad parenting and you think: 'Kids shouldn't have kids'. While it's a slippery slope towards a 'two kids law', I wish culturally people would choose not to have children until they were, say, 25+ in a stable relationship.

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Anonymous Coward

ahead of the game

My wife and I are ahead of the game and stopped at Zero.

No kids = more IT kit and Gadgets I can buy. I'll plant more trees and run more folding@home instances to offset the carbon for those.

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Not sure that I follow/agree with the logic...

A country's (or a particular lifestyle's) carbon footprint is calculated by multiplying its per-capita carbon footprint by the number in that particular population. That much they have understood.

But what they are saying is that because the Developing World has a smaller per capita carbon footprint, it is far less important that the Developing World makes the effort to control population growth. This logic only works if you assume that:-

1) The Developing World has no right to improve its lot and to aspire to a Western lifestyle, and therefore there should be a halt in all attempts to improve the plight of the desperately poor. Any improvement in their conditions (barring some as yet unknown leap forward in technology) will dramatically increase their per capita carbon footprint. Can't have that. Sorry, mate. You're poor. Better get used to it.

2) A complete halt to all migration from the Developing World to high carbon footprint countries. And, by implication, a halt in migration from countries with net population growth to those without. We've had to cut down on our babies, why haven't you?

Funnily enough, I didn't notice that being called for. Probably because they wouldn't have looked nearly as trendy.

Global warming may be a problem, but if a way was found tomorrow to suck the excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, the planet would still be in trouble. As engineers we can all try to improve things on the per-capita front, but the most important message just doesn't seem to register.

IT'S THE OVER-POPULATION, STUPID.

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Keep Out Of Global Issues

Doctors need to concentrate on the their own job and look after the health of people on their books before becoming experts in global warming. If they kept upto date on issues and techniques in their own profession and stop making cockups, then maybe they can comment on other subjects.

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Stop

Hmmmm

I would love to see the doctor or politician that dares to try and tell certain communities in Britain that they can't have more than 2 kids, no doubt it will be much along the lines of the doctors that came out and said cousins shouldn't be reproducing and will go down like a proverbial sack of shit - lets not forget, kids = benefits....

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Alert

So, WE should reduce our population...

...while 'developing' countries continue, between slaughtering each other in tribal/religious conflicts, to expand theirs?

You know, starting back in the '60s a huge error of judgment was committed by aid agencies, both government and independent.

Developing countries were given aid to cut infant mortality rates (agriculture, medicine, etc). In fact the FIRST priority should have been to stabilise population by providing birth control education and assistance.

It wasn't done, instead we how have cultures breeding like rabbits in conditions which can't possibly sustain it.

Now we, the ones who got it wrong back then, are being told WE need to, not just control, but reduce our population...

Oh well, too late now. Just have to wait for whatever mother nature has in store for us. Mutated bird flu? Or something nastier? Having missed the chance to control world population, sooner or later, something's got to break.

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Paris Hilton

Population Control - You Is Doin It Wrong!

A cap of two children per two adults isn't population maintenance, it's population decline because inevitably not all of those children will go on to have children of their own.

And we're looking in the wrong place for population control. The native population of the UK (and most of the developed Western countries) is actually in decline already because people (a) have things to do other than having children and (b) there is a culture of wanting the best for ones children - university, good schools, food, toys, etc., so people feel that quality would suffer if they indulged too much in quantity. (Both of these factors made possible by ready access to birth control, of course).

No - telling parents to limit their children is (even if the parents listen) not going to have the big impacts. Population growth is in local cases, propped up by immigration and, on the global scale, coming from poorer and less educated countries with poor wealth distribution. If you want to reduce global population increase, then you should be looking to bring about the same factors that have reduced average number of children per adult in Western Europe in the rest of the world - i.e. education, career opportunities, wealth and sexual equality.

But the most obvious flaw in these muppets' advice is that they're reducing the wrong segment of the population. If you want population control to make sense, you shouldn't be reducing the number of the young, but of the old. And the problem there is not one of people being old, but of being incapable of supporting themselves. We have extended life-expectancy but quality of life has not extended as much. Hopefully that's catching up though.

Paris, because she understands the proper use of birth control.

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Paris Hilton

HumVee == strecthmarks

I'll get my coat, Paris cuz she's a hot-air source

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Joke

Boycott the doctors !

Please people, don't listen to these idiot doctors. It's one of your basic human rights to procreate. After all, shouldn't it always be considered such an awfully clever and skilled achievement to introduce another life onto this planet. I personally feel a deep need for you all to have as many offspring as possible, as each child you have is another possibly taxable income to help support me and the other marginally worried "baby boomers" at pensionable age. By the time my life is over, any expected ecological disaster should be well beyond retreating from and I really won't give a flying f**k about your kids miserable futures.

Please don't listen to the scaremongers and protect MY future !

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Anonymous Coward

The major cause of global warming is people

I was wondering when somebody was going to open their mouths about population control. Here it is 2008 and there is still places on this planet where people need to be reminded that they are human beings and not rabbits.

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Coat

I'm not one to pick up on grammar...

... but the tag-line should read "35m fewer Brits".

Too late, you can't moan. I'm already miles away in my emergency escape black-tinted hovercraft, which apparently emits about as much carbon dioxide as a third child, at least according to my GP.

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Anonymous Coward

Unfortunately...

...I don't think the message will get to the right people:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1556901.stm

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Stop

160x the CO2 output of a child in Ethiopia?

Well, why don't they try living with the CO2 output of a child in Ethiopia?

Also does this include the longer lifetime of a child over here?

And comparing it to a patio heater or gas-guzzler is just plain retarded. A gas guzzler won't be able to offset its emmissions wheereas a human could. Not only that, but cars are useful- kids aren't until you're old and need looking after or need help setting the VCR.

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Idiotic but correct...

It's an idiotic way of putting it, but they're basically correct.

Again with the carbon monomania, which is unfortunate, but apparently the only way to get any kind of conservation-related story into the mainstream media these days. The fundamental point is that populations are too high to be supported at the quality of life to which they've become accustomed, with our current technological ability. We cannot at present sustainably produce (or get rid of, once we're done playing with it) enough food, power, or - frankly - plastics to support a growing population with expectations of all the same 'stuff' as its parents.

The "it's all fine, scientists will save us all!" brigade have it ass-backwards: *first* come up with the breakthrough technologies in power generation, agriculture, pollution control and waste disposal, and *then* tell everyone it's okay to bonk their hearts out. But on the off-chance that cheap fusion or cheap super-efficient solar are not actually right around the next issue of New Scientist, it's a bit irresponsible to tell everyone that everything's just hunky-dory as it is.

Sure these guys are out of their area of expertise, but then, so are a lot of other people who expect their opinions on this topic to be heard. I just wish they'd quit banging on about carbon.

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Happy

Third Babies - the solution

So the simple solution would be to fly all UK mums to Ethiopia for their births !

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Coat

Breeding for God

Fat chance of some members of the population cutting back on producing children.

I'll get my coat; time to emigrate.

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It's about time someone dare to talk about it!

It's a pity it takes Doctors to ring the bell on that subject, I agree.

Nevertheless, they raise an extremely important point, that no politic would dare to approach even if it is their job to talk about forseeable problems...

The western society's way of living is not sustainable for the population it concerns. Either we lower the population, either we lower our use of common goods.

And if we don't lower population, who knows, the rest of the world could abruptly force us to lower our use of common goods : what do we do if the things we manage to steal from the countries where the 2 billions of people live with less than 2$ a day stop being buyable at all, for whatever reason ? Start WW3 ?

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Alert

Speachless...

From the article:

"isn’t contraception the medical profession’s prime contribution for all countries?"

0.o

Because things like antibiotics, immunization, life saving surgeries, radiology, etc. are just fun extras?

I'm sorry, this man must be deranged!

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Bronze badge

Less children ?

17 million optimum population ?

Who is going to do the work ?

Less children = more old[er] people.

Sooner, hopefully rather than later, "they" will start thinking.

I will not hold my breath.

Unless the agenda is 17 million young people with the old[er] people being brain-washed into euthanasia. In which case holding my breath will not be an issue.

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Unhappy

baby unboom

We're already heading for trouble finding enough tax payers to support increasing numbers of OAPs.

Perhaps the good doctors are peering through the wrong end of their telescope.

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Accountants already meddle

"How would the doctors like it if ... accountants took to offering minor surgical operations?"

By all accounts many problems in the NHS come down to the management structure. The installation of supermarket managers and the limitations of their somewhat poorly conceived financial models, targets and league tables, waste of front-line talent in report generation, and frequently poor allocation of resources all seem to have had a negative impact on patient care.

The NHS database software too, as El Reg has reported, would apparently have been better had the implementation involved more prior consultation with the doctors and others who have to use it.

Accountants and other non-medical professions already have a great deal of influence in the way that medical services are provided and delivered; and their influence is by no means always useful. Agreed, GPs nowadays don't have the status of demi-gods, but politicians, and a proportion of patients, do expect them to comment on lifestyle choices so we shouldn't be surprised when they do.

Lewis reported at length on David Mackay's work not so long ago, in which he puts sensible numbers on environmental constraints of the real world:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/20/mackay_on_carbon_free_uk/

http://www.withouthotair.com/

On the basis of the data it's difficult to deny that various anthropogenic factors present limitations to our finite world. Perhaps we should all take a look at the numbers, as Mackay has suggested, and see what sort of lifestyles are sustainable in the longer term.

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Anonymous Coward

Life on Earth

I'm glad to be a patio heater...and besides, life on earth is hurting the environment. The stones are more comfortable without animals or plants...

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Wear a condom!

How many greenies does it take to change a lightbulb and save the world?

The answer is far far fewer greenies than we have now. Most greenies are obsessed with token gestures that will make no difference whatsoever. Meanwhile they accuse everyone else of being "deniers".

If they believed that global warming was anywhere near as dangerous as they claim, they would stop having kids today. It is the simplest, most radically effective, and quickest way to see a real reduction in consumption.

But instead they want us to change lightbulb and fly a little less. Would you listen to a greenie who has 3 kids? How about 2? Find me a middle aged greenie who has no kids and then we can start to listen.

And no, I'm not funded by Durex.

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Coat

Life on Earth

I'm glad to be a patio heater...and besides, life on earth is hurting the environment. The stones are more comfortable without animals or plants...

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At last someone has been prepared to say it out loud.

Good to see that at last someone has been prepared to say it out loud. If was want to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% we are going to need to control our population. Some people are talking about reducing by 80%. Well unless we discover a way to harness fusion PDQ the only way this is going to happen is by massive depopulation. The question will become more along the lines of can we achieve these goal on a 2 babies per mother basis or do we need to have a period of enforced 1 baby per mother. 2 would allow the population to shrink but only slowly, 1 would be a crash diet.

Of course allowing the population to shrink will have massive knock on effects on the rest of society. Retirement? forget it, at least forget planning a long happy one. There won't be enough people left to a) pay for it and b) to look after all the elderly who reach a point where they are not able to look after themselves.

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Stop

3rd Child

I have a patio heater and a gas guzzler. No children for me so....

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Too late

"How would the doctors like it if... accountants took to offering minor surgical operations?"

I believe there is at least one documented case of this, Please refer to 'A Merchant of Venice", by a certain Mr. W. Shakespeare.

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Bronze badge

Doctors have a right

To comment on anything as do the rest of us but attempting to dictate such things as the ideal global population is not a right. Particularly when they don't appear to have a clue about what they are talking.

27 million is almost 60% bigger than 17 million, where do the numbers based on world resources come from? Are they that uncertain?

Additionally If first world countries such as Britain were to reduce their populations so drastically there would be far less resources in the world. Where do these idiots think a lot of the resources are going to come from without the input of a working (sized ) population in the first world? Much of the technology, research and manufacture of equipment to realise those resources comes from the first world and the planet is going to continue to rely on the first world for those things for quite some time to come.

I think it is important for the world's population to reduce ideally to about 2 billion but it is, without an extinction event or world war not going to happen quickly. Also, just getting resources from wealthier parts of the world to say Ethiopia to enable them to have an equivalent lifestyle as everyone else in the world is probably not economically feaseable, so what are we going to do move every one around so they can be managed easily? Like most idealists they don't seem to be looking at a big enough picture. I have just mentioned one or two things that came into my head in the space of five minutes and can see that they are on the right lines but must try harder before opening their mouths. Maybe like a lot of the greenies they would like all to revert to an agrarian lifestyle from two hundred years ago. That would reduce the population a bit.

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Alert

Statistics

Have these two bothered to study them? They suggest that without immigration and the children of immigrants (1st/2nd gen are statistically more likely to have children) the UK population would be in decline, in common with that of other wealthy developed countries.

Money seems to be an effective contraceptive!

You could say that someone in the UK has 160 times the carbon emissions of an Ethiopian, then again they probably have a much higher economic output than the typical subsistence farmer - do you choose to put a value on that, or just say that everyone gets an equal slice?.

There is the possibility that eugenics could be dragged into this too; the ones who breed most are typically at the poorer end of the spectrum, so there would be the option that the benefits system would allow certain segments of society to be 'encouraged' not to breed and it could be argued this would be good for society - in other more productive sections of the population lack of income seems to do the job even though you could argue that they should be encouraged to reproduce.

But I wouldn't want to live in a society that thought along those lines.

To be honest some of these people need to realise that 'equal shares' as a concept is never going to fly, it's fundamentally incompatible with the way any organism behaves. Some will always get more, and some will get less.

I suspect if they thought they could get away with it they'd be in full-on fascist mode and advocate culling populations which exceed local sustainability levels - after all if some parts of they world lost a billion or two, the survivors would be so much better off wouldn't they? And just think of the emissions savings...

If they were really serious about reducing global population they'd lead by example - preferably via euthanasia.

Personally I think that giving these kinds of people the oxygen of publicity is wrong. They don't understand the problem, they don't have a solution, and all they do is encourage the real freaks that their ideas might have some value.

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Paris Hilton

Babies and Patio Heaters

Fair comment,

However even fairer would be how much Co2 do Dr's and Politico's produce in the UK. Both groups are higher than average income, ie larger houses & larger cars (when did you last see your GP on the bus?). Perhaps this could be measured, reducing the number of GPs and Politico's could possibly improve the UK's Co2 output.

Alternatively (taking a holistic view). Maybe we could make use of the hot air produced by both groups in abundance

(GPs and plitico = hot air production unit).

Using the convection currents created by rising hot air to drive some sort of small wind based electricity generator.

EIther mount these generators on each producing unit, or place generators in areas where production units gather (lecture theaters, operating theaters, the house of commons).

I'm almost certain that the amount of hot air created by the house of commons could make the building a net electricity exporter. Anybody want to fund the research ?

Paris.. well she creates lots of hot air (mostly from journalists and sex starved teenagers)

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Reality check

Were I to observe that a new-born baby weighs the same as a small bag of potatos, that does not mean that I think that a baby IS a small bag of potatos, does it ? So why on earth should comparing the CO2 emissions of a baby with those of a patio heater imply that a baby is the same thing as a patio heater ?

It seems to me that what OPT are saying that if there were fewer people on the planet, there would be less stress on the ecosystem and that finite resources would last longer.

It makes sense to me, it's about time the political parties took this on board rather than repeating the illogical mantra that economic growth (which means even more rapid resource depletion and environmental degradation) is the answer to everything.

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