I realize it’s kind of a heady title, but my second child was born recently and it was a struggle for me initially to accept the idea of having two kids. A child reared in industrialized countries consumes an inordinate amount of resources. I realize the replacement rate is something on the order of 2.1 children per couple, given various factors. However, Americans consume a disproportionate amount of energy, raw materials, food, and water.
With 7 billion people (and counting; 7,040,389,107 according to the US Census world population clock to be precise) consuming resources and many of those striving for a western lifestyle the emulates what we have in the United States, I sometimes second guess myself for having two children. If I continue the patterns that came before me then I am truly guilty of failing to learn the lessons of population growth.
Though several theorists have tried to calculate it, it is not possible to know the carrying capacity of earth. Recently, however, there are signs that we are coming up against pressures from nature that may inhibit further growth – limits to growth. The flipside of the issue though is consumption. 7 billion (and one) people consuming like Americans will deplete resources much more quickly than the same number living off the land in a sustainable fashion.
After my first son was born, I wrote a piece titled “Teaching the Next Generation.” More than two and a half years later, my wife and I have tried to lead by example more than anything. We take the bus or walk whenever possible. Our son has an affinity for the bus, though I don’t know how long that will continue. I hope it’s a lifelong appreciation for mass transit. With our second child, it will be interesting to see how he develops in this realm.
We recently bought a double wide (no, not a mobile home), but a stroller that attaches to our bikes. This, as Megan recently discussed, will be the next big phase in our transportation lives. If we can keep our vehicular needs to one car and use the bike trailer/stroller as our second, we’ll be taking a step in the right direction. If we do need a second car, here’s to hoping electric vehicles will be advanced enough to provide for our needs because I’m not buying another internal combustion vehicle.