It’s Not Right To Shame Poor Women’s Fertility To Privilege Rich People’s Comfort

It’s Not Right To Shame Poor Women’s Fertility To Privilege Rich People’s Comfort

What’s an alarmist to do in light of all of the improvements in conservation while reducing poverty? Go after the size of families in impoverished countries, of course.
Jessica Burke
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Even though alarmists’ history of incorrectly predicting the demise of the world dates back to well before I was born, the headlines and stories concerning climate change, overpopulation, and the end of the world continue. Fifty years ago, Paul Ehrlich wrote his famous—and wildly wrong—book, “The Population Bomb,” which predicted the imminent starvation of hundreds of millions of people. In 1970, the outrageous claims and warnings of overpopulation continued with people declaring civilization would end in 15-20 years, air pollution would be so severe that in a decade city dwellers would have to wear gas masks for survival, et cetera.

Yet not only has mankind survived, we have managed to improve living conditions. In 1970, the population was 3.685 billion, not quite half of what it is today, at more than 7.5 billion. Despite our growing population, the amount of people living in poverty in the world has decreased. Food production has increased in developing countries from 1850 kcal per person per day in the early 1960s to over 2640 kcal per person per day in 2008.

What’s an alarmist to do in light of all of the hopeful statistics? Go after the size of families in impoverished countries, of course. Wired ran an article last week with the bold title, “To Stop Climate Change, Educate Girls and Give Them Birth Control.” I’ve written before how alarmists want to indoctrinate our children and rob us of the joy of grandchildren, but this article reaches far beyond the borders of American homes and schools.

Equating Education with Limited Fertility

Claiming that “the planet is overpopulated, and the demands of its citizens greatly exceed the natural resources provided by our environment,” Dr. Robin George Andrews writes that “better educational access and attainment not only equips women with the skills to deal with the antagonizing effects of climate change, but it gives them influence over how their communities militate against it.” Part of this educational attainment is family planning, something Andrews believes is “indivisible from the education of girls.”

He comes to this conclusion based on a book called “Drawdown” that “maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.” Topping the list of solutions to climate change are refrigerant management, wind turbines, and reduced food waste. Further down are other expected solutions like electric vehicles (ranked 26), LED lighting (33), mass transit (37), and recycled paper (70). Coming in at numbers six and seven are educating girls and family planning.

This isn’t the first time environmentalists have highlighted education and family planning as a way to combat climate change. In 2016, Dr. Homi Kharas wrote for the Brookings Institution, “It is high time for policymakers to make the link between education and climate change, not just in theory but in their financing and programming decisions.”

The reason for including family planning as a solution to their claim of climate warming is obvious: more family planning should equal fewer people, which climate alarmists believe to be desirable. But why is the education of girls important to climate change supporters? Andrews explains, “Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health.” (emphasis mine)

Integrating Abortion with the Climate Craze

So where are these girls who need to have fewer children? Well, to start, they’re not in developed countries. Most developed countries have steadily declining birth rates. America’s fertility rate has dropped from 2.12 in 2007 at its most recent peak down to 1.77 as of September 2017. France, Britain, Norway, Canada, South Korea, and Japan have all seen a decline in their fertility rates as well.

According to the Institute for Family Studies, Sub-Saharan African women, however, are bearing more children on average than women in other regions of the world are. Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo have an average of 6.5 children. Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania have rates of 5.8, 5.5, and 5.2, respectively. The lowest rate in the region of 2.4 children per woman in South Africa is still above replacement fertility.

Kharas doesn’t hide his concern over the Sub-Saharan birth rate: “The logic behind girls’ education as a climate mitigation investment is straightforward. The United Nations projects that the world’s population will grow from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050. Almost all this growth (2.3 billion people) will be seen in developing countries, where mortality rates have declined more rapidly than fertility rates. Africa’s population is projected to rise by 1.2 billion people, mostly in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also in smaller countries like Uganda, Niger, and Mali, where fertility rates remain very high.”

This call for girls’ education and access to family planning doesn’t mention what they suggest women have access to, though. I think it is safe to say that part of what they desire is greater access to abortion as a means to reduce birth rates.

Feminist and abortion activist Gloria Steinem said last year, “Listen, what causes climate deprivation is population. If we had not been systematically forcing women to have children they don’t want or can’t care for over the 500 years of patriarchy, we wouldn’t have the climate problems that we have. That’s the fundamental cause of climate change.”

Let’s Privilege My Life Above Yours

Conveniently enough, the people promoting these actions to prevent climate change have already had a chance at life. They get to use the resources that they would rather not share with the children they don’t want to be born. They are afraid of a lack of resources and calamitous events from climate change, so in their thinking, fewer births will ensure their security.

At a deeper level, it sounds an awful lot like the relationship between abortion and eugenics. This link between abortion, racism, and prejudice against the poor has been discussed many times before. Under the guise of helping the poor learn to prevent climate control, access to family planning and education seeks to eliminate the poor, not by helping families move out of poverty, but by preventing families from ever being. As Fred Pearce wrote, “Girls that are never born cannot have babies.”

There are so many ways poor families can be aided and assisted, but trying to manipulate them to not have children for the sake of preventing climate change is not one of them. My husband and I have spent many years working in various capacities seeking to help poor people, including several years that we lived overseas. I have no disillusionment about the struggles and hardships that poverty creates. For many poor women who I have the privilege of calling my friends, their greatest joy is their children, who they see as a blessing and not a burden.

Women and girls in impoverished countries do need access to better education, but not so they will reproduce less. They deserve access to education simply because they have worth and dignity as humans. Advocating for better education for their good is a noble cause; advocating for better education so they have fewer children is a selfish and wicked pursuit.

Jessica Burke lives in North Carolina with her husband and their four children. A former public school teacher, Jessica has spent the last decade with a vocation of homemaker and classical home educator. The Burkes lived overseas for three years and have been to almost 20 countries together, surviving some adventures they will never speak of to the grandparents.

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