environmentally friendly baby bonus

Did you know that each of us produces seven tonnes of carbon dioxide per year? Coupled with the fact that there is currently seven thousand million of us with 750 popping out every five minutes – “another million net population gain every 5 days”, that’s a lot of carbon debt.

Dr Barry Walter’s talk on Too many children? on ABC Radio National’s Perspective programme introduced what I thought were some interesting solutions to climate change.

“In particular, my belief is that no nation should pay women to have babies. In fact an economic rationalist would say we should pay a carbon tax for each child we have…”

I still cringe when I think of Peter Costello (former Federal Treasurer) taking credit for baby boom with his “moral encouragement to Australian families to have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”, increased family payments, and baby bonus.

On Perspective, Barry Walter went on to say:

“We should support families with childcare, education, health care, but cash for babies – No – this is irresponsible. This year the Government will give 1,500 million dollars in cash to new mothers. Better give each a solar hot water system or plant several hectares for each baby, better we spend it on Aboriginal health.”

This got me thinking. Rather than a $5000 baby bonus, the government can assist parents to offset the carbon debt for each child. For example, for the first child the household is provided with a solar hot water system, for the second child a greywater reuse system, and the third child passive airconditioning and insulation. I’m beginning to run out of ideas after the third, but perhaps for any additional children, plant hectares of trees.

When Barry Walter said:

“We are citizens of this earth neither more nor less than those in every other nation. If they must limit their population, so must we. Australians are not an arrogant people. Racism is anathema to us. If the world suffers, we suffer. We do not acquire a right to produce more man made gases by living in a relatively less populated area”

I thought of China. I haven’t seen, read, or heard much about anyone complimenting China for their sometimes controversial family planning policy to slow population growth. Instead, they often get brow-beaten about their need for economic expansion.

An environmentally friendly baby bonus means families and our environment are assisted in a sustainable way, and children are raised in a household that is increasingly aware and doing what we can all do minimise our impact on our finite planet.

Image Credit: NASA

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