A modest proposal to combat climate change
Earth is my all time favorite planet.
I love the 50th-anniversary photos from the Apollo 11 moon shot and Instagrams from stunning exotic bucket-list vacation places I can’t afford. Compared to Earth, other known planets look hot, dry, dangerous, devoid of sentient life and uninhabitable, like most of Texas.
Plus, Earth is my home. It’s the only planet I’ve ever lived on. Since I’m also an anxious, highly sensitive introvert, I like to stay home on Earth and avoid weird alien beings like you see at cocktail parties, BBQs, book clubs and in most of Texas.
I hear the solar system has a lot of amazing hot spots, but Earth is my safe place. So naturally I worry about destruction and death from climate change.
To be part of the solution and boast, I took a test to prove my incomparably low carbon footprint.
The result was shocking and disturbing: I’m average.
“Average?!” I yelled at my energy-saving screen, “How on Earth?”
I recycle best I can under incomprehensible local rules. I leave the lights down low like Barry White on a first date. My commute to work is shuffling 10 feet down the hall from my bedroom at 10 am to avoid no traffic. I drive little and mostly for errands, road trips and to irritate other drivers. My urban neighborhood’s “very walkable” score permits me to do most things on foot, bike, mass transit and eventually, walker.
Also, I fly at most 2–3 times a year. I eschew red meat when I’m not chewing the tender juicy flank of a steer. My home is a tiny squalid hovel I built from recycled angrily unassembled IKEA furniture parts. I replaced my Earth-destroying furnace, water heater and a/c with modern energy-efficient systems that don’t work as well. I vote Democratic even when candidates spew megatons of CO2 gassing about Green New Deals.
Most environmental of all: I don’t have kids.
We all know “children are our future” while they’re also killing our future. Online dating for the least-unacceptable mate then reproducing is the most Earth-hatey thing we could do.
Each child boosts our lifetime carbon emissions by almost 10,000 metric tons. By choosing the tragic, selfish, empty life of childlessness, I’m also saving roughly 200,000 chickens of their nuggets and $400 a month on the Verizon Fios family package. Not to mention 20,000 penguins and countless coral reefs killed by gallons of sunblock applied on family vacations even though it’s too hot to head down to the beach due to climate change.
Without kids, I’m also reducing the scourge of hilarious parenting blogs and tweets, incessant school fundraisers, yelling at teachers for doing their jobs well, college applications and tours, and disappointment with kids for choosing the tatted barista life instead of a college nobody has heard of and still can’t afford, and never leaving home.
Ialso get to clap back at climate-sensitive people who spawned.
A friend once worked at an important task force on climate change. He drove a first-generation hybrid Honda Civic, a “car” even more Soviet Yugoslavian than a Toyota Prius.
He schooled me for not using CFL bulbs that make our homes look like Bronx check-cashing, sports-betting, “massage” parlor used-car lots. I was being planet-apocalyptic by lighting my home with Thomas Edison-style 25-watt filament appliance bulbs. My excuse was that I love the history of American invention and also warm dim lighting that makes it harder to see the ravages of aging and not having a cleaning service.
“Nevertheless,” my friend tut-tutted.
“Yeah but,” I flicked my ace, “You have two kids. I have — let me check — none.”
I elaborated that not having kids allows me to:
· Be a greed-head billionaire Exxon-Mobil corporate fat cat flown by private jet then driven in a $400,000, 2-mpg Bentley limo to a five-star luxury resort steakhouse where I tuck into a thick, char-broiled, non-sensitively raised not-locavore porterhouse every single meal, plus;
· Jettison plastic and glass bottles, stacks of climate-journalizing New York Times and The New Yorker, steak bones and other recyclables out of my private jet and Bentley limo into the ocean, plus;
· Be like EPA-founding President Nixon and run the a/c while having a fire roaring in the White House fireplace during the summer, plus;
· Never take my own hemp hand-woven bags to Trader Joe’s to buy “delicious” climate-respecting “food,” plus;
· Ignore almost every factor on the carbon score test; yet,
… I can still be smugger than my climate-sensitive friend plus my neighbors with three kids and roof solar panels and compost garden and Prius with “There is no Planet B” sticker, while they send mega butt-loads of disposable poopy diapers to landfills in poor countries they care about.
Yes, I know, to spawn or not to spawn is a touchy question.
So allow me to dive right in:
People have children for personal self-fulfillment, emotional, biological, familial or societal imperatives. Or, some argue, to patriotically replace themselves as our national economy and survival demands. Or for reasons forgotten during the kids’ terrible twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, nines, tens and teens through 18 and post-college and into their 40s and 50s when the kids are still being selfish ass-wipes.
Children are beautiful, wondrous, special little beings. Children make the work/life stretch and stress, sleepless nights, sexless marriages, not going to restaurants, ceaseless mayhem and cognitively dissonant demands by privileged coastal elites for government child-care entitlements like in Europe possible.
Seriously, I love the kids spawned by my friends and family, and the kids spawned by their kids who will also spawn wonderful kids. I’m fortunate to witness or get Facebook posts as these babies are born, become toddlers, and then children, and then teens who mock me, and finally adults who understand and respect me as a fellow adult, albeit gnarly and pathetic like they’ll never be.
Children also allow happy loving couples to stay together for the kids until they become resentful combative divorced co-parents sharing or shirking custody.
But children are worth every good and bad moment. Even when they grow to be sullen, resentful teens, and then sullen, resentful college students on parent-paid ride at a party school and even in senior year haven’t declared a major yet. Then they become sullen, resentful adults who don’t call or visit or even Facebook or email nor care about your hope to be grandparents someday so you can be fulfilled.
Even as “family” is an evolving concept and we respect all choices, having children stubbornly remains a rebuttable presumption.
You have kids unless there are reasonable, respectable reasons not to.
It’s the worst Ms. Manners to ask people why they didn’t have children. For women, it’s a macro-aggression. For men, it comes with raised eyebrows wondering if you’re a narcissist man-child or the classic “committed bachelor” aka “gay uncle.”
Happy loving couples are happy to explain their joy in spawning. It gets complicated when reproduction fantasy crashes into reality. Single moms I’ve known, freed of their clueless husbands, admit having deigned to biological imperatives.
The virtual reality baby goggles made a Seth Rogan fool-around FWB seem like a Brad Pitt “woke” hedge-fund billionaire who doesn’t care about money while being the perfect smart, sensitive, loving husband, father, lover and handyman who participates in interior design decisions (but not too much). And he doesn’t have to call a real man to fix things around the house. Plus he’s cuddly and funny with an edge.
(The latter is how Seth Rogan got with both Charlize Theron and Katherine Heigl in the movies.)
In any case — and forgive my digressions — if we truly want to save the planet, I see three choices:
1. Don’t have kids. If not to protect the planet, then to protect our wonderful children from being born unto a dying planet. The downside, other than aching unfulfillment, is you need to frantically sop up the flood of no-kid money with empty lavish living such as exotic bucket-list vacations, breakfast served by butlers, fine bespoke haberdashery, and personal Porsche service associates whose children you’re putting through college.
2.Eat kids. 16th century satirist Jonathan Swift was LOLing when he suggested stewing, roasting, baking, broiling children or serving them in a fricassee or ragout for the rich. Today, alt-right hero/icky crush Ann Coulter’s best-selling “Cooking For Toxic Singles” has great recipes for kids that bug her on airplanes.
3. Pay me for being childless. Why not? Corporations pay billions of dollars for carbon offset credits. Why can’t parents pay me to offset the carbon spewed by their spawn and their spawn, etc.?
If you truly care about your kids and want to save the world for them, or just relieve your Earth-killer guilt, feel free to lavish my PayPal account. Even a little can help my Porsche service consultant continue to support his kids post-college.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.