Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cap and Trade in Babies

At the Huffington Post, an article from John Feffer of Foreign Policy in Focus, the Baby Trade, talking adoption and Ted Turner's proposal to curb population growth worldwide by paying people not to procreate:
First of all, the global baby trade is a market. Adoptive families pay a lot of money -- to the sending country, adoption agencies, and lawyers. For many years, South Korea was the leading sending country, and the hard currency it earned from international adoptions helped the country recover from the Korean War's devastation.

Like any market, the unscrupulous find plenty of ways to make money.

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For the most part we try to do everything possible to obscure the fact that international adoption is a market. Adoption agencies paint a pretty picture of children saved and adoptive families enriched. Much of this is true. The international adoption business has certainly saved children from poverty, stigmatization, and even death. It has created thousands of hybrid families that are just as happy, sad, and complicated as any other family. But it's still a business, which suffers from all the problems of a business (and then some).

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Businessman Ted Turner recently proposed adding a new twist to the baby trade. Rather than pay families for their babies, he wants to do the opposite: pay them not to have babies. The global population is expected to peak around 10 billion people in 2050. More people will produce more carbon emissions, Turner argues, so an obvious solution is to control population increase the Chinese way: by adopting a one-child limit globally. Imposing such a rule would be neither popular nor feasible, so Turner proposes a market incentive system. By selling their fertility rights, poor families could profit by their decision not to breed. Turner's proposal sounds suspiciously like a modern eugenics program.

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What Turner ignores, of course, is that Americans are responsible for nearly five times the global average for per-capita carbon emissions. Even the most environmentally responsible Americans have a carbon footprint twice the size of the global average. In other words, our consumption of things -- not their production of babies -- is the problem.

The solution to climate change, therefore, is obvious. The countries that have the smallest carbon footprints should adopt U.S. babies. We should send our children to Cambodia, Guatemala, and Moldova where they won't have such a damaging effect on the global environment. Reverse the baby trade now! It's not likely, however, that Ted Turner, the environmental movement, and the international adoption agencies will adopt this slogan any time soon.


Anonymous said...

reaction? absolute disgust of course. China has already led the way on this utopian project. Forced abortion and sterilization, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Americans (and other members of high-standard of living countries) will of course feel "disgust". This is largely due to the inability of most citizens of these countries to see the true cost of their existence. It may be as small as our support of utterly repressive regimes around the world out of a need for their oil, or may be the increased costs of fuel and food due to our insatiable appetites. And of course their is the global-warming impact of our driving in single-passenger cars.

To equate Turner's ideas to China's is unfair -- one is forced and the other voluntary. The idea that American babies should be adopted to poor countries makes environmental sense, but ignores the obvious benefits to a child derived by living a First-class country.

But the environmental aspects of IA are obvious, and is a big reason some people are also against immigration.

Wendy said...

I don't necessarily agree with Turner's methods, but there is a need for population control and will be as long as people abuse the Earth on which they live.
Seriously, what is with allowing (and supporting by finance or viewership) families such as those on television touting 19 kids or those making money for the mere fact they have five/six/seven/eight births at a time? These people are fetishized and seen as a positive when in fact they are irresponsible. What is with allowing families to have litters instead of births (and yes, I am infertile and have had those options given to me).
Is there a magic number of allowable children? No, but there is the idea of responsibility to those beyond your doorstep and to the planet you live on. Anon two is correct, only someone from country that wastes would find disgust in this idea. The issue I take with Turner is his target audience--the poor in foreign lands. This is a global problem that throwing money at individuals will not solve it. The issue is education, availability of proper birth control and health care, and a sense of responsibilty--especially to those entitled that want to place the blame only in a foreign land.

Anonymous said...

Ted Turner has five children. So much for that.

Leslie Hughes said...

hm. He has read "The wanting seed" by Anthony Burgess. A "utopian" society that rewards person's who choose not to procreate. Atleast, in the begining. The intentions are good (possibly) but he's going about it the wrong way. Start with limiting food production and population growth will instantly stagnate or decline in direct corrilation to the food production without any kind of restrictions on procreation or incentives to not procreate.
simple fact.

Anonymous said...

It all starts with women (NOT that they are to blame, but they are often marginalized). Offer women education and the birth rate will decline. It has been researched time and again for decades.

I would add, do not allow over X number of eggs (2? 3?)to be transferred during IVF and disallow so-called "donor" eggs and sperm. This, of course, would come up against great resistence (from mostly upper class white couples.)