Too big for the planet? : Article Review

The article published in The Guardian of 12th July 2007, titled “Too Big for the Planet?” is chosen for analysis in this essay.  The Optimum Population Trust, a think tank “dedicated to reducing the population growth and its effects on the world” recommend that families should have no more than two children because any more children would be harmful for the long term well being of the environment (The Guardian, July 12 2007).  The think tank argues that apart from practical environmental benefits of smaller families, they also send a symbolic message of social responsibility to the rest of the world and encourage them to follow suit.  The issue boils down to balancing the supply and demand ends of “green” consumer products.  Author Joanna Moorhead spoke to three large families in the UK and heard their views on this small family proposal.

The Russel Fishers are a family of eight – the parents and six children.  Jo Fisher, now 51 thinks that the two-child proposal is uncalled for.  She reckons that while some of her friends were concerned about the social aspects of having a large family, they never saw any moral deviance associated with it.  Moreover, Jo states, that she and her husband have taken complete responsibility for the children’s upbringing.  So why should the state have a problem?  She also makes a valid observation when she says that “there are plenty of people around who choose to have no children at all, which surely opens the possibility for people like me to choose to have more than two” (The Guardian, July 12 2007).  She also honestly admits that mustering the finances for providing quality education and healthy lifestyle for the children can be a challenge.  Further, Jo also laments the lack of personal space for her and husband Jamie.  But in spite of these inconveniences, the couple emphasize that they derive a “huge sense of enjoyment” from their large family.  The children too concurred with their parents’ view.

The Corbet family’s views are also quite similar.  To their credit, in spite of the burdens of raising five children, the Corbets practice an environmentally friendly lifestyle, as “they grow their own vegetables, they compost their waste, they’re avid freecyclers, most of their clothes are second-hand, and to reduce their carbon footprint they don’t drive anywhere on Fridays” (The Guardian, July 12 2007).

The Pascal family is the largest among the three, with eight children whose ages range between four and twenty four.  Yvonne Pascal asks a pertinent question : How can the authorities know for sure how many children are optimum?  She also mentions some of the unique advantages of a large family.  She reckons how children of a large family grow up to be responsible citizens as adults.  In her words, “they’re all caring kids who are motivated and want to make a difference. The world is a better place for them, for all of them.” (The Guardian, July 12 2007)  As with the other parents she acknowledges the inherent challenges posed by large families.  The Pascals overcome these challenges by being well-organized.  For instance, they adopt a military-like regimen, which changes as children grow up; and all members are assigned roles and responsibilities within the household.  More importantly, the children seem to understand and respect the Herculean efforts put in by their parents.

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