By Anna

Garrett Hardin

Garrett Hardin

We’ve all heard of lifeboat ethics.  But have any of us really understood that in order to survive on this earth we might actually have to act on kicking people out of the lifeboat?  Philosopher Garrett Hardin writes, “Every human being born constitutes a draft on all aspects of the environment,” which cannot be sustained if India, for example, continues to shell out six kids per woman.

I will never suggest, as Hardin does, that war and famine are justified in order to check the population or that the United States should stop all immigration in order to keep its resources for its natural born citizens (especially when its average natural born citizen uses 30 times more energy in his/her lifetime than a citizen of a developing country).

What I do suggest is to be wary of the way we live.  Without us (U.S. citizens), the world could sustain itself a lot longer.  Is it really necessary to have ones own children when thousands who are already born need homes?  Live like you don’t have limitless resources, because you might not have such resources forever.  For Hardin also says that for every life born this year the quality of life for future generations diminishes.

Peter Singer

Peter Singer

Opposing Hardin is Peter Singer, the father of animal rights.  Though his views on babies and mentally handicapped people are less than desirable, what he does know is that intelligent human life is valuable.  For if it is in our power, which it is in America, to save those dying from starvation or suffering from lack of medication or shelter, we must save them.  Although the system of The World Food Bank is flawed and may be enabling militant governments to feed its military before its poor, in some countries it is helping the poor live longer.  It is saving the next generations of the Sudan and Uganda as they are growing up in refugee camps.

The solutions I pose are not new.  Women must be empowered in these developing countries in order that they might be able to have birth control and so that they might be able to support all eight of their children.  Women also need to be empowered in order that they might be able to stop having kids after four even if they have not yet had a son.  We need to bring education to developing nations so that The World Food Bank will truly only be used in emergencies.  

Without action the world will reach its carrying capacity in half a century, which poses grave problems for anyone born today.  For everything we buy, eat, drink and drive leads to future loss of life.

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