Monday, December 7, 2020

Family planning

It has been and always will be a problem of describing the profession of 'Town Planning' without qualifying this by adding 'country planning' or resorting to 'land use planning'.  Using the label  'planner' implies some superiority or precedence over other forms of planning including financial planning and family planning - although the latter is normally left to individuals and couples.  Cross posting can be very annoying but visitors to this site can choose whether or not to read the wide-ranging notifications and arguments. So, with that excuse, this post is about the planning of families in a climate and ecological emergency putting land use planning into perspective.

Recent reports of the UN Director General's speech on climate change, and of unaccompanied children being traumatised by seeing their companions die and thrown into the sea between Africa and Europe (ie the Canary Islands), serve to clarify both the urgency of the need to reduce emissions (and possibly capture carbon) and remind us where the burden of environmental breakdown is already falling.


It is high emitting countries, states, companies, households and individuals that have to act fast if space is to be preserved for low emitters to secure their lives and livelihoods in a world moving inexorably from 1 to 3 degrees C of warming and towards a 6th great extinction. There are signs that the scale of the emergency has started to hit home.


A recent survey has shone a light on the phenomenon known a ‘birth strike’ where people in (over)developed countries are choosing not to have children due to the damaged state if the world into which they would be born and nurtured, and the knowledge of how such children are more than likely to add to carbon emissions. This sensitivity to the state of the planet has even led to feelings of regret in having children.


In high emitting countries there are many reasons to consider why family relationships are likely to be of growing importance in negotiating what could be a traumatic transition to a net carbon zero economy and society.  Families through mutual obligations and respect can encourage and cooperate in reducing their carbon footprints at the household level, but also offer mutual support where for example, children and, importantly, grandchildren, are born, or not.  The potential of family dynamics in this traumatic phase is discussed at  The case is also made for relying on extended families that have global reach to raise their game in reducing emissions and restoring wildlife.


While businesses keep their eye on commercial survival if not profit, and action by the state appears to be slow if not misdirected, taking action as a member of an extended family avoids individual feelings of isolation and futility and could include almost all citizens around the world in the effort to save the climate and its biodiversity.

Families with the resources to do so, and able to address their behaviours, should be spurred into reducing emissions by the knowledge that parents in Africa see the putting of their children in the hands of human traffickers in the hope of them finding a safe haven, as acts of kindness.

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