Eunuchs for the Green Kingdom

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
2 February 2007
Vol. 9, No. 5
Reproduced with Permission

A short while ago, a "deep green" group in New Zealand sponsored by the Wellington City Council got a bit of attention for advocating a voluntary two-child limit for New Zealanders. Sustainable Wellington Net, the environmentalist branch of the city council's Wellington Community Network, says, "The lower the population, the easier it is to live sustainably. Consider limiting your family to two children."

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, a sparsely-populated country with a birthrate below replacement level. Anyone who has seen the Lord of the Rinds films, shot mostly in New Zealand, can attest to the vast open spaces presented therein. Having spent several hours watching documentaries on the making of the films, I can attest that the filmmakers did not have to move people or obscure human habitations to create those empty spaces. They are empty on their own, for mile after mile after mile.

In fact, the United Nations says that New Zealand has a population density of 15 people per square kilometer, which is extremely low. By 2050, it is expected to rise to all of 18, and most of that increase will be confined to the cities rather than taking over Peter Jackson's empty vistas. The world's population density is 48, the USA's is 31, the UK's is 246, and Austria's is 98. Even the population density of Saudi Arabia, with its vast empty desert interior, is almost as high as New Zealand's at 11. I drove all over Ireland in November and she's full of empty space, and her population density is 59.

True, New Zealand's neighbor across the Ditch, Australia, has a population density of 3 and Russia of 8. So it's not the emptiest country in the world, just close. And much of New Zealand's population is crowded into a few cities such as Wellington and Auckland. As has been famously noted, the country has more sheep than people. Believe it or not, New Zealand has more than ten times as many sheep as people. Perhaps the greens need to implement a sheep birth limit before this gets out of control.

One-third of the four million human Kiwis live in Auckland, the nation's largest city which can still boast on its website, "Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half-an-hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands."

New Zealand's birthrate is hardly something for greenies to be alarmed about. It's a little under 2.0 and declining, according to the United Nations. However, New Zealand's birthrate of 1.95 could be the highest in the thoroughly Westernized world outside of the United States (2.0), even though it's still below minimal replacement level (2.1). Perhaps that is what has green Kiwis miffed: Their fellows aren't committing demographic suicide as fast as similar nations.

Heather Roy, a New Zealand MP, asked concerning her own children "which three out of our respective five we should put back" in response to the greenies' appeal.

Since traditional religious people are the only people in the world who are still, on average, having enough children to replace themselves, perhaps New Zealand greens want to eliminate their long-term cultural opposition by getting those with large families to quit providing for the future of the human race. It's well-established by now that secular people tend to have the fewest children, though I have never seen statistics on New Zealand specifically.

But environmentalists such as Sustainable Wellington Net do not hide their hostility toward human life. It's just interesting that they are so fanatical that they want to decrease the birthrate in a wealthy, stable, sparsely-populated nation with a birthrate that is already suicidal. Mike Ennis of Sustainable Wellington Net told the Christchurch Press that the number of children "makes a dramatic difference in Western countries with the differential use of resources per capita.... It's about the ecological footprint of a family."

So the benefits of Western Civilization just aren't worth the resource use? Perhaps Ennis envisages the following Green Kingdom, filled with eunuchs refraining from reproduction:

"O resourceful New Zealanders! I call out for a return to the wilderness. Let us adopt the ways of our Maori brothers -- siblings -- who inhabited these islands before white men -- persons -- arrived here. Let us conform to their primitive -- quaint -- ways, to an ignorant, disease-ridden -- spontaneous and natural -- way of life without books or electronics but also without sulphur dioxide emissions or logging. Let us even adopt their cannibalistic feasts -- alternative lifestyle -- which shall reduce the human footprint even further while saving innocent cows from the butcher's knife. We will preserve the trees -- vegetable persons -- and Gaia's many ores -- mineral persons -- from exploitation. But we won't adopt any barbaric old indigenous people superstition about children being a blessing."

Something just occurred to me. The greens want two kids per family, and the current birthrate is 1.95. Surely they, rational-minded as they are, were aware of the statistics before they made their proposal? They really want an increase in the number of Kiwi children. Sorry, scratch all the above.