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Cap and Trade Children
August 26, 2014
by William P. Meyers

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If you really want to save the world, cap and trade the birthing of children.

The earth's population of humans is currently estimated at 7 billion. That is far beyond the earth's carrying capacity, and is headed higher. In addition to causing the already-apparent collapse of ecosystems, this overpopulation is going to cause immense human tragedy.

When an animal population goes higher than its environment can sustain, typically the population does not simply drop to sustainable levels. After overshooting a sustainable number, it usually then undershoots, and may even crash down to near zero.

We serious environmentalists know the human population will need to be brought down to between 1 and 2 billion people. No technology can sustain more in the long run. Fantasies of millions of acres of solar panels powering millions of Tesla electric sports cars are just that — fantasies. It takes highly destructive mining and manufacturing processes to create solar cells, electric vehicles, and the copper wiring to connect everything up. The main limiting factor is food production, which is already in a global crisis.

So how do we get to under 2 billion people? War would work. Starvation would work. Disease might do it. But since we are planning, we should plan something more humane.

A variety of options are available, including simply instituting a one-child per adult female policy, or a more libertarian discouraging of overproduction of children by using tax laws.

I am advocating a cap and trade system. This system is simple enough to understand, but provides people with some flexibility.

Each female, entering adulthood, would get a credit for one child. She can use that credit and giver birth to, and then raise, a child. Or she can sell her credit, at a fair rate established by auction, to a family that wants a second (or greater) child.

If a woman sold a credit at the age of 18, say to get tuition for college, and decided at 24 she wanted to have a child, she could simply buy a credit.

The effect of such a system would be to lower the birth rate, so that the next generation would be about half the size of the prior generation.

After two generations, the human population would be back in balance with the rest of the earth. Then the cap and trade number of credits per woman could be increased to two, for a steady-state population.

Think about it. It could work. To save the earth it would have to be global, but since the U.S. does the most environmental damage (due to our "high" standard of living), we might as well start here.


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