Shades of Green


Supporting WHYY Penn Orthopaedics with advanced treatments for hip and knee arthritis and a personal patient. Navigation team the Penn Orthopaedics approach to joint pain is designed to help get you back to enjoying life. Again. More at Penn medicine dot org slash joints support. For this podcast comes from Wells Fargo, helping adults in Philadelphia's underserved communities launch new careers in banking through Bank works a free job training program with more than two thousand graduates nationwide. More at stories dot W, F dot com slash Pennsylvania. Major funding for the pulse is provided by a leadership gift from the Sutherland family charitable fund. The Sutherland support WHYY and its commitment to the production of programs that improve our quality of life. I recycle. I use paper bags. I pedal bicycle many people like to think of themselves as green I bar new house, and it had a concrete backyard, and I had the concrete torn out or pretty green. I do recyclable bags. However, we end up throwing them away a little green. I would say that. I definitely try to do my best. But how much are we really willing to give up for the environment? I wouldn't give up flying. I still wanna go. Visit my grandma I'm Mike and Scott, and this is shades of green and earth. Stay special from the pulse at WHYY. Every day each one of us makes hundreds of choices big and small that impact the environment. The size of our homes would food. We eat how we travel during this hour, we'll explore who chooses what? And why they're sort of an image out. There of you know, you're lefty tree hugging liberal, and then the greedy person on the right ready to to bulldoze the forest in order to put up a parking lot or something. But the reality is that those two extremes are actually fairly rare being green is more of a spectrum says political scientist, Jennifer Benz, she does public affairs research at the Associated Press. She found that people are motivated by different things we talked to just over fifteen hundred Americans and nationally Representative sample, and we asked them a whole series of questions. So, you know, everything from how? How connected they feel to nature. How often they engage in outdoor activities to understanding how they deal with issues when they're, you know, religious views might conflict with what the science and the data are saying, Jennifer and her team, analyzed all of this information, and they came up with nine different categories that reflect people's attitudes like religious greens middle of the roaders disengaged, outdoor non greens. Let's talk about some of the types that you found out there, and one of the groups you found were the so called liberal greens. So are those kind of like the tree huggers sort of? So the the liberal greens is a category of people it makes up a little bit less than ten percent of the population overall, and these are people who really identify with environmental issues there. You know? Highly likely to consider themselves and self identify as an environmentalist, but they're not necessarily people who directly engage with the environment. All that often more than any other group, we found they tend to live in cities, they aren't particularly likely to engage in outdoor activities. So they might buy shade grown coffee from whatever and organic grocery store, but they don't go out hiking. Right. Exactly. Yeah. They they are also the ones who are more likely to buy energy efficient light bulbs and use reusable shopping bags keep their thermostat adjusted in a way. That's that's the most energy efficient. Jennifer says generally speaking, they found a lot of nuance in people's believes, and the different types might have a lot more in common than you might think. Take for example, Matt Vincent in Montana. He loves being out. Doors, but he doesn't identify with the label environmentalist. He somebody Jennifer might put into the outdoor non green category. We went fishing with him. Going through on the north Bank of black tail creek above its confluence with silver bow creek, which is the headwaters of the Clark's fork of the Columbia. We've had a little bit of the spring fever with with the long winter almost behind us and decided to come down and try and catch a few fish. I met Vincent from beauty merica Butte being a a mining city and a lot of that mining having taken place before such things as environmental regulation. There's a lot of impacts on this stream a lot of them have been cleaned up. A lot of them still have to be addressed that pose additional impact heavy metals ph acid mine runoff issues, he cut out all the political BS. I I think deeply about the environment and wanna preserve it to be. Able to do the things I enjoy doing when I'm outside. And I want my kid and his kids and their kids to be able to do the same to. But in this world of media, manipulation and politics environmental list, and environmentalism has become a a dirty word so to speak in some ways, I think people in Butin places like Butte, even though the first thing you see when you when you come over that continental divide heading west is this unbelievably scarred landscape is we might have a better understanding and interaction with the environment than than most places. Then I think just be an out and interacting at all is more important than than anything else. That's mad Vincent from Montana. I'm Mike in Scott. This is shades of green and Earth Day special from the pulse. Think about all of the decisions you make every day. Grab a to go Cup of coffee on the way to work use public transportation or drive to the office by organic apples or not some people think about environmental impact in their decision making and their carbon footprint. They want to do something about climate change. But really how can one person stop it from happening or reduce it when there are seven billion other people also contributing to it pulse. Environmental reporter Irena jour of is in the studio now with some options. Hey irena. Hi, Mike Allen, I Renault you think about your own carbon footprint and use struggle with what to do about this. Right. I do. And because we love things to be easy. I've been looking into a relatively cheap way to temper carbon emissions that doesn't require me. Actually, you know, changing my lifestyle too much. So I step I made a call to Marissa's dibella. Check check one two three. Okay. I am recording. I had to confess something to her. So I made a list of all MyTravel for twenty seventeen. I had a flight Philly toss Vegas LA back to Philly. I flew roundtrip to Vancouver falling all Iraq up about fifteen thousand miles of air travel, plus about sixty five hundred miles by car and most of that travel was related to your reporting on the environment. Yes. And it all adds up to about ten tons of carbon dioxide. So that's one of the greenhouse gases produced by burning jet fuel or your car's exhaust it traps. Even that miss fear and drives climate change the average American emits seventeen tonnes of carbon pollution into that misfire every year. Okay. So you were actually lower than the average. Yeah. But my ten tonnes were just for major travel. So that didn't include my housing my food my day to day transportation stuff. I buy which comes from, you know, energy, hungry factories. So I asked Marissa about her out, but I traveled quite a bit. So twenty for the year. I recycle I try to bike as often as fossil rather than the car. But I'm still going to fly to here in California. So going fly to New Jersey to see my mother for Christmas. You know? You know? Not willing to give that up, but Marissa's there is a way to make up for some of these carbon sessions, you know, at least for people who are already sort of carbon conscious. She's the CEO of cool effect. It's a company that invests in projects that reduce the amount of carbon that ends up an atmosphere. It's a way to sort of counter or neutralize what carbon. You couldn't avoid putting out there. All right. So if I if I give them my money where will it go? So your money goes towards developing projects that reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. It's called a carbon offset. I talked to Kelly Hamrick about this. She analyzes carbon offset markets. She says since climate change is a global problem. It doesn't really matter where reductions of carbon dioxide happen. You've got places in the world. Usually, you know, more developing countries where they might use just like indoor fires to cook. Their food has a lot of really terrible effects on the family breathing in all that smoke on the environment. Also like the type of fuel that's. Hughes sometimes that causes deforestation nearby. So for example, one company I spoke with they've invested donors money in developing a clean, cook stove building it and distributing it to women in Honduras, but there's lots of different projects. So carbon-offset money helped expand the wind turbine project in Oklahoma in New York. There's a landfill that. Now has a quick moment to catch. It's methane guests in Peru. There's a project to protect the forest Kelly estimates that in two thousand sixteen these kinds of projects helped reduce carbon dioxide by about sixty million tonnes. Okay. But that same year globally. We omitted more than thirty billion. That's with the be tons of carbon. It's a drop in the bucket. So these kinds of voluntary offsets take care of less than one percent of what we met globally, what motivates people to do this? Well, let's talk about companies. I the ones that choose to do it. You know, maybe they believe in being responsible or maybe it's. Marketing for them. They get to say, we're clean. We care about the planet, for example, Ben and Jerry's ice cream. They buy offsets. Their whole image is one of a company that cares about the planet. Just listen to this video they put out in support of a UN climate summit, featuring gooky melting ice cream. This is what happens when ice cream is just two degrees warmer than it should be. For Ben and Jerry's. It's a mess for the planet. It's a metaphor. And then for individuals, I talked to a guy named Walter Monckton. He lives in New York and has been buying carbon offsets for the past six or seven years, and I talked to him from home. We are both snowed in in. He said that he buys offsets because he sees it as his personal responsibility. Been corporations are meeting cardiac or power plants or meeting. Happen. It's because of the way we live and the way we live a comfortable as not lasted me that we're talking during a big storm in warm houses, meet at least on a fancy, computer. So. Was there like a sense of guilt associated with your lifestyle in our? What can we as individual do? He drives a Prius recycles keeps us. House insulated doesn't overheat. But no matter what he's still putting out carbon buying. Point buying indulgences back in the medieval era, the difference being buying indulgences didn't work. I don't think he's got you into heaven, but buying carbon credits does work as long as using reputable empty, so I mean, if I'm buying one of these carbon offsets, how do I know it's going to a good project. How do I know? It's really making a difference. Yeah. I mean, you kind of have to do your homework you're looking for something called additionality. And what that means is a given project would not have happened without the money people are paying to reverse their carbon emissions and this gets tricky because like any development project often they'll have lots of sources of funding. And you're like is this actually additional, you know, sometimes it gets harder to make that case having looked into this does this seem like a very effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. I mean it works. It's a small scale. And I'm kind of left wondering how much more effective actual comprehensive? Government policy would be at reducing how much carbon ends up an atmosphere. But you know, we don't have that yet. All right. So are you going to buy some of these carbon indulgences? Yeah. I settled on a clean cook stove project in Uganda. It costs six dollars four cents a ton. And I'm going to buy ten tons ten tons, all you travel, all my pulse reporting. I feel like the pulse should be paying for this. Thank you. Thanks, mike. People make choices green or not for different reasons. Face can be a motivation. The researchers who came up with the nine categories of environmental attitudes. They call this group religious greens Taiwo so can is one of them. She's a twenty three year old actress in Philadelphia, she's a Christian a big part of my faith is that I believe that as Christians we should fight for those who are not necessarily able to fight for themselves that we need to to be a voice and speak up for the things that we believe are wrong. And I think that that doesn't just apply to people that applies to the earth can't speak for herself the earth is what we have. And if we aren't fighting to keep the earth healthy to do our best and make the best of what what we have. Then we'll lose it. This is what we have. This is all that. We have my Christianity is all about. Social justice. My Christianity is about environmental Justice fighting for what I believe is. Right. And what Christ would want for all of us, including his earth. Taiwo? Does her part by recycling reusing things whenever possible she likes to use old class bottles to make Khumbu. Sometimes I feel like my way isn't enough. But I am doing what I can. Every day each one of us makes hundreds of choices big and small that impact the environment. But what do people really willing to give up? You know, if they recycled that waste, and they buy something that says green, they feel that they've done their share. That's environmental scientists Halina Brown, but it's just all these gestures. They they have no meaning in terms of environmental impacts. She's professor America at Clark university. In Massachusetts Halina says if you want to really have an impact it's going to mean owning less stuff and buying less consumption is the biggest drivers of environmental impact and of emissions of greenhouse gases that threatened climate about seventy percent of all our economy. Depends on household consumption. So essentially, our lifestyles and consumption both the driver of the economy and the cause of the emissions of greenhouse gases. It's it's enormous. So changing anything about our consumption. I guess on many levels is tricky because it does have a big impact on on our economy. That's right. That's what makes it so difficult. Our economy will construct it that way that's one of the big problem since in the last several decades since the end of the world tour to the essentially decision on how to move the country forward was made to have private consumption as the main generator of jobs, creating wealth and wellbeing now. I have children, and I often tell them that I had much much much less than they do as a kid. And I firmly believe that is true. But is it true? I mean, I remember things being much more expensive. When I was a kid and us just having less stuff, less clothes, less toys. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Look at the houses houses are extremely good indicate or of consumption because the size of the house determines how much energy the house itself. Consumes, but it also reflects of how much stuff we have. So in the nineteen fifties every house in the US will somewhat around between nine hundred thousand square feet, and he'd been going up literally every single year. That the new house that's being constructed is bigger. So right now, the average new house that's built in the US is about two and a half thousand square feet. So there is no doubt that there is much more of everything and these goods that are houses are filled with also have become cheaper in recent decades. Right. They've become cheaper. And they don't last very long so people can acquire them, and they have no value to people furniture cheaply made close, you know, we can afford to purchase these items and we can afford to throw them out and replace them with new ones a lot of people want to be environmentally conscious. They want to be green. But then at the same time. They also want to live in a really big house, and they want to have a nice car, and they want to have a new couch every two years. So this concept of reducing that being truly green means you have to give something up is that sort of dawning on people, you think well, we have to frame it not as a sacrifice and laws. It would have to be framed differently framing like freedom. I mean think about I live in a pretty wealthy community. And I see this houses beautiful Victorian house is huge. And when I look at them, and I said, oh my gosh. If I had to furnish that place and then maintain it that would be a lifetime project. I am free of that is being a little bit counter cultural, and maybe a little subversive, but that has an edge of something. Interesting Noval to it. Halina Brown is an environmental scientist and professor America at Clark university in Massachusetts. This is shades of green an Earth Day special from the pulse. For Canadian writer Madeleine Somerville. Having less stuff came sort of accidentally at first she had moved to a really small town in British Columbia with nowhere to shop. She was a social worker on a limited income, you know, in the beginning, it was just necessity and it was frustrating, and I would write emails home about how annoying. It was that. I couldn't find a store that sold white tank tops in my down. It was like so frustrating, but over time she started enjoying having less stuff. She moved into smaller and smaller places, she got rid of things she bought her clothes second hand, it became a way of life. My sister, and my mom are currently in a fight with me right now because I don't have a cattle like stove top kettle. And they think that's ridiculous, but I have a sauce pad. And so I'm like, why do I need a cattle of it just sits has one purpose when I can just boil water in a saucepan they Heim like completely insane for. This. So every time they go anywhere. They're extending me pictures of kettles. We found this really cute candle. I don't need a co Madeline told me this is not like some kind of diet. You know, she's not depriving herself of things all the time. She just really enjoys this lifestyle. She's written a book about it. It's called all you need is less. This is shades of green and Earth Day special from the pulse. Talking about our choices and how they impact the environment. If I say air pollution, you probably think of some pretty specific things congested highways burning coal factory towers belching out black smoke. But a group of scientists recently identified a source of air pollution. That's a lot more personal their journey to discovery ended inside our bathrooms list tongue reports. This is a detective story one about a mystery took a team of scientists over three years to solve driving the case was fearless gumshoe. I'm Brian MacDonald. I'm an atmospheric scientists at the National Oceanic in Atmospheric Administration. Our story starts in Los Angeles back in the summer of twenty ten a bunch of groups had gotten together for this huge study on air pollution about a hundred scientists came down from all around the world, the deployed teams to sites around the city and their goal to investigate pretty much everything that we think of to study in the atmosphere as it relates to urban smog in Los Angeles, Jessica Gilman with another scientists working on the project, and what she and the other researchers were looking for these chemicals volatile organic compound review sees which quick explainer are basically these chemicals that vapid release -ly. It has a Finnity to want to get into the air and also contain carbon. Which is what makes them organic VOC's are everywhere include anything you can smell from grass to gas lead large wildfires forest that pints mother appeal of an orange along with plenty of things you can't. But overall they've got kind of a bad rap. That's because a lot of VOC's, for instance, ones that come from fossil fuels hope for and pollutants like ozone or small particles, which are bad for your health. And also kind of makes that Hayes in that sort of smoggy layer so back to Los Angeles. All these scientists have finished taking measurements at sites around the city. And now their job is to figure out how much pollution there is and where it's coming from the start with the usual suspects. The main thing that we looked at first we're, of course, the emissions from vehicles. But as they're crunching their numbers, they noticed something weird cars only account for maybe half of the pollution. They're finding so they start checking other sources. So there's some natural gas plants that were wind of the site a large power plants in the area. But that didn't explain it either. Clearly, there was something else going on. Impure? There was a missing source, so they've got a mystery on their hands. But Brian has a hunch that the source of his view sees might be right under their noses. And that's when Brian really start digging into these emission Madore Ie's, which are basically these big databases that track the chemicals used by different industries. Brian's idea was to see what kinds of chemicals are in different products that way he could figure out which ones might be contributing to air pollutants. The problem was a lot of companies keep their product formulations a secret, so Brian when looking for information in the only place he could public data sets such as from good US department of commerce agencies like the US Environmental Protection Agency long story short, Brian and his colleagues spend three years collecting all this data. The next up was testing products in the lab to measure their missions. And then seeing if we found the chemical fingerprint of these products and that the air. That's right. They dusted Los Angeles smog for fingerprints. And they found them which led the team street to their culprit as it turned out. The biggest source of these mystery emissions was. Invigorating rainforest fresh body wash spice pure sport, superfish aftershave, a soak Luxy health and Seabury revitalizing shampoo toiletries they were responsible for nearly half of the air pollution that the researchers were finding in Los Angeles personal care products. So things like shampoos deodorants creams lotions. They're also cleaning supplies and garden pesticides and paints, but toiletries came in number one, which even to Brian and his colleagues seemed hard to believe and not just because car exhaust feels way more noxious than refreshing waterfall missed how those little tiny amounts. Couldn't basically match the gallons of gasoline. That are in your car just seemed off like I couldn't reconcile in my head. But then they did some calculations and what they found was that the VOC's toiletries evaporate way faster than the ones in fuel. In fact, that's the main reason why so many products contain VOC. In the first place. They have to solvents carriers for the stuff. We want to spread on her skin. Plus evaporation is what makes fragrances work. So I mean, if you think about what the iota is supposed to do right at supposed to volatile is and emit some nice miles. That was the of Eureka moment to me ya'll you use smaller amounts of it. But almost all of it will eventually end up in the atmosphere. The study is already checking air pollution research around the world and could someday even change the way we regulate emissions personal habits might shift to George Preti has been studying VOC's for years, and he says the VOC's the study talks about aren't just coming from inside people's homes. If you go out to the environment, your omitting, these things I mean, if I if you're close enough to someone on a subway or bus, you could smell the fragrances coming off from the hair, certainly not for my hair because I don't have much George says his lab has found some of these compounds in an even more personal realm. Bodily fluids all of which is even more reason to rethink which products we use and how researcher Brian McDonald says the studies already done that for him. So it makes me has made me a lot more aware of what I'm using as well as trying to seek out for versions of cleaning products as for scientists, Jessica Gilman. This is her advice. Just using the smallest amount needed in order to get the job done. Liz tongue reported this story, and I have to admit even though I just heard all of this. I'm not ready to give up my orange scented cleaner or the shampoo that I love that smell so nice, but I have a really small car, and I almost never use it. But then again, I fly a lot I'm pretty inconsistent in terms of being green. But it is on my mind. Many people just don't worry about it at all. I never think about my carbon footprint. We'll figure it out. And I think that we've made big strides, right? And we'll figure it out. That's l Michener Maryland like about thirty percent of Americans. She doesn't think climate change will affect her. She's not concerned. But she says she still lives simply it's in your own personal interest to conserve and not be wasteful had a grandmother who you know, saved every button and every piece of string and every egg. Shell to fertilize her violets. So I think that is my background to kind of live simply. But it isn't about being green. And by the way, researchers have found that your attitude toward the environment doesn't really predict your carbon footprint. Talking about personal choices big and small that impact the environment, and what motivates us to make them many television viewers feel very attached to their local weather forecasters, they're usually fun and upbeat. They tell us when to bring an umbrella or when to wear a rubber boots store and coming out of the Rockies, excuse me into the plain states, look at all the cloud cover. That's because there's that's the voice of Tom skilling for over forty years. He's been the lovable and enthusiastic weathermen of Chicago's TV station W G N. But when Tom started talking about climate change on the air, some of his viewers pushed back, oh, here's a letter. Dear Tom, skilling user are the dumbest dumb dumb in dumb land. And then he's got me with a dumb camp on despite the occasional hate mail. Tom is still vocal about climate change on air. He sat down with reporter JJ Smith to discuss why more TV meteorologist aren't doing the same. You know, a lot of people think this is some sort of I don't know conspiracy. That people come to us in our bosses say don't you touch that? That's a scary subject. I have never in my experience had any manager ever. Come to me and say don't even go there. No, one of our younger whether people want to do something on climate change and was told by a news manager. Now, be sure you get somebody from the other side of the story, and I stepped in and said, there isn't another side of the story. And I think this young forecaster felt, you know, concern, it's not because anybody came out with an edict and said don't. Talk about it. And I think he was trying to avoid any pitfalls that he's suspected might exist. If you were a young meteorologist are today, and maybe even say somewhere other than Chicago more conservative place is vocally about climate changes. You do. No, I don't think. So and I can think of regions of the country where you better not, you know, if you were working down the deep south where there's a more conservative band, you'd better think about it do use their obligation. Would you say among local broadcast meteorologist to talk about climate change? I think just as a matter. I mean, we're communicating the bottom fascinating system our atmosphere, and all and when it does I'm usual things. I think it's important for us to put in context what's going on. Because people will reject preaching if they think that's what you're doing to them. You wanna bring them along you want to say, hey, here's an interesting piece of evidence in here's how this fits into the big picture. And this is why a group very concerned scientist. Have reached some of the conclusions that they've reached you know, I wasn't quick to come to the climate change. I mean, I didn't immediately buy into the whole climate change scenario when I used to hear model forecasts at the Arctic was going to melt, and all I thought well, you're going to have to prove it to me. My mind was changed by the evidences, I went along. And I see things happening. I haven't seen happen before. And I say. They're right about that. So I can understand why a snowstorm or a cold wave in the middle of a period, you're told the planet is warming is confusing people. There is a great example. Think of what we can do when you do talk about an extreme cold way. You can point out. Yeah. It's cold here. But you've been hearing this discussion of climate change. And look at the big picture. It's unusually hot here. And unusually hot here all the rest, and that's something. I've tried to do while we shivered here in the midwest this past winter, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Miami registered record winter warm. So did Alaska where mammoth avalanches some of the largest ever observed occurred, the UK's all this your job. I don't I don't set out to change minds. It's just that. When something happens that's out of the ordinary. I think part of your job is to say this is out of the ordinary, and here's how we place this in context. And she is an interesting that we're seeing more of these situations show up more frequently and I must say wish more people were talking about it too. In my line of work. That's weathermen Tom skilling. He spoke to reporter Jake J Smith for WBZ in Chicago. The stuff we do to be green. It's personal and often means making real changes that affect other areas of your life. Thirty four year old Meghan adorno. Made a decision to go vegan. No meat. No cheese. No eggs, no animal products period, and for her that means taking care of her health animals and the planet. She talked about all of this while cooking up a quick vegan dinner today were making almost instant chickpeas Medo. So it's super quick and easy. So if you come home from work whip it up in like fifteen minutes from feeding on the cheap, my favorite cookbook feel like there's no bigger benefit than cutting the animal products out of your life for everything for your health for the planet for the animals and the salt. Like, I never have. After going vegan. I dropped forty pounds without changing anything else in my life, which was really nice. Definitely after going vegan felt of much deeper connection with non human animals all of them are individuals. And yeah, don't deserve to be used for goods that we don't actually need to consume and that are detrimental to our health and the health of the planet. The environmental aspect was kind of the last thing that hit me. And that one was when I kind of kicked into gear like I can't sit back and be a quiet vegan. I need to speak up because this is for the planet. It seems crazy to say like, this is all encompassing. But that's how it how it feels. When you start to gather the information, it becomes really apparent like we need to do this. We need I need to get other people to do this because they're going to feel great. They'll be cutting down on how much water they use their land usage, the CO two. I think it's you cut your carbon footprint in half by going just vegetarian. I think and then even more so by going vegan. Now, I can say I'm an environmentalist. And I'm really like doing everything I can my best not to not damage things quite so quickly. That's vegan and home coke magneto. Or no. We're talking about why people make changes or even sacrifices in their lives often. Our actions are motivated by fear. Theorem that we are rapidly destroying the planet in nineteen sixty eight fifty years ago, a book came out that took America by storm certainly hit a great title in. I'm jealous of the title that population. Bob, it featured this sentence on the cover while you are reading these words for people will have died from starvation. The author is Stanford biology professor Paul Erlich, and he painted a nightmarish picture of what lay ahead for the human race early. Was so powerful it's a bomb. It's going to go off. That's Gary mcdonagh an urban anthropologist at Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania. Gary wasn't high school when this book came out just about to go to college and reading it really influenced him. He was talking about inevitable deaths of millions of people after we after which we might survive. So is very dark Paul Erlich fast. Talking handsome and. Eloquent became a popular guest on talk shows and the book sold millions of copies. He hammered home. The message that the earth would soon be unable to feed all of the people on it. If we want to avoid a tremendous rise in the death rate. We absolutely must have tremendous decrease in the birth rate early played upon fears of things we didn't know Gary mcdonagh says people of all ages were talking about this book, the sixties were a time of great upheaval. And Gary says it became part of a larger discussion both in terms of reflecting on who we were. And what are possibilities and responsibilities were and reflecting upon the context in which we lived which seemed much more chaotic than we'd imagined it. I was coming out of a generation had been raised believe that everything was hours in terms of the postwar generation, and suddenly realizing that there were limits on it. This shiny promise of the fifties. With big cars and pastel colored refrigerators had given way to fear is about limited resources than a day of reckoning for all that consumption was near that sends of doom is depicted in the early nineteen seventies science fiction movies z p g which stands for zero population growth. It was inspired by early book because it has been agreed by the nations of the world. The earth can no longer sustain a continuously increasing population. As of today, the first of January, we join with all other nations of the world in the following eating child. Berry is Iranian or visit. Nightime talk shows, Paul Erlich didn't stump for government to forbid all procreation. But he came close you could move to giving women bonuses for not having babies that almost certainly would do the job if that didn't have the effect then you can move to changing the tax structure. So that people who had the money and had the children paid for the children. The words you would increase taxes on people with children if that doesn't work then you'll have the government legislating the size of the family and people say, oh that's impossible. Government can never intrude until you. How many children have? Well, I got news. You know, it intruded a longtime ago until you how many wives you can have. And there's not the slightest question than we don't get the population under control voluntary means that in the not-too-distant future. The government will tell you how many children can have and throw you in jail. If you have too many. Apologist. Gary mcdonagh says once he got to college students would web button sayings EPG's zero population growth, the sense of crisis since of a need to change many things was very important to contact your congressman and to start talking to your neighbors, most of the population bomb predictions, haven't come true. But Gary says the worry is still there. We didn't actually resolve all these problems we dodge some so we've learned to live with food for larger populations. But famine is still a problem today pushing for population control policies around the globe has become somewhat taboo, this topic is attached to some troubling history. Millions of four sterilizations in India in the nineteen seventies. China's brutal enforcement of their longtime one child policy even strident environmentalists shy away. From it as a possible solution, but lots of individual people still consider the environment. When they are starting a family think about it in the nineteen seventies the earth's population was three point seven billion. Now, it's over seven billion Kerry fiber worried about those numbers when she became a mom, and it didn't help that she was living in the oil capital of the world. When I was thirty four years old, I left New York City for a reporting job in Houston, Texas. A lot of my friends were incredulous Houston, don't expect visit New York had media and finance. San Francisco had tech LA was movies, but Houston was oil and gas and petrochemicals. I was always reminded that Houston's economic heart runs on fossil fuels east of downtown. There are miles of refineries petrochemical plants bristling with pipes and flare. Stacks belching flames or black smoke when I first got there. I would ask is that thing on fire and people would laugh. No, that's just a gas flare. They're burning off excess. It was beautifully apocalyptic like a scene from Bladerunner. It always been anxious about global warming. But not just global warming all of it, the dying corals and acid rain and the little animals that were going extinct before we even discovered them or named them but living in Houston, really ratcheted that up it was like a constant trigger for my echoing Zayed's. But I also kind of liked that the honesty of it. Hugh stones have no illusions. They know exactly where the gas in their car comes from. And where the air conditioning comes from and what that costs to their wallets and the environment. I sort of love the weird contradictions of the place. Instead of my husband, Eric, we met in Houston and got married and in twenty twelve our daughter was born it was mid December the last day of Hanukkah, and she was our healthy. Eight pound present. Yeah. I can't tell. Joanie nursed a little and then she cried a lot. She was the loudest baby on the maternity floor. What did I expect really naming my daughter after a singer? As child a little bit with all my crazy. My husband Eric still looks back on those first few months with a little bit of fatherly PTSD. Just to get Johnny to sleep was a ton of work. I mean it had to swallow swallow her super tied. I had to bouncer on a yoga ball for forty five minutes to an hour. Eric knew pretty early on that he would be totally fine. If we were one and done, I was more conflicted. I always wanted kids I thought kids, plural. But now that I had a kid ahead to decide right away. Whether I wanted another one was already forty so I didn't have the luxury of time. And yet a second child also felt like a luxury we couldn't afford not just in terms of money, but also in freedom and energy. And then there was my Houston problem the flare stacks the hurricanes. The floods. I was starting to doubt. Whether a second child was something the planet could handle either. Up. Cain Kotil spot. That's the first Joni Mitchell song, I remember hearing back in the seventies. When I was a little girl didn't really understand it. But I knew it was sad. Now, I knew too much. I'd read books about the environment and about family size. And I learned about the carbon footprint of Americans of an American kid. It's huge toys the vacations the birthday parties, the ice cream cones wanted Joni to have those cream cones because otherwise why have Joni but did I need to Jones? Jones five now enough sides to her personality to be her own sibling. And she thinks big too. Ganesha here. When people come dinosaurs works. Because. John there long ago. The decision to stop with her wasn't strictly environmental. But it's done a lot to ease. My echoing Zion. A second child would double the consumption double the emissions and the study showed no amount of recycling. Not even giving up meat cars and airplanes for the rest of my life would ever be able to make up for it. It's not the only way to cut back, but having one less kid kind of let's do it in one fell swoop Joanie is my one fell swoop Kerry fiber is a health editor she now lives in Oakland, California, where she's met some folks who are more environmentally neurotic than she's. Shades of green is a production of the pulse at WHYY in Philadelphia. You can catch our show every week on itunes, or whatever you get your podcast, our health and science reporters are Alan you Liz tongue jets Lehman and Steph yet Julian Harris is our intern chart with higher is our engineer. Lindsey Lazar skis. Our producer, Tanya English is our editorial director, I'm Mike and Scott. Thank you for listening. Behavioral health reporting on the pulse is supported by the Thomas, scattered good behavioral health foundation, an organization that is committed to thinking doing and supporting innovative approaches in integrated healthcare WHYY health and science reporting is supported by generous grant from public health management corporations public health fund, P H, M C gladly supports WHYY and its commitment to the production of services that improve our quality of life. This podcast is supported by the Arden theatre company presenting Treasure Island, this classic tale follows young Emily and she transforms her living room into the wild seas to discover a journey of a lifetime now through June ninth tickets at Arden theatre dot org or two one five nine two two one one two two.

Coming up next