Fruitful Multiplication and Care of God’s Creation

Earlier, Funky explored Pius XII’s comments on family size. However, one thing that seems to come up frequently when discussing the idea of having large families is how to reconcile a large family with preserving the earth for future generations and caring for God’s creation. As I have said in the past, I think the problem lies in the impact per person rather than the number of people. If total impact on the environment = (number of people) * (impact per person), then by reducing the impact per person significantly enough, the environment can sustain more people. As Earth day fast approaches, I found it a fitting time to suggest 10 simple ways that each of us can help decrease the impact per person:

1. Eat less animal products. Now, I’m not insisting that everyone go hardcore vegan, but if you eat animal products twice a day, try once a day. If you eat them once a day, try once a week. 

2. Eat more organic. All the pesticides and hormones that can go into food production have a negative impact on the environment, particularly in terms of water pollution.

3. Carpool/take public transport/bike/walk more.

4. Recycle and buy things with post consumer content.

5. Bring your own bags when you shop.

6. Buy in bulk and with as little packaging as possible.

7. Buy locally grown food and produced products.

8. Buy reusable items with as little processing as possible.

9. Open the windows instead of using the a/c.

10. Next time you purchase a car, buy one as fuel efficient as possible.

This list is not even close to exhaustive but a starting point. Please add your own in the comments section. Also, please talk these and other ideas up to as many people as possible so that it’s not just us tree huggers talking. We tend to get tuned out.

Comments 12

  1. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    More fundamental I think than a fuel efficient car is simply driving less, by choosing to live closer to work, shopping, and entertainment. Also living in as small a house as you comfortably can instead of the biggest house you can afford will go a long way.

    Also think of large families as a way to combat the vocational shortage of the church. Parents with 1 or 2 children are going to be less inclined to encourage their children to go into the ministry as they have an (perfectly good and healthy) interest in having grandchildren. I have 6 kids (well one still has a few weeks to bake), and it is fun to think of them all growing up and having 6 too, but realistically we expect only some of them to grow up and have a lot. We certainly hope others will be called to celibate full-time ministries.

    Posted 22 Apr 2006 at 3:43 pm
  2. edey wrote:

    “More fundamental I think than a fuel efficient car is simply driving less, by choosing to live closer to work, shopping, and entertainment.”

    i agree. that’s why i put in the post:

    3. Carpool/take public transport/bike/walk more.

    “Also think of large families as a way to combat the vocational shortage of the church.”

    agreed. amazing how well following Church teachings works. it’s funny how many people who complain about the vocation shortage have small families and wouldn’t want one of their children to be a priest/brother/sister. “we need more priests/brothers/sisters, but not one of my kids!” it’s all part of the selfish, contraceptive mentality.

    Posted 23 Apr 2006 at 3:37 pm
  3. Jerry wrote:

    “…its all part of the selfish, contraceptive mentality.”

    Ouch. I’ve also heard of kids being disowned when they left the seminary–shall I make a blanket judgment of traditionalist Catholics? Parents of any stripe get attached to their children, and sometimes it can be hard for any parent to “let go”.

    Posted 23 Apr 2006 at 5:01 pm
  4. edey wrote:

    did i say that every child should be a priest/religious? no. i think it’s wrong (and even selfish on the part of the parents) to disown your child WHATEVER their vocation.

    i didn’t say anything about liberal/conservative/traditionalist/etc. i just said it was part of the contraceptive mentality. the contraceptive mentality goes across the board and has nothing to do with what “stripe” of Catholic you are.

    Posted 23 Apr 2006 at 7:21 pm
  5. Jerry wrote:

    “just said it was part of the contraceptive mentality. ”

    How so? If it can affect even a trad family with a large number of a children, how is it contraceptive? I can see how the desire for inordinate control leads into contraception, but labelling it contraceptive outright seems to make the term “contraceptive” too broad.

    Posted 23 Apr 2006 at 9:28 pm
  6. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Jerry, I think “contraceptive” is a quite appropriate metalabel for much that is wrong (“left” and “right”) with modernity, which can be stated in its most concise form as: a sense of entitlement toward personal gratification without regard to a communal past, present, or future. (The student will readily see that this view slams what are known today a “the left” and “the right” in equal measure.)

    In this sense, it easy to imagine trads falling into the same trap as liberated types. Trad-ism can itself become a sort of private fetish, an exercise of personal autonomy under the Gospel of Choice.

    Case in point: there are many “liberals” waiting in constant hope (and dissent) of the Vatican relaxing itself on issues such as homosexuality and women’s ordination; just as there are many ultramontanists waiting in hope (and in some cases dissent) for the Vatican to put a smackdown on such groups.

    Posted 24 Apr 2006 at 2:54 pm
  7. Funky Dung wrote:

    I love your webpage link, Steve. 😉

    Posted 24 Apr 2006 at 9:45 pm
  8. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Oh yeah… gotta million of ’em!

    Posted 24 Apr 2006 at 11:36 pm
  9. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    Oh-n-a-nuther thing. I think you have to take the bit about eat less meat with a grain of salt (no pun intended). While it is no doubt true that it takes more land and natural resources to raise 1 kcal of animal matter than it does plant matter, it is also true that a lot of land (esp. at higher elevations or with poor soil conditions) not suitable for any harvest crop is still in fact suitable for grazing animals, since they are (almost by definition) mobile. Animal husbandry is in fact what makes such land valuable at all, and allows us to utilize land that would have no tangible benefit to humans at all (except to build strip malls and sell crap that no one needs). Animals also provide a method of storing kcals over times of the year when in ages past (and maybe to come) the land (or trans-continental 18-wheelers) doesn’t yield much in the way of human food crops. Entire people groups (not to mention predator species throughout the world) have survived and continue to survive almost entirely upon animal flesh for nutrition. There is, in short, nothing inherently defective or imprudent in eating meat, nor anything morally (or prudentially) superior in avoiding it. There IS, however, a profound moral component in our treatment of animals, and today’s industrial “meat producing” practices fall very far short of the Biblical mandate to exercise humane lordship (benevolent dominion) over the earth (see The Meatrix and related links). Given this fact, I’d argue that unless you’re willing to spend the extra dough to purchase humanely (and preferably locally) raised and slaughtered meat and poultry, it is probably better to go veggie as much as you can.

    Click on my homepage to find some steers, pigs, and chickens that lived happy (i.e., respectively steer-like, pig-like, and chicken-like) lives before arriving at your table.

    Cheers!

    Posted 25 Apr 2006 at 12:03 am
  10. edey wrote:

    “just said it was part of the contraceptive mentality.

    How so? If it can affect even a trad family with a large number of a children, how is it contraceptive?”

    i said it can affect any stripe of Catholic, not a *insert any label here* family with a lot of children. my point is this: we are called to live generously. i’m not saying someone with less than x children has the contraceptive mentality because there are many factors. (there could be grave reason, they could be unable to conceive, they just got married and only have one because there hasnt’ been enough post marriage time to have x kids, etc). we are called to be generous and open to life. it would follow naturally from being generous and open to life to generous with God and open to the vocations of their children.

    the contraceptive mentality of me is what i’m talking about…not what stripe of Catholic you are or necessarily if you have greater than or less than x kids.

    Posted 25 Apr 2006 at 4:01 pm
  11. Jerry wrote:

    Thanks Erin for the clarification.

    Steve, you are correct in pointing out that in some areas, the land is worthless for food production if it weren’t for animals, who often do much better on a diet of grass and lichens than the average human. But considering how much soy and corn meal goes to feeding American animals, I daresay that we could be much more efficient in using the Midwest than we are right now.

    Posted 25 Apr 2006 at 5:50 pm
  12. Steve Nicoloso wrote:

    But considering how much soy and corn meal goes to feeding American animals, I daresay that we could be much more efficient in using the Midwest than we are right now.

    That was exactly my second point. These feedlotting techniques are not generally part of what I would consider humane treatment of animals, i.e., treatment of animals consistent with their natures (as animals, not industrial products), which in the case of ruminants includes eating grass and not naked grains, which is the bovine equivalent of Nacho Cheese Doritos.

    A tertiary point, we rely heavily on natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel, to produce nitrogen fertilizers to produce all those feed crops (soy, corn). It is not hard to imagine a time when this practice will become unsustainable (esp. as we turn to natural gas in lieu of oil or to help Canadians harvest oil from tar sands and shales). At such a point, big midwestern agriculture, which has really flourished only since the “green” revolution of the 40s and 50s (wherein fossil-fuel based pesticides and fertilizers came into widespread use), may die a rather quick death. This will force us, in our relentless search for food, to reconvert a big chunk of US suburbia back to the arable farmland it once was.

    Happy Motoring…

    Posted 25 Apr 2006 at 6:41 pm

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