((Maybe it is due to with these kind of things that they are showing kids in school over in Australia))
How long do you deserve to live?
Globe and Mail Update
July 1, 2008 at 10:47 PM EDT
The belief in human-induced global warming, combined with a growing population, has led some environmentalists to question the morality of having children. The suggestion is, more children mean more rapid planetary overheating, as humans engage in the selfish processes of working, playing, eating, using electricity and operating a car. Other people disagree with what they regard as an environmental attack on the human race.
But what about the children who are already here? Do those who believe in human-induced global warming think children should be told that the planet would be better off if they had never been born – that they are planet slayers, so to speak? In fact, the Australian government believes just that, and encourages teachers to tell children when they will have created their fair share of greenhouse gasses according to their current living habits and those of their families – and at what age, therefore, they should die.
Professor Schpinkee's “date one should die” exercise is meant to be a “fun” experience for primary students of public schools associated with the Australian Sustainability Schools Initiative.” According to a 2007 Schools Environment newsletter, written by the government sustainability officer in New South Wales and sent to schools in this program, teachers are encouraged to lead children to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Planet Slayer website and use Professor Schpinkee's Greenhouse Calculator. The newsletter refers to the calculator as a “great game for kids.”
In the calculator game, children and grownups are represented as pigs, with the child playing the game as a little pig in the middle of two bigger pigs. Then, presumably with the help of their parents, the children are asked to answer 11 questions involving their living habits – that is to say, their greenhouse-gas generating habits. After answering the questions, a press of a final button results in the little pig exploding into nothing but a little squiggly tail quivering in the middle of a pool of blood. A message above the blood pool informs the child at which age he or she should die. An elaborating message explains: “Based on your emissions from your greenhouse usage, you used up your share of the planet by the time you were xx years old.”
I played the game and answered all of Professor Schpinkee's questions. My wife and I live in a very energy-efficient small house, never fly, recycle but do not compost, eat chicken and fish about five times a week, and spend almost all of our money on Professor Schpinkee's classification for “ordinary living.” Clicking on the final button exploded my pig, and the message above the pool of blood told me: “You should die at age 5.7.”
Of course, the children are encouraged to experiment how a change to more greenhouse-friendly living habits can lead to a longer planet-friendly life. So, being nothing more than a big kid at heart, I thought I'd have another go. I answered each question in the most greenhouse-friendly way I could (no flying, composting, living in a flat with four other people, driving a fuel-miserly car, using only renewable energy generated electricity etc.), while limiting my expenditure distribution just to “ordinary stuff.” Unfortunately, my little piggy still exploded, and Professor Schpinkee told me I had no business being on the planet beyond 5.8 years. All my environmental sacrifice apparently entitled me to only 0.1 more years of justifiable life on Earth.
So I thought to heck with it. I'll drive a gas guzzler, fly 10,000 kilometres each year, live in a big, high-energy-using house with just my wife, won't recycle (let alone compost), and I'll eat meat all the time.Well, it turns out that, as long as I spend at least 44 per cent of my money investing in ethical businesses (defined by the Australian educational authorities as businesses and organizations “that make environmentally responsible products”), my little piggy no longer explodes. Instead, it floats gently up to piggy heaven and, despite my otherwise environmentally destructive habits, Professor Schpinkee tells me I am entitled to “live forever.”
I'm all for teaching children about environmental stewardship, but, at the same time, I think it is possible to impose undue guilt feelings among children for just being on this planet. The Australian government and its educational establishment have gone just a little too far.
Alex MacMillan is a retired economics and finance professor at Queen's School of Business and St. Lawrence College.(For those who wish to see how long they deserve to live, go to the “planet slayer” website.)Link