Monty Python could not have dreamt up a sharper caricature of Australian intellectuals. Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, two academics made world headlines this week by endorsing a Chinese model of population control to reduce the human carbon footprint. Barry Walters, a professor of obstetrics at the University of Western Australia, has called for a carbon tax on newborns (1).
He who pollutes must pay: ‘Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing, but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society’, Walters explained. His solution? A ‘baby levy’ of AUS$5,000 on third and subsequent children, plus an annual tax of AUS$400 to AUS$800 annually for the life of the child to purchase and maintain the four hectares of trees needed to sequester 17 metric tons of carbon dioxide. (The algorithm to calculate this was taken from a 15-year-old book, so the cost may, in fact, be much greater.)
As offsets, carbon credits should be granted for contraceptives, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, condoms and sterilisation procedures. The credits would go to the user and to ‘family planning clinics and hospitals that provide such greenhouse-friendly services’. (Enabling the likes of Professor Walters to buy their Jags and overseas holidays, presumably.)>>>MORE
And, because I love footnotes (the first thing I read in a Q or K):
(1) Personal carbon trading: a potential “stealth intervention” for obesity reduction?, Barry N J Walters, Medical Journal of Australia, 14 October 2007.
(2) See YouTube.
(3) Baby levy plan to offset carbon emissions, Jen Kelly, HeraldSun, December 10 2007.
(4) Put carbon tax on babies: academic, Barbara Miller, ABC, 10 September 2007.
(5) A really inconvenient truth: Divorce is not green, Michigan State University, 3 December 2007.