August 31st, 2006.

Tomorrow's world.

Sometimes I think that having children is the most selfish thing in the world to do. Other times I think it's just an amazing show of faith and optimism for the future. Then I wonder if it's ever really that thought out in the first place. I mean, if we really sat down and thought about the future, would we still feel that it would be responsible to bring another person into the world?

If being a parent means doing everything you can to protect your child and see that it lives in a safe and loving environment, then shouldn't all parents be crazy environmentalists living the most eco-friendly 'green' lives they possibly can?

I know that's not a reality of course, but I can't help but wonder why it isn't at least a little more of a reality than it is. The other day I saw a Mom driving two very young children around in a brand new Range Rover. The kids were buckled up in heavily padded child seats in the back of the SUV which is itself a huge chunk of mobile metal fitted with every possible device to keep them safe.

But as I looked at her sitting at the junction waiting for a gap in the traffic, the image struck me as a rather twisted paradox. Here was a woman clearly concerned, like any responsible mother, for the well-being of her children. Yet she is driving a gas-guzzling beast that is unarguably contributing to the very serious problem of climate change which could adversely affect the very lives she is driven by nature to protect.

The effects of global warming and pollution are as well known to all of us as the effects of smoking. Yet few people, if any, would accuse that mother of being in any way irresponsible for choosing to ferry her children around in a great big SUV. But if she had lit two cigarettes and given them to her children to smoke while she pushed them along in a stroller there would be an outcry and her face would probably appear on the front page of every newspaper in the land. She would no doubt be labeled irresponsible, deranged, and abusive. But is it really such a far cry to connect the two?

While no responsible parent would give their child a cigarette, it is a completely acceptable behavior for them to own a vehicle that probably pumps more toxins into the air we all have to breathe than a few cigarettes might.

I suppose the truth of it is that we are all so wrapped up in our own little lives that it is difficult, even at the best of times, to see the bigger picture. If we could, I think the question of the environment would be much higher up on the agenda, not because we love the planet, but instead because we love our children more.