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Green Babies

In 2013, the UK birth rate is predicted to rise again. Dr Alice Roberts, who is expecting herself, finds out if their pint-size carbon footprints can be curbed.

2013 is predicted to see the biggest baby boom in 40 years. Whether it's the Royal baby or an after effect of the Olympics nobody is certain. But what does this mean for the planet? Dr Alice Roberts, who is herself expecting, finds out whether population really is the biggest threat to our environment.
The UK really is bucking the trend. In the US fears of a baby bust are coupled to predictions of economic decline. These are after all tiny unborn consumers. This is perhaps why many eminent nature watchers from David Attenborough to James Lovelock believe that over population is the biggest threat to our planet. No one can predict what a sustainable number of people would be but many agree that the predicted 10 billion plus is too many. At least, that is, if global rates of consumption increase to Western levels. George Monbiot points out that most growth in population is in the developing world where carbon footprints are often negligible.
Paradoxically the key to lowering the birth rate is higher standards of living and that inevitably means increased consumption. The recent Royal Society Paper concludes that population and consumption must be tackled together. So can these new baby boomers become more sustainable? Alice Roberts takes a look at prams, poop and purees to find out if there is such a thing as an 'eco baby'. If there is, she discovers, it may not be in what we purchase on their behalf but about how they connect with the natural world.
More and more evidence suggests being outdoors creates healthier, happier children and 'Project Wildthing' is an attempt to repackage and sell the concept of nature in order to compete with the marketing heavy worlds of toys and TV. Perhaps a new generation of nature lovers might want less stuff and enjoy the planet more.

Producer: Helen Lennard.

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30 minutes

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