The story

Michelle Lehmann wakes up at 4 a.m. Her husband, Jim, gets their eight children out of bed as she picks out their outfits, makes breakfast and packs lunches. She fixes the younger children's hair while her husband ties their shoes. After a quick check of school bags, everyone is out the door at 8.

Sure, having such a large family is sometimes wearing on Lehmann. But wearing on the Earth? She doesn't think so. She says her family leads a frugal life, but the criticism still pours in.

"People will say you are selfish; you are killing the planet," said Lehmann, 37, who started a Web site where large families can find support.

The criticism comes from those who say the Earth -- with its 6.6 billion people -- is exceeding its carrying capacity. Most estimates range from 1 billion to 1 trillion.

"Those are the people that want us to believe that there are way too many people already and we should do something about it -- preferably drastically and soon," said Joel Cohen, a professor of population at both the Rockefeller University and Columbia University. "And then there are the people who say, 'Oh, we could support very nicely 15 billion or 20 billion or 70 billion.' " Read full article »

All About United Nations

Planet in Peril
Anderson Cooper, Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin & Dr. Sanjay Gupta explore the Earth's environmental issues in a CNN worldwide investigation.
October 23-24 at 9 p.m. ET on CNN

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