At 26 years old, Laura admits that the natural desire to have children is extremely strong but she feels that the bigger issue of protecting the environment is more important: “Over the last couple of years I’ve had a feeling that I want more from life or something meaningful and that’s probably my body’s cue to have kids. People would call it a mothering instinct but I’m interpreting it as something else, to find some other meaning in my life.”
Laura explains that she feels extremely fortunate that her boyfriend of nearly ten years feels the same way on the issue: “My boyfriend would like kids, but he knows there’s bigger reasons than, he just wants kids. We’re both lucky that we’re together and we both feel the same way on the issue.”
Interestingly, Laura says that as well as support from her partner, she also feels reassured and justified by organisations like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) and the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). Both organisations campaign to raise awareness on the issues surrounding overpopulation and its impact on the environment. The VHEMT want a gradual extinction of the human race through non-reproduction. The group argue on their website: “The hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens… us.”
The OPT, who Sir David Attenborough is patron of, aim to raise awareness of the problems and implications of overpopulation in the UK, and suggest that while the population in the UK currently stands at 61 million and is due to rise to 77 million by 2050, a population of only 30 million is sustainable on a long term basis. This argument they say is replicated on a worldwide scale too, claiming that while the current global population stands at nearly seven billion people, in terms of food, water and fuel for long term survival and prosperity this figure needs to be significantly reduced. The group advocates population control policies implemented by governments.
The argument that growing population damages the environment is supported by a recent report by Oregon State University. The study concluded that having a child was twenty times more important than taking other environmentally friendly actions like recycling or driving a low emission car.
“Sometimes I think it’s not worth me explaining to people because either they won’t understand my reasons, they tell me I’ll change my mind or you’ll insult them because you’re effectively challenging their world view. Or once you say that you don’t want kids, they think maybe you can’t have kids and the conversation ends through embarrassment,” she adds.
The decision to never have children, has taken Laura a long time, which she began considering when she was around the age of twelve or thirteen. Due to events that happened in her family, as she grew up she realised that life wasn’t all positive and events such as her parents divorcing made her think about traditional families. This made her aware that life didn’t have to run a pre-determined path involving children. She feels that many people almost sleep walk into marriage and children without considering the ramifications and wider implications, just because its what is expected for young adults to do.
She also admits that her conviction not to have children was shaken in her early twenties when one of her best teenage friends fell pregnant. During their school years Laura and her friend had both shared the same belief that having children was not for them. Her friends’ pregnancy made Laura think that she might change her mind too. She now insists this is not an option and her desires are of secondary concern to the needs of society at large.
Laura has heard before that the population needs to grow to support the older generation in society. John Jansen, Project co-ordinator of the Pro-life Action League argues this very point, he says: “It’s unfortunate when someone makes the decision to not have children based on a mistaken belief that the world is overpopulated. Quite the contrary, the real danger in our world is underpopulation. This is the looming demographic and economic threat that no one wants to talk about. If there are not enough babies being born today, who will support tomorrow’s pensioners?”
However, Laura questions this logic and says that there are more pressing issues than the state of the economy, she says: “You can’t have more and more people, there’s not enough resources on the planet as it is. Pensions will be the least of our problems if we don’t have food, water and other vital resources.”
“At the end of the day who’s more selfish, someone who’s giving in to their natural urges, wanting to have a baby so you’ve got someone to love you and look after you when you’re old, or me who’s sacrificing all of that, for the good of the Earth and mankind?”Tweet