Are babies eco-friendly?

A student argues that it would be wrong to have a baby as it would harm the enviroment. Photo: Anneka James

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?”

4 Responses to Are babies eco-friendly?

  1. Fiora Starchild says:

    “Fell pregnant”? You make it sound like a severe illness.

    Yes, it is true absolutely that our Earth cannot support the growing population of consumers who, in their largely fundamentalist religious world-views (whatever fundamentalist religion they happen to belong to), carry the twin beliefs that a) God or Allah or Whomever wants them to have as many babies as possible (promoted most heavily by the war-mongering paternalistic religions that feed into corporate governments, for the purpose of having plenty of fodder for their battles over resources), and b) all things found in Nature were put there for humans to use.

    However, there are OTHER ways to raise children, and there are conscious ways to live in community, society, and individually that could overflow into a conscious way to govern, develop economies, and live on our shared planet.

    Life is neither “good” nor “bad”–it simply IS. But lives can be trained and dedicated towards things that are sustainable or things that are the opposite.

  2. George Lord says:

    It is false that “population needs to grow to support the older generation”. That’s because on average a child is dependent for more years (up to age 18?) at the start of life than an old person at the end. Adding a person to the population is actually a net drain on the economy (as well as on the environment).

    There are other, effective, ways to deal with the “pension problem”, including greater personal saving for retirement, and a later retirement age.

    Also, increasing computerisation will make much current work redundant, releasing those doing it for other tasks. For example, self-driving road vehicles are almost here, and they will make cabbies, truckers, and bus drivers unnecessary. There is already a robot vacuum cleaner (the Roomba), and other such devices will make human cleaners less and less needed. We aren’t going to be short of human labour, even with a reducing population.

  3. Jonathon Padgett says:

    This article majors on the ‘problem’ of our over-population and cites such notables as David Attenborough and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement group. For my part I’m a mature student and active member of the local branch of the pro-life, that is anti-murder group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

    Ever since I was a child which is 40 years ago, the population of this country has been 60 million and whilst promiscuity is on the increase the price of this paid in ‘birth-control’ is over 500 babies killed every day in England and Wales. These statistics can be gleaned from the Department of Health’s own website and are not a glib use of figures.

    There’s no denying that the world’s population has increased but then this is Biblical since the Lord said “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” – Genesis 1:28 New International Version.

    By subdue God had in mind an order in which man was at the head of creation although this was not meant for harm – this only came about when death entered the world through sin.

    The problem of the world is sin. In terms of natural resources – these are ravaged – not to make money but to make hideous and wholly unnecessary amounts of money which can also be linked to shares and the stock market system.

    Even a basic understanding of food distribution by charities and figures such as Bob Geldof and Bono are much closer to the problem, by observing that it’s not about lack of food but equitable distribution of it.

  4. Jakes Joubert says:

    This is a clash of world views. If reproducing is less important than saving the planet, we have to re-evaluate our core beliefs.

    Are you aware of the fact that Europe’s Reproduction rate is 1.3 per family? When a society produces only 1.3 kids per mom and dad, that means that the population is decreasing! If only 1.3 kids per 2 people are born, that society will be extinct within a couple of generations! Research shows that a reproduction rate of below 1.6 has never been recovered from! It forms so much part of that culture to have only 1 kid, that they never recover. Europe will be totally Arabic/Muslim in a century or two, because the Arabs are reproducing and taking up the place that the Europeans are leaving open! Is this where this mindset will lead us, extinction?

    If I put nature first, and human life second, we will soon no longer exist. This is the world view clash, “what is most important?” Has man evolved from nature to protect nature, or was nature created for man?

    Why don’t the Africans care about nature? Because nature is not their responsibility, human life is! Although there should be a balance, this is closer to what life is about than where you are headed! Nature is God’s problem, if He created earth in 6 days, He can restore it again in 6 days. Imagine a life where human beings do not care about each other anymore, where husbands and wives fight and hurt each other all the time. Where kids are neglected and rejected. Where our quest for “survival” was the thing that killed us in the end.

    Maybe these young students do not value life because of how they have experienced life up to now. I’m not blaming or pointing fingers, but that’s where a loveless society will lead our children! That’s the life we have chosen when we chose to reject God’s way of living. This is a very serious thing that we have to discuss and think through.