Thursday, January 17, 2008

Accepting the child-free choice.

WebMD Video:Child-Free Couples

The couples in this piece make some very good points about societal expectations, and what is better for all.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Another Reaction to Sterilization for Environment

"Child-Free" Follies

In the fecund Fifties, childlessness was rare, and generally considered tragic. The childless woman was either a pitiful spinster (unwed motherhood was not yet a respectable "lifestyle") or else presumed to suffer some medical disorder that deprived her of the ability to bear children.

Half a century on, the cultural revolution has upended the old assumptions.
. . .
Statistical norms have a way of becoming cultural norms, especially when these norms involve the educated, affluent, and influential, and Census data show that childlessness is most common among women in households with incomes over $100,000.
. . .
Some adamant non-mothers have turned their barrenness into a political statement. Most commonly, this takes the form of a feminist disdain for the "trap" of motherhood, based on the belief that motherhood abets patriarchal oppression and requires the obliteration of selfhood. One young lady recently informed me that she plans to remain childless because she cannot reduce herself to being a "mere vessel" of procreation.

More unusual is the assertion that by avoiding motherhood, the childless-by-choice are somehow saving the planet. An extreme example of this phenomenon was profiled last week by the London Daily Mail . . .

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," Ms. Vernelli, now 35, told the Daily Mail. "Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."
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The human mind is the ultimate natural resource, and it is unfortunate that eco-fanaticism has led Ms. Vernelli to diminish the potential supply of this resource. While many bloggers reacted to the Daily Mail article with vicious sarcasm -- several urged Ms. Vernelli to follow her argument to its logical conclusion and reduce her "carbon footprint" to zero by committing suicide -- in truth, this poor woman is a victim of misanthropic propaganda that perversely devalues humanity.

What really plagues the Toni Vernellis of the world is not a lack of resources, but a shortage of hope. If you're looking for reasons to despair, the prophets of gloom and doom will always oblige. In the face of this tide of negativity, to have a child -- to bring forth a new human life -- is the ultimate act of optimism.
Most of the article was actually rhetoric attempting to debunk the overpopulation "myth" - a position even most environmentalists parents refuse to adopt. As to the mind being a "natural resource", perhaps the author overlooks the fact that more of those minds will probably think of new ways to destroy the environment than will work toward means of preserving it. After all, it is that same human mind that conceived of Hummers, the atom bomb, and Quiverfull, to name a few examples.
I also wonder if the author thinks that trotting out the phrase "optimism" works some rhetorical magic. In the right context, one could substitute that term for "victim" and "fool" if his use is valid. Optimism is a boon when it means the presence of hope in the face of measured odds. When "optimism" means continuing to destroy the planet while foolishly clinging to the idea that human nature will take a miraculous turn and somehow reverse the predictable outcome, it might well be a pejorative.
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One-child and Childfree Families for the Environment

Smaller Families for a Healthy Environment
Most of us will be part of the problem by having our own children. We need to raise our kids to be conscious of population and environmental issues. The most important step we can take is to minimize our impact by having small families, or by not reproducing at all.

You might think that there is not much difference between a family of two children and one with three, but there is a large disparity after a few generations. If each of your three children has three kids, and so on, you will have 27 great grandchildren. In five generations there will be 243 progeny. If there had only been two per couple, there would only be eight great grandchildren, and 32 great, great, great grandchildren. So at the end of five generations we compare 243 with 32; the difference is over seven fold!
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Those of us who choose not to bear children have a support group all our own: Childfree By Choice. If you are unsure about having kids, the group meets your needs with material for people still trying to make up their minds about being parents—there’s even a bunch of jokes about childlessness. More and more people are choosing the option to forego children. Now about one in five women will not bear any child, while a few years ago it was only one in six.
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It’s definitely a paradox: We have children for the future, but if we have too many the future will be compromised. The solution is for people to have the right number of children—fewer than in the past. It also means that some people will forgo passing on their genes. Instead, they have the opportunity to pass on their wisdom and culture to future generations.
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Survival of the stupidest

Hey, did you hear the one about the woman who aborted her kid so she could save the planet ?

That’s no joke, but Darwin must be chuckling somewhere. Toni Vernelli was one of two women recently featured in a London Daily Mail story about environmentalists who take their carbon footprint very, very seriously. . . .

If we’re not saving the planet for our kids, for whom are we saving it ?
Um... yours. You're welcome.

While there are certainly a few VHEMT folks within our ranks, is this person really conflating the notion of childfreedom with extinction of the human race? That is in no danger of happening, and the global population is still rising. When the population is actually in decline, we can then discuss whether the childfree environmentalists are contributing to this author's vision of an empty earth.

In the meantime, this argument is akin to telling a missionary that they are selfish because if everyone moved to Africa to help the poor, America would be vacant.
Far be it from me to suggest that people must have children to be content or to contribute to life on Earth. But abortion should never be confused with a selfless act. It is clearly the ultimate and most-vivid expression of the opposite. Raising children is quantifiably the most persistently unselfish act known to mankind, as millions of veterans of sleepless nights will attest. Parenthood is when “I” takes a backseat to “thou” —when the infant-self submits to adulthood so that the real infant gets a necessary turn at the well of self-importance. Although I doubt there are many willing to sterilize themselves in order to reduce the size of their carbon footprint, such extreme materialism is the evolutionary product of our gradual commodification of human life.
Except for the fact that by the time you're losing sleep, you have committed to the obligation, it is not one you take on anew each morning you wake up a parent. If one is to look at the selfishness aspect of parenting, the relevant time period would be when they are deciding to make that commitment in the first place.

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