09 July 2007

I Never Do This: Against Reproduction

I have had many, many, arguments with friends and relatives who have told me they want to have their own baby over the years. Not so astonishingly, no one wants to hear you suggest that adopting or just not having children is an option that helps the planet, or that not reproducing might be the correct ethical choice. Why do I think this?

Well, when I was a kid there were 4 billion people on the planet, and it was only a little while ago that the world population passed 6 billion. We live on a finite planet, each new person takes from every other person in terms of resources, plus we live in a terrible time where choosing to bring a new person into the world invokes a whole series of questions about why we might want to do this, plus there are already people here living in shitty conditions who would benefit from a nice parent who wants to care for them, and lastly, I never understood what was so special about anyone's specific DNA that forced them to reproduce that code.

In short, the magnamity that causes a person to want to have a child is somewhat called into question by their need to own that child, to be certain that it is their child. Raising a kid is a huge deal, but to disavow it unless it belongs to you genetically conjures notions of property and immortality that make me very uncomfortable. If you don't want to take care of a kid unless it's "yours," then by my lights, you probably shouldn't be having children. What's so damn special about your DNA anyway? All kids need a good parent, an education, food, and a home. If you can provide these things, why can't you take on someone who is already here?

Anyway, the GayProf says it better than I can and hence this post. Here is my favorite part:
In the seventies and eighties, the nation had explicit discussions about the notion of zero population growth and suggested that people needed to carefully consider the consequences of bringing new humans into an overpopulated world (This idea has seemingly become so unpopular in recent years that the organization Zero Population Growth changed its name in 2002 to “Population Connection”).

The earth, however, is still overpopulated. Since 1980, the earth’s population has grown 30 percent. More people mean more consumption and more waste. It means already exhausted urban structures are going to be pushed to the breaking point.

The United States, which accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 25 percent of the word’s resources and produces 25 percent of greenhouse gases. One new human born in the United States will consume 30 times more than a brand new human born in India and 20 times more than a new human in Africa. Much like the individual who imagines it’s not their SUV or giant pickup truck that is the problem, parents in the U.S. assume no accountability that their individual decisions to have children have broader environmental consequences. Actually, in many cases, children become a justification for a gas guzzling SUV.

No, I am not begrudging people in the U.S. who have children, nor am I interested in the government or anybody else meddling in people’s reproductive decisions. As a nation, though, we need to remember that having children is a choice. Nobody is required to have children. Nobody. End of story.


GayProf said...

WOW! I am boring!

Oh, Lordy, how I cringe at even attempting to suggest that not having children is an ethical decision.

Doug said...

This reminds me of an argument that me 'n a classmate had, but it was over how a person came to be due to upbringing vs. genetics. You 'n GayProf bring up a good point.