I tend to approach issues at their root cause to find objective solutions and often use the “Conditional Formula,” meaning, “if this, then that.” Therefore when it comes to social and political issues, my life-long, number-one issue is the human population, because there is not one problem that isn’t rooted in our ability to manage 7+ billion humans. I figured someone has to opt out. So I did.
I, hereby, out myself with this deeply-held conviction. Not to compare or minimize what LGBTQ folks endure, but as a straight woman in a society with a near idolatry of all things children, I usually keep my position to myself, thus feeling closeted. I’m a liberal and believe in free will and understand the human desire for fulfillment through parenting. I understand for those with children nothing is more important in life, as nothing should be. I derive an equal level of joy knowing I am mitigating my impact on this planet the best way one can and in alignment with my core principle. I don’t hate children but I don’t want any. Nor do I think that 250 live human births every minute is a miracle. But I do think describing natural, human biology as a miracle is part of the problem. My parents raised me with free will and not only abhorred the idea of imposing one’s beliefs upon another, applauded and agreed with my decision. However I have been chastised and ostracized.
Thanks to the Internet, I don’t feel quite as alone as I used to with my choice, although most of my friends (no coincidence) don’t have kids, either. The “childless” stigma has abated somewhat in America but is far less taboo in Europe. I share my choice with Helen Mirren, Gloria Steinem, Stevie Nicks, Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Margaret Cho, Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres, Dolly Parton, Katharine Hepburn, Betty White, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston, Liza Minnelli, Kim Cattrall, Candace Bushnell, Cameron Diaz, Zooey Deschanel and lots of not famous women, all who have spoken out about their choice. (Guys, not that you don’t count because you have options, you just don’t have a womb.) Fortunately being first-world females, we have the choice and the ability to live and support ourselves without needing a husband and a family for sustainability.
While I realize there is more emotion tied to human procreation, I submit it took decades to convince the majority that the responsible thing to do was to spay and neuter dogs and cats to avoid over-population. Except for a few who still breed animals for financial profit (and the dopes who support the industry), this is now the norm. Human overpopulation is far more devastating and we have long surpassed the tipping point to our survival. I know how gloom and doom this sounds to some and I know how defensive people get about this. Unfortunately, every reason I chose for not having children has come true and at a faster rate than predicted. We’ve long passed our planet’s optimal maximum for sustainable quality life (depending upon the study, sustainability is between 1.5 and 3.5 billion) well over fifty years ago. Life as we know it, as we are living, is simply unsustainable. But let’s see if my premise is correct; that population is the root to all our problems:
The environment. First, the only reason we call a “natural disaster” a disaster is because it causes harm to people. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, forest fires, floods, blizzards, mudslides, volcanoes are natural events. But the more people inhabiting the planet, the greater nature’s impact upon us. But the actual, poisonous damage done to the planet is human caused. And the faster we use up our planet’s resources, the harder it will be to continue to sustain 7+ billion. The western world may feel cushioned but not so for island nations in the pacific that are disappearing under water due to the ice cap melt. Still, Florida is raising their highways because of rising water levels, while California is in a drought and has a year of water in reserve. Our ecosystem depends on the rain forests, which is vanishing at a rate of 80,000 acres a day as land and lumber is needed. Fifty thousand species go extinct every year. Our meat-eating costs an exorbitant amount of land, water and resources. And we continue to disregard the need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
The more people, the easier to exploit labor with more people than jobs. Wages fall. More people means more traffic and more aggressive wear and tear on roads and bridges. The more people, the more hungry mouths to feed and the higher cost to produce more food. And poor countries have a higher death rate so people have more babies so some make it to adulthood. So the birth rates in poorer countries is much higher, putting a bigger drain on limited food and water. One third of our global population is under 20 years old and in under-developed, poor countries. We are in military conflicts for natural resources (oil), which is depleted faster due to more people. And the Syrian conflict is actually over water.
Of course there are other factors that impact society’s problems. But the suffering is greater on 7 billion than three billion. It breaks my heart what we did to this beautiful planet. I know no decision we make is more personal. But it also has the greatest impact.