Thursday, May 05, 2011

Remember when 6 was bad?

Two days ago, the United Nations announced that on October 31st 2011 the world's population will reach 7 billion people.  In 1804 the world's population hit its first million and 123 years later added on its second. In 1999 we were at 6 billion and as a 16 year old I do remember the frenzy and panic that surrounded reaching this ominous number 6.

Apocalyptic predictions were made about reaching 6 billion and now here we are on the brink of 7. I'm mention this not because I think the prediction were wrong, obviously they were slightly exaggerated because no one can deny everything is peachy-keen, but I mention this because obviously we also chose to ignore the warning. Twelve years on and we still haven't learn our lesson in improving the way we treat our planet and (re)use our resources.

There are some interesting resources on the subject, mainly from Grist which is a online environmental news and commentary magazine with a helping of humour and sarcasm.

The article from Elizabeth Leahy Madsen addresses the issue of population growth fluctuations and prediction in relation to varying fertility rates amongst women across the world as well as many women still not having access to family-planning services they want and need. To read the full article please CLICK HERE.

The straight-talking, no messing Lisa Hymas has a few articles on population growth.  I particularly like her article about the 8 Things You Can Do About Population. Some of my favorites include:

Support abortion rights and family-planning programs, and vote for candidates who do the same. Yep, I said the A word. Deal with it.

If you are a parent, don't pressure others to have kids. And hardest of all -- gulp -- don't push your own kids to give you grandkids. (Reverse psychology might work better than nagging anyway.)

If you think parenting isn't your thing, you could declare yourself a GINK (green inclinations, no kids).
Her article on being proud of being childless addresses some issues I too have thought about. She addresses the issue our society positively supports people having children, from government policies to commercial discounted family deals to the social norm of asking people, sometimes complete strangers when they will have kids. She does balance the argument by saying that if people desire and want children no guilt should be directed towards them whatsoever, but that a shift needs to occur in our society where people who consciously choose not to have children shouldn't feel they can't express this or continue to play along with the 'when' charade. Hymas believes that if childless people express their choices then this could lead to some frank and open discussions.  And frankly in terms of doing your bit for the environment, as she says:
Here's a simple truth:  For an average person like me, someone who doesn't have the ability of an Al Gore to reach millions, or of a Nancy Pelosi to advance (if not actually enact) landmark environmental legislation, or of a Van Jones to inspire (and piss off) whole new audiences, the single most meaningful contribution I can make to a cleaner, greener world is to not have children.
To read the full article please CLICK HERE.

Another great article on the subject of the choice to reproduce and family sizes in relation to being environmentally friendly is Oliver Burkeman's Climate Change: calling planet birth for the Guardian. To read the full article please CLICK HERE.

For those inclined towards no children, then you might be interested in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.  The name sounds fanatic and crazy and the logo and website look ominous but in reality they are peaceful and logical once you understand where their coming from. The aforementioned Burkeman describe them thus in his articles:
You come across nutty-sounding fringe groups like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, but then you phone its founder, Les Knight – he's a supply teacher, based on America's west coast, and can only talk during breaks between lessons – only to discover that he isn't nutty at all, but in fact rather sane and self-deprecating. (He simply wants people to choose not to breed. "Eventually we'll be extinct anyway, but it would be so much nicer if we phased ourselves out through natural attrition," Knight told me affably. "You know – the way a company reduces its workforce without firing anyone.")
Hymas has also interviewed Les Knight and describes the movement thus:
It might sound like a strident or mean-spirited campaign, but Knight is certainly not a strident or mean-spirited guy.  He's hit on a creative way to talk about the population problem and the damage humans do to ecosystems everywhere, without calling for reproductive coercion (note the prominence of the word voluntary). The gist: If we all just decided to stop procreating, humans would gradually and peacefully clear out and make room for everything else. 
To read the full interview please CLICK HERE.

Children or no children the choice is up to the individual and respect be given for which ever choice is made.

1 comment:

  1. Extremely interesting and something I had no clue people were supporting and campaign for. I definitely will never tell a couple again that they should have children - I'll do it for our Planet!