Voluntary Self-Extinction

Posted: Dec 11, 2007 11:28 AM
Voluntary Self-Extinction

For decades, British couples campaigned to have infertility treatments included among the treatments provided by the U.K.’s National Health Service. Even after the Service agreed to pay for treatments like in vitro fertilization, there remained a shortage of potential egg donors, so that many British couples had to go overseas in their quest to have a child.

Now, just imagine what they must think now as many young people in their peak child-bearing years are having themselves sterilized as an environmental statement. A recent story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail told readers about British women who refuse to have children because children are not “eco friendly.”

One of these women, Toni, works for an environmental group. She said that she “shudders with horror” at the thought of a “little hand slipping into hers—and a voice calling her Mummy.”

The “shudder” is caused by the thought of the child’s environmental impact. As Dave Barry likes to say, “I am not making this up.” I wish I were.

So, when Toni learned she was pregnant 10 years ago, she quickly had an abortion to “protect the planet.” Then, to make sure that such a “mistake” could not happen again, she had herself sterilized at age 27.

What did the child’s father think about all this? He sent her a “congratulations card” and later married her. Apparently, he agrees that “having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet . . . ”

Toni is not alone in her sentiments. Another woman named Sarah told the paper that, growing up, she “agonized over the perils” of things like “climate change” and “the loss of animal species.” This led her to decide that she would not have children.

Eventually, Sarah met Mark who felt as passionately about the perils of children as she did. Together, they decided that Mark should undergo voluntary sterilization—in his case, a vasectomy.

They see their actions as part of their commitment to living “as green a life a possible”: recycling, using low-energy light bulbs, eating “organic, locally produced food,” and having themselves sterilized.

While these are extreme cases, the beliefs driving them are anything-but-fringe, especially among environmental activists. Much of their rhetoric depicts the relationship between man and the rest of creation as a “zero-sum game,” in which what is good for people is, by definition, bad for the planet.

It is not uncommon to read about an environmentalist saying that what the planet needs is a good catastrophe to “cull” the human herd. An award-winning scientist said just that last year.

While most people reject that kind of extremism, the basic idea—that large families are “irresponsible”—has spread to much of Western culture. People with large families are looked on as freaks, and complete strangers do not hesitate to tell them so.

However widespread this misanthropic worldview may be, it is folly, as the demographic crisis in Europe and East Asia demonstrate. Societies that view children as a burden find themselves facing extinction. That, in turn, leaves the future of our civilization, and of life itself, in the hands of the fruitful, those who believe that man, created in God’s image, is the crown of creation, not the curse.