Why I choose not to breed
A non-breeder weighs in on the selfishness of parents.
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Breeders: an unattractive word, associated with uncontrolled, rabbit-like proliferation. Regrettably sometimes used by people who don’t have children when they’re feeling fed up with people who do.

Very rude of us, and yes, rather childish too. But then, voluntarily childless people – or the more upbeat childfree – have reason to feel fed up, maybe even reason to resort to occasional puerile name-calling.

We're fed up with the absurd ongoing societal disapproval of our decision not to breed, sorry, procreate. With being pitied for our ostensibly unfulfilled, barren lives; with being suspected of turning our backs on what is considered intrinsically life-affirming, natural and Human; and, most unfair and ironic of all, with being labelled selfish.

When really, surely what we deserve are frequent pats on the back and never having to pay for our own drinks.

Because non-conception is hands-down one of the most effective acts an individual can perform to help avert the greatest crisis of our time – make that the greatest crisis of all time: global environmental destruction and the end of our species, never mind all the others.

Selfish? Hey, we’re doing it (or rather not doing it) for the planet.

Too many babies is not a life-affirming or natural state of affairs, though it is a depressingly human one. And there are Too Many Babies. We stand today at close on 6.8 billion beings, each hungering for his or her share of an ever more finely divided pie of desperately strained resources. By mid-century, there will be a frankly terrifying 9+ billion of us.

And if you think with your two offspring all you’re doing is quietly replacing yourself and your partner, no harm done, think again please.

A baby born into privilege will grow up to demand a much bigger slice of that pie than his or her third-world counterpart. He or she will, even in an environmentally conscious home, ingest fancy foodstuffs, enjoy costly high-tech health care, go through all manner of changes of clothes and toys and entertainments, travel far in various motorised vehicles and live long, resource-munching and polluting and billowing greenhouse gas all the way. In terms of sheer numbers, overpopulation is primarily a developing-world phenomenon. In terms of “consumption overpopulation”, no-one does it like the leisured classes.

I feel pretty fervently about this save-the-planet stuff, and it's a serious reason I haven’t had children. But, to be honest, it’s probably not the one that ultimately swayed my decision.

I think the real reasons people choose to procreate or not are more mysterious. Hard as it may be for some of our detractors to believe, I, and growing millions of like-minded others, just feel, on some fundamental, cellular level, that it simply isn’t our destiny. That realisation is cause for commendation, not a cause to be browbeaten into reluctant conformity. To decide to be a parent, a tough enough job to get right, in these times, with the challenges facing us, you should really, really want to be one.

The world can have a few more babies, sure. Let’s just make sure each one of them is truly wanted.

Population stats from the United Nations World Population Prospects 2008 Revision

Read the breeders’ perspective.

This article originally appeared on Health24.

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