Having children is an act of faith in the planet’s future, says Parent24 editor Adele Hamilton.
The Earth would probably be better off if the human race had never evolved. But we did, and here we are, loving the planet, abusing it, and generally behaving like a bunch of little kids at a party: coloured paper and bodily fluids trailing everywhere.
Does it serve the planet that I have produced another two humans? I believe it does. For these are intelligent, caring and well-educated young people, who in their turn will make the right choices and recycle their beer bottles. Nature is built around replacement and replenishment of every species, and it is hubris to think that the human race is immune from this cycle.
Yes, there are individuals who I can’t help wishing would subscribe to the non-breeders’ credo, but those are usually not the ones who choose to stay childfree. In fact they are most likely to pop out a few children and then allow them to torment me by kicking the back of my seat in an aeroplane. But breed, humans must.
As it is we are facing a situation with an ageing population depending on a dwindling number of young, strong providers. According to a 2007 report by the United Nations, the global number of older persons is expected to exceed the number of children for the first time in 2047. In developed countries this landmark was already passed in 1998, says the report. And although these older persons are probably mostly well-off and healthy for now, they still need young people to keep society moving, from picking fruit to designing new systems of communication.
Even if you argue that all technological and scientific development should halt at once, youth is still necessary. Even the most nature-friendly culture needs people to bend down and pick up fallen fruit, and carry away the dead to be eaten by the jungle beasts.
I don’t think it’s selfish to decide to not to breed, good for you for making a thoughtful lifestyle choice. But please respect the role that we breeders play in keeping the world populated with fruit pickers and computer geeks who enable you to eat organic fruit for breakfast and download carbon-footprint advice. And if we give new generation the power to effect change, they may just be the saving of all of us, by finding better, more environmentally-friendly ways of doing things.
One day, when all the non-breeders are sitting in their recycled-wood rocking chairs, having developed gout from too much red wine and good living, I trust my children will be working hard to keep the Earth in good nick. For their children. Stats from United Nations publication World Population Ageing 2007.
Read the non-breeder’s perspective
This article originally appeared on Health24
Read more by Adele Hamilton
.Do you think it’s selfish to decide to not to breed?