Are Tree Huggers Baby Haters?

| 5/8/2009 4:05:27 PM

Discussing the effects of a rising human population on the environment tends to bring out heated opinions here at Utne Reader. “I’ve been accused of a variety of moral failings that range from supporting eugenics to hating babies,” wrote our publisher, Bryan Welch, in his commentary “It’s the Population, Kids.” And blog posts about population by Julie Hanus and Morgan Winters have kicked up a fair amount of dust.

The passions burn even hotter in the pages of the radical environmental journal Earth First!, which bravely addressed the issue head-on in “Rad Babies” in its March-April 2009 issue (article not available online).

“Does the decision to bear a child contradict a life in defense of the wild?” wrote “Leah” in her introduction to a host of mini-essays by fellow radicals. (Many Earth First! correspondents use pseudonyms.) Some of them had the temerity to answer “no.

“Chrysta” said shunning or isolating radical parents is exactly the wrong approach, and that children raised with an environmental consciousness can become “vehicles of change. “Erika” wrote that “resistance to parents is what keeps us from staying in the community” and suggested a greater tolerance for those who’ve chosen to procreate. And “Mike Robe” took a bigger-picture view, suggesting that “green fascism” and “a right to reproduce as much as one wants” are both flawed extremist positions.

A couple of letter writers in the May-June issue didn’t just beg to differ. They sputtered, they ranted, they fumed.

“I was horrified at the blatant justification to further increase the already metastasizing human population on this bloated, besieged, and dying planet,” wrote one.

Dave Gardner
5/11/2009 1:37:19 PM

To equate advocacy of stable or declining (sustainable) population with baby-hating is about as far off the mark as one can get. Making responsible, unselfish decisions about family size is the ultimate act of love and compassion for our babies. Don't we all wish for them to grow up in a world with adequate resources to meet their needs? Dave Gardner Producer/Director Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity

Jeffery Biss
5/11/2009 12:58:06 PM

Baby hater? This question that this article asks shows that people who don't consider overpopulation a problem are clueless about the bigger picture. People who ask this question have a worldview that equates the desire to have a baby with the right to survive. They are wrong. The real question is whether people who want to create a person who does not exist have the right to force those that exist to do with less, to share scarce resources with the person they want to create. It isn't about "hating babies" but of the selfishness of those who put their desire to have a baby above the needs of those who already exist.

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