Are Tree Huggers Baby Haters?

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.

“It is sad when an environmental magazine publishes an article that extols the virtues of an environmentally devastating and incredibly selfish act,” wrote another. “No one’s genes are that special, and it is an almost unfathomable level of arrogance to think that your child will somehow be different than the huddled masses of Earth-trampling shit machines.”

Luckily, “Ash” stepped in to stop the self-hate. Describing herself as “a rad mama to an unplanned but not unloved vegan niblet,” she says she used to be an anti-breeder but nows sees “the universal purpose in my destiny. My daughter has added a lot of chutzpah to my eco and animal activism.”

Good luck, Ash. From what I can see, you’re going to need a lot of it.

Source: Earth First!

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