No need to breed?

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement says if you must parent, please adopt.

Published November 16, 2005 5:07PM (EST)

Here's a tip for the childless by choice: Tired of probing questions about why you don't have a little bundle of joy? It's time to pay a visit to the "Voluntary Human Extinction Movement" Web site, which will arm you with helpful talking points about why not only you but everyone else you know should stop breeding immediately.

In today's "Green" column on the San Francisco Chronicle's, Gregory Dicum grapples with his and his wife's indecision about whether to breed, given the consumptive little nipper's lifetime environmental impact. We learn that one American baby equals 310 Ethiopian kids in terms of lifetime energy use. So when an American couple stops at two kids, that's like an Ethiopian couple stopping at 620. Enter the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which concludes that Bill McKibben's "Maybe One" argument doesn't go far enough. Its answer: maybe zero. (Notice that the "volunteers," as they call themselves, are not volunteering to move to Ethiopia to personally adopt that culture's modest energy-consumption habits, but we digress.)

Perusing the movement's Web site yields bromides like: "If sex is an urge to procreate, then hunger's an urge to defecate." Yes, that's right, they just compared having a child to shitting. That's one way to win over people who are on the fence about having a kid. Then, there's this: "People who envision having a baby often forget that they are creating an entirely new human being who will leave in a few years as an adult." Honey, I forgot the toddler would grow up!

And the volunteers stress that they're not antichild. From Dicum's article: "'May we live long and die out,' says Naomi Thompson, quoting the VHEM slogan. Thompson, who is in her late 20s and works as an analyst for Wells Fargo in San Francisco, has also concluded that childbearing is irresponsible. 'It's not about wanting to kill people, but it's selfish to have a kid at this point when so many aren't getting the love and attention that they deserve.'

"'I really do love kids,' she continues. (Thompson and Knight say they were raised in large, happy families.) 'I know it might seem odd for someone who really likes kids to have this stance on breeding -- women are mothering, nurturing people, and I definitely have that in me. But women in this society feel a lot of pressure to have babies, and I would like to see more people expressing that by adopting instead.'"

Thompson will be happy to know that a new study, funded by the National Adoption Day Coalition, finds that more American women are interested in adopting. No word on what men think about it, or if the growing interest in adoption is inspired by the movement to eradicate the scourge of humanity from the planet.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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