7 billion parasites, where do they all belong?

24 10 2011

I saw Comment is Free looking for people to discuss why they decided to have the number of children they have or don’t and while I could have responded in the hope that my piece over the many others submitted would be picked, I thought, who am I kidding? I’m not in *that* clique and anyway who needs a word count?

So I thought I’d be very honest here about my thoughts on having children.

I had never wanted children. I am lazy and selfish but on a deeper, possibly more laughable scale, I was all too aware of earths finite resources and a larger part than I cared to admit, of my child free choice, was down to the idea that there were already too many humans on this planet for it to cope with us all.

I looked around me at the society I lived in, and human civilisation as a whole, and I didn’t like what I saw. There was so much hate, murder, abuse, poverty, inequality and any number of additional negative qualifiers. The world was a horrible place and I felt I would hate to be responsible for bringing a human into such an environment.

When I hear about the 7 billionth human being due to be born any time in the next week, I think of the destruction of the planet, the changing climates, the resources one human being uses that contributes to planetary problems. I think of the growing hostilities between different cultures, religions, countries, ways of life…I still think that when I am gone, any children of mine will be left to put up with an increasingly more challenging existence due to the aftermath of behaviours of civilisations that went before them.

The love I knew I would feel for any offspring of mine would be so great, I would find it hard to deal with the guilt of the state of the planet that I and my ancestors left behind.

I know this sounds all hippy, floaty, tree huffy stuff but I don’t pretend to live a perfectly natural life. I have done my fair share of damage to the planet. I am as guilty as everyone else of creating this mess and I know I don’t do enough to rectify it. Hell, I won’t even pretend to be particularly good at recycling.

When nature decided that a contraceptive wasn’t to work for me this time, I had no decision to make. I was having a baby and that was that.

The love didn’t come instantly as some mothers claim, the instinct to protect and care was intense from the moment I found out I was pregnant. It was a strange reflexive behaviour,not something I had expected. I didn’t want children, I thought I was about to live my nightmare.

I was so wrong. I saw a different, smaller, microcosm of life. The bigger picture was no longer important. Ensuring my child was protected, loved and cared for was more than enough of a challenge for me. The world could wait.

As a result, my worries on leaving the planet to my relatives disappeared until recently. This latest discussion on the vast growth in population has caused old feelings to resurface. The fears I had for a fictional child now become fears for a very real child, a fictional grandchild, great-grandchild or great great grandchild. I am experiencing a very natural animal response to prolonging my genetic line but I am doing so with a mind to a time far greater ahead than my or even my daughter’s lifetime.

I dread to think of the state of the planet three or four hundred years from now. Will smog be so thick there is no natural light? Will nuclear leaks be something humans become so accustomed to in their craving for electricity, that noone cares about the dangers anymore? Will the middens cover such vast areas of the planet that they are considered scenery and the stench no longer noticeable? Will war and murder be so common place that watersheds no longer exist to protect the innocent? Will Earth go hurtling towards the sun wiping out all life on it?

It may sound ridiculous worrying about 1000 years in the future but someone’s got to do it.

I want to change the world. I want to stop the planets destruction. I’m just so busy being a mother and trying to survive in my time, to concentrate on 1000 years ahead.

That said, I am thinking about these issues as a reality and that’s a start. Most people don’t seem to care about tomorrow. Why should they? They won’t be here… But their grandchildren will, their great great great grandchildren will.

We have a responsibility to look after what we’ve got for them. Somehow I feel I’m fighting a losing battle by saying that. As people struggle so hard to survive in these difficult times, considering non existent relatives 1000 years from now seems a ridiculous activity.

I have said since I was a child, when I discovered the definition of parasite, that humans are parasites. We move into an area, destroy its resources then move on. But what happens when there’s nowhere to move to? We’re getting very close.

I have one child. I do not expect to have more. It certainly is not planned. One is more than enough for this planet and any potential wants of mine regarding another, really do come second to my desire to ensure my existing child, (and any children of hers should she choose to have any) has a comfortable, safe environment now and in the future.

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