By Andrea Scarpino
This week, 7 billion people are living on our little planet. 7 billion of us. And each wanting to eat good food, drink clean water, breathe unpolluted air. And maybe even wear interesting clothes, earn a good income, sometimes take vacations, sometimes eat food someone else has prepared.
And I’m not convinced our little planet can support us all. Many people aren’t convinced—environmentalists, scientists of all sorts, public officials. Our little planet—a star among stars/ and one of the smallest, the poet Nazim Hikmet says—is already overtaxed. 1.2 billion people already live without sanitation. 1 billion already lack access to clean water. 14% of the world’s population is already malnourished. We couldn’t successfully support 6 billion people, or even 5 billion, with enough food to eat, enough clean water to drink, basic healthcare.
So my hackles go up a little bit when I’m asked about having children, why Zac and I don’t have children. When I’m told dramatic stories of women experiencing the greatest love they’ve ever felt with the birth of their child. Which is not to say those stories aren’t true, or that parenthood—motherhood—isn’t life changing for many people. I enjoy my friends’ kids. I adore my niece. I have taught and worked with people of every age, starting with 2 ½ year olds. I love children’s books, love developing children’s book ideas. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a person who hates kids.
But birth one of my own? Add one of my own to this overpopulated world? That doesn’t interest me at all. There are so many advantages I already have, so many ways that I already use more than most of the rest of the world. Even with my vegetarian ways, my composting, my buying of recycled clothes—just by dint of a daily five-minute shower, I use more water than many people worldwide can access in a day. I am already a drain on our ecosystem—adding another human to our environmental stress? No thank you.
Do I sound self-important? Am I standing too high on my soapbox?
We all make choices—how to best use our time, our money, our individual and collective resources. How to best make our world a better place. I do many things my twenty-year-old self would have labeled “selling out.” More than one friend has called me “bougie.” And I deserve it.
But it’s just true that there are too many of us. It’s just true our planet can’t support us all—we can’t support us all. And until we can, I can think of no reason to bring a new child into the world. No reason at all.
Andrea Scarpino is a frequent contributor to POTB. Visit her at: http://www.andreascarpino.com/