Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lullaby for Insanity

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet", Toni Vernelli.

Some of you might have been familiar with the quoted line above. Who can't forget Tony Vernelli who bragged about her sacrifice of maternal need for the environment. Who can't hold their cringe when a Brit whose apperance on the news once may have made you choked on your dinner or spil your hot chocolate on the couch, or shattered your date plan and replaced it with a raging debate on baby and environment.

I know that her story is not new anymore. Yet, the controversy that she threw is something that really hard for people to get over it, at least for a year. Delving into her thinking, there is a benign idea laying underneath her inarticulate words. It's all about our planet. No one can deny that our poor planet needs to be taken care of. And solutions should be quickly found in order to save our planet and maintain the sustainability. I definitely concur!

I will express no objection to those who like to start from themselves. I commend people who like having veggie patch than buy them at supermarket. I am very much respect for those who are carefully using water. Shoppers who hate plastic bag are greatly appreciated.

But not having babies due to caring for environment? Forgive me if i fail to recognise the correllation between sterilization and environment. If couples chose not to have babies because they are afraid of not being able to afford it or it is because of health or something else, i can accept that. If you sterilise yourself only because you think the increasing population will lead to environment hazard, i would then suggest you to sit down and have a thought about your logic.

What is the point if you sterilise yourself but still continue to use menstrual pads, even the recycle cotton one? Many women living in developing countries are still using washable cloth instead of disposable ones. How about you stop using toilet paper? I am pretty sure that forest in the UK is not enough to provide toilet paper. Again, washable clothes are good idea for cleaning up your bottom. Do you think that is too traditional for your 'modern' thought?
Have you ditched your food processor and replace it with mortal and pestle? How well do you understand about environmental hazard? Have you been to Papua where Freeport dumps their waste in the river where local people heavily rely on? Or instead of having exotic holiday in Africa, why don't you visit Banaba island where British company removed the whole population after they discovered large amount of phosphate?

After you have done all of these, let sit down and calculate whether small population of Banaba or Papuan will threaten our poor planet more than mining companies?

Toni darling, your idea is benign but it is only packed with the wrong gift wrap. There is an inextricable link between environmental hazard and development. This is evident in developing countries. For example, the Green Revolution might have been able to boost up agricultural development in developing countries but heavy reliant on chemical fertilizers had a serious impact on the soil.

We shall return to the link between babies and environment. We can't blame mothers who live in shanty towns but insist on having babies. Having babies are just not about maintaining genetic line but it relates to cultural practices that underpins their understanding of their existences. Don't call them selfish either if later on you see their kids on television suffer from malnutrition or die from bird flu. Although the stories of these kids might have justified your decision. I can imagine yourself having cuddle on your comfy couch with your husband and watching news from developing countries and say something like this "Oh i am so glad darling that i've chosen to sterilise myself. It is completely immoral for me to have babies and ends up suffering from malnutrition like them".

I should find a way how to celebrate the demise of humanity!!!


johnorford said...

i was just wondering. rather than the babies are bad for the environment idea, couldn't u say that too many children are bad for the population and themselves as a whole?

basically vernelli's idea is an offshoot of the over population idea, that too many ppl lead to lower quality of life.

which, when u look at java say, is kinda obvious, isn't it?

spew-it-all said...

Ah...we shall go back to Malthus, shan't we?

I can't disagree with you if over population is not a good idea...but there is a fallacy in her logic; it's slippery slope!

contraception is good but do not allude to the idea that babies are bad for environment. Rather it needs a control over population.

Lower quality of life? Papuan population is smaller than Java, why did they experience food shortage? Amartya Sen once said that there have not never been food shortage in the world, but only unfair distribution.

Does Vernelli think this? Does she say anything when there was over production of potatoes in the US, they were thrown away rather then giving it away to Africa? Protecting domestic price at the expense of others.

Marisa said...

"Amartya Sen once said that there have not never been food shortage in the world, but only unfair distribution."

Thanks for this quote.
I'm definitely going to print it out and stick it to the fridge!

Anyways, this is my first time here - eventhough I've seen your username quite often. So, hello, and happy blogging!

EmmaK said...

Vernelli says "We both passionately wanted to save the planet - not produce a new life which would only add to the problem."

To sterilize seems an extreme measure to the problem of overpopulation...however I think more and more women are not having children for one reason or another and I think it is good for them to choose not to rather than to feel pressure to do so. Overpopulation is a problem, as is the unequal distribution of wealth and food. I suppose she thinks she's making a difference the same way as I grow vegetables..whether it really has any impact on the environment only time will tell.

Katadia said...

It's hard to think who should have the right to judge women's fertility decisions. I somewhat agree with the over-population and slow growth correlation, but when it came to my own babies, I would not want anyone to tell me that my decision to have another child is bad for the environment, the economy, or whatever.

Anyway, the story for much of the developed nations is of below replacement fertility and ageing population. So it's not always clear cut when there are too many or too little (people in X)!

Happy blogging