RE: “Thank You for Not Breeding” [Feature, Aug 15], Mamie Stevenson’s story about the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). “Less of an organization and more of an ideology, VHEMT aims to peacefully root out the planet’s crises by convincing people to no longer procreate,” wrote Stevenson. “According to a recent study from Swedish researchers, the carbon footprint of having just one child is a whopping 58.6 metric tons of ‘CO2-equivalent emissions’ per year. The next best thing an individual could do to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to go car-free, which would spare the planet 2.4 metric tons a year. These numbers, paired with the exponential rate at which the world population is growing, make the future of Earth’s resources look pretty grim.”
As a confirmed breeder, I nonetheless agree that the best thing we can do for the planet is to not have another kid, and that the planet would be better off without our too-successful species.But as a carrier of “the selfish gene,” I wish I’d had a few more, especially in the Southern Hemisphere (as a hedge against nuclear war).
Brian A. Cobb
We are a child-free by choice couple in our 50s. Couldn’t be happier with our life choices, and humans are a plague on the planet.
C. Elliott, congratulations! You and your partner have earned the Meritorious Service Award for service to Planet Earth and the human family. But I wouldn’t call us a plague, though our effects on the biosphere may resemble one. Unlike a mindless pathogen, we can use our compassion and rational thought to realize what we’re doing and stop it.
Les U Knight
I am an alternative healer and primitive skills instructor and have studied indigenous cultures. While I do not think human extinction has to be necessary, I agree that the human population has exceeded capacity and proposed a serious threat to our continued existence and many other life forms.
I’d like to propose a practical solution, which may be equally controversial, but perhaps slightly more palatable than not procreating at all.
Indigenous cultures practiced initiatory rituals as a way of marking the difference between child and adult. Not only did this give the individual a sense of belonging to the tribe, but it also created a social drive to be responsible to the community. In being a helpful, cooperative adult who adhered to the cultural values, the individual was rewarded with acceptance and approval. Contrarily, NOT participating in the initiation process meant social stigma, disrespect, and possibly exclusion,
I thus propose a specific initiation process oriented toward monitoring our procreation levels.
The ceremony is as follows: At around the age when male-bodied young adults start wanting to have sex, there is a completely voluntary initiation into adulthood in which the child receives a vasectomy and a small tattoo that denotes they deserve respect and honor as a brave young person who chose the initiation.
Firstly, let me explain that vasectomies are very safe, very reversible, and that in Europe, they are already practicing vasectomies that are even less invasive than in the States. In Europe, they simply insert a kind of glue into the vas deferens tube that blocks sperm from passing, but which can be easily dissolved by going to the doctor and applying a laser that melts the glue.
This ritual would cause people to really think about if they were ready for children before having them, and this would decrease the overall human population.
Also, the recipients of the ritual would receive social honor and respect. They would be seen as brave and responsible not only to the planet, but also to the female-bodied members of the species. While they might feel motivated to do this to help the planet, perhaps altruism is asking too much of young, sexual humans. Rather, they can also feel motivated knowing that the female-bodied, impregnable members of the species will feel less worried about unwanted pregnancies with them and will feel respect towards them, since in getting this surgery they have demonstrated respect towards the opposite sex as well.
When the person decides they are ready to have children, they can simply, easily, and cost-effectively (hopefully it is paid for by the state) get the vasectomy reversed.
Sheefra, your elaborate plan to curb the human population with tattoos, lasers, and penis glue is definitely a thing! You get the Mercury’s letter of the week, plus two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater.