6:22 pm, 11/24/07
We don't have to stop them before they reproduce, environmentalists are taking care of that themselves
Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.
But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.
Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.
What, like "The Seventh Sign
Vernelli, who works for an environmental organization and has been a vegetarian since 15, went on to have herself sterilized at 27, after "relentlessly hunting down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery". (Few, it seems, were willing to follow through once they found out why she wanted it done, possibly doubting her competence to give informed consent.)
Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.
While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal.
"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35.
"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."
While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.
It's the only logical conclusion of their ideology, one not shared by any other living thing in nature: existence is wrong.
Still, given that none of the alarmism over overpopulation has held up, maybe these people are a self-correcting problem, just like overpopulation itself. By removing herself from the mating population, she's guaranteeing that whoever she would've otherwise reproduced with will partner with someone who is not nearly as zealous an environmentalist. If there's a genetic component here at all, she's removed her ideological purity from the gene pool, but certainly had no net impact on mankind whatsoever. For all intents and purposes, in a world of six billion people where you can doubtlessly find someone else to mate with, Verelli's uterus is a fungible commodity. Even if she adopts, she's just taking pressure off the rest of the population, open to mating, that might have considered adoption out of charity, and thus heralding the arrival of another tiny carbon footprint. The coal and oil her child would've consumed, will be cheaper for everyone else's children, encouraging them to be just a tiny bit less efficient. Humanity is the Borg, resistance is futile, and her messianic exaggeration of her importance to the fate of the world changes nothing. However, the surgery really kicks up her sense of commitment a notch or two.
Other similarly afflicted individuals are noted in the article:
When Sarah Irving, 31, was a teenager she sat down and wrote a wish-list for the future.
Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child.
"I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."
Taking their worldview at face value, suicide would be even more so. If having a baby is selfish because it "takes" from the planet, then living one's own life is no less immoral.
Whenever somebody asks you, "even if the claims are
wrong, how can it hurt to care", this is the answer. People, terrorized
, so warped
with irrational fear
that they can't have normal human relationships and feel obligated to do things they'll likely regret later in life.
Personally, I'm all in favor
of propagating my genetic lineage. I'll spread it o'er the land like Niall of the Nine Hostages
, should the opportunity arise to do so without the assistance of the welfare state. People should do whatever they want when it comes to having children, but they should do what they
want for real, rational reasons, not what some fool at a magazine tells them they should want because it's their duty to the hive. That's
what makes "overpopulation" a self-correcting problem: We're already wired to want what's best for us, once we have the facts. Lions do not throw themselves into rivers for fear of overfeeding on gazelles, and whales do not beach themselves for the sake of plankton. They challenge the equilibrium daily, and sometimes, the equilibrium wins. That's how it's supposed to work.Update:
Vernelli's "environmental charity" appears to be PETA
"Serving a burger to your family today, knowing what we know, constitutes child abuse. You might as well give them weed killer." - Toni Vernelli
This is the same "mainstream" group that fronts for ELF/ALF terrorists, and whose founder, Ingrid Newkirk, wants to have
part of her skin made into leather purses upon her death and one of her eyeballs shipped to the head of the EPA. She has also compared
having children to the "vanity" of "having a purebred dog".Update:
Apparently, these lunatics have a name, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
at 08:32 PM, 11/24/07
Of course, our own species uses a large cultural component to determine behavior; thus, passing down one's mimetic heritage might actually be more significant than passing down one's genetic heritage. Who knows anything about Einstein's progeny now? And who cares anything about them? But we do care about his mimetic legacy. Same thing goes for all sorts of people. Mozart never had children -- was his life a waste?
I'm not suggesting that genetic heritage is meaningless. I'm suggesting that there is an alternative.
at 09:16 PM, 11/24/07
No doubt, and that's a perfectly sensible approach.
"If I have a child, I'm destroying the Earth", however, is not. That's just messianic nonsense. Just as nobody cares what happened to Einstein's kids, "the Earth" will never know the difference whether or not Toni Vernelli had children. Vernelli's uterus, sadly for her efforts, is essentially a fungible commodity.
at 10:13 PM, 11/24/07
When she is 70, in a nursing home and all alone, she will probably look back and say" FUCK i was stupid."
at 01:10 AM, 11/25/07
Why is that Harley? Because there will be no one to take care of her in the nursing home? Well take a look around at everyone currently residing in a nursing home. Lots of children taking care of their parents, eh?
Just like Aaron pointing out that "If I have a child, I'm destroying the Earth," is a bunch of bull I would like to point out that "Having children so someone will take care of you in your old age," is just as much bull. Just as likely when she is 70 (if she had children) she would say, "I wish those little ingrates would visit me from time to time. Hell even a call would be nice."
I am childfree and proud of it. Two of the considerations which never factored into my decision was any environmental impact of having 6+ billion people on the earth (that whole be fruitful and multiply thing? It was so 2 billion people ago) and who's gonna take care of me when I'm old.
The first issue is because during my lifetime, short of a war involving NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical not so much) agents the resources of this old earth will be around in roughly the same manner as they are now.
For the second, I am planning my retirement. *I* will take care of myself in my old age or I will hire someone to take care of me. Not a burden on some hypothetical family which may or may not remember to honor thy parents (or failing that, relying on the government to take care of me because since I thought my little darlings would take care of me in my old age I didn't plan as well as I should have.)
at 01:53 AM, 11/25/07
Cannon, my good Southern Illinois brother. I thought you had fallen off the face of the planet. Holy cow. How's life, man?
at 01:57 AM, 11/25/07
(By the way, as an aside, I don't think Harley meant nobody to take care of her, as much as he meant that she may likely eventually decide she wishes she had had a family. If her motives were rational and grounded in sound facts, she might not have regrets, but in 60 years, when she's an enfeebled old women and the population has stabilized around 9 billion with or without her, with many of her "causes" revealed as shams, she'll probably feel quite silly. I've added a few sentences to this post to make the point clearer.)
at 09:07 AM, 11/25/07
great post aaron. i bet toni is a ball of fun at a pig roast.
at 10:41 AM, 11/25/07
I just realized that there is another consideration here: kin selection. It has been shown that there can be reproductive benefit for genes that induce their owners to sacrifice their own well-being for the benefit of kin. This explains a variety of phenomena referred to as altruistic behavior -- a simple example is the bee who stings an invader, thereby dying but advancing the well-being of her genetic kin in the hive.
This behavior has been demonstrated in lots of species, including homo sapiens. The soldier who falls on the grenade to save his buddies is not reviled as an idiot, he is honored as a hero. The same thing goes for police, firemen, and all the others who sacrifice their well-being for the benefit of others.
The question in this case is whether the woman's sacrifice is truly beneficial to others. That in turn depends upon her mothering skills. If this woman would have been a great mother, then the opportunity cost of her decision is high. On the other hand, if she would have been a lousy mother, then she would have raised an unproductive citizen, and her decision was a good one. Ultimately, as she is the best judge of her potential as a mother, I think we have to defer to her own judgement on this matter. However, her decision to resort to surgical methods, as opposed to the reversible option of birth control, certainly seems illogical.
at 10:47 AM, 11/25/07
Chris: I should point out that in most cases (all cases that I'm aware of) of animals that normally behave that way (take deliberately suicidal action as a typical action), they are already sterile. That is the case with most hive/nest drones, like bees and termites. They live to die. Draw from that what you will.<br><br>Still, the point isn't that we shouldn't defer to Vernelli and her coreligionists. She can set herself on fire, if she wants. The point is that her underlying premises that are driving her action are so absurdly and demonstrably wrong as to make her intentions ridiculous. Her wrong-headed ideas are leading her to make bad and misleading predictions about the world around here, which is where it gets dangerous.<br><br>The proverbial soldier who throws himself on top of a grenade is reasoning, probably rightly
, that he will save his comrades from greater harm. If he was doing it because he thought, in spite of all available evidence, that his sacrifice would make it snow, or that it'd get him a ride on a comet
, he'd be viewed as, er, mistaken.
at 12:21 PM, 11/25/07
Aaron, I'm still alive and kicking here in Sin City. The job out here has kept me hopping with little time to blog. However, I still do read them from time to time and occasionally post.
I do manage to get back to The People's Republic of Illinois once a year or so to talk to all the shiny, soon-to-be-graduate, hospitality students about the awesome opportunities of Vegas. (And to grab some Quatros, IVs, and Hunan.)
On the political side I have somewhat upgraded. Instead of four idiot politicians (Obama, Durbin, Abbott Costello, and Baloneyvich) I only have one to deal with Dimbulb Reid. I am fairly confident he will be Dascheled, but it will take til 2010.
The lack of idiot politicians coupled with not having to scrape my window after the common Illinois ice storm and I am really liking life out here.
at 12:48 PM, 11/25/07
Aaron, on the matter of altruism in genetics, it has been demonstrated to extend far beyond sacrificing one's life. We see it in animals caring for the young of their kin and humans assisting members of their families ("blood is thicker than water"). They've actually developed the theory to the point where they can compare the metabolic cost of the behavior against the magnitude of benefit to the percentage of the altruist's genetic complement that is likely to be carried by the beneficiary.
But yes, on the substantial issue, I'm in perfect agreement with you. The woman's decision is predicated on an assumption that all additions to the population are detrimental to the overall good of humanity, when I would argue that the benefit is measured in the individual contribution of the new human compared to the average. Thus, if you're going to bring a productive, law-abiding, honorable citizen into the world, then you're doing a positive service. If instead you're going to raise a psychotic killer, then you'd do better to sterilize yourself.
at 09:30 AM, 11/26/07
My worry i that the next logical step isn't suicide, but homicide.
I mean, sterilizing yourself only means you're not adding any more burden to the planet. Killing yourself only removes one polluter. Murdering as many people as possible is the best way to reduce our impact on the planet (and increase the amount of fertilizer!)
Admittedly, they would probably only want to kill people locally, because driving around to kill people would cause more pollution, but I'm just waiting for the mass murders to begin from these freaks trying to save the planet.
Suicide would come after the rest of us are dead, though they would probably then argue that if enough of us die, they don't have to themselves.
at 01:16 PM, 11/26/07
On a different tack, this Thanksgiving we toasted my sister, who is pregnant with her fifth child, and will soon present my mother with her 21st grandchild.
The future belongs to those who show up.
at 05:46 AM, 12/4/07
In Anthropology, mimetic legacy is also referred to as secondary reproduction. Just a little fact.
I know people who have sterilized themselves for similar reasons, but they also balance that with the idea that they want humanity to continue and evolve and improve. They make the conscious decision to procreate through mimetic legacy rather than biology. I think the reasoning here is even MORE dangerous in that it completely stops human development, since she doesn't want to benefit humanity in the slightest, and wants to harm it.
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