Friday, 4 February 2011

Musings of a Non-Mum

I must first say that not only am I a non-mum, I’m a “never plan to be a mum”. I can still remember being very small, about 6 or 7, playing with my best pal Louise who lived around the corner, trying to put cats in prams. I remember it well, she always took to it splendidly, the cats always let her pick them up and place them gently in the pram while she cooed and stroked. I, although not exactly a Tomboy, could never really get the hang of it. More important than that, I never wanted to.

I have never had a single desire to sire a child. The thought of “cooking” (for the want of a better word) a foetus for 9 months and raising it for a minimum of 18 years fills me with nothing but dread. I’m just not interested in passing on my genes or pushing out a little sproglet.

Now please don’t think that I am against mothers or motherhood. It is of course our duty to keep the species going, but just over 100 years ago, the Global population was less than two billion. Now it is between six and eight billion, and by the time I’m in my seventies (assuming I live that long), without controls, the population of the Earth will be over ten billion. Increasingly successful fertility treatment for couples who cannot have children, better healthcare increasing the lifespan towards 100 years and more and uncontrolled reproduction will mean that our planet will soon be spent.

We might as well say goodbye to our greenspaces and countryside, we’ll need every spare foot for housing, hospitals, schools. The price of food, textiles, fuel will rise astronomically. Think this is a bad recession? Think housing is expensive now? That’s nothing compared to a projected UK population of between 75 and 90 million in the year 2051 ( and that’s not to mention the cost to our carbon footprint.

One hundred years ago, families with 8-10 children were the norm. They were expected. There was no way to control how many children you had without abstinence. Today there is no excuse for families of 10, 11, 12 children. No need for couples who already have several children to undergo IVF and other invasive techniques to try and get that one last child. The UN has today said that "Even countries with intermediate fertility need to reduce it to replacement level or below if they wish to avert continuous population increases to unsustainable levels."

I am not for one moment suggesting that we should impose restrictions on human reproduction – look at China! It doesn’t work. But a little sensible protection and a forward thinking attitude from all human kind could go a long way towards reducing the problem. When I hear a woman say “I’d love to have 5 kids”, I immediately wonder why? What purpose could there be, in this day and age, for having 5 children anymore than having five dogs?

How about some sort of incentive for childless couples (and singles), equal to the tax relief and credits currently available to families? How about a “thank you for keeping down your carbon footprint”? Just by having one child, your carbon footprint increases exponentiallyNo Toyota Prius or “I recycle my newspapers” badges will help. The fact is that by actively choosing not to have a child, I could drive a Humvee the ten minutes to work and back every day for the rest of my life, fly to Barbados every month and burn a barrel of oil in my back garden of a weekend and still my exponential carbon footprint would not be as large as that of a woman (or man) with one child.

All of this of course is controversial. But please believe me when I say that, of course it is necessary for people to continue to have children. This is nature. But I’d just prefer to live in a society which rewards sensible choices. The choice to use protection and avoid pregnancy. The choice to never pro-create. The choice to live my life for myself (and in doing that, perhaps assist the planet)

And what if nature chooses to turn on the maternal switch in my head? Well, adoption appears to be the most natural choice, for why insist on carrying on your genes when there are children all over the world desperate for a loving family?

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