June 19, 2018

Choosing Nulliparity to Combat Overpopulation

Oonagh Dalgliesh is choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation. (Source: Daily Mail)

Oonagh Dalgliesh is choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation. (Source: Daily Mail)

The childfree tide is rising with each passing year. Actually, lately it seems like each month reveals an uptick in the child-freedom trend. Whether zeitgeist of simply smart (and long overdue) cultural shift, it’s exciting to witness more and more women (and more and more couples) choosing not to reproduce. Career, lifestyle, health, romance, finances, and travel are all familiar reasons why adults of parenting age are choosing to remain childfree, but another explanation has become increasingly commonplace. Women are by choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation.

Oonagh Dalgliesh is one of the daring women who refuses to have babies in order to help save the planet.

‘Humans are the greatest single driver of climate change and greenhouse gas contributions, of deforestation and the acidity of the oceans,’ [Oonagh Dalgliesh] explains earnestly.

‘The only thing that will fix these problems is to have fewer people on the planet. I don’t see it’s justified to make more people than we already have. Yes, I have a maternal instinct, but I will never change my mind.’

Drastic? Perhaps. But, astonishing as it sounds, Oonagh is one of a number of British women who are deciding to remain child-free, not because of career aspirations or an inability to find a partner, but because they are concerned about the crippling impact of overpopulation on the Earth. (Source: Daily Mail)

Bravo, Oonagh Dalgliesh! It’s a bold and inevitably emotion-straining choice to opt out of motherhood/parenthood. But choosing nulliparity to combat overpopulation may well be one of the most impactful ways we can ease the strain our mushrooming population and consumption habits are placing on planet earth. Terrry Spahr‘s soon-to-permier documentary, 8 Billion Angels tackles this very issue, and I hope that Oonagh Dalgliesh gets the opportunity to watch it.

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Daring to Tell the Truth About Sustainability

Horrendous pollution in the Yamuna River which flows through the heart of Delhi, the 3rd largest city in the world with more than 26 million residents. Photo taken during 8 Billion Angels filming in India.

Horrendous pollution in the Yamuna River which flows through the heart of Delhi, the 3rd largest city in the world with more than 26 million residents. (Photographed during 8 Billion Angels filming in India.)

Today’s guest post is from Terry Spahr, Executive Producer of 8 Billion Angels, a documentary exploring the impact of humanity’s growing numbers on planet Earth. The film details mankind’s rapid ascent across the globe and the inextricable links between population and our ever-increasing food, water, climate, and extinction emergencies. Terry uncovers the truth about climate change, the challenges we face, and the solutions that can work to bring about a sustainable future.

In my short lifetime I have observed human economic activities and interactions that negatively impact our world with greater frequency and with greater severity.

I desired to better understand these signs, their frequencies, trends, patterns and causes; to separate what fact from fiction; and to determine what these activities, individually or as a whole, mean for my future, my children’s future, and the future all of the world’s inhabitants.

Real, achievable sustainability will require a paradigm shift emphasizing a small family ethic, educating and empowering women, promoting family planning, and advocating for a carbon fee and dividend plan.

Due to human ingenuity and the discovery and commercialization of fossil fuels, humans became amazingly effective at countering diseases, altering food and water supplies and in general thwarting nature’s every attempt to limit our numbers. The result? Two centuries of dramatic and exponential growth of our population that defies any historical precedent for all of human history’s 200,000 years.

Is this unchecked population growth sustainable? Is this but the early stage of growth? Can we continue to grow at this pace? Or have we reached a frothy state? Are there indications of a bubble?

Abundance of seafood that is being sold in massive quantities at the fish markets in Tokyo and around the world that has lead to 90% of fisheries being fished to capacity, overfished or in collapse. (Photo taken during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

Abundance of seafood that is being sold in massive quantities at the fish markets in Tokyo and around the world that has lead to 90% of fisheries being fished to capacity, overfished or in collapse. (Photographed during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

I am a businessman; I am analytical. I was taught to look at and question facts and figures. I also learned in graduate school that, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I learned an even more important lesson from an ecologist: “You must measure what you treasure.”

To get to the heart of the issue, we are outstripping our planet’s resources and emitting waste faster than the earth can regenerate those resources or absorb those wastes. Our planet is sick and it is showing us in numerous ways.

Two of the most evident and poignant examples are the annual loss of natural habitat equivalent to the size of Ireland and the related loss of the creatures that inhabited these lands. WWF measurements of 3,706 vertebrate species show an astounding worldwide decline in excess of half their populations since the 1970s.

Attempt after attempt at curtailing resource use, whether by improved technology or voluntarily trying to reduce our consumption, has failed simply because of our desire to live better lives compounded with our growth in numbers. Every day we add 220,000 more people to the planet. That translate to 80 million more people each year. By 2023, only six years from now, there will be 8 billion people requiring food, water, clothing, shelter. Most will also expect dependable electricity, transportation, and a whole host of additional goods and services. At 8 billion people, each person will roughly be allocated only 4 acres of land for all their resource needs, crowding out ever more of the native plants and animals that once inhabited these lands.

I was shocked to witness so many intelligent leaders in the environmental movement shy away from discussing overpopulation in a responsible manner, preferring to highlight safer, sexier, and more politically correct “solutions” like green energy, recycling, organic farming, and going vegan.

Jason Hall Spencer who visited the island of Shikine-Jima with the 8 Billion Angels crew to conduct experiments and observe the effects of CO2 on the ocean life there. (Photo taken during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

Jason Hall Spencer who visited the island of Shikine-Jima with the 8 Billion Angels crew to conduct experiments and observe the effects of CO2 on the ocean life there. (Photographed during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

So in 2017 I embarked on a documentary film project to investigate, highlight and capture real people confronting the challenges of living and working with overburdened ecosystems and natural resources.

Slated for festivals in 2019, our movie devotes considerable time to the message that everyone deserves to hear about our crises as well as the high-impact steps that we can all take to address them. Real, achievable sustainability will require a paradigm shift emphasizing a small family ethic, educating and empowering women, promoting family planning, and advocating for a carbon fee and dividend plan.

Director Victor Velle in the Midwest, where we focused on the meteoric growth of the industrial food system. We filmed and interviewed farmers, feedlot operators, and water experts from Kansas to Texas to see how they are coping with challenges that come with the intense pressure to deliver inexpensive food to billions of people across the globe. (Photo taken during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

Director Victor Velle in the Midwest, where we focused on the meteoric growth of the industrial food system. We filmed and interviewed farmers, feedlot operators, and water experts from Kansas to Texas to see how they are coping with challenges that come with the intense pressure to deliver inexpensive food to billions of people across the globe. (Photographed during 8 Billion Angels filming.)

My hope lies in taking the first step and daring to tell the whole truth about sustainability, and that truth means saying that human numbers matter. They matter a lot. It is time to eliminate the taboos surrounding overpopulation and to embrace the requisite (and long overdue) objective of humanely achieving a healthy population level.

Anyone in the business of making the world a better place needs to understand and spread this message without being afraid of the blowback from those less informed. The alternative—doing nothing—is far more devastating.

This conversation must be broadened, diversified, and amplified if we are going to begin changing the norms and if we are going to choose the path toward a more just, peaceful, and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.


Terry Spahr, Executive Producer of 8 Billion Angels

Terry Spahr graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in History and a Master’s Degree in Government Administration from Penn’s Fels Center of Government. He went on to a successful career in the insurance and investment fields and, most recently, he transitioned into the real estate brokerage industry as Regional Executive Vice President for Long & Foster Companies, which was until recently the United States’ largest privately owned real estate company. He led the company’s expansion in the Mid-Atlantic region throughout New Jersey, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of MD, at one point overseeing more than 20 offices and 1000 agents. He served on the Board of Directors for Long & Foster Companies for 10 years.

In 2016 Terry left the corporate world and decided to devote his interest in politics, science, and the environment toward researching, writing, and producing 8 Billion Angels(www.8BillionAngels.org), a documentary exploring the impact of humanity’s growing numbers on planet Earth. The film details mankind’s rapid ascent across the globe and the inextricable links between population and our ever-increasing food, water, climate, and extinction emergencies. Terry uncovers the truth about climate change, the challenges we face, and the solutions that can work to bring about a sustainable future. Terry lives in Ardmore, PA with his family, including two dogs, a cat and 10,000 bees. He can be reached at tspahr1@gmail.com or 610-420-1787

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My Bestie is Having a Baby: Green Baby Gifts

For the millionth time, just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I don’t like kids or don’t support my friends having kids. I have three amazing and perfect godchildren and I’m a children’s author – I need kids!

Still, when my besties started having babies I can’t say I wasn’t worried about things changing – I knew that they would. I’m genuinely excited and nervous about our new roles and how I will fit in. I want to be a loving “auntie” and hope that my childlessness isn’t a cause for concern.

While I’m trying to be a good prenatal buddy, I’m just not sure if I doing it right. Do I ask too many questions about pregnancy? Not enough? Am I offering too much help? Not enough? Is it bad if I still want to talk about reality shows instead of strollers? I’m afraid that I can’t still be myself and admit that I’m little jealous of junior.

But my biggest fear of all is: What if the babies don’t like me?

My solution? Buy the best baby gift! At WNK we promote an environmental agenda and prefer when people decide to have children they consider their carbon footprint by having green babies. In the past I’ve mentioned buying cloth diapers for my favorite green mama. And I just bought a personal website for a Christening gift. Unusual? Yes. Green? Absolutely!

For other green ideas check out environmentally friendly baby products from celebrity eco-parents like Jessica Alba and Soleil Moon Frye: Green gifts.

Of course nothing says you care like a signed book by your favorite kid’s author.

Hey WNKs what is your favorite baby gift?

 

 

Why no kids? Rattlesnakes!

Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had rattlesnakes on the brain for the last few days.

Timber rattlesnakesCrotalus horridus.

And even Massassagua rattlesnakes. Sistrurus catenatus.

It’s spring in the Adirondacks, and spring means critters, LOTS of critters. I witnessed a hawk shredding a live pigeon about three feet from our breakfast table before my bride donned her pink dish washing gloves, chased the hawk away and saved the wounded pigeon. Sort of. It died, but not in the hands of a vicious raptor.

The hawk’s an efficient and frequent diner at Rosslyn, and judging by the fresh piles of pigeon feathers every few days, we’re up to a half dozen in just two or three weeks.

And two nights ago we startled an ermine imitating a boa constrictor, coiled tightly around the bird feeder. I’m not sure if he was digesting a woodpecker, suet or birdseed.

A little earlier in the spring we had a red fox that cleared out about a half dozen squirrels.

Spring. Critters. Predation…

All of this backyard safari action got me to thinking about kids. Actually, it got me thinking about kids and predators.

Especially the hawk. That bird was a killer. And powerful.

Wikipedia doesn’t list human children as part of the diet of any of these critters, so I should be relieved. I mean, I don’t even have any kids to get eaten alive by a hawk.

And yet while whipping up a couple of posts about rattlesnakes, in particular one massive and extremely lethal looking serpent who appeared and promptly vanished in my rhubarb patch three years ago, I realized that it’s a pretty major relief not to have to worry about these critters getting hold of my own progeny.

I haven’t successfully identified the snake, but I suspect it was a rattlesnake.

I now suspect that I may have spotted a massasauga rattlesnake with markings totally unlike our local Adirondack timber rattlesnakes. (Rosslyn Redux)

Rattlesnakes! (Cochiti Pueblo, NM)

Rattlesnakes! (Photo credit: virtualDavis)

I’m probably wrong. Odds are it was a timber rattlesnake (we have a large, healthy breeding population just a few miles up the road) with unusual coloring for our area. Or possibly, at least in the opinions of some naturalists I’ve spoken to, it was a Northern Copperhead that had wiggled a bit north of their usual northern limit which is apparently a couple of hours south around New Paltz, New York. Global warming?

Lest you’re missing the bottom line, these cool looking snakes are all venomous. (Read poisonous.) Adult fatalities are rare if medical attention is immediate. But kids? Especially little bitty kids? The odds are a bit spookier.

Fortunately rattlesnakes tend to be reserved, preferring to avoid contact and altercations.

Most resources concur that timber rattlesnakes only strike if/when provoked. And common sense should compel anyone happening upon a timber rattlesnake in the wild to avoid provoking it. If the snake is behaving aggressively, coiling and preparing to strike — perhaps even false striking — its defensive behavior indicates that it perceives a threat. Avoid further threatening the snake and withdraw cautiously, slowly. In all likelihood the rattlesnake, no matter how large and menacing, will slither off without striking. (Essex on Lake Champlain)

Good news as long as your tyke is prudent. But it’s a bit of a gamble, no?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no alarmist. I grew up in the Adirondacks’s Champlain Valley a short bicycle ride away, and I never had to ward off a hungry hawk or get pumped full of anti-venom to save my bacon. But I could have…

So, rather than worrying all the conscientious parents out there who are 100% attentive, shepherding their kids through life’s wilderness perils, I’m just taking a moment to savor the profound relief I feel about never having to worry that junior could stumble across that 3+ foot long snake in my rhubarb patch. The one that’s probably poisonous.

Have a great week!

Kids’ Manners Matter

365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly (Image via Rainbow Resource)Is it only my observation or have manners largely gone by the wayside these days? Moreover, how many really well mannered children do we all know?

Okay, so I’m giving away my northern location because generally, the kids I know from the South could teach the northern ones quite a bit when it comes to manners. However, It follows that if many adults aren’t too familiar or interested in basic etiquette, then their children won’t be either.

Are you tired of rude children in restaurants, airplanes, theaters and the like? Do you cringe when your favorite child rips opens your thoughtfully chosen gift with little notice of you or a thanks for the gesture?

Fear not. For those of you who long for a more mannered world, Sheryl Eberly has created the book, 365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette. It’s pure Genius. Has anyone attempted this before? If this kind of book has been offered in the past, it unlikely covered the extensive topics that Ms. Eberly offers. In this information-packed book, the author, a former employee of First Lady Nancy Reagan (well, no wonder – that explains some of her expertise), tackles every sticky etiquette scenario one could ponder.

Ms. Eberly’s advice roams near and far.

  • Anticipating the needs of others
  • Neighborly manners, sloppy language
  • Active listening
  • Writing letters with care
  • Everyday table manners
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion
  • The valued teammate
  • Be a model American
  • Be considerate to people with special needs

And my favorite, Environmental Manners, because “taking care of the environment is everybody’s responsibility.”

She also demystifies “netiquette,” (net etiquette) museum, travel, restaurant, wedding and even funeral behavior. In doing so she goes a step further by breaking down the important details of religious holidays and ceremonies in every denomination. Not sure how children should act at a Ramadan or Kwanza celebration or at a Mormon wedding? She has all the answers. It’s clearly as much for the parents’ education as for their offspring.

Good manners, the author advises should begin at the onset of a child’s birth and “involve more than simply knowing the rules about forks and finger bowls in formal situations – they include good attitudes, respect, and consideration for others every day. If we want our children to be confident, poised adults, we need to teach them the rules of etiquette today. Knowing proper behavior is an essential part of being prepared for life.”

Well said.

The book is informative, never preachy, and a great gift for parents (their children will thank you years from now, or maybe sooner if the lessons are well learned). The only question is how do we give this book without offending parents, without them thinking we’re suggesting their kids are ill-behaved? You’ll have to figure that out. In the meantime I’m passing it around to all my favorite parents. Thank you, Ms. Eberly, from the non-parents of the world.

“Where do your idle hands go while eating in America?” I quickly quiz my nephews on a regular basis.

“On your lap,” they sullenly respond. They’ve been through this before.

“And what if you’re in France?” I fire back.

“Wrists resting on edge of the table, fingers off” they dutifully retort. They are half German and part French so I have always found it important for them to distinguish manners in different cultures.

“What about your hands in Africa?” A harder question they don’t get asked as often, but they find the answer.

“The left hand never touches food, especially communal food. It’s reserved for the bathroom.”

Do they need to know this? Well, maybe if they live in Africa like me one day, or if they visit there, they will not offend. I am proud. At least their table manners are well rehearsed, but I have more work to do.

“Why do we need to know this?” they will occasionally ask.

“Because good manners are important and because you will dine with Presidents and Heads of State some day,” I proclaim. “Do you want to be forever embarrassed because you ate with the wrong fork?” They are not convinced but oblige their silly aunt nonetheless.

“How do you know we’ll ever meet Presidents?” they ask.

“Oh, I know these things.” And we leave it at that.

I suppose this book was just destined to find me.

Shake your Babymaker – Virtual Babies!

Okay I’ll admit it I don’t want kids, but I still have imaginary baby names in my head and I’m curious about what my baby would look like. Just not curious enough to find out for real. For the other childfree and curious there is a place for us, or rather several websites that will take pictures of you and your significant other and mix the virtual, visual DNA to create, TA-DA – a baby!

Luxland Babymaker has the tagline, What will your baby look like? And promises that it’s not like the other sites because it can see the future:

Have a lust for someone? Eager to see what your baby will look like? No need to wait nine months to see your baby’s face — BabyMaker will accurately produce a picture of your baby. Satisfy your curiosity and peek into the future!

There are even baby maker apps and celebrity baby maker sites in case you want to see what your baby would look like if Ashton Kutcher is the baby daddy. I hear he’s available!

I tried Makemebabies.comwith mixed results below:

It is very entertaining if you want to laugh some milk right out of your nose. Amazingly my baby looks just like the baby on the ad and nothing like me or my mate. Baby G even has blue eyes and blond hair which is genetically impossible! This is kind of addictive and I can totally see why the Duggar family is eagerly expecting their 20th real child. It’s fun to make babies! But I will stick to virtual kids.

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Saving Birth Control for the 99%

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

Image via Wikipedia

From the Ms. Magazine blog Twitter feed:

“Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended–how would making birth control less available solve this problem?”

There are some interesting points to this discussion and WNK would love to hear from our readers. Why should we pay for contraception for those who can’t afford it? Why should contraception be available and inexpensive? Would you rather pay for children that people can’t afford? Do you think people should be more responsible in making family planning choices?

“Contraception obviously is a deeply held value by American women. But the fact that in the United States a startling half of all pregnancies are unintended makes clear that birth control is used only sporadically by some. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a chief one is that so many women cannot afford contraception, especially the most expensive—and most effective–methods, such as birth control pills, and long lasting reversible contraception, for example, the newer (and far safer) models of IUDs (intrauterine devices). In short, the same economic disparities that pervade every other area of American life manifest here as well: poor women depend on publicly-funded programs for their contraceptive services, but, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only a little more than half of the 17 million women who need these services currently receive them.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

 

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Where Babies Come From

It’s time for a little visual food for thought. Is the stork the bird of war?

I Am the Population Problem

This is one of the most compelling, well-written pieces I’ve read recently: I Am the Population Problem | RH Reality Check.

“Real reproductive freedom has to include social acceptance of the decision not to reproduce.”

Borrowed from friends at GINK – green inclinations, no kids, this story includes some enlightening statistics, great writing and an apology.

“I recognize that I am the population problem. I’m trying to be part of the solution.”

Here are some of the many highlights:

“Population isn’t just about counting heads, although by this October we will be counting 7 billion of them worldwide. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by how much stuff we use and how much room we take up. And as a financially comfortable American, I use a lot of stuff and take up a lot of room. My carbon footprint is more than 200 times bigger than that of an average Ethiopian, more than 12 times bigger than an average Indian’s, and twice as big as an average Brit’s.”

“Far and away the biggest contribution I can make to a cleaner environment is to not bring any mini-mes into the world. A 2009 study by statisticians at Oregon State University found that in America the climate impact of having one fewer child is almost 20 times greater than the impact of adopting a series of eco-friendly practices for your entire lifetime…”

“Here in the United States, the Pill has been available for more than 50 years. It’s now almost universally accepted that women will use birth control to delay, space out, or limit childbearing. But there’s not so much acceptance for using birth control to completely skip childbearing. At some point, you’re expected to grow up, pair up, put the Pill off to the side, and produce a couple of kids. Deviate from this scenario and you’ll get weird looks and face awkward conversations with family members, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers.”

“Many women who have not already had children find it difficult if not impossible to find a doctor who will perform a tubal ligation. Doctors warn that sterilization is an irreversible, life-altering decision. But having a child is an irreversible, life-altering decision and you don’t find doctors warning women away from that. The broadly held prejudice, in the medical profession and much of the rest of society, is that becoming a parent is the correct and inevitable choice.

Over recent years and decades, it’s become more acceptable for mixed-race couples to have children, and single women, and gay couples, and women over the age of 40, and that’s all good. Acceptance has been slower to come for the decision not to have children. There’s now a fledgling childfree movement, but some who are part of it say they still feel like they’re violating a taboo.”

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Doug Stanhope on Overpopulation

If you’re easily offended please do NOT watch comedian Doug Stanhope as he leaps from global warming to overpopulation to sodomy to minivans to abortion.

If you bristle when you hear four letter words uttered by a foolishly dressed man swilling beer, this video is not for you. You will be offended. Avoid the hurt, and skip this post. There are others…

But if you’d like to hear Doug Stanhope on overpopulation, if you suspect that abortion is green then you’re in for a wild ride. Enjoy!