“Destroy all humans!”, The Space Review, 10/7/2006. An old article that mentions the VHEMT site – the author (a spaceflight enthusiast) is not impressed, although he misses the point that the site is more highlighting the damage that human overpopulation is doing to the planet. A post on the VHEMT Livejournal explains this better (and rebukes the opinion that the thread starter made: “…but humanity has earned its place as the overlords of the earth and ultimately deserves to milk the earth until there’s nothing left.” With that attitude, there’ll be nothing left for their children either but a wasteland.)
I don’t think the majority in this group are actually seriously advocating species-wide suicide. It’s being used as a way of highlighting what damage uncontrolled population can have on a planet which has a fixed amount of natural resources. It’s trying to highlight the unsustainability of our “growth at any price” socio-economic system, and underline how sickening the whole “baby industry” is. That’s how I see it anyway.
Human arrogance (i.e. that we’re the greatest thing ever) increasingly irritates me. We can hardly regard ourselves as this when we continue to pursue activities that destroy the environment and will ultimately contribute to our extinction! This anthropocentric view is found a lot in science fiction (the “humans are special” attitude). In fact, the TV Tropes website has an entry on this theme.
On my early morning walks I look up at the stars (at least, the few I can see without my glasses and through light pollution) and ask any aliens who might be out there in that vast emptiness, Where are you? When are you going to come and save us from ourselves?
A letter from the 26/2 Sydney Morning Herald from someone with the “growth is good” mentality:
The end of growth means the end of civilisation
Those arguing for an end to economic growth seem not to understand the dangers of stagnation and decline (Letters, February 25). Unless economies grow, they stagnate. If they stagnate, the rate of profitability falls. If profitability falls, investment falls. If investment falls, there are very few new businesses, new technologies or new products.
No neat little iPods, mobile phones or the internet, or even blood pressure pills. If there are no new products, there are no new jobs. If people are already losing jobs, this will simply continue. Fewer jobs means less wealth for families, and lower standards of living now and in the future. No growth now means no pensions. And so on.
If this happens, it will make the current downturn look like a walk in the park. Governments will find it hard to raise taxes. There will be less money for environmental projects. Only wealthy societies can afford to spend on the environment. There will be less money for the arts, for schools and for health. This is how civilisations collapse, as in the Soviet Union. In the end, everyone gives up. The poor of Africa, India and Asia will remain poor.
Economic development and wealth creation are not some abstract economic theory, but affect everyone’s life. Buying, selling and trading are a part of human nature; collectivist ideologies are not. If there are no markets and no growth, there will be queuing and rationing instead.
– John Montgomery, Crystal Creek
Growth in a world of finite resources is unsustainable. And growth has nothing to do with innovation. Humans can still invent things in a steady-state economy. (Can anyone think of better counter-arguments?) A sardonic response below:
Those were the days
John Montgomery (Letters, February 26) argues that the end of economic growth means there will be no iPods, mobile phones or the internet. This is fantastic news and we can all revert to the simple life before gadgets took over. We can start writing letters again, talk face to face and even dust down the encyclopedias. The blood pressure pills will be in less demand and the jobs should pop up everywhere, complete with an invigorating dose of hard graft to improve our physical wellbeing.
– Jim Gentles, Coogee
Another letter that annoyed me, from The Japan Times of all places – on the topic of Japan’s declining birthrate:
Fruits of hyper-individualism
The Feb. 8 Natural Selections article, “City ecology explains Japan’s low birthrate,” provides all sorts of academic- sounding theories and buzzwords that make Japan’s low birthrate seem like just another inevitable result of an irresistible force. I would offer another reason.
The birthrate is tumbling in Japan and in the West because people simply expect more for themselves and view children as only part of that equation, at best, or as an obstacle to self-fulfillment. Add to this rather selfish tendency the high cost of raising children, the increasing reluctance (and inability) of women to stay home, and the ubiquitous availability of cheap birth control and abortion, and only a fool would be surprised at the outcome.
Yet, “official explainers” of this phenomenon see putting off children as a moral good since it facilitates individual self-fulfillment and protects Mother Earth from the scourges of overpopulation – a fear that has been repeatedly trumped up over the past several centuries.
Our forebears were unburdened by such reservations. If they wanted to have a good time between the sheets, children were the inevitable result. But they also had a lesser sense of self-entitlement. It was their duty as citizens, as children of God, to “go forth and multiply.” Children were considered a blessing. That’s why religious people today still tend to have many children, because they view each soul as a blessing from God, not as a personal burden or a drag on the planet’s resources. They are also fundamentally optimistic about human society, even if all the signs appear negative.
Does one sense much optimism in Japan? We are going to witness the chaos and disruption caused by viewing children as a burden. First Japan, and then many other countries, will begin to implode as the dearth of children result in an unsustainable economic model that was based on the assumption of population growth. Governments will be overwhelmed by the costs of caring for the ever-growing proportion of elderly citizens combined with the ever-shrinking tax base. Loss of productivity, bankruptcies and social upheaval will be sure to follow, making today’s economic crisis look like a passing headache.
In other words, women should do their duty and breed. As a woman, I find this insulting. One reason the birthrate is declining is that, with the availability of contraception and education, women realize they can do more with their lives and find other means of fulfilment rather than have children (or have fewer children, one or two). There is always the danger that these rights could be removed, as this story extract notes:
“Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like – like that smoke. We’ll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You’ll see.”
– James Tiptree, Jr., The Women Men Don’t See
(That story makes a point that women might be safer hanging out with aliens :-)
I half-watched that SBS TV documentary, “Missing Children” (20/2 entry), which was the usual alarmist reporting on declining birthrates, in an Italian village and in Japan (I fell asleep halfway through). See that entry for arguments why a declining birthrate is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Outcry at ‘no job safe’ blunder”, The Age, 27/2. Every month it seems another company goes into receivership or decides to relocate manufacturing overseas to countries with cheaper labor (usually China). The latest casualty is Pacific Brands, with the loss of 1850 jobs and thus more strain on the welfare system. Thousands of people have lost their jobs since last year, yet Australia’s population continues to grow (like the rest of the world’s). Where are all these people (myself included) going to find work?