Thursday, December 3, 2009

PopOffsets: A fart by any other name...

Next time you clamber into your SUV, back over the neighbours shrubbery and drive 45km out of your way to go to the grocery store with those funky chocolate covered freeze dried cherries, you can offset the resulting sasquatch sized carbon footprint by peddling condoms to South Americans.

Oh, you say. I was doing that already.

But just in case you weren't, the Optimum Population Trust can now do it for you. Following on from "research" (ha!) they recently commissioned that figured that reducing the number of humans would be the most effective way to curb human-induced global warming (well, ye-es, I suppose that makes sense) they have launched PopOffsets, just in time for Copenhagen. (Which is kind of incidentally funny, because in Australia, a Pop Off is slang for a fart, which is a teensy little green-house emission. Did'ya see what I did there?)

British environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt, who supports PopOffsets, said family planning could help ensure there would be 500 million fewer people roaming the globe by 2050.
'Each of those people who would have been born otherwise would have had a carbon footprint,' he told BBC News.

Umm. I've been worried about this type of attitude before, and before. I'm a breeder. Guilty as charged. In fact, I've had enough things exit my uterus to know that its probably not a good idea. Ever. Hence the fact that I am a contraception / family planning groupie. Just can't get enough of it. Hell, I'd have Mr. Paua laminated if he'd hold still long enough. But this. This makes my blood run cold. Tell me I'm not the only one who is a bit worried about where all this could end up?

We really don't want to start hooking up population control to Anthropogenic Global Warming hysteria, this can only end badly. Why can't we just support family planning initiatives in developing nations because it really helps people if they want to use it? I don't think we need to force some kind of moral imperative onto having less children.

I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but it wasn't that long ago that Sanjay Gandhi thought there were too many Indian peasants and figured enforced sterilization was just the ticket, and his son has expressed a desire just this year to follow up on his fathers policy.

I've worked in a gynaecology department in a Chinese hospital (strictly BYO speculum - Im not kidding, patients have to buy their own disposable ones before you do an exam), and probably half the day is spent writing women up for abortions. Y'see, unless you're a rich movie starlet with many important friends, its hugely problematic having a child out of wedlock in the PRC, they can't be officially registered, go to school etc. And with the one child policy, even if you're married, if you can't cough up the massive fine for having children above your quota then you can either hide in a closet for nine months and leave the baby at a train station, or you can have an abortion. Which is sad because many of those people would have otherwise welcomed another child. For me, the thing about being pro-choice, is the choice bit.

So we might all be wise to remember that no matter how seemingly altruistic the motives, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and bad climate science). Im all for contraception, but population control is NOT the same thing as family planning.

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