Toni Vernelli works for an environmental charity.
At 25 years of age, Toni became pregnant and aborted the baby
in order to “save the planet.”
To prevent any future threats against Earth, Toni searched for a doctor to sterilize her. Finally, at 27, she found a doctor willing to perform the procedure. Toni’s goal? To reduce her “carbon footprint” on the planet. Whew. That was a close one. Planet Earth saved from another infant.
The article in the UK’s dailymail.co.uk tells us,
“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.”
OK, so the planet has been saved from Toni Vernelli’s carbon footprint and genetic stamp. But this incident is set within a wider trend of low birth rates in the west and in the world. The world’s population will reach some 9 Billion by 2050 but will then plateau based on current trends. Ben Wattenberg, in his book, Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape our Future, tells us that the west is in a bit of a death spiral in terms of population growth. In a thumbnail, Westerners just aren’t having kids. Wattenberg writes: â€The Total Fertility Rate is the keystone calculation of demography, and I would argue that it is the single most important measurement of humankind.”
One guess I’ve been toying with — the West has stopped having children because it has lost it’s sense of pride and it’s sense of the importance of their cultural contribution to the world and history. In other words, the west may have lost the feeling that it has something of worth to share with the next generation. (Read my short take on Fewer here). Take as a symptom of thisÂ the few but vocal (or visible) Americans that hate America.
Friends of mine in the EU tell me that in an attempt to curb the population decline, governments (Germany for example ) have offered to subsidize your family if you’ll have another child. Interestingly enough, the common wisdom seems to be that, in general, this policy would only encourage those cultures that are having lots of babies anyways — in Germany it would be the Turks. It would be interesting to have some data on how that’s working out.
Let’s step it up a bit.
Alan Weisman’s new book, The World Without Us describes what would happen to the Earth if Humankind were to disappear. Who would care, right? Wrong. His book is doing amazingly well. It seems there are those who relish the idea of saving the planet at the expense of the human race. They don’t seem to stop to ask, who will enjoy the pristine planet? Or, gasp, who will man the Green Peace offices? Weisman isn’t necessarily in that camp, he’s just asking and answering a very interesting question. What would happened to the Earth if we were gone. (For a fascinating look at the future of New York City and of the World without us, check out his site at worldwithoutus.com.)
So let’s recap:
- Extremists who sterilize themselves to “save the planet”
- Radicals who in a contest between humankind and the planet Earth, would cheer for the planet and against their own species
- Birthrates dropping below replacement rates in the west
What does this —
- fascination with the eradication of the human race
- hate that many Americans (in particular) have against their own culture
- the lack of interest in having children
— say about Western Culture?
It may say that the west is on the downward side of the historical arch as a culture. Titles such as, From Dawn to Decadence and The Twilight of American Culture, indicate that cultural observers sense that Western Culture may be at the end of an era culturally. By analogy, Islam may be to Western culture what the Goths were to the Roman Empire. Rome eventually disappeared but the world survived. So cheer up.
Here are some questions to think through:
- What are the deep issues of the human heart that emerge here? How does the story told in scripture speak to these deep needs?
- What aspect of the gospel, of the biblical message speaks to someone like Toni, who sterilized herself to eliminate her carbon foot print? What would turn her from a hater of her own species to a lover of the human race?
- How can the biblical story turn those who feel inspired when they think of a pristine world without man from a false depreciation of man and an over appreciation of the earth?
- What would need to happen for young couples to feel the anticipation and joy of receiving children as gifts from God?
- How must we talk about the biblical story in a way that cherishes the earth and the human role in caring for her?
- How would Western Culture need to be engaged with the Biblical Message in such a way that it would be revitalized with a sense of destiny, stewardship and leadership?
What do you think?
See you in the Mystic.