Having large families is an eco-crime according to the Optimum Population Trust (OPT).
‘The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet is have one less child’, the Trust says (1). It is actually modest compared to the more extreme versions of environmentalist hostility to humankind. ‘Wildlife has more right to live on the earth than humans do’, according to one group, which goes on to say: ‘Humans are too great a threat to life on earth: they should be phased out.’ At least that is the view of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which hopes our will be the last generation of humans (2). Then there is the Church of Euthanasia, with its snappy slogan: Save the Planet, Kill Yourself.
Moderate environmentalists might object that the deep ecologists are on the fringes, and not typical of the movement. But if the Church of Euthanasia is off in the sidelines, egging on lonely teenagers to top themselves while it trolls suicide websites, the OPT’s message that we are the problem is mainstream. The OPT’s trustees include the Green Party veterans Jonathan Porritt and Sara Parkin, the climate change diplomacy veteran Sir Crispin Tickell as well as the actress Susan Hampshire.
As the chattering classes’ preoccupation with climate change reaches fever pitch, the extremists feel more confident to draw conclusions that others baulk from. That is because the extremists are only drawing out the underlying philosophy of environmentalism to make it more explicit. Indeed, the deep ecologists pre-date the more contemporary environmentalists. The current philosophy of ‘sustainable development’ was framed precisely because it was thought that the original aim of zero growth was too much for people to get their heads around.
The underlying philosophy is that mankind is the pathological species, the scourge of the planet. Since James Lovelock coined the deeply mystical concept of Gaia – of a natural balance – mankind has been cast in the role of the disturber of the balance. At its most extreme, the misanthropism of a John Gray or a Jared Diamond looks forward to ‘nature’s revenge’, the point where the laws of nature reassert themselves in the mass extinction of the human race.