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On population

We must change how we think and talk about reproduction



Ed. note: In last week’s issue, the Shredder took on Bill Denneen for an opinion piece he’d submitted. In this week’s letters section, the local elder noted that his piece never ran, but was still criticized. Here, now, is the commentary that irked the Shredder, presented to allow you, the readers, to make your own conclusions.

Prior to about 45 years ago, women just didn’t (couldn’t?) participate in any sports. The first female who tried to run the Boston Marathon had to wear a hood. That was back when women’s place was in the home—barefoot, pregnant, and behind the sink. Young gals today take for granted their equality to males. I remind them that when I was in my 20s in Massachusetts, contraceptives (e.g., condoms) were illegal. Women couldn’t vote 90 years ago.

I enjoy watching women in sports—first, because I am male, and looking at women is built into my DNA because it is the first step in the biological process that continues our species. I remember the time I was bicycling in Arroyo Grande while admiring two young H/S gals walking. I fell off my bike and lay there laughing at myself while they looked, wondering why the injured elder lay there laughing.

The second reason I enjoy watching women play sports is it means they are not adding to the population explosion. The number of our species has exploded, adding 5 billion more Homo sapiens in just my lifetime. Women competing in sports mean they are not having babies. Women working as doctors, lawyers, scientists, truck drivers, and engineers means they probably decided to have fewer babies or none at all.

The basic cause of the population explosion is not an increase in the birthrate, but a decrease in the death rate. People are living longer. Improved medicine, nutrition, dental care, vaccinations, medications, and technology and a lack of predators are helping everyone live longer. I am enjoying my elder status (87).

Population explosions (PEs) are always followed by population collapses (PCs), but no one knows what will cause human numbers to rapidly drop. Pandemic has high potential. We are certainly ripe as aircraft connect all parts of the planet. Of course, nuclear weapons are like a hammer ready to strike—the United States has 10,000 of them. Nobody knows what will reduce our numbers, but a PC is inevitable. It has been great living during the twilight year of the Golden Age of Man.

To me, Planned Parenthood gives us hope for a future. Their goal—and mine—is to have every baby born brought into this world planned, wanted, and loved. There are about 3 million unintended pregnancies in the United States each year. I will celebrate Non-Mom’s Day on Sunday, June 2, at 10 a.m. in Nipomo Native Garden. All non-moms and males with vasectomies will receive awards. In the past, I have offered kids to non-moms and clipped males, but I am not sure if my goats will be “kidding” by then. Locally, Catholic Healthcare West seems to control most of the local hospitals. It is adding to the explosion by not promoting vasectomies, tubal ligation, condoms, IUDS, and emergency contraception. Legal, safe abortion is a must as a back-up for failed contraception, for rape, and to save the mother whose life is threatened by a pregnancy. Our country helped found the UN Population Fund, which promotes family planning throughout the world—particularly in Third World countries where it is so desperately needed. Our government, in my opinion, should offer free vasectomies (the equivalent of 0.01 percent of the military budget) or free tubal ligation to anyone on request. There should be condom vending machines in all male restrooms and emergency contraceptive vending machines in all female restrooms.

We need the fourth R taught in our schools: reproduction. Our culture accepts technological change (e.g., cell phones) immediately, but social change so very slow. It was half a century ago that I wrote my thesis on population and pointed out the need for birth control. Only recently have we finally started to talk openly about sex and contraception, with the result being a decline in the birth rate. My favorite bumper-sticker is: MAKE LOVE NOT BABIES.

Bill Denneen is a self-described eco-hooligan who lives in Nipomo. Send comments to the executive editor at [email protected].

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