Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

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The Independent Online

I am intrigued by the forthright views of the French writer Corinne Maier, who has written a book called No Kid: 40 Reasons Not to Have a Child. Miss Maier bravely defies the current bout of baby mania by suggesting that having children is environmentally destructive as well as "boring". She reckons she'd have had a far more interesting life if she'd never had any herself. Then instead of stacking washing machines and getting up at the crack of dawn to do the school run she could be writing more books and having a far jollier time all round.

So while reams of childless women are going through the tortuous process of IVF, freezing their eggs and having random unprotected sex with drunken strangers, she is encouraging them to think again.

Maier believes that the wealthy West is producing too many children, which is speeding up the depletion of the world's resources. "It's not that there are too many people," she writes, "but too many rich people. No one needs our children, because we and they are the spoilt kids of a planet that is on a collision course. To have a child in Europe or America is immoral – more scarce resources wasted on a way of life that is ever more voracious, capricious, hungry for fuel and destructive of the environment."

It seems mean to argue with a person's burning genetic instinct to procreate. For many, having a child is as raw an instinct as the desire for food and shelter. But there is no getting around the fact that bringing a new carbon-guzzling person into the packed planet is the least eco-friendly thing you can do. So it's admirable that couples choose to adopt one of the thousands of unwanted children already in the world. My goddaughter was adopted from grim circumstances and has now lucked out with the most loving parents you can imagine.

Incidentally, I really admire Madonna's commitment to adoption. It's unfair that she gets so much flak when both Angelina Jolie and Mia Farrow attracted barely any criticism for their adoption marathons – Mia Farrow has to date adopted an astonishing 11 children, and good for her.

I didn't know much about Mia Farrow except that she went to Rishikesh with the Beatles where the Maharishi made improper suggestions to her in a cave (crikey!), but since reading her autobiography I am full of admiration for her astonishing feats of childcare.

Personally, I can barely cope with the strain of being a godmother, even though I barely see my godchildren from one year to the next. I don't know why I keep saying yes – a mixture of vanity and hope that this time I'll do a better job.

Fortunately, lazy non-mums like me have the perfect excuse when asked why they don't have children by broody grandmothers. We are child-free, of course, for the sake of the planet. Not because we are too idle, hate getting up early and would secretly prefer a brood of Shetland sheepdogs.

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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