World Vasectomy Day? I’m Still Not Convinced

world vasectomy day

Unless it is your birthday, the 18th October is hardly a significant date for the diary but for some men today could be a life changing experience for a whole different reason – because today is the first World Vasectomy Day.

I have talked about population and the environment before and my views haven’t change much since then – I still believe it is lifestyle choices and not absolute numbers that make the real difference.

But Dr Doug Stein thinks differently and has been offering vasectomies to men all over California and the rest of the world for much of his professional life. He has performed some 30,000 procedures and for many men this is an ideal solution to family planning.

But for me, I still return to the fact that emissions growth in sub-Saharan Africa between 1980 and 2005 accounted for just 2.4% of the total global figure over that period while their population growth accounted for some 18.5% of the total. Maybe things have changed significantly since 2005; I’ll have to hunt around to see if there are more updated statistics.

Listen, I don’t want to preach and I’m sure you can make up your own mind so before I continue, why don’t you watch the promotional film:

It’s a well produced film that’s for sure and for the most part I am fine with it but at around 54 seconds in, there is a figure quoted that I can’t see is realistic, in fact I think it’s a downright lie. They claim that the 1,000 vasectomies carried out today will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million metric tonnes of CO2e.

Let’s break that down for a second…

  • 10 million tonnes divided by 1,000 procedures equals 10,000 tonnes per vasectomy.
  • According to World Bank data, the average American has a carbon footprint of 17.3 tonnes per year.
  • So 10,000 divided by 17.3 equals 578 years of life.
  • The World Bank also gives the life expectancy of an average American at 79
  • This means 7.3 American lives prevented per vasectomy – does the average American man father 7 kids? I don’t think so do you?

Oh, and if you’re wondering how many kids the average Nigerian man would have to father to equate to 10,000 tonnes – it’s around 384. Nigeria is the African country expected to grow the most in absolute terms.

I have to say I think the stat they quote is bullshit – I may even have to ask them how they came to that number because I can’t stand crap like that.

I’m Not Denying There Will Be Problems

Take the emissions out of the equation for a second and I’m a lot more open to population matters.

Issues such as food, water and land will probably get worse as populations in the poorer countries rise so here there may well be an argument for vasectomies as an effective form of both family planning and population control.

I guess I can also accept that, emissions aside, a growing population in these countries is going to put more pressure on the essential ecosystems that exist in these parts of the world.

Deforestation is not only an issue in the Amazon but in forests across Africa and Asia too with species being put at risk as their habitat disappears. I’d like to know whether that pressure is coming internally or whether our choices in the West are the main culprit (since money drives most things, I suspect Western nations have a bigger role to play than internal economics).

Sterilise The West?

A friend of mine once said that we could solve a lot of problems by sterilising the developing world (and yes he was serious) but by my calculations, we’d be much better off sterilising the population in richer, developed countries. He obviously didn’t like the suggestion that we do that to his kids though – the usual case of one rule for us and another for them.

Back to World Vasectomy Day – maybe they should stick to developed countries then? Maybe all 1,000 procedures should happen in America alone? Maybe, just maybe, vasectomies should be free to anyone who wants one – as long as they make the choice for their own reasons and not because someone tells them to.

Rant over.

What do you think?

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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