The fourth annual Environmental Film Festival took place at the MV Film Center over Memorial Day Weekend. The focus of the films — all documentaries — varied greatly; from the rapaciousness of the fashion industry (The True Cost), to the celebration of a wildly talented gardener (appropriately, The Gardener), to the ambitiously philosophical Living in the Future’s Past — where I do believe I heard the name Baruch Spinoza referenced. Yet there were certain questions that went unasked all weekend, certain considerations that went unexamined. That is, are human beings unavoidably at odds with their environment? Or, what is the environmental impact (read: consequence) of simply being human?

Most anyone who takes environmentalism seriously agrees that, before being vegan, before eschewing plastics, and before converting to solar power, there is no action, or series of actions, that a person could take in their lifetime to offset, on average, 70 years of waste and consumption.

And since we cannot truly offset our environmental impact (read: harm) in this lifetime, it only seems logical to consider the next potential lifetime, to bring into question our biological urge to reproduce. It is an awkward and uncomfortable question because each person capable of asking it is the product of the very thing they are bringing into question. But if you are serious about environmentalism, you should consider the harm brought to the environment by intentionally heeding this urge, by intentionally having even one child.

Estimates measure the carrying capacity of the earth (for humans) at 10 billion — some say lower. Other estimates measure the earth’s current human population at around 7.5 billion people. This seems reason enough to begin to think seriously about our legacy. But it also seems that humans cannot help but bring into question the impact of their mere existence upon the environment. We do not live in harmony with our environment by instinct. It is a process to which we must give a great deal of thought. And even then, we can choose to bypass this knowledge, we can choose to live in disharmony with our environment. Which is to ask: Is the biological urge to reproduce a need or a desire? And have we, again and again, made the choice to live in disharmony with our environment? These too are the questions I think need to be asked if we are to be serious about environmentalism.

Garri Saganenko