Vasectomy: A way to save biodiversity?

Africa Geographic ran my article on World Vasectomy Day two days before the event. Read the text below, or click here to read it on the Africa Geographic website.


On Friday 18 October 2013, 1 000 men in 25 countries will dedicate their vasectomies to Mother Earth. It's thought that the impact of these men's sterilisations will mean a reduction of man's carbon footprint by some 1 million metric tons. That's more than 20 000 lifetimes of recycling, reducing, or reusing.

The operations form part of World Vasectomy Day, which is all about starting a global conversation about why men are reluctant to get involved in family planning and questions if avoiding unwanted pregnancy should be included in environmental policies. Africa's population will more than double to 2.4 billion within 40 years. In many ways this is great news, as much of the growth is down to improved healthcare, but population growth on this scale can only have a devastating impact on biodiversity.

This means environmentalists need to start looking more at education, women's rights and family planning improvements as having environmental aims, not only being crucial in themselves.

World Vasectomy Day events will be taking place on every continent. In South Africa I'll be hosting the African premiere of a new documentary by Oscar nominated and Emmy-Award winning director Jonathan Stack, "The Vasectomist". The Vasectomist follows Dr Doug Stein, a urologist who believes the best way he can help save the planet is to perform as many vasectomies as possible. He's performed over 30 000 so far, that's more than anyone else.

There are over seven billion of us on the planet right now, but as Doug says, "Could this planet support more than 8 billion people? Sure it could. Could it support 12 billion people? Probably could. But it can’t really support 12 billion people as well as biodiversity. I think vasectomy is win, win, win for the people, for the societies, for nature."

The premiere of The Vasectomist will be held at midday on Friday 18 October 2013 at the FADA Auditorium of the University of Johannesburg's Bunting Road campus, Auckland Park. Admission is free and will be followed by a Q&A session. It's time for a global discussion to start, that’s the purpose of World Vasectomy Day, so if you are in Johannesburg on Friday come along and find out more.