Our Intentions Were Misconstrued; We Could Have Done Better
One Planet One Child campaign seeks a beautiful future for ALL children
The first TV news report in Vancouver, Canada about our One Planet, One Child billboard campaign prominently featured one of the 30+ ads we had in rotation. Unfortunately that ad, out of context with other ads in the campaign, made it too easy for someone to get the wrong impression about our message and intentions. While the ad is true, loving and inclusive, we apologize for creating an ad that could too easily be misconstrued. We have removed that and similar ads from the campaign.
The ad included a photo of a precious infant and a message about “the most loving gift you can give your first child.”
These ads are about ensuring a beautiful future for all children. We endeavored to be as inclusive as possible in this ad campaign, so we were running six variations of this ad, depicting children or families of different nationality or skin color.
We want to include everyone in the conversation. The infant in the particular ad spotlighted by the TV report was Black. That, combined with the text encouraging the viewer to consider choosing a one-child family, allowed some to form the wrong impression that the campaign is “targeting” people of color to have fewer children, ignoring the rest of the population.
That is not our intent. Our goal is for all prospective parents to have the information they’re entitled to consider when making family-size decisions. These ads do not need to be seen only by certain groups of people. We all need to be aware of human overpopulation, and we all have a role to play in resolving that crisis.
Also, it’s not our intention to tell anyone how many children to have; that is a personal choice. We want to offer information so that when choosing your family size you are informed and empowered to make the best decision for you and the planet.
It was a mistake that we didn’t anticipate the possibility someone might see only the one ad, or that someone might share just that ad on social media. You can imagine the firestorm of negative reactions to seeing only that ad coupled with a misinterpretation of its message and intent. The text itself was also too easy to misinterpret as “telling me how many kids I should have.”
All parents want their children to live good lives. Parents would “take a bullet” to protect their kids. But most parents today are unaware of just how tenuous the future is for their children. We’ve grown the human enterprise (our numbers and our economy) to such a size that it is damaging our life-support system, putting our children’s future in real danger. Our campaign website has links to many of the scientific reports documenting this (unfortunately, the site has crashed due to the amount of interest in this campaign; we hope that website will be back up later today). With each passing year we’re skating on thinner and thinner ice. The climate crisis is part of this, but it’s just one of several crises that are eroding Earth’s ability to meet the needs of future generations.
This isn’t widely appreciated, because the topic has long been avoided. The torrent of negative reaction to our misstep is an example of what happens when a person or group — even with the best of intentions — attempts to enlighten about population’s role in this crisis. So, it’s no wonder the best of us have gone running for cover and avoided talking about this issue. Because of that, there has been a dearth of positive conversation about how beautiful the solution really is. That has kept alive the fears that any solution to overpopulation must be an ugly violation of human rights.
We have to break through the barrier of silence, so people have access to science-based information about the existence of this crisis and its ethical, humanitarian and voluntary solution.
We want to bring this subject into the daylight so we can educate people that:
- overpopulation and its solution do not belong exclusively to the people of any one region, nation, ethnicity or religion
- there is no need to find someone to blame for this crisis and we should all avoid trying to affix blame or trying to shame anyone
- there is no need for government to dictate or legislate family size
Open discussion of the subject will help everyone around the world to make informed family-size decisions that respect and protect the rights of the children. Robust public dialog can help us permanently banish the mistakes of the past and embrace a positive path forward.
Our mistake became apparent when we heard from quite a few people accusing the campaign of being racist. We’re glad people are standing up for our Black brothers and sisters. We stand with them. But there is nothing racist about an effort to ensure everyone around the world has access to good information so they can make informed, well-considered family size decisions.
This is an effort born out of love for all children. This campaign is standing up for the rights of all children.
See our One Planet, One Child Declaration of Intent for a thorough explanation of this. This was all outlined on the homepage of our campaign website (www.oneplanetonechild.org). But clearly many people just reacted to the one ad, didn’t investigate or trust our description of the campaign, and may not be aware of the bleak future our children face if we don’t inform ourselves and act carefully.
Racism is born of ignorance and fear. Our One Planet, One Child campaign seeks to combat ignorance with information, and overcome fear with love.
One reason the topic of overpopulation has been avoided for too long is that responsible advocacy for sustainable population has often been met with unfounded accusations of racism. We believe that results from fear that overpopulation solutions will follow some mistaken efforts undertaken in the past. This has unfortunately created an atmosphere in which people jump to the conclusion that any advocacy for, or discussion of, sustainable population is racist. That has to end. Having an open public conversation about this issue will allow us to ensure those types of solutions are not ever tried again. It will allow us to explore and pursue solutions that are humanitarian, ethical and voluntary.
So, our campaign will continue. We’ll learn, adjust and improve the ads as we go along, in our quest to find the best ways to open this conversation. We condemn racism and want it to end. Our role in combating racism is to work to eliminate ignorance and fear, and improve the public’s knowledge about resolving overpopulation. In so doing we hope to create a more beautiful, sustainable future for all children.
Get your questions answered about this initiative at a free webinar 7 October, 2020 at 6pm PDT
This apology and clarification were also published at the One Planet, One Child campaign website.