A few days ago, Shannon Osaka, the “Climate zeitgeist reporter” at the Washington Post wrote a piece exploring the idea that having children is unethical as kids are bad for the climate. She doesn’t mean that kids are loud or messy, in which case I would have agreed they are bad for the environment, but that they do too much breathing and living, using resources and causing climate destruction for those of us lucky to have already been born.
Osaka quotes Travis Rieder, a “bioethicist” at Johns Hopkins University who wrote his own 2017 piece about how environmentally irresponsible it is to have children. Rieder wrote “Having a child imposes high emissions on the world, while the parents get the benefit. So like with any high-cost luxury, we should limit our indulgence.”
Rieder, of course, has a child. He didn’t decide not to have any children but simply to “limit” his “indulgence” as if kids are a naughty chocolate bar before dinner.
Osaka quotes Rieder as saying “’You have a good moral reason to be part of the solution, not part of the problem — even when your part is infinitesimally small.’”
Setting aside whether there is any evidence of this “solution” actually working, and as Osaka points out that evidence is very, very slim, is Rieder or any other anti-children environmentalist doing other “infinitesimally small” measures to save our planet?
Does he vacation? Ride in a car? Ride on a plane? Heat or cool his home? Why do we simply accept the idea of fewer children, in a country already suffering with a declining birth rate, instead of limiting the excesses of all the bioethicists first.
Overall this line of thinking continues to be an attack on the idea of children and family. It’s part and parcel of the environmental movement that we need to absolutely uproot all the ideas that have held civilization together so far.
Just as the “Green New Deal” requires re-outfitting every single building in the country to fit a new environmental model with, again, slim evidence it will do any good at all, so too does this idea of limiting future children “for the planet” really just mean a rearrangement of the family.
So many of the climate predictions have turned out to be wrong. That’s why most new predictions are couched in the appropriate “could” and “may” language. Writes Osaka “The irony is that even as the footprint of a child born in the developed world is decreasing, the impacts of climate change that child will experience are increasing – and in some cases much faster than scientists had expected. All across the world are already facing days filled with choking wildfire smoke, catastrophic floods, and dangerous heat waves. A child born today will likely still be alive in 2100, at which point warming could have doubled.”
Sure, it could have doubled. It also absolutely could not. The idea that humans are breeding themselves off a cliff relies on so much possibility and very little actuality. So have the children, have several, and don’t let the people who have been wrong about so much scare you out of it.