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No, Environmentalists, Having Children Is Not Immoral—We Need Children Now More Than Ever

No, Environmentalists, Having Children Is Not Immoral—We Need Children Now More Than Ever

In a recent television interview, environmental activist Donnachadh McCarthy informed the public that having more than two kids is selfish. McCarthy states in the interview that humanity has destroyed 70 percent of “nature” in one generation, presumably due to our so-called carbon footprint, although he doesn’t explain exactly how this has occurred.

“There’s a moral issue here,” he says. “How can we pass that on to the next generation? Every child in an industrial country like ours has around 505 hundred tonnes of carbon over their lifetime. That’s equivalent to 1000 years of electricity for a household. So each child has an impact, and we’re saying one is great, two is plenty, and three is selfish.”

As any putative moral luminary ought to, McCarthy practices what he preaches and offers to his followers a shining example of selflessness by choosing to have no children. Commenting on this decision, he says, “In my 60s, I look at my friends with teenage kids, and I go, ‘How do you cope with it?’” Evidently, according to McCarthy, the virtuous path is simply not to cope with it but rather to avoid it altogether and thus make a sacrifice for the sake of the planet. Save the whales while getting a full eight hours of sleep every night. It’s a win/win.

And yet, I fear that McCarthy is wasting his breath (which we mustn’t forget contains CO2) because his dreams of population decline are well on their way to being realized, and he doesn’t need to promote the agenda anymore. In fact, the messaging of folks like McCarthy seems to have worked a little too well.

Because the truth is that global fertility rates are plummeting, and we’re headed for a population collapse. The BBC reports that “the world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have ‘jaw-dropping’ impact on societies, say researchers.” Their prediction is that the number of people on the planet will peak around 2064, before dropping off—quite steeply. Many countries are predicted to have their population drop by more than half by the end of the century. Professor Christopher Murray remarked to the BBC, “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognize how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganize societies.”

Humanity is set to experience an unnatural “inverted age structure,” where the population is far too top-heavy. As Dr. Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist, explains, a normal population structure is like a pyramid, with few people on the top (elderly), more in the middle (adults), and even more at the base (children). But now, we have something more like a light bulb shape, with a shrinking bottom, bulging middle, and large top.

Why is this a problem? Because people are the most basic resource of any society. With a collapsing population, who will pay taxes? Who will fund Social Security? Who will perform essential work for the functioning of society? Who will take care of the elderly? Who will pay for the healthcare of the elderly?

Figures like Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson have called this population collapse one of the greatest threats facing humanity. Musk has said that humanity will simply “disappear” if people don’t start having more kids, while Peterson has said that the biggest problem 50 years from now will be that there’s just not enough people. He also rails against activists like McCarthy, who bemoan the existence of human beings and try to guilt people into having fewer children. “There’s no sentiment more implicitly genocidal” than the statement that the earth has too many people, says Peterson.

Why is the default solution to so-called climate change to limit the population, anyway? If the planet is, indeed, in so much danger, might not other solutions be pursued, such as alterations in the way we do business and run our industries? McCarthy complains of the carbon footprint of children in industrial societies. But has it not occurred to him, and those like him, that maybe industrialization is the problem, not children? That maybe children are, in fact, so precious, that it would be worth radically restructuring our economies and industries so as to allow children—that is, humanity (they’re not some other species, after all)—to flourish? What exactly this would look like, I don’t know, though one idea would be a less industrial and more agrarian-based economy. As radical as that may sound, it is far less radical than the current ideas from the population-control gurus.

Some places, like Hungary, have tried to address this problem of falling birthrates by paying people to have kids. But we face a deeper problem than that, and it will require a deeper solution, a tectonic shift in our cultural attitudes and beliefs. The harsh reality is that a number of forces have conspired to possess Western society with an anti-family spirit. Until we recover an appreciation of the sacredness of family, of motherhood, and of children, and until we once again enshrine the primacy of family life, as every healthy culture has always done, we will not solve the impending population catastrophe.

A hatred of children is the sign of a very ill culture—a terminally ill one, a suicidal one. For children are, after all, simply us—humanity. One cannot war against children, against new human life, especially for the sake of something as vague and ill-defined as “the planet” (and one might ask whom we are saving the planet for), unless one has, fundamentally, a philosophy of anti-being and anti-life. Population control is the manifestation of a philosophy that denies the basic goodness of being. It is nihilist. And it ends with the annihilation of humanity.

Image credit: Pexels

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Walker Larson
Walker Larson

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    February 7, 2024, 4:45 pm

    This attitude is so pernicious and yet so many have succumbed to it! People are stifling their fertility so they can “enjoy” their twenties and thirties, and yet they do not anticipate the terrible loneliness of their later years. There will be no world to enjoy if we do not refresh the supply of people.


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