“The climate crisis is a reproductive crisis”
Here at LI, we’ve been covering the various attempts by the left to use
global warming climate change as an excuse for everything from a falsely predicted “bee-pocalypse” to #Brexit to the rise of ISIS (or is that vice versa?).
Bored with pointing out how climate change is responsible for everything bad in the world, some progressives have switched over to urging population control in the name of their “settled” science. This time it’s not an intellectual exercise, it’s being “taught” by Johns Hopkins’ Travis Rieder.
Standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. Or at least not too many.
He’s at James Madison University in southwest Virginia to talk about a “small-family ethic” — to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to “give them grandchildren.”
Why question such assumptions? The prospect of climate catastrophe.
For years, people have lamented how bad things might get “for our grandchildren,” but Rieder tells the students that future isn’t so far off anymore.
He asks how old they will be in 2036, and, if they are thinking of having kids, how old their kids will be.
“Dangerous climate change is going to be happening by then,” he says. “Very, very soon.”
The way, he opines, to avoid their children’s future suffering may be to “protect them” by “not having them.”
He’s a philosopher with the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and his arguments against having children are moral.
Americans and other rich nations produce the most carbon emissions per capita, he says. Yet people in the world’s poorest nations are most likely to suffer severe climate impacts, “and that seems unfair,” he says.
There’s also a moral duty to future generations that will live amid the climate devastation being created now.
“Here’s a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them,” Rieder says.
His arguments sound pretty persuasive in the classroom.
The worrying thing about this is the same worrying thing about all progressive education. Young, impressionable minds hear this, internalize it as coming from an “expert,” and go forth into the world carrying this baggage along with them.
This is evidenced by the next tidbit from NPR about a young graduate student who fears future climate change sufficiently to seriously consider shelving her life-long dream of having children.
Meghan Hoskins is among a dozen people gathered in the spare office of an environmental group in Keene, N.H., earlier this year. They sit on folding chairs in a circle, the room humming with multiple conversations.
“If I had told my boyfriend at the time, ‘I’m not ready to have children because I don’t know what the climate’s gonna be like in 50 years,’ he wouldn’t have understood. There’s no way,” says Hoskins, a 23-year-old whose red hair is twisted in a long braid.
This is one of 16 meetings over the past year and a half organized by Conceivable Future, a nonprofit founded on the notion that “the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis.”
Hoskins says she’s always wanted “little redheaded babies” — as do her parents, the sooner the better.
But she’s a grad student in environmental studies, and the more she learns, the more she questions what kind of life those babies would have.
It doesn’t stop there. Of course.
Back at James Madison University, Travis Rieder explains a PowerPoint graph that seems to offer hope. Bringing down global fertility by just half a child per woman “could be the thing that saves us,” he says.
He cites a study from 2010 that looked at the impact of demographic change on global carbon emissions. It found that slowing population growth could eliminate one-fifth to one-quarter of all the carbon emissions that need to be cut by midcentury to avoid that potentially catastrophic tipping point.
Rieder’s audience seems to want an easier way. A student asks about the carbon savings from not eating meat.
Apparently uninterested in an easier way (remember the mini-cows that were going to save the planet?), Rieder dismisses this idea.
Excellent idea, Rieder says. But no amount of conservation gives you a pass. Oregon State University researchers have calculated the savings from all kinds of conservation measures: driving a hybrid, driving less, recycling, using energy-efficient appliances, windows and light bulbs.
For an American, the total metric tons of carbon dioxide saved by all of those measures over an entire lifetime of 80 years: 488. By contrast, the metric tons saved when a person chooses to have one fewer child: 9,441.
Another student asks: “What happens if that kid you decided not to have would have been the person who grew up and essentially cured this?”
Again, great question, says Rieder, but the answer is still no. First, the chances are slim. More to the point, he says, valuing children as a means to an end — be it to cure climate change or, say, provide soldiers for the state — is ethically problematic.
With all that’s at stake, he says, we need to shift our cultural attitudes. “It’s not the childless who must justify their lifestyle. It’s the rest of us.”
And that includes Rieder.
A father of one, Rieder’s “children for me but not for thee” philosophy has developed into a plan that he calls “the carbon tax on children.”
NPR explains his “carrots for the poor, sticks for the rich” population control plan:
Ethically, Rieder says poor nations get some slack because they’re still developing, and because their per capita emissions are a sliver of the developed world’s. Plus, it just doesn’t look good for rich, Western nations to tell people in poor ones not to have kids. He suggests things like paying poor women to refill their birth control and — something that’s had proven success — widespread media campaigns.
. . . . For the sticks part of the plan, Rieder proposes that richer nations do away with tax breaks for having children and actually penalize new parents. He says the penalty should be progressive, based on income, and could increase with each additional child.
He explains that this is the only way to avoid some sort of climate-related calamity.
“The situation is bleak, it’s just dark,” he says. “Population engineering, maybe it’s an extreme move. But it gives us a chance.”
. . . . “We know exactly how to make fewer babies,” he says. And it’s something people can start doing today.
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