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We hear all the time that “children are our future”. We must spend more money on education because children are our future! We must spend more money on social welfare services because children are our future! We must destroy school lunches because our children’s future depends on it! We must wage war on climate change because it’s our children’s future! (You never hear these same people say we must manage the debt for our children’s future. Weird.)
Today on Yahoo there’s a new piece that flips the “we must do X because children are our future” argument on its head. The article delves into the “significant” decision some couples are making today: not having kids to fight climate change. One reason couples are forgoing children they claim is “climate anxiety”. From the article:
A study published in the journal Climatic Change last November found that climate anxiety is factoring into reproductive decisions. Of 607 Americans between the ages of 27 and 45, 59.8 percent expressed being “very” or “extremely concerned” about the carbon footprint a future child might leave, whereas 96.5 percent were “very” or “extremely concerned” about that a child’s well-being amid a climate-compromised world.
The author goes onto quote a 2020 TMZ interview of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez where AOC claims people her age, afraid of climate change and the world future generations may have to live in, are deciding against bringing children into such an unstable and dangerous environment.
Further down, one of the women in the piece addresses the accused “selfishness” of the decision to not have kids. As you could have guessed, her rebuttal goes like this: “I don’t think there’s anything selfish about having a bigger picture of the planet”.
This brings me to something I remember Andrew Klavan explaining in one of his podcast episodes. Paraphrasing, Klavan spoke about how humans – being made by God in the image of God, with the ability to reason and understand – give meaning to the world and without us the world would therefore be meaningless. To the lady above: what good is the bigger picture if there’s no one to admire it?
Even if you throw out God and look at it from a purely “logic and reason” point of view, it’s hard not to see that the human’s capacity for understanding is what makes this planet worthwhile. The other side is one that replaces God with “Mother Earth” and is every bit, if not more religious in nature.
There are practical reasons against this line of thinking too. In general, having kids makes us more forward-looking. The great economist Tyler Cowen has written extensively about this. Cowen argues having children could actually be our solution to climate change, not the opposite. Bryan Caplan has also written about the benefits and reasons why you should have more kids in his book “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids”.
Life brings optimism and opportunity. Two hundred years ago people continued to have children even when birth and infant death rates were extremely high. Have you have looked at a family history from that time period? The sheer number of 6-month to 3-year old deaths is astonishing. The world was a hard place and they had little reason to believe it would get much better, but they kept having kids. In terms of peace, prosperity, and health, we live in the greatest time in human history ever. It’s inarguable. That’s why it’s bizarre for one to claim “climate anxiety” as a reason for not having kids.
It just doesn’t make sense.Published in