NBC News just posted a lengthy opinion piece explaining why it’s “morally suspect” to have kids. It argues that human beings are bad for the Earth — what with our carbon emissions, and our pollution, and the electricity that was used to write and publish an article complaining about carbon emissions and pollution, etc. — and the only appropriate response is to have fewer children.
The author, an alleged “bioethicist” and confirmed maniac named Travis Rieder, compares having offspring to freeing a murderer from prison (no, seriously). He says that you would be morally responsible for the future murders the escaped convict commits, just as you’re morally responsible for the carbon emissions your daughter emits. When your daughter breathes, selfishly, and melts an ice cap, and a whole family of polar bears drown in the icy depths, you’re on the hook, pal. Having one child is tantamount to directly murdering probably 12 polar bears or so, if I have my math right. My wife and I have already slaughtered 36 polar bears according to this equation I just made up. We can’t get enough of it. It’s pretty disturbing, really, how much we love murdering polar bears.
Rieder admits that his view may seem a tad extreme to some of you, but that’s only because you’re a bunch of dumb, backwards hicks and your “moral psychology hasn’t evolved” enough to understand and appreciate the brilliance of Travis Rieder. I’m not sure that the term “moral psychology” actually means anything, strictly speaking, but that’s probably because I’m a dumb, backwards hick, too.
Now, it wouldn’t be worth responding to the ravings of this self-loathing madman, except that the ravings were published by a major news organization, and he’s articulating an idea that has many proponents on the Left. Whether or not they’d go so far as to compare childbirth to releasing a serial killer from prison, many of them believe that having “too many kids” is ethically dubious. I’d like to take a few moments and explain why this view is extremely stupid. There are many more than six reasons but I’ll just focus on these six:
1. Overpopulation is a myth.
This all hinges on the obviously absurd notion that the Earth has some sort of max capacity for human life, and we’ve almost reached it or already exceeded it. The overpopulation myth is just that: a myth. It was invented out of thin air a few decades ago, around the time that environmentalists and eugenicists were telling us about the imminent ice age, which apparently came and went and destroyed mankind without any of us noticing.
In reality, the Earth really has no carrying capacity. Or, if it does, we’ll never get close to it. As it stands, we have enough room to fit the entire population of the world into Texas and enough resources to feed them all three times over. It’s not a coincidence that articles about overpopulation always come accompanied by images of people in Manhattan or Tokyo all crammed together in a train or on a sidewalk. For some reason, they never show you the vast swaths of fertile land where nobody currently lives. They never show you North Dakota or rural China. It’s our choice not to live in North Dakota. Perhaps our cities have a population limit — and even that limit is quite flexible — but the Earth is enormous and ancient and resilient, and it can handle us. All of us.
2. Man-made climate change is a myth.
Climate change was supposed to have already brought about the extinction of the human race several times by now. It hasn’t, probably because climate change isn’t that big of a deal. The Earth has warmed very slightly over the past century and half, it has now stopped warming, and there’s no real evidence that human beings contributed to it in any significant way. It’s probably for this reason that there really is no “scientific consensus” on climate change and never was.
3. Human beings are not commodities.
The first two points don’t matter all that much. I’m sorry for wasting your time with them. Even if it could be proven that an “excess” of children may lead to this or that problematic outcome, it still would not be morally justified to treat children as if they can be in “excess.”
Either we believe that human life is sacred, and each life holds infinite value, or we don’t. If we don’t, then I’m not sure why we’re having this conversation or any conversation. Life is meaningless, therefore the polar bears and the trees and all the fish in the sea are meaningless, therefore the Earth is meaningless, therefore we may as well kill ourselves and escape this painful nothingness of existence. Certainly, if human life has no intrinsic value then we shouldn’t bother ourselves by worrying about silly things like murder, rape, and so forth. Who cares what one worthless, accidental clump of matter does to another? It’s all the same in the end. It is only possible and sensible to continue this conversation if we agree that life has value, and that its value is inherent.
So, if we are moving forward with that understanding, we must agree that each life is worth the trouble it may supposedly, potentially, cause. Life is not a thing that can be measured, counted, or rationed, even by a bioethicist with a PhD and an arsenal of smart-sounding phrases that don’t mean anything. Life transcends all of that. If it does not, suicide is the only sensible course of action.
4. Speaking of which, why hasn’t Rieder availed himself of that option?
It’s fascinating to note that those who worry about overpopulation never seem to put themselves in the “over” category. But if a person truly believed that the surplus of humanity on Earth has become a moral crisis, is that person not morally obliged to minimize that surplus in the only way he really can? Yet Travis Rieder continues to breathe, annihilating another polar bear family as we speak, refusing to lead by example. It’s unconscionable.
Let me stipulate that I am not sincerely advocating suicide. I’m only demonstrating the insincerity of Travis Rieder’s position. For the record, I hope he lives a long life — I just hope he gets a clue at some point during that process.
5. By the way, why are we still trying to save the panda bears?
I can’t make sense of this. On the one hand, environmentalists tell us that carbon emissions are destroying the planet and we must have fewer children to address the epidemic, but on the other hand they say that we must do everything we can to stave off the extinction of pandas and koalas and other effectively useless species who seem to want very badly to die off. We’re basically forcing pandas to have sex, we’re so desperate to keep them around. Why? They emit carbon too, don’t they? Why are humans the ones who need to embrace extinction? If there are “too many” biological creatures on Earth, and if we need to curb the expansion of this horrid disease called life, why wouldn’t we start with the creatures who are near extinction anyway, and who have less value than human beings?
All I’m saying is don’t tell me to have fewer kids while you’re out there artificially inseminating koala bears, for God’s sake.
6. It’s called selfishness.
What lies at the foundation of these attempts to make procreation seem irresponsible, besides nihilism, is selfishness. Rather than admit that they decided not to have kids due to their own materialism and greed, environmentally conscious Leftists have latched onto this rationale. It’s all nonsense, of course.
The “morally suspect” thing is to forgo raising a family in favor of pricier vacations and nicer home furnishings. Their attempt to make their shallow, self-interested lifestyle seem noble is pitifully unconvincing. Especially because this excuse is usually trotted out by well off liberals who rarely follow up their “sacrifice” of not having kids by sacrificing any of the wasteful luxuries their childless life now affords them. Oddly, they were so concerned about the planet that they bypassed procreation, but not so concerned that they bypassed that trip to the Bahamas, or that third car they don’t need, or the eighth pair of shoes in their closet, or the TV in the guestroom nobody sleeps in.
Strange how “sacrifice” works with these types.