BreakPoint: Banning Babies

Humans Are the Solution, Not the Problem

No one wants their kids to grow up to become criminals. But for some, their crime is simply existing.

Children are some of the greatest blessings in life. They teach you that the world doesn’t revolve around you, they bring endless joy and opportunities for character development, and they give us a little glimpse of how God sees His children.

But what if having children is actually immoral? That’s the argument one research scholar at the Berman Institute for Bioethics made in a recent opinion piece for NBC.

Travis Rieder argues that having children is unethical because it contributes to the destruction of earth’s environment. According to him, the amount of greenhouse gas a child will emit over his or her lifetime is staggering. Having multiple children means doubling, tripling, and quadrupling that impact.

He goes so far as to compare his own daughter to a murderer:

“If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for these deaths…Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children: Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a quote.

Look, the argument that it’s immoral to have children depends on several big assumptions. First, it assumes that the effects of climate change will be as serious as forecasters say. That’s a tough sell, given the long history of failed environmental disaster predictions.

In 1970, on the first annual Earth Day, Life Magazine prophesied that by 1985, air pollution would usher in a new ice age. That same year, Dillon Ripley, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, wrote that in 25 years, 75 to 80 percent of all animal species would go extinct. And Paul Ehrlich, Stanford professor and author of “The Population Bomb,” predicted that 100 to 200 million people per year would be starving to death by 1980, and that England would not exist by the year 2000.

These kinds of predictions have a tendency not to pan out. Our understanding of nature is patchy at best. Some humility is in order. This is especially true given the fact that many demographers expect world population to level off or even decrease in the near future.

But Rieder’s argument makes another assumption: that humans are the problem, not the solution. Doomsday prognostications are often based on the unstated belief that people are the problem—consumers of resources who reproduce and will eventually max out our planet’s capacity to carry them. But in reality humans do much more than just consume. They innovate, they come up with new energy sources, they improve technology. That’s the primary reason none of these dire predictions have come true.

The expected food shortage was averted by breakthroughs in agriculture. Today, not only are we not witnessing mass starvation, but extreme poverty is at an all-time low.

The technologies that made this possible were discovered, in a very literal sense, because someone had a baby. Each new person is a new mind, with potential to unlock new solutions. You never know which child will be the engineer or physicist who discovers the fuel that reverses greenhouse emissions.

At work here are two fundamentally different worldviews. For Christians, people are the pinnacle and purpose of creation. We alone bear the likeness of a Creator Who said not only, “be fruitful and multiply,” but also “let the little children come to me.”

On Twitter last week, Matthew Lee Anderson quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who said of Rieder’s brand of alarmism, “A point of view…which considers fertility as an evil cannot be allowed to spread without contradiction.”

He’s right. A worldview that sees children as the problem may not last to see its predictions fail. Ironically, the only species radical environmentalists are likely to drive to extinction is themselves.

 

Banning Babies?: Humans Are the Solution, Not the Problem

In contrast to the worldview that devalues human life and advocates “banning babies,” the Christian worldview encourages and promotes children as a blessing from God.

Resources

Babies Aren’t The End Of The World
  • G. Shane Morris | The Federalist | August 27, 2016

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Phoenix1977

    “These kinds of predictions have a tendency not to pan out.”
    Ever considered these predictions did not come to pass BECAUSE we intervened? For example, the air polution scientist were warning about was caused by leaded fossil fuel. In the 1980s several inventions were done to reduced the lead in exhaust fumes and later lead was removed almost completely from fuel. Had that not happened the predictions done would have come true.
    Sometimes interventions required to save ecosystems are impopular or simply painful. That doesn’t mean we should not take them. Yes, people can discover alternatives for energy sources or improve technology. However, if there were less people on our planet to begin with alternatives would not be required at all.

    • jason taylor

      Who, pray tell, do you think we should start with?

    • Just One Voice

      Lol, Phoenix, am I blind? Did I miss something? Do you read the whole thing or just search for the first point you can argue against? I ask because he addresses your question exactly; that these predictions did not come to pass because we intervened.

      “But in reality humans do much more than just consume. They innovate, they come up with new energy sources, they improve technology. That’s the primary reason none of these dire predictions have come true.” (emphasis mine)

      I want to be optimistic like you, that “if there were less people on our planet to begin with, alternative would not be required at all.” Again, I want to believe that, but history & experience tells me otherwise. Even if there were less people were on our planet, they would still find ways to pollute…well, everything! Though it could certainly take longer 🙂

      The rest of my response is directed at the main article. Stuff like this just blows me away; especially when it comes from people that are parents themselves! I’ve just become a dad again, for the second time. *long pause, thinking about my two boys* They are so precious to me, there are just no words.

      I thought I had something else to say, but again, all the kids in my life (my sons, nephews & nieces) just make me speechless. We have a sign in our house that reads: “Without my kids, my house would be clean, and my wallet would be full, but my heart would be empty.”

    • Steve

      “Had that not happened the predictions done would have come true.” And just how can you prove that? Faulty logic on your part–a prediction doesn’t come true and you claim it is due to the interventions it supposedly spurred.
      “However, if there were less people on our planet to begin with the alternatives would not be required at all.” If you feel so strongly about this are you willing to do your part and eliminate your “carbon footprint” completely? Didn’t think so. You just want to eliminate others in the classic totalitarian worldview.

      • Phoenix1977

        “If you feel so strongly about this are you willing to do your part and eliminate your “carbon footprint” completely?”
        Too late for that. However, I am making sure there will be a decrease in population by simply not reproducing.

        • Steve

          You are choosing to do that yourself. Your decision.
          Are you suggesting that people are limited as to how many children they are allowed to have?

          • Phoenix1977

            “Are you suggesting that people are limited as to how many children they are allowed to have?”
            Yes, I think that would be an excellent idea. I’m very much in favor of China’s one child policy.

          • Phil Young

            Yes, and that caused all kinds of problems which China is now tyoing to redress by saying they can have more than one.

          • Phoenix1977

            China’s one child policy was not the cause of the problem. The preference of Chinese parents to have a boy was. If the Chinese would have simply accepted the child they were given instead of desiring the one they didn’t have the male to female ratio was not skewed now and the intended shrinkage of the population would simply have succeeded.

          • Phil Young

            I take your point, and actually I think that in the past they used to put baby girls out on the hilltop. If they survived they kept them and if they didn’t, well tough.
            Having said that though, had they not had the one child policy, then perhaps they would have had the baby regardless and hoped for a boy the next time – but of course I don’t know if that would have been the cae or not.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Having said that though, had they not had the one child policy, then perhaps they would have had the baby regardless and hoped for a boy the next time – but of course I don’t know if that would have been the case or not.”
            But that is exactly the point. There would not be a next time.
            China is a good example of how humans are destroying their own habitat. Ever since China’s economy is growing so is the pollution and the ecological disasters. With 1,4 billion people to date and a complete lack of respect for the environment China is only a few thousand people away of not being able to sustain it’s own population; they are out of space to live and out of space to grow food, both due to heavy pollution. China is an ecological disaster waiting to happen.
            The only reason why the Chinese government eases up on the one child policy is not because it’s no longer required; it’s because the population is completely skewed. Last time I heard numbers (which was sometime last year) there were over 5 men to every woman in China. This does not only create (sexual) tension in China but also a massive brain drain since high educated Chinese men simply go to Europe, the US and Canada to try their luck there. That’s the reason why the Chinese government let go of their one child policy, not because they had a change of heart.

    • Scott

      Did you know the entire world population can fit in the state of Rhode Island? The problem isn’t the number of people, it’s the way we consume.

      I personally would rather change my habits of consumption if it meant sparing a human life… Like John said, you never know what that person might go on to accomplish.

      • Phoenix1977

        Oh, I’m sure that will fit. However, the problem is not space. The problem is resources. And we are simply running out of those.

        • Scott

          Resources… yes. If we changed our consumption habits, we wouldn’t have to worry about the number of people though. Population control is most definitely not the answer.

          Three strangers are sitting on a four person bench equally spaced while waiting for the bus. Another comes to wait for the same bus, but finds no seat on the bench. Should the three scoot closer to make room for the one?

          What can I say, I like story problems. : – )

          • Phoenix1977

            “yes. If we changed our consumption habits, we wouldn’t have to worry about the number of people though.”
            Over the past millennia humanity has shown itself to be incapable of changing habits, simply because it doesn’t have the will to change those habits.

            “Should the three scoot closer to make room for the one?”
            It doesn’t matter what they should. It only matters what they will. They are quite unlikely to move, unless being forced to by, for example, the law.

  • Donna

    Not all technology & agricultural advances have been good. Right now agriculture & the rise of GMOs or genetically modified organisms more specifically referred to as genetically engineered food is harming both man & the environment, while Monsanto claims that without them, we can’t feed the world. Yet we already have a surplus of food. The problem with feeding the world has been with distribution.
    Global warming, too, is just more bad science, but yet our government continues to spend billions yearly to advertise this propaganda in order to convince the masses that this is true. It’s so crucial for Christians to be educated on these topics and be willing to engage the culture and speak out & fight for what is true and right!

  • GumboisLife

    Glad you are reading Breakpoint! I hope it eventually unties the logic knot that has you in its grip.