The Corner


Environmentalism’s Worsening Anti-Human Infection

As I wrote in The War on Humans, environmentalism has become increasingly anti-human, both in proposed policies — such as those that would reduce economic vitality and thwart human thriving — and in the goal of reducing human population.

The latter goal would require particularly tyrannical impositions to actually effectuate. Voluntary family planning offers great benefits. But actually reducing our numbers would require iron-fisted tyrannical measures.

After all, China’s brutal one-child policy has only slowed the country’s population growth. The actual Chinese population has not diminished — and the slowed growth came at tremendous cost to the happiness of the people and profoundly distorted its demographics. Indeed, the demographic problem — tens of millions more men than women — that the policy spawned recently induced the Chinese tyranny to generously (he wrote sarcastically) allow its people to now have a second child.

Environmentalists and their assorted allies get angry that most people don’t think that fighting supposed global warming is a priority item. Part of that may be because they continually show how out of touch they are with the joys and aspirations of regular — by which I mean sane — people.

Latest example from bioethicist (of course!) Travis Rieder, who compares having a child to releasing a murderer from prison to kill again. From“Science Proves Kids Are Bad for Earth:”

If I release a murderer from prison, knowing full well that he intends to kill innocent people, then I bear some responsibility for those deaths — even though the killer is also fully responsible. My having released him doesn’t make him less responsible (he did it!). But his doing it doesn’t eliminate my responsibility either.

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. Moral responsibility simply isn’t mathematical.

Good grief, have three kids and it is like letting Charles Manson out of prison? Rieder considers his putative grandchildren to be “emissions”? This is how Trump wins!

Rieder wants us all to have one fewer child:

Humanity grew up in relatively small groups; Rules like “don’t harm others,” or “don’t steal and cheat” are easy to make sense of in a world of largely individual interactions.

That is not our world any longer, though, and our moral sense is evolving to reflect that difference. Moral decisions are no longer about math; Being a part of the solution matters.

The importance of this argument for family size is obvious. If having one fewer child reduces one’s contribution to the harms of climate change, the choice of family size becomes a morally relevant one.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Blah. Blah. Blah.

It is worth noting that Rieder has, in other places, advocated “punishing people” who have children. This, at a time when Western Europe and Japan are having too few children, leading to a demographic crisis.

Meanwhile, people living in the developing world have many children because of sheer survival needs.

Here’s an idea. Allow the use of fossil fuels to build an electric grid throughout Africa and I’ll bet the birth rate would drop. But greens don’t want to do that. They insist the destitute wait until it can all be created with renewables, meaning wait for decades. That’s anti-human because it dooms people to shorter and far more difficult lives.

And here’s another: Dr. Rieder should mind his own business about whether and when people decide to have children. The earth will be just fine whatever they decide.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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