NRL News

Bioethicist: Having Children Is Bad

by | Jan 11, 2023

By Wesley J. Smith

This is the world of bioethics, the “experts” whom we are supposed to trust to guide public policy on a range of issues, from medical policy to environmental law.

We should not listen to a word the mainstreamers have to say — as this article telling us not to have children makes clear. From “Science Proves Kids are Bad for the Earth,” by Travis Reider, published at NBC Think:

A startling and honestly distressing view is beginning to receive serious consideration in both academic and popular discussions of climate change ethics. According to this view, having a child is a major contributor to climate change. The logical takeaway here is that everyone on Earth ought to consider having fewer children.

Talk about shades of China family-planning theory. We must destroy much of what makes life worth living in order save the planet!

The argument that having a child adds to one’s carbon footprint depends on the view that each of us has a personal carbon ledger for which we are responsible. Furthermore, some amount of an offspring’s emissions count towards the parents’ ledger.

What crap. We do not have to feel guilty for being alive. Moreover, children bring great joy into the world. They are the posterity to whom the future will belong and depend. They are the hope of the world, not environmental disasters.

But look at the moral wrong our bioethicist changes this most important human endeavor into:

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. . . .

Having a child imposes high emissions on the world, while the parents get the benefit. So like with any high-cost luxury, we should limit our indulgence.

No. Choosing to bring new life is not an environmental wrong. It is the best that life has to offer.

And it’s an example of why I think most bioethics discourse pushes us away from policies and actions that make for a healthy and vibrant society.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear on National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.

Categories: Bioethics