In a provocative new essay, NBC News Think claims that science has proven that having kids is bad for the environment and therefore “having many children is wrong, or at least morally suspect.”
In an article titled “Science proves kids are bad for Earth: Morality suggests we stop having them,” bioethicist Travis Rieder argues that having a child “is a major contributor to climate change” and thus “everyone on Earth ought to consider having fewer children.”
In an ominous warning to parents, Rieder declares that we “need to stop pretending kids don’t have environmental and ethical consequences” before comparing the decision to have children to that of freeing a convicted murderer from jail.
Consider this case, Rieder proposes: “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.”
“Something similar is true, I think, when it comes to having children,” Rieder continues. “Once my daughter is an autonomous agent, she will be responsible for her emissions. But that doesn’t negate my responsibility.”
The unarticulated supposition behind this line of reasoning is that the environment is valuable for its own sake, rather than the sake of the human beings who inhabit the earth. Therefore, if humans cause dangerous climate change, fewer humans is a good thing.