People must stop having so many children if they want to avert “catastrophic climate change,” warns an American university ethicist.
Travis Rieder of Johns Hopkins University argues that the world’s population needs to shrink to save the climate. His new book is titled, Toward a Small Family Ethic: How Overpopulation and Climate Change Are Affecting the Morality of Procreation. Though Rieder says he doesn’t want forced abortions or forced sterilizations, critics say his thinking leads to either racist or totalitarian actions — or both.
“The argument here — let’s spell it out — is really that our future would be much better with fewer babies from Africa and fewer babies of color in America,” political economist and demographer Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute told LifeSiteNews. “These, after all, are the fastest growing groups in our global population and our U.S. population, respectively. This is the old ‘lives not worth being allowed’ mantra. It has an ugly pedigree.”
Indeed, Robert Zubrin, an inventor and space scientist, has chronicled the story of overpopulation hysteria from Thomas Malthus in the 18th century to Paul Ehrlich in the 20th century in his book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo Scientists and the Fatal Cult of Anti-Humanism. He notes its sinister bedfellows included Nazism and the Eugenics movement.
Rieder doesn’t call for starving the Indians to death as Malthus did, or cutting off foreign aid and development loans as did Ehrlich in his 1968 bestseller, Population Bomb. But he does seem to recommend penalties for people who persist in having big families — people like Catholics.
“There are 19 million adoptable orphans and there’s catastrophic climate change on the horizon. Contributing a child to the world both makes climate change worse and, if we don’t get our act together, it might actually not be all that great for the child either,” he told a Bloomberg interviewer earlier this month.
Rieder starts from unquestioning acceptance of the darkest predictions about climate catastrophe and observes that the world does not appear willing to change its industrialized, highly-productive culture. The only other way to avert disaster, he says, is to have fewer children. Rieder says it should be enough to educate people about family planning, indeed simply to educate them at all, to lower birth rates.
As for reactionary religious groups such as Catholics, Mormons, and “Ultra Orthodox” Jews who continue to have too many children, Rieder warns, “Well … when you make that choice, there’s a cost. You have to pay for it in some way.”
Eberstadt told LifeSiteNews that Rieder is resurrecting a “zombie ideology” that reappears in each generation — as eugenics a century ago and as Ehrlich’s population control in the 1960s. “Each new generation they are discredited, yet somehow they keep on coming back from the dead.”
“When I was a kid,” Eberstadt continues, “the justification for pressuring other people to have fewer babies than they wanted was the supposed inevitability of global famine absent draconian birth control. Since that time, global population has doubled and the threat of famine has simultaneously retreated, mainly to the redoubts of killer governments like North Korea.”