Keep Calm and Have Kids: The Climate Can Handle It
Don't let dramatic warnings about a "Mad Max dystopia" stop you from procreating.
“I don’t want to give birth to a kid wondering if it’s going to live in some kind of Mad Max dystopia.” So says one of the subjects recently interviewed by The New York Times in an article titled, “No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It.” What does she fear will bring on a Mad Max dystopia? The title tells it all: “Climate change.”
She’s not alone in her fears. “Animals are disappearing. The oceans are full of plastic. The human population is so numerous, the planet may not be able to support it indefinitely,” says another interviewee. “I’m so glad I’m not going to bring a brand-new baby into this world to suffer like these kids suffer,” says one more.
What are we to make of these “women and men, liberal and conservative” folks “from many regions and religions” who all share this fear of having children and thereby hastening the world’s end?
They worry for nothing.
Overpopulation? Not So Fast
I’m no scientist or climate expert. But even I know scientists and climate experts argue the world will not turn into a Mad Max dystopia any time soon. Even though the Times claims “the effects of global warming are no longer theoretical,” there are actually quite a lot of scientists still studying, researching, debating and theorizing — and arriving at different conclusions.
Another thing: We’re not in serious danger of overpopulation and running out of resources.
In fact, many developed countries are underpopulated. Judging by their birthrates, they’re at risk of dying out, unless enough immigrants move in. Some governments are even providing incentives to adults to have children. Not long ago Denmark launched a “Do It for Denmark” campaign. The government encouraged citizens to procreate. Unsurprisingly, Denmark didn’t want to cease existing.
So overpopulation is a fear people can put to rest, if they care to look at the evidence.
What if the Crisis Were Real?
Now, let’s assume for a moment that we are indeed headed for a major climate crisis. We still shouldn’t stop having kids.
There have been many other times in history when humanity faced major crises. Plagues, wars, financial ruin. You remember history class. People thought the world would end. But it didn’t. Part of the reason is that people continued to procreate. You want a surefire way to end the world? Just stop having babies! Judging by declining fertility rates, perhaps we’re headed for a Mad Max dystopia after all.
Another reason the world didn’t end every time there was a crisis is that people — you know, the ones who are born as babies — came through. They won the war. Changed society. Saved the day. Invented new ways to feed the world. Thanks to people who were born and did things, the world has kept on spinning. In many ways, it greatly improved.
What if that child you were planning to have, but are now thinking about taking a pass on for the sake of Mother Nature, was one who would turn out to be a great scientist who would discover major breakthroughs in feeding hungry populations and better caring for the earth’s resources? I guess you wouldn’t know unless you had the kid.
Rule the Earth With Wisdom. Don’t Be Ruled By Fear
What about God’s call for us to be stewards of the earth? More and more religious folk cite this as yet another reason to not have kids. As a Christian, I take God’s mandate to steward the earth seriously. But it’s important to remember that God gave us dominion over the earth.
Yes, we must use our responsibility wisely. But we are the rulers, stewarding the earth for God. It’s not the other way around. If we stop having babies for the sake of the earth, we’re no longer the rulers. We’re being ruled. Remember that God also said to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.”
Perhaps there are better ways to steward the earth’s resources. If so, let’s figure that out and act accordingly. Discontinuing the human race isn’t the answer, though. God loves all of his creation. But He loves us humans most. Made in His own image, we’re meant to steward the the rest of His creation — and win human souls for Christ — until our Lord returns.
The world will end someday. But we humans don’t get to decide when that will be. And we don’t get to bail in the meantime. We need to take care of all God’s living creatures, be mindful of the environment and make wise decisions. But to reject having kids for fear of a future “Mad Max dystopia” is not wise or caring. It’s living in needless fear, and letting that fear control us.