When most of us begin to think about family planning, we consider one or more of the following questions:
Am I responsible enough to have a child?
Can I afford it?
Will my partner and I be loving parents?
We are not thinking, But what if the world were to end?
According to an agonizingly earnest story in Monday’s New York Times, some millennials are, in fact, making family planning decisions based on fears of catastrophic climate change, overpopulation and pollution — in short, based on dystopian science-fiction depictions of end times and the hyperventilating junk science that has come to inform some climate change zealots.
All of this, ultimately, is very, very bad for science.
Before getting to that, let’s start with the Times’ claims about this so-called trend. They’re dubious off the bat.
For one, the report surveys a population of “more than a dozen people ages 18 to 43,” while acknowledging “few, if any” studies have determined the role climate change plays in childbearing decisions.
I could probably find more than a dozen people to say they had kids just to ritually sacrifice them on a pagan altar. That wouldn’t make it a trend.
On top of that, the Times report attempts to suggest this non-trend might have something to do with our falling birth rate, which is, to put it politely, laughable. There are dozens of explanations for the fact that Americans are having fewer kids overall, including heightened economic insecurity, increased education amongst younger populations and a delaying of motherhood. In fact, as fertility treatments have advanced, birth rates among women 40-44 are rising.
But let’s set all that aside for a minute and believe that this group of at least 13 people who say they are personally contributing to the declining birth rate because they’re worried about climate change are worth paying attention to. What, exactly, are their fears?
Here they are, in their own words:
“I don’t want to give birth to a kid wondering if it’s going to live in some kind of ‘Mad Max’ dystopia,” said one, while admitting, if it weren’t for climate change, she would go off birth control tomorrow.
Another expressed worries that parts of the planet will imminently be too hot for human habitation.
“I’ve seen how Syrian refugees, who are running from a devastating war, are being treated,” she said. “Imagine how my children will be treated if they have to flee their country due to extreme weather, drought, lack of resources, flooding.”
“Animals are disappearing,” said another. “The oceans are full of plastic. The human population is so numerous, the planet may not be able to support it indefinitely.”
In a hilarious twist betraying the very premise of the Times story, this woman had not one but two children — because of these fears.
“Someday, my husband and I will be gone,” she said. “If my daughter has to face the end of the world as we know it, I want her to have her brother there.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone deciding not to have children, fighting millions of years of evolution — and the irresistible adorableness of Baby Gap clothing — because they truly believe the “end of the world as we know it” is less than a generation away.
This isn’t predicated on science, to be sure, but on a rash of fiery and fatalistic pseudo-scientific rhetoric that’s scared who knows how many into making bad economic decisions, and at least a few people into childlessness.
There are the hysterical climate change non-scientists, like Bill Maher, who routinely blurts out scary-sounding non-facts on his weekly show like, “We could lose Florida,” thanks to climate change.
He also rings alarm bells about pollution non-problems, like “pipes carrying natural gas in this country that are made out of wood.” That’s not true, but it sure sounds bad.
And then there are science “celebrities” like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who used Hurricanes Irma and Harvey to warn our favorite vacation spots will soon disappear: “Our greatest cities are on the oceans and water’s edges,” and “as storms kick in, as water levels rise, they are the first to go.”
Yet science is not at all settled on the link between climate change and hurricanes. As one climate scientist puts it, “Determining the role of climate change in increasing or decreasing the present and future likelihood of a rain storm like Harvey presents a challenge.”
Another in this genre is Bill Nye, who has asked if we need “policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world” to address overpopulation, a problem science has largely dismissed as science fiction because, well, we aren’t anywhere close to running out of resources.
Nye has also said he might be willing to consider jail time for climate deniers.
This is not science, folks. Neither are movies like “Angels and Demons,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Geostorm.”
And yet the scare-tactic overreach of some climate alarmists has plenty believing we are at death’s door as a civilization.
If you believe climate change is real and that we should be having smart conversations about how to best address it — and I do — this isn’t helping, not a bit.
As for procreating, climate change is no reason not to have kids. But if you truly think it might be, best not to. The real world is far scarier.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com.
This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.
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