July 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A Notre Dame English professor has taken to the pages of the New York Times to suggest that having his daughter may have been a mistake thanks to climate change “doom[ing]” the planet.
“I cried two times when my daughter was born,” Roy Scranton opens his July 16 column, adapted from his new book We’re Doomed. Now What? Essays on War and Climate Change. “First for joy, when after 27 hours of labor the little feral being we’d made came yowling into the world, and the second for sorrow, because “[m]y partner and I had, in our selfishness, doomed our daughter to life on a dystopian planet, and I could see no way to shield her from the future.”
The source of Scranton’s sorrow is climate change, which Scranton says cannot be addressed without “radically reorient[ing] almost all human economic and social production,” including “centralized control of key economic sectors,” something he admits is “scarcely imaginable, much less feasible.” As a result, he predicts the 21st century will see a “global catastrophe whose full implications any reasonable person must turn away from in horror.”
In fact, there remains significant debate among scientists as to whether human activity contributes to climate change and whether its effects will truly be dangerous.
Climate activists suffered a blow in 2010 with the discovery of widespread data manipulation and politicized reporting by their leading researchers, and the oft-cited “97% scientific consensus” is a misrepresentation based on an overview of 11,944 papers from peer-reviewed journals, to which just 4% of the authors bothered to respond at all.
Nevertheless, Scranton persists. “Some people might say the mistake was having a child in the first place,” he says, citing reports that climate change is causing increasing numbers of people to decide against having children. “[S]truggling with the ethics of living in a carbon-fueled consumer society, [they] consider having children selfish and environmentally destructive.”
Scranton adds that while procreation is “the single strongest drive humans have” and the “fundamental organizing principle of every human society,” the fact remains that “nobody really needs to have children.”
After a discussion about the futility of trying to live a more carbon-friendly personal lifestyle and those who have carried such logic to suicidal extremes, Scranton explains that he is “committed to life in this world” because this world “is the only one that offers joy.” Yet the following assessment of the life in store for his daughter is hardly joyous.
“Every day brings new pangs of grief. Seeing the world afresh through my daughter’s eyes fills me with delight, but every new discovery is haunted by death,” he writes. “How can I read her ‘Winnie the Pooh’ or ‘The Wind in the Willows’ when I know the pastoral harmony they evoke is lost to us forever, and has been for decades? How soon do I explain to her what’s happening? In all the most important ways, it’s already too late.”
In the end, Scranton suggests it’s not a mistake to have children, but not because their blessings outweigh or potentially solve the world’s problems; merely because it’s too late to make a difference.
“There is no utopia, no Planet B, no salvation, no escape,” he laments. “We’re all stuck here together. And living in that world, the only world there is, means giving up any claims to innocence or moral purity, since to live at all means to cause suffering.” In his telling, the only thing left is to impart on his daughter the importance of “living ethically.”
While Scranton identifies climate change as the dominant threat facing humanity, others worry that having too few children is the real danger.
Citing data from the United Nations, Axios reports that most countries’ populations are currently shrinking, and are projected to dramatically drop near or below replacement levels over the course of the current century. Combined with increasing life expectancy, this is expected to produce a future with more elderly people than ever yet fewer young workers to support them and sustain economic and technological progress.
“Except Africa, by 2050 about a quarter of the world population will be 60 or older,” Axios reports. “At about 900 million now, their numbers will rise to about 3.2 billion in 2100. By 2080, those 65 or older will be 29.1% of the global population — and 12.7% will be 80 or over, Eurostat said.”
The warning follows the news earlier this month that deaths outpaced births in Europe in 2017. In addition to the fiscal ramifications, population decline has sparked debate over whether to compensate with mass immigration, or whether doing so further undermines Western nations’ already-embattled Judeo-Christian foundations.