This commentary was originally published in Real Clear Energy on August 25, 2016.
There, he said it. Children, especially American born children in particular, are a burden to the world’s climate.
On a recent episode of the popular NPR show “All Things Considered,” Jennifer Ludden reported that Travis Rieder, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University's Berman Institute of Bioethics, “has proposed a controversial remedy for the effects of global warming: population control.”
When it comes to climate change, Professor Rieder posits, “So here's what's happening, when I have a kid I'm creating a being who's doing [a] much greater proportion of the contribution to the harm. And she's not going to suffer for it. The other kid is. And that seems unfair.” He says the world's poorest nations will suffer most even though rich countries like the U.S. create far more carbon emissions per capita. So a child born in America is guiltier than a child born in an impoverished country. Take that thought in for a second.
This a perfect example of the regressive thinking of the climate elites. Hating people is not a new thing for central planners. Predictions of global catastrophe have been the central organizing principle of futurists and despots alike. Think Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” or Margaret Sanger’s call for eugenics or Lester Brown’s “Full Planet, Empty Plate.” In her new book, Fossil Fuels: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Kathleen Hartnett White counters these claims with facts. “Not one of Ehrlich’s many predictions ever came true. Food supply per person has dramatically increased, while the rate of population growth has substantially declined in those developing countries most contributing to the rapid increase since 1950.”
Hating people is not a new thing. Neither is hypocrisy. Even Rieder himself is guilty of contributing to the climate problem, for as he admits in the NPR story, he has a young daughter.
To be fair to his position, according to a Johns Hopkins study, Professor Rieder concludes that “reducing global fertility by half a child per woman could have a substantial impact on global warming, and he tells Ludden, the NPR reporter, that he believes in a moral imperative for population control.” A moral imperative for those who get to live.
Specifically, Dr. Rieder suggests governments should “encourage family planning to cut down on family size.” “The U.S. government, for example, should rescind tax credits for new parents and instead impose a carbon tax on dependents, he says. And in poorer countries, governments could pay women to refill their birth control prescriptions.”
So what about this overpopulation problem he is so concerned with? According to the World Bank, world population growth has dropped precipitously over the last 50 years from a rate of 2.1% to 1.18% last year. In the United States our rate of growth is down to 0.8 %. Think about that fact for a moment.
It is really not surprising that climate elitists would come to the conclusion that people are the problem, not our greatest resource. Of course, if he really had courage he would advocate that all domestic pets be “put down” for the cause of climate. They, after all, breathe out carbon dioxide.
Then again, according to the Energy Information Agency, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 were 12% below their 2005 levels.
Like it or not, America is the world’s engine for technology and innovation, powered by affordable, reliable, plentiful energy. These factors foster an environment that produces health and prosperity for people all over the world, for rich and poor nations alike. A poor African girl deserves to grow up with the same access to opportunity as a young girl growing up in suburban Maryland. That is a problem worth solving.
Sadly, what Reider misses, is that, unlike many of the world’s poor, it is highly likely that his daughter will be raised in a safe, nurturing environment with access to high quality education, plentiful energy and food, and someday may well find the cure to cancer. She is not a burden. The world will be better, not worse off, because of not in spite of her.