Friday, November 3, 2017

No one should have kids, not even vegans.

A friend asked me to respond to a blogger’s argument that vegans should have kids.

The author, the mother of twins, makes the same argument that most modern somewhat progressive parents who decide to have children rely on. Because they are good people, their children will grow up to be good people. There is at least some evidence that no one can say with much certainty just how their children will turn out.

I’m going to address the arguments she expressed here:
Adoption is often suggested as the solution to overpopulation. Here’s a good breakdown of why that’s probably not true. [linked in the original] Even if adoption were a winning solution to overpopulation, is overpopulation really a problem everywhere equally? In some countries, yes, it’s most certainly an issue; in other countries, the government is offering as many incentives as it can to motivate more couples to have babies. I have two biological children, and I will not be having any more. My husband and I have simply replaced ourselves, and we’re working hard to ensure that our replacements will be kind, thoughtful, compassionate people who choose to remain vegans as adults, who will influence others to do the same, and who will probably do more than I ever have to help animals, the planet, and other humans. I think you’ll forgive me if I don’t feel too guilty about that. I think the world would be a nicer place if more vegans would do the same.
The post she points to as evidence that adoption probably doesn’t help reduce population says clearly and a couple of times that the data is extremely unclear. There isn’t much evidence to draw on. The article is interesting but far from conclusive. (The author of that article has a passel of children -- her own and adopted -- and raises goats.)

In any case, adoption would help with the overpopulation problem if the people adopting would have had children if they hadn’t adopted. It isn’t adoption that reduces population growth, it is not having children that reduces it.

She asks, “... is overpopulation really a problem everywhere equally?” and then answers her question: “In some countries, yes, it’s most certainly an issue; in other countries, the government is offering as many incentives as it can to motivate more couples to have babies.”

But overpopulation is a problem everywhere. Equally. The rainforests in Indonesia are not being destroyed because of overpopulation in Indonesia. Polar bears and penguins are not starving to death because of overpopulation at the poles. Corals are not dying because of too many sailors. Life on earth is interconnected; the population of humans worldwide has created an unsustainable demand for the space and other resources other animals need in order to survive, let alone flourish.

The current U.S, government denies that climate change is caused by us; pointing to governments’ policies as evidence that a problem does not exist is an unwise appeal to authority.

The hope that one’s children will be better people and amount to more than oneself is probably natural and maybe even universal. All sorts of justifications are available to people who decide to have children. None of them are part of the solution to the harm we are causing. Humans are killing the other beings who live here. Fewer humans means less harm. No one should have kids, not even vegans.

Finally, though the best thing we can do for the planet’s other inhabitants is to not have children, once someone is born, a baby, a calf, a kitten, a chick, we have an absolute obligation to treat them as we want to be treated. Once they are here, they count and have rights.

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