Foreign Policy Magazine

Is There a Case to be Made Against Baby Making?

As the effects of climate change become more pronounced and overpopulation threatens the planet, individuals and policymakers are increasingly forced to consider the environmental implications of personal childbearing decisions. Here, two philosophers, TRAVIS RIEDER of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins and REBECCA KUKLA of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown, discuss the morality of deciding to have children in a world threatened by environmental degradation and the fraught ethics of encouraging people to opt for smaller families.

TRAVIS RIEDER: It is morally uncomfortable to ask whether we should have smaller families—and for good reasons. But so far, we have focused almost entirely on per capita emissions: deeply decarbonize, change our infrastructure, until we’re not actually adding

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