Should climate change limit the number of kids you have?

No, or so says I in my latest Bloomberg column., here is the closing bit:

Let’s not give up by ceasing to have children.

Finally, leave aside the implausibility of these arguments and consider their assumptions. What you’ll find is zero-sum thinking, negative value judgments about large families, and an attempt to use guilt and shame to steer social and environmental policy. I suspect that is why these arguments are finding some traction, not because they are the result of any careful cost-benefit calculations.

So if you are both worried about climate change and considering starting a family, I say: Put aside the unhelpful mess of emotions some participants in this debate are trying to stir up. Instead, focus on how your decision might boost future innovation. As a bonus, you might find that one of the better approaches to climate change is actually pretty fun.

Super simple arguments, with credit to Paul Romer and Alex T. and Bryan and Ross Douthat as well.

Comments

For the 38% of people in the 18 - 29 cohort that fear repopulating, please do not! Natural selection has a funny way of refining the population.

From an evolutionary perspective, if the people with those fears don't have children, then there will be fewer of them in future generations.

I think we get that John. Birthstrike is a movement everybody can get behind.

This sory of thing is purely cultural. As such Darwinian natural selection does not matter for it.

Seriously, do you believe this story? They are just virtue signaling. It is unlikely that they will make the decision to have children based on this but they can use it to show how much they care and how good they are. It's pure BS.

Why would anybody pretend this sort of thing? That's just stupid. Maybe you are chronically dishonest, but the rest of us aren't.

is this a good time to wonder why so many wealthy families have three or four kids? Obviously the financial burden and working-parent time restraints are removed, but there's more going on: it's a thing.

Big families are often actively sought by wealthy people.

Myself, two was PLENTY. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd still stop at two.

Ironically, it seems to me that the more kids you have, the higher your odds at least one will end up actively denouncing your values, will end up a huge beavioral/substance abuse challenge, etc. Also ironically, it's often the younger ones.

If one of your kids turned out to be a drug addicted communist, you still wouldn't get in a time machine and stop them from being born. Even the kids who are screwups are blessings, whose parents almost always love them regardless.

Of course they are. Dont be getting all real on me on a friday.

My point is more about motivation and thought process on the front end

Communist? Well, that’s the kicker. The brat is gone!

"the higher your odds at least one will end up actively denouncing your values" True but with 4 kids you still have 3 good ones instead of 1.

And you can put the fourth on a tight stipend...

Loss aversion. What about the kids who do turn out better than expected? I'd say there are more of those anyway.

Here's a chart I quickly made that plots historical real global GDP/capita growth rates vs global population. Summary: GDP/capita growth rates have generally increased as global population has increased.

year population GDP/capita
-1,000,000 108,696 92
-300,000 978,261 92
-25,000 3,369,565 92
-10,000 3,978,495 93
-8,000 4,479,167 96
-5,000 4,951,456 103
-4,000 7,064,220 109
-3,000 14,070,796 113
-2,000 26,964,286 112
-1,600 36,033,058 121
-1,000 50,000,000 127
-800 67,972,028 143
-500 100,145,985 137
-400 123,230,769 130
-200 150,442,478 113
+1 169,724,771 109
+14 171,568,627 102
+200 189,183,673 98
+350 190,744,681 94
+400 190,103,093 97
+500 195,294,118 102
+600 200,576,923 104
+700 209,285,714 112
+800 217,500,000 116
+900 241,832,061 131
+1,000 265,488,722 133
+1,100 319,354,839 124
+1,200 360,000,000 104
+1,250 359,393,939 99
+1,300 360,561,798 89
+1,350 371,559,633 109
+1,400 350,937,500 128
+1,500 425,144,928 138
+1,600 546,170,213 141
+1,650 544,933,333 150
+1,700 608,536,585 164
+1,750 721,966,292 178
+1,800 898,666,667 195
+1,850 1,199,666,667 300
+1,875 1,324,195,804 429
+1,900 1,624,388,807 679
+1,920 1,813,462,343 956
+1,925 1,897,906,137 1,108
+1,930 1,987,486,772 1,134
+1,940 2,213,392,330 1,356
+1,950 2,516,528,977 1,622
+1,955 2,759,369,919 1,968
+1,960 3,019,933,921 2,270
+1,965 3,335,884,503 2,736
+1,970 3,698,336,380 3,282
+1,975 4,079,003,770 3,714
+1,980 4,447,757,031 4,231
+1,985 4,851,340,095 4,634
+1,990 5,292,000,384 5,204
+1,995 5,761,015,411 5,840
+2,000 6,272,624,254 6,539

Moral of the story, as Julian Simon emphasized, is that each additional marginal person leads to even greater marginal productivity. (The derivative of the marginal product is still positive.) I'm sure there are limits to this, but it doesn't appear that we are close to maximizing human productivity.

Correction: I plotted real global GDP/capita *not* the growth rate. Regardless, that doesn't change my conclusion.

"is this a good time to wonder why so many wealthy families have three or four kids? Obviously the financial burden and working-parent time restraints are removed, but there's more going on: it's a thing."

Looking at overall income distribution information, I don't see that "it's a thing" that higher income people tend to have three or four kids.

Per fairly recent info - 2014, which is the latest that I can find - median income peaks at 4-person households/families and then somewhat declines for larger households/families - http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2014/04/08/median-income-family-vs-household/

Looking at it a bit differently, annual birth rate by household income in the U.S. shows a distinct negative correlation (i.e., lower and lower birth rates for each higher income bucket) - https://www.statista.com/statistics/241530/birth-rate-by-family-income-in-the-us/ . I'll admit that this information could be somewhat skewed by the relationship between income and age, as income tends to increase later in a working career so some of the higher-income buckets likely include disproportionately more people who have aged past child-bearing.

Still, put these two pieces of information together, and they powerfully refute the claim that higher income is correlated with larger families in the modern U.S.

"But by all means, encourage them to be vegetarians and cyclists."

I don't feel like the cohort led by AOC and similar minded people are heading down a path of gentle encouragement. It seems like they are more likely to take the approach of authoritarian dictates.

AOC has a picture in the bottom of her unmentionables drawer. It is of thousands of chinese subjects in identical drab outfits all on identical bikes. She fondles it fondly every night.

Thanks to Greenpeace, she now has new initials -- PLT.

Look it up if you have to. Then use them widely.

"AOC has a picture in the bottom of her unmentionables drawer. It is of thousands of chinese subjects in identical drab outfits all on identical bikes. She fondles it fondly every night."

LOL, don't be ridiculous. She's clearly a Che kind of girl.

That is a proposal much originated by sanctimonious climate-change-fight profiteers.
“Chip in 3 dollars, before 12 pm, since we are your best and only “Save The Planet” champion, ready to save you and your loved ones”
http://ourpiedaterre.blogspot.com/2017/04/solutions-that-share-out-all-benefits.html

I really doubt if any significant number of people are actually foregoing kids because of climate change. Most of the people sprouting this line, AOC included, probably just prefer a child free life and are using it as a socially acceptable excuse.

There's a lot of pressure in our society, particularly on young women, to eventually become parents. Voluntarily eschewing it is often considered self centered and anti social. Saying that you're doing it for climate change is a good excuse to counter the tsk-tsks.

I have actually seen this "idea" expressed by multiple millennials. Tyler really nailed it. It's a guilt and shame for being alive on Earth. If climate change instills that feeling in you, then having kids would feel wrong

Is that guilting and shaming greater than the conservative and GOP guilting and shaming of poor ppeople who have kids and thus struggle to keep their kids healtthy, keep them out of trouble, and get them educated?

Conservatives seek to force women to have kids they can't care for, then blame them for having kids that the state is likely to end up caring for.

All the discussions I've seen with girls and young women is about not getting pregnant until they have a secure job, savings, education, car, housing, and low debt, to avoid being like her parents who had kids in poverty and struggled in poverty to raise kids in bad neighborhoods,, with bad schools, bad health care, bad environment, working bad jobs, limited by bad transportation.

According to conservatives, paying workers to eliminate bad neighborhoods, bad schools, bad health care, bad environment, bad transportation costs too much because too many paid jobs drives up wages, and the high costs destroy wealth, which kills jobs.

I was struck by the intersection between conservative ideology and the reality of sickle cell disease. The natural occurance is higher than cystic fibrosis, except in the "developed" world, fetal tests and abortion "cure" most children. However a "drug" seems to be available to cure it, which is more of an assembly line process: extract bone marrow to obtain stem cells, infect them with a genetically modified HIV, refine thee product, destroy all the bone marrow in the patient with chemo theapy,infuse the modified stem cells, keep the patient isolated until the bone marrow is producing healthy blood. The lab processing portion pricing is being debated, with prices of two million dollars for a man week or two of labor.

Not having kids with sickle cell is a choice, thanks to abortion, and the high costs of a kid with sickle cell is beyond the means of 99% of their parents, because so many workers must be paid, plus the idea of conservatives that ideas deserve to be owned to charge very high rents.

But conservatives oppose all practical methods of having workers paid, as well as eliminating rent seeking by those who get patents on bits of government and tax dodge charity funded research.

Having kids will cost society multiple millions for each one. Eiither they will get good jobs costing consumers over $100,000 per year, or they will become wards of the state costing taxpayers about $50,000 per year.

Abortion foes ignore the high costs their policies will force on society.

Likewise, Tyler ignores the high costs of his argument.

Until conservatives see high costs, higher costs, as a highly desirable policy, having kids is to be avoided as a girl and women until wealthy.

And Elon Musk is seeking to make the costs of EVs much higher in the US, just lower than the higher costs GM is making its gas fueled vehicles by shutting down low cost cars which have small to zero profit.

Given GM is planning to sell fewer vehicles in the future, are they planning for lower population, or planning zero innovation? Maybe GM is ashamed of previously planning for higher populations of costly workers who consume in proportion to their costs?

Yes, I felt bad for my "childless by choice" friends during the baby phase in our group of friends. You could tell it was a lot of pressure and conflicted feelings to swim upstream while everyone else was comparing maternal glows and swapping cute baby photos.

I bet they didn't feel bad. They should feel relief they avoided ruining themselves.

Oh they're all retiring in their fifties

Potentially true but watch her get pregnant in 2-3 years...

"No no no I meant YOU...YOU shouldn't be having kids because of climate change....YOU."

>watch her get pregnant

Is she going to Livestream this process, or something?

Wouldn't surprise me a bit.

"''people are actually foregoing kids'..." in English reads "...people are actually forgoing kids...."

Society doesn't put pressure on people to have kids. Hormones do. This impulse is biological, not sociological.

You're clearly not a childless youngish married person with a mother.

You're clearly not a childless youngish married person with friends! :)

Surely the net pressure these days is anti-childbearing, especially in the kind of circle that has any awareness of climate change? Don't we spend about 28 years yelling at our young people to avoid pregnancy because of how horrible it is? It's only then that mom gets heard and the baby fever strikes.

How do our plankton and phytoplankton fare these days? Thriving on or succumbing to diets of microplastics swimming in their waters?

Food chain collapse, anyone?

Valorizations of cannibalism, anyone?

“OK, why’d you come then?” he said.
“There was this restaurant called Oven Mit in Half Moon Bay. I sat outside on the patio pretty much every day drinking my coffee and reading the newspaper. Then one day the bartender has a heart attack and dies. His name was Trevor Owens. He was thirty years old. That night, a band played, a band smaller than the restaurant, John Hooker or whatnot. I couldn’t stop staring at this neon blue sign, the clouds outside seemed to hover behind it, then I finally looked around, and I swear everyone was tasting salt. All the faces wore regret, and that was that.”

Or:

why limit the number of kids that we have?
who'd want to risk having our human herds halved?

we've evolved for ourselves such versatile fare
that diet restrictions just wouldn't be fair:

to keep menu options robust and alive,
let's observe dietary options that thrive

among species sharing this same planet home:
legalize cannibalism, flesh and bone.

no one need fear timidity in our tastes,
we like trying new things, no matter our hastes.

let necessity guide gustatory zeal:
THAT will insure cannibalism's appeal.

I'm sure the world will be a better place if the intelligent and wealthy people talking about this stop having kids.

+1

I don’t think I can take someone over 35 without kids seriously. No skin in the game.

Prof. Cowen has no biological children of his own. As can be seen in describing the past of his wife's daughter's upbringing in Moscow - https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/02/what-can-parents-influence.html

Of course, one can certainly assume he has been an excellent father, and that even though he has no biological children, he still has skin in the game, so to speak. But then, that would apply to anyone actively involved in raising a child, which would seem to actually make the point moot.

-15 Gryffin_prior, for completely missing the point about kids and skin in the game (doesn't matter if they are biologically yours)

It seems as if you missed this 'that would apply to anyone actively involved in raising a child' regarding skin in the game.

However, the original comment said 'intelligent and wealthy people talking about this stop having kids.' Clearly, this seems distinct from the idea of adopting children and raising them, leading to the final words - 'make the point moot.'

I stopped at two for fear the next one might be a libertarian wacko.

It's not so bad, mine refused to accept an unearned allowance and had the cutest collection of unicorns

Tyler's essay opens with: "Fear of climate change is justified."

Not that any science or rational thinking supports this claim.

What ever happened to well scientifically documented: "Fear of nuclear war is justified"?

The use of fear in this context is hyperbole except for the border-line mentally ill. Maybe "concern" would be more appropriate. This is a current phenomenon in the degradation of language for political purposes. Of course, "hate" is the most egregious example. Disgust or revulsion or antipathy have been replaced with the more incendiary "hate". Maybe it's an example of the dwindling modern vocabulary which seems to be trending toward a baboon-like language of grunts.

Cowen is quite adept with words. He chose "fear", which is the same word/idea that has been instilled by the NY Times about climate change for 30 years.

Sure, but 30 years ago it was fear of the Imminent Ice Age.

This is TOTALLY different and ENTIRELY scientific!

It was 1989 thirty years ago. I was an adult then, and I can testify that there were no fears of an imminent ice age in 1989.

+1, 30 years ago the teenagers were afraid of a Nuclear War.

And a full out Nuclear War would do more damage in an afternoon than AGW will do over the next 100 years.

A tiny nuclear exchange would do far more damage in an afternoon than climate change will do over the next 100 years.

And as a bonus it will cool the planet for a few years.

It was in the 1970s.

"In 1977, America was struck by the worst winter in a century. Arctic cold ripped the Midwest for weeks on end. Great blizzards paralyzed the cities of the Northeast. ... The brutal Buffalo winter might become common all over the United States. Climate scientists believe the next ice age is on its way. According to recent evidence, it could come sooner than anyone expected. " ... "According to some climate scientists, within a lifetime, we might be living in the next ice age."

- Leonard Nimoy narrating for In Search of... , 1978.

That was popular journalists, not the scientists. Very few scientists were concerned about an imminent ice age.

Fear not! You can still use this lesson today, because what popular journalists say about global warming is usually at odds with what the scientists say.

I don't think you will do this, but if you do it would be a lot of fun: read the IPCC report, notice the things it is rather calm about, and then use that information to curb-stomp the next amateur panicker who thinks that the sea levels will rise 10 feet or we are going to get a lot more hurricanes.

The downside is you will have to give up saying "lol it's a myth."

"That was popular journalists, not the scientists. Very few scientists were concerned about an imminent ice age."

This isn't correct. There were far fewer climate scientists in the 1970s, but it wasn't a journalistic sensational story then as it has been for the past 20+ years.

I've never said AGW is a myth. There isn't a consensus among climate scientists with respect to how much the temperature increase has been due to human activity. A majority say "over 50%".

Journalists have greatly hyped global warming as you can see by the non stop repeating of the myth that hurricanes, floods, and droughts are worse and more frequent despite the science sections of the IPCC reports saying otherwise.

Journalists are also always using a worst case scenario model out to 2100 without saying what it is -- RCH8.5. That model assumes very little technological change out to 2100, which is of course, ridiculous.

"read the IPCC report, "

Exactly. I find that very few people on either side of the debate have even glanced at any of the IPCC reports. When you look at the details, you realize AGW is a serious issue. But not as serious as say global hunger or even global poverty.

you realize AGW is a serious issue.

Researchers who've massaged their data so much they don't know what they've done with it and corruption of the peer-review process. That is a serious issue.

The IPCC wasn't established until 1988. We did not have an international scientific consensus about climate change until the 1990s.

It's ridiculous to take a couple of news articles from the 1970s and conclude that there was absolutely certainty of a global coming ice age.

You're merely deflecting because you can't handle the reality of climate change and what it will mean for your ideological priors.

It's ridiculous to take a couple of news articles from the 1970s and conclude that there was absolutely certainty of a global coming ice age.

Why not take the article published in Science on global cooling in 1979? Lead author Carl Sagan, peer reviewed. The only place you'd get more exposure among researchers and the natural science professoriate would be to place it in Nature.

So in your opinion virtually every climate scientist is wrong about climate change? That's the position you're willing to gamble your children's future on?

Can you show me a survey that shows virtually every climate scientist says we should fear climate change as Cowen wrote?

“The IPCC wasn't established until 1988. We did not have an international scientific consensus about climate change until the 1990s.”

Beyond CO2 is a greenhouse gas and humans produce CO2 please describe this international scientific consensus.

You won’t because there isn’t one. And the pretend-consensus in the IPCC’s political summary is worthless because it’s track record of predictions is worthless.

People had children during the Black Death. People in war torn areas had children throughout history. Women gave birth at Auschwitz.

These alarmists are simply mad and so, so egotistical.

Birth rates dropped for several generations after the Black Death.

"Birth rates dropped for several generations after the Black Death."

Yes, famously accurate medieval statistics tell us that.

It might be true even so, a lot of child bearing age people died.

People just weren't in the mood

I fear AOC is becoming the "Trump of the left" and we are all playing into it. The more stupid and outrageous she gets, the more attention we give. It is a serious flaw in our democracy and if you think Trump is as bad as it gets, you are not paying attention...

If someone is dumb enough to eschew having children because they are worried about climate change, let them.

One thing I have realized is that conservative religious people are more than adequate at supplying society with babies who later grow up to be left-liberal campus activists and college professors. I have no idea what happens to the children of left-liberal college professors, but since there are so few of them it is probably not a worry. It seems as if a happy ecological balance has already been struck.

You've revealed the big secret! If the left has children they will grow up to be conservatives. They only way to ensure the future generations' political composition is liberal is to have conservatives populate the world.

I'm not sure if that's true. if the left has children they might grow up to be even more liberal.

Occasionally you do see the children of progressives rebelling by becoming libertarians or something, but if that was common then libertarianism would have actually become cool back in the 1990s, and I would have been ahead of the trend curve for once in my life. That obviously didn't happen, in fact, kids that do it soon realize their mistake end up becoming alt-right just to get revenge on society. The cool kids are now rebelling against their parents generation by becoming transgendered. So the trend appears to be in one direction only.

ouch.

The cool kids are now rebelling against their parents generation by becoming transgendered. Is this the point Hazel has reached the point of self-parody in her lows of social insight?

(The people running the academy are not, by and large, the children of conservatives, either. Though god knows there's not going to be a shortage of faculty aspirants any time soon.)

>an attempt to use guilt and shame to steer America to greater statism.

I fixed it for you -- you're welcome.

>Put aside the unhelpful mess of emotions some participants in this debate are trying to stir up.

"Some" are trying to stir up, huh? Is there a reason you are incapable of saying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? She actually made an internet video for public consumption -- for the sole purpose of Stirring This Up.

But lefties never criticize each other by name, correct? Better stick with "some."

Quick note: if the optimistic take is that our kids might do something in 20, 30, 40 years .. that might be a nested pessimism that nothing will happen until then.

Of course, eschewing children is inextricably connected to the issue of abortion. If eschewing children becomes the dominant belief, then abortion must be allowed because pregnancy happens. Indeed, I would not be surprised if those strongly opposed to abortion are global warming denialists for that very reason, whether or not they are aware of the connection.

As birthrates have dropped in the US abortion rates have also declined. There's even evidence that younger people are having less sex.

(un-scientific comment to follow)

Is this why they have so much time to focus on climate change? More sex = less time for being recreationally outraged by everything?

Concern about the future habitability of our planet is not "recreational outrage".

Why are conservatives so willfully ignorant of birth control?

Doesn't Dr Cowen kinda argue against this in an economist gets lunch and in this econtalk pod?

Russ: Why?
Guest: Women who are educated are likely to have fewer children. Now you might think this is good or you might think this is bad. I'm not convinced it's good. As I said before, I'm happy for there to be more people. I'm just saying that if you have a single-minded obsession with making the world greener, what you can do that actually works is to either have fewer children or treat your children in such a way where they will have fewer children.
Russ: Interesting.
Guest: So, as a man who has no biological children, I actually think of myself as much, much greener than a lot of environmental advocates. This doesn't have to be a good thing, all margins considered. But again, if you are just looking at: How green are you?, I don't actually feel that guilty. For that reason. Russ: It opens up a lot more plane trips. Because you don't have biological offspring--they are going to be taking plane trips? Guest: And if you apply a zero discount rate to environmental evaluations, or a very low discount rate, if you are having no children or fewer children, then there are no children of yours to have children, and so on. And the net impact over time of having time of having children is quite substantial.
Russ: Yeah. I don't believe you should apply a zero discount rate, but that's another topic.
Guest: But within the framework of what's being discussed, if you are worried about the very distant future as being something very real. Again, I'm not saying one should do that. But if you want to start with effectiveness, go there

Is it fair to ask, in this connection, how many children Yonas has?

What conservatards here have failed to do is explain why the human race is better off with 10 billion people rather than 7.

Anyone care to try anything other than emotionally charged hysterics?

Human life is a good thing because some people are able to make massive, positive changes to the world. More conscious minds means more ideas and it is ideas that move civilization forward.

If our ancestors had decided that 1 billion people was the optimal number, maybe we never would have invented a polio vaccine or developed space flight.

Isn't this an unquantifiable assertion? After all China has long held a higher population than America so why didn't China make the polio vaccine? If it is correlated with population then why aren't China and India the two most advanced countries? I don't think you thought this through.

China and India were great centers of technological and scientific advancement until the European colonial powers (alongside domestic misrule) destroyed these countries.

Are you unfamiliar with the history of China and India after, say, 1700?

So were Greece and Rome. With much smaller populations. Civilizations rise and fall regardless of size and innovations come and go regardless of size.

I am still not seeing the ten billion advantage. Funny that during this time of peak population we are seeing what Tyler calls the great stagnation.

Did you reference a birth defect in your anti-natalist epithet for "Straussian" reasons?

Oh so he can read after all.

Seems like he is saying, "we should pollute more and make things worse, because then we will have more incentives to fix it."

The only assured way to stop climate change is a massive reduction in consumption, radical, draconian, especially for the wealthy, who consume the majority of natural resources. Technology may save us, but there is no guarantee. I've just spent the past year (while on sabbatical working on two books) reading all the research on climate change, over 2,000 scientific journal articles, and 200 books. I'm sorry, but we don't have much time left, it is far worse than you can imagine. We either cut back to 15th century consumption levels, or the planet will do it for us. I can't conceive of people willingly doing that, so the end truly is near, unless some technological miracle happens. I, for one, have done my part by moving into a solar powered trailer and heat it by biomass fuel, spending a good amount of gaining my caloric intake through foraging and hydroponics, and that's in Minnesota, but I wish more would be willing to see the truth and take the steps needed. It may all be a mute point anyway, because the rate of biodiversity loss, especially among insects, is happening at an even more dramatic pace, and once insects are gone, especially pollinators, then we will die off soon after. It is urbanization of land use, industrial agriculture, and pesticides that are killing them off, and entomologists have been warning us for decades about this, but it's getting late to stop the species loss. Once you realize that standard of living and quality of life do not have to be dependent on consumption, then we can turn this around, and you'll be liberated from the tyranny of consuming!

You better start digging a mote and building a wall around your trailer, otherwise those 15th century hoodlums will eat you for dinner and all the privation you are going through are useless (that is, they are).

I welcome all; I'm part of a sharing economy and a local cooperative. This summer we are planning an apiary center in a wildflower grove which has been reclaimed from a plot that was used for commercial agriculture, in part as a way to promote more winged insect populations. All are welcome!

I'm in! Not to boast, but I've been one of the most vocal advocates for saving the mosquito since 1987.

+10, excellent parody!

"It may all be a mute point anyway"

It was indeed a mute point, since I read it in text in a silent room while no one was talking. :-)

I'm going to have eight kids and hope that one of them will figure out how to save the planet.

Eight kids? *Places on human spider-pede watch list*

One wacko libertarian Tyler sneaks in: the notion that more people might produce more good ideas. This notion has zero experimental support. Athens, with a population in the tens of thousands, produced more good ideas than the next thousand years. How many great ideas have come out of China in the last 60 years?

"How many great ideas have come out of China in the last 60 years?"

They're a leader in AI development and one of the biggest wealth creators on the planet.

Eh, more people producing more good ideas probably is true. But the "two heads are better than one" theory of innovation is obviously wrong; population size doesn't contribute very much to innovation (neither are mean education or cognitive ability measures probably that important).

"We've had children during some pretty rough times" - no, Ross, we've had a picnic compared to the .9998 of earth's history we weren't privy to.

No, because the optimal number of children is still zero regardless. Anyone who actually voluntarily has children has serious defects of judgment and can't be trusted.

The best reason for good, middle class families to stop having kids is the fear that the future will be ruled by people who are able to use global warming to control their offspring's lives.

I think there’s a simpler way to look at this; delineating between human activity that is consistent with the behavior of other species, and activity that is notably different. Applying this framework, the construction of coal power plants is a uniquely human, and highly destructive process - it should be sharply limited, and ultimately banned. In contrast, reproduction is a universal biological process, and humans have far fewer offspring than many species - people who want kids should have kids.

Today’s global warming is caused by human action, and it may precipitate mass extinctions. But it’s important to note that the largest known mass extinction, the Permian-Triassic event, was caused by massive volcanic activity. And just as it would have been ridiculous to ask those volcanoes to not erupt, it is ridiculous to ask living creatures to not reproduce.

"Super simple arguments, with credit to... Ross Douthat as well."

I had to stop reading there. The man is a deranged crook.

Those who don't have children are the ones most strongly in favor of you not having any either. These anti-procreation types want the younger generations to feel shame for the natural impulse to have children: recoding humans to see babies as impediments to social justice.

I believe that people who believe global warming is real should not have kids.

I'm glad questions raised by climate change are making it to MR more often. A friend's grandparents live off the grid to reduce their impact, and that decision has shaped the decisions of four generations now, so your arguments may be right. It occurs to me, given the implied audience, that you might have quoted from, to give one example, Naomi Klein, who wrote about her decision to have children in "This Changes Everything." Bill McKibben has also written about his decision to have kids. Maybe the four dudes you spoke with had more than enough to say about this decision, however. A final thought: this might be a great question for your conversation with Margaret Atwood. Good luck.

"Climate change" Why did they change the term? It used to be global warming, something that could actually be measured. I also remember the Ozone layer, what happened to that?
Climate change = Pseudoscience

You are trolling right? The ozone hole is real and being fixed by coordinated international action. Just like vaccines which cured Polio which is why you don't meach hear about that anymore. If you can ignorantly spout off and snark about this topic in the same year as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released, the future of humanity is in doubt.

If you knew there was an 80% chance that an asteroid the size of Manhattan would hit the earth 80 years from now that would wipeout most of life as we know it, would you snark and laugh about the science behind that?

But we don't know that regarding climate change. Thats not analogous at all

Buy 100% green energy. Also install rooftop solar if you have a roof. (Here in Australia it is around $1 US a watt before subsidy.) Buy an electric car or do without a car. If you can't install solar you can offset your remaining emissions. This is not difficult to do -- or at least it shouldn't be.

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