In a recent interview, Britain’s Prince Harry stated forcefully that he and his wife plan to have no more than two children, claiming that having an excessive number would be irresponsible given the dangers of climate change. While this sentiment is becoming increasingly common in some circles, Jeff Jacoby argues that it is morally and logically incoherent:
It is an inescapable fact of life that to be born is to suffer, to struggle, and to stumble. There has never been an age in which that wasn’t true, and people in most ages have contended with far more daunting fates than a warmer climate: war, famine, slavery, poverty, plague. Not having children may spare theoretical offspring from inheriting a world with terrible problems. But it also denies the world the ultimate resource for fixing those problems: human intelligence, imagination, and grit.
The Talmud records that when the enslavement of the Hebrews in ancient Egypt grew unbearable, Hebrew leaders advised couples to stop having babies; why raise more children to face a life of slavery? Eventually one of those leaders was persuaded he was wrong, and that childrearing should go on even in the teeth of murderous oppression. So he and his wife had another baby. That baby, named Moses, became the liberator who led his people to freedom.
Every time parents bring children into a world where things have gone horribly wrong, they improve the odds that there will be someone to help set things right. . . . The number of human beings has nearly quadrupled over the past century, and mankind is flourishing as never before. People live longer, healthier, and more comfortable lives. They are better fed, better housed, and better clothed. . . . Thanks to advances made possible by human innovation, insight, and effort, fearful threats have been quelled and deadly diseases cured.
Parenthood isn’t for everyone. But the human race needs more people, just as it always has. If you’re alarmed by the state of the world, bring more children into it. There’s no telling how humanity may be blessed tomorrow from the babies you raise today.