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What Is the Purpose of Our Planet?

Pop star Miley Cyrus told Elle magazine that she and her husband Liam Hemsworth did not intend to have children. Like many millennials, “We don’t want to reproduce because we know the earth can’t handle it.”

Cyrus, who declares she’s “such an over-thinker,” doesn’t want to bring children into the world because “[w]e’re getting handed a piece-of-sh*t planet, and I refuse to hand that down to my child. Until I feel that my kid would live on an earth with fish in the water, I’m not bringing another person to deal with that.”

As a homesick New Jerseyan, I’d suggest Cyrus invest in some riverfront property on the Delaware where she might fulfill her ichthyological fetish to her heart’s content. Indeed, even the Hudson has been repopulating with perch and bass.

But Cyrus’s anti-natalist views are not out of sync with others of her generation. The Australian bioethics blog Mercatornet reports that New Zealanders in their “prime childbearing years” are not reproducing.  “[C]limate change, overpopulation of the planet, scarcity of resources, and climate-induced migration” are all cited as reasons. One respondent said he “didn’t know if he wanted to bring a child into the world where humanity would be ‘treading on each other.’ Although they still wish to have children, the couple have decided to make the sacrifice for the sake of the planet.” (Emphasis added.)

At 131 among 200 countries on the 2019 World Population Review’s chart, New Zealand, with a sub-replacement rate of 1.9 and a population of four and a half million, hardly seems poised on the precipice of demographic Armageddon. New Zealand is more of a typical Western society, slipping gently into the “good” night of an aging and shrinking population that will probably have to rely on immigrants to pick the kiwis and care for the elderly.

The retreat from parenthood in order “to do their bit for the planet” is, however, in full swing in much of the Western world.

I could argue that population alarmists have been at it since Thomas Malthus published his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, with dubious results. I could note that they got a new lease on life with Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb, whose vision of global famines in the 1970s and 1980s never materialized. I could add that the only reason the United States is not fully spiraling into the demographic black hole where most developed countries seem headed is that immigrants either haven’t bought Ehrlich at their neighborhood Goodwill store or decided not to do their bit for the planet.

But I want to ask a deeper question: “who’s a planet for?”

Read more at Crisis Magazine 

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