Natural Born Killers

Anti-Natalism: The Theory That New Life Inherently Destroys the Planet

Savanna Eickerman
Anti-natalism infographic detailing the philosophical idea that people should abstain from having children.

The term “anti-natalism” refers to a philosophical position in which birth is seen as negative and nonconsensual. To put it simply, no one consents to being born.

Anti-natalists believe that procreation is morally wrong because it introduces innocent life to the evil and harm residing within the world. Several of these beliefs have begun to overlap with environmentalism.

“The number one issue facing the earth right now is the sheer number of people that inhabit it. Each one of us has a pile of garbage somewhere, a chunk of [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere, a farm growing our food… that’s only magnified by our growing population,” said Jeff Fennell, an EvCC environmental science instructor.

In 1979 before China’s population reached one billion, leader Deng Xiaoping implemented the infamous “One-Child Policy” to combat famine and insufficient resources. This policy declared that each couple belonging to the ethnic majority were only allowed to produce one child.

Crystin Clouser
Jeff Fennell, in his office located in Shuksan Hall room 124, says our biggest problem is population.

While exceptions were soon added to the policy, which loosened the Chinese government’s firm grip around its citizens, climate activists today are upholding and defending Xiaoping’s initial ideals regarding the limitation of procreation.

With Earth’s increasing population and life expectancy, it is only a matter of time before natural resources completely diminish. However, having babies is not the problem; the problem is that the babies grow into adults and live substantially longer than past generations. This significantly increases the size of the average carbon footprint.

Many climate activists believe that bringing new life into a dying world is unethical. Patricia MacCormack, a philosophy professor at Anglia Ruskin University and ecological activist, claims that, “The only solution for climate change is letting the human race become extinct.”

In a world where humanity is destroying its own planet and those who have the power to save it refuse to do so, extinction is inevitable.

EvCC Philosophy Instructor Mike VanQuickenborne believes that the state of the planet currently does not warrant such radical precautions.

“While I would agree that the climate crisis is bad and likely to get worse, I don’t think it is so dire that the next generation, once freed from our current corrupt and incompetent political leadership, won’t be able to act in such a way as to mitigate the worst effects of a warming planet,” VanQuickenborne said.

“Having two small children, one of the constant problems my wife and I encounter, are [food] messes,” said Spencer Murphy, EvCC philosophy instructor. “Now, one way I can solve the problem is by refusing to feed them. By eliminating all food items, I would eliminate the problem – no more messes. Or, I can teach my kids how to eat properly without making messes.”

Anti-natalism, voluntary self-extinction and population control have recently entered mainstream conversation regarding climate change and environmental responsibility. However, arguments exposing the ethicality and non-necessity of such dire repercussions have been integrated into the ongoing call for rehabilitation of the planet and ecological education.

Murphy says, “Instead of advocating that we shouldn’t have children, I think a better approach is to teach the next generation how to be more environmentally conscious and to be better stewards of the planet.”