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Is it ethical to have children amid the climate crisis?

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Mimi Haddon/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Ezra Klein’s column assures us, “Your Kids Are Not Doomed.” He’s right — because we can and will restore the climate by 2050.

And young adults would still be wise to follow Bill McKibben’s 1998 advice of “Maybe one.”

Our new book, “Climate Restoration: The Only Future That Will Sustain the Human Race,” shows that with today’s population — 10 times the preindustrial sustainable levels — the path to a new sustainability lies in Mr. McKibben’s sage advice.

If the global norm for family size stabilized at Italy’s current level of 1.3 children, we would see a sustainable population by the end of the century. This 1.3 average could encompass large, small and child-free families, and land us closer to the preindustrial population than our current level.

Those who care about humanity’s flourishing, generation after generation, will opt for both restoring the climate and having small families.

Carole Douglis Peter Fiekowsky

A version of this article appears in print on June 19, 2022, Section SR, Page 10 of the New York edition with the headline: Is It Ethical to Have Kids Today? It appeared as titled above in The NY Times online edition, June 18, 2022

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