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Thinking of having a baby as the planet collapses? First ask yourself 5 big ethical questions.

This article was first published March 2, 2023 in The Conversation by Craig Stanbury, PhD candidate at Monash University, Australia. Read the original version here.


Having a child can be one of the most meaningful things we do with our life. But is it ethical in these challenging times? Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Do you want to have a baby? But, on a planet rocked by the climate crisis, ecosystem collapse, famine and poverty, is having one just adding to the problem – and therefore unethical?

I am a PhD Candidate at Monash Bioethics Centre, and I research the ethics of procreation in a time of climate change. I’ve found there’s no simple “yes” or “no” answer to whether we should produce more children when Earth is in such dire straits.

People who want to have children are faced with a dilemma. Creating a child who will be responsible for high emissions over their lifetime requires others to stay in poverty (if the planet is to operate within its physical limits). This, it can easily be argued, furthers injustice and inequality.

But many of us want to have children – doing so can be one of the most meaningful things we do with our life.

What should we do? Ethics can provide an answer. It shows there is a moral obligation to consider the effects of child-bearing without obliging people to not have children as a result.

What is overpopulation?