March 20, 2012

JAMES TARANTO: Green Yet Barren: You Can’t Make A Baby By Hugging A Tree.

The baby boomers’ parents were unusually fertile, especially when compared with subsequent generations, including the boomers themselves. But the decline in fertility was not evenly distributed throughout American society.

This columnist has posited that the polarization of the electorate around the issue of abortion, combined with the direct effect of abortion itself on fertility, over the long term has a conservatizing effect on the electorate. We call it the Roe Effect. Although environmentalism is not sharply polarizing in the way that abortion is, it seems to us quite probable that a similar and overlapping effect is at work here.

After all, you can’t make a baby by hugging a tree. Attitudes about “the environment” are very much tied up with attitudes about human fertility. The prevailing view on the environmentalist left is, and has been since at least the early 1970s, that to bring a child into the world is an act of violence against Mother Earth. Along with feminism, which devalued motherhood and women’s domestic work, environmentalism motivated left-liberal baby boomers to have smaller families, or none at all.

If ideology drives one segment of the population to reproduce less, the effect compounds over time. Whereas big families get bigger with each generation, a childless couple (or single woman) is unlikely to have grandchildren either. The future belongs to the fruitful.

Childlessness is inherited. If your parents don’t have kids, you won’t either.

UPDATE: Reader Danielle Emery writes:

Your link to the article about low fertility among environmentalists reminds me of Larry L. Eastland’s 2004 WSJ article that demonstrated Gore lost FLorida (and the Presidency) in 2004 due to disproportionate numbers of missing Democratic voters from abortion.

So the decline in fertility among those who lean left has already had profound and demonstrable effects on the United States.

When I bring up Mr. Eastland’s findings with my more liberal friends, I find them to be quite frustrated by it, and with no coherent response except to say the world will be a terrible place and my “descendants will be flipping burgers at McDonald’s”. Which is really not a bad thing, since it implies that: There will still be meat and we’ll be allowed to eat it; there will be money to buy it; there will still be big businesses and people to work at them. In other words, not really what the left has planned for us.

As you say, the future belongs to those who show up.


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