Editor’s Note: In a world where a racist, misogynist and dishonest real estate mogul is president of the world’s only superpower, a lot of us sterile guys are checking our vasectomies to make sure they’re still in working order.


Childlessness Has Never Sounded So Good

 

About 40 years ago, my wife and I first discussed the option of not having children. Such decisions have lifelong consequences, so we didn’t take this lightly and revisited it many times over the years. Early on, we thought we were too young to be parents; then, one day, we realized we were too old. And now, although it may sound clichéd, this really isn’t a world I’d want to bring children into anyway.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which includes 15 Nobel laureates, recently reset its “Doomsday Clock” to two and a half minutes before midnight. Its chairman, physicist Lawrence Krauss, blames much of the heightened danger on President Trump and his benefactor, Vladimir Putin. The last time we were this close to Armageddon was 1953, when the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union had just begun.

At that time, Nikita Khrushchev was the Soviet premier. Today, Russia is ruled by ex-KGB officer Putin, who seems to represent a change without much of an improvement. Sadly, no one is confusing Donald J. Trump with Dwight D. Eisenhower, so 2017 looks to be, overall, an even more dangerous time.

Six more countries have gone nuclear since 1953, when only the U.S., U.K. and U.S.S.R. had atomic weapons. Pakistan boasts of its “Islamic bomb,” as it faces off against a nuclear India. Israel has 80 warheads, and, although Iran’s atomic program is on hiatus, Mr. Trump is making noises about abrogating the Iran deal that halted it. If Shi’ite Iran resumes nuclear development, the Sunni Gulf states are likely to follow, and the domino effect will further destabilize the region.

Iran’s fanatic mullahs are Quakers compared with the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea — the unstable, and quite possibly insane, Kim Jong-un. Most foreign policy experts believe we’ll need China’s economic leverage to rein in North Korea, but President Trump has shown little inclination to develop a cooperative relationship with the Chinese. Instead, he seems intent on fomenting mutual tension, which is about what you’d expect from someone who can’t even have a civil dialog with Mexico or Australia.

In such perilous times, the world’s one remaining superpower needs a steady hand to mitigate the chaos — someone like George H.W. Bush — an experienced politician with a long resume in international affairs who knows how the world works. Instead, we’ve elected a thin-skinned, blustering, bullying real estate developer/game show host, with neither expertise, nor experience, surrounded by a cabinet nearly as unqualified as he is.

As challenging as the geopolitics are in 2017, the domestic fiscal situation seems utterly hopeless. If I’d had children, they’d now be saddled with a $20 trillion debt that neither party is willing to address. With one of their own in the White House, congressional Tea Baggers have already stopped pretending they care about fiscal responsibility, just as the Right did during the George W. Bush years. Conservatives seem to hate deficits only when a Democrat is president.

Trump’s strategy — huge tax cuts for the wealthy and massive increases in defense spending — is the same failed, trickle-down, voodoo economics that’s bloated the national debt since 1980. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that his budget will add $10 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. Eventually, the service on the debt alone will cannibalize enough of the budget to incapacitate the government.

Conservatives see ecology and environmentalism chiefly as the concerns of liberal elites. Trump’s EPA chief has spent years advocating for polluters and denies climate change, because addressing it might decrease oil industry profits. Given a choice between the long-term goal of reversing global warming or growing Exxon Mobil’s stock price 3/8s of a point in the short term, which do you think its CEO (who’s now secretary of state) would choose? Isn’t it time we retired that alternative truth about “draining the swamp”?

If you think mankind is immortal, and we can’t turn the Earth into a wasteland, read an astronomy book. Venus, the most hellish planet in the solar system, is an 800-degree product of runaway global warming. At the same time, atomic radiation and nuclear winter have the potential to kill every living thing on Earth larger than a cockroach. Impermanence is a guiding principle of nature, and not all change is positive.

What sort of world will we leave to the next generation? Will it look like the inside of Keith Richards’ lungs? Will a rising sea level drown our coastal cities? Will China call in our mortgage? I’m not optimistic about these questions, because answering them will require long-term thinking, maturity and sacrifice. Short-term, narcissistic answers seem to be our default position, which makes me glad I have no children to worry about.

Many environmentalists believe it will be impossible to halt the planet’s ecological destruction without some form of population control. For millennials, the current administration should be a good advertisement for birth control.  

 


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