William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Latest Threat To Global Warming? In Vitro Fertilization

Certified carbon-free footprint.

Certified carbon-free footprint.

Stop me if you’re heard this one before. An academic, educated well beyond her capabilities, having a lot of free time on her hands, and frightened past the point of rational thinking by the terrifying promises of the horrors which await us once global warming strikes (soon, soon), figures out a way to solve the “crisis”. Her solution is—wait for it—to put the government in charge of making babies!

Ha ha ha! What a good joke!

(Where have we seen this before?)

The commedienne is Cristina Richie from the Theology Department (yes) at Boston College. Her peer-reviewed leg-pulling is entitled “What would an environmentally sustainable reproductive technology industry look like?” in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Richie’s line is that “all of medicine and healthcare should be evaluated in terms of ecological sustainability”, especially the “assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) industry”. What’s an ART? An in vitro fertilisation factory.

ARTs deserve “special ethical attention” not because they are wasteful of human life (many embryos don’t make the cut and are never heard from again), but because they not “only absorb the ‘typical’ medical resources like buildings, medical instruments and intellectual capital, they are unique in that they alone create carbon legacies in addition to having a carbon footprint.” She doesn’t mind the killing, it’s done using electricity that bothers her.

“People who use ARTs are deliberately seeking a carbon legacy (emphasis mine).”

Carbon legacy? She means junior-sized human beings. Babies aren’t people, but carbon-generation machines. Utilitarianism pushed to its logical extreme is always funny, no?

Richie only cares about the factory-made babies, not the kind ordinary moms and dads make (are we still allowed to say “moms and dads” or is that something-or-other-phobic?). Though she does scold that “naturally made children” have an “undeniable impact” on the “environment.”

Babies made through ARTs are “a burden on the already over-taxed ecosystem to support new beings who might not have existed without medical intervention.” Yet how “over-taxed” can it be if Boston College can give Richie a cushy living, free of normal responsibility?

Ever wonder how to sound like an academic? How about this sentence? “Since the 1980s, the field of environmental bio-ethics has made the connection among pollution, carbon emissions and human health.”

Ever wonder how academics can lecture people outside their competencies? How about this sentence? “The impact of climate change on world citizens has continued to receive interest in the medical industry, urging consumption reduction to better the lives of those who currently suffer under conditions of food scarcity, respiratory disease and drought as a result of CO2 emissions.”

Has no one told her that CO2 has not caused any of these things? That, even if the IPCC is right, the apocalypse is still in the future and not yet? And, judging by how strongly her ego is tied to her theory, should we tell her? Breaking the bad news that all is not lost might not go well.

Skip it. Let’s get to Richie’s “solutions.” First, “[t]here is nothing that a potential parent could do, short of moving to another country, to offset the carbon of a biological child.” (She thinks Americans are especially egregious climate sinners.)

Second, banning. “While a moratorium on all fertility clinics would be the most ecologically sound decision in this purview, it is unlikely that established fertility procedures or treatments would be effectively ‘banned’ until global CO2 emissions stabilise.”

Third, “carbon capping.” Richie isn’t an economist, and writes like one who has no familiarity with the subject, which is why she suggests something like the “Kyoto Protocol and make an entire country accountable for carbon emissions, thus forcing each and every sector to examine their consumptive practices.”

Lest you think Richie has nothing solid to offer, she says this, which is true. “ARTs use scarce communal resources such as intellectual research, government funding for development and medical buildings. Natural procreation qua procreation does not. That is, a woman wishing to become pregnant through ARTs has to go to a clinic, visit a doctor and use the carbon-intensive resources of the medical industry.” She forgot to mention IVF can be highly wasteful of human life.

She’s also right when she says, “many fertile people who could become pregnant without any extra resources use ARTs”.

So while the enemy of my enemy might be my friend, and since I’m not fond of IVF you think I might support Richie, it can’t be done for the reasons she offers. For as the man said, the “greatest treason” is “to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

13 Comments

  1. “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”

  2. Everything is better with “government” on it! Surely you do not doubt this truth, do you????

  3. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make professors.

  4. Has no one told her that CO2 has not caused any of these things? That, even if the IPCC is right, the apocalypse is still in the future and not yet?

    Well, which is it?

  5. The Journal of Medical Ethics does not speak for all, or most, in the medical profession. A couple of years ago it published an article advocating the killing of infants shortly after birth for certain reasons — so-called “post-birth abortion”:

    http://politicalarena.org/2012/03/02/journal-of-medical-ethics-it-is-ethical-to-murder-babies-after-they-are-born/

    The authors of that piece got death threats–apparently they didn’t count on some people interpreting “post-birth abortion” to include many years, or decades, post-birth. From this latter perspective, they might be on to something….

  6. Apparently four states (including, of course, California) allow “wrongful birth” lawsuits–where a severely handicapped child can sue for being born. Something like 13 states have laws prohibiting this.

    In briefly researching “Wrongful Birth” some interesting legal case doctrines were observed, such as if parents pursued IVF (including a fertilization procedure) then changed their minds and decided they didn’t want a child after all (before a pregnancy was apparent)…but…pregnancy resulted anyway & birth of a healthy child resulted (because abortion was illegal), could they sue the doctor that did the IVF treatment and then failed to successfully “sabotage” (forgot the legal term) that treatment?

    Ethical issues relative to wacky liberal philosopher’s even wackier ideas of what & how to meddle are peculiar enough…but they’re really nothing compared to real-world legal ‘Gordian Knots’ arising in real-world legal cases.

  7. The Romans had post birth abortion for their children. The father could beat his children, sell them into slavery, or even kill them if they didn’t obey him. Sort of makes you wishful for the good old days.

  8. Briggs

    August 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Ken,

    Thanks. I had not previously known of “wrongful birth” lawsuits. As a way of proving insanity, it is at least colorful.

  9. The thing I love about this site Briggsy, is how it fulfils (ironically!!) 2 Timothy 4:3
    “…to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear…”

  10. Briggs

    August 22, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Realist,

    Indeed, universities are the very places the itchy-eared are flocking—“always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

    But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

    They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone…

    Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

  11. She can lecture me as soon as she can get her carbon footprint below the global average. Heck even US average as a start would be fine.

  12. Let there be no doubt, AGW alarmists are misanthropes.

  13. Didn’t Alan Sokal write a similar article?

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