NYT's Maggie Astor @MaggieAstor misdirects the Arrow of Cause

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

domino_reversed_causeIn today’s New York Times, Maggie Astor, writing on behalf of the Climate Section’s editorial narrative, manages the incredible cognitive gymnastics trick of turning a story 180 degrees around, totally misdirecting the arrow of cause-and-effect.

It is really very nicely done and is a fine illustration of just how deeply personal and cultural bias can penetrate into even a well-trained intelligent mind.

The story is “No Children Because of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It”.  Our intrepid NY Times journalist gets her examples from a radical anti-fossil-fuel group called Conceivable Future, “an organization that highlights how climate change is limiting reproductive choices.”  Their rant is that Climate Change will be so bad that they (some people) are reluctant to bring new children into the world and they demand Reproductive Justice.  You get the idea.

Using anecdotes from Conceivable Future, Maggie Astor tells us that it is Climate Change that is causing this horrible, unconscionable result — young people are too worried about climate change to have children — or in some cases, having extra children because of climate change (really…read the story).

Maggie is careful to give the facts:

“…children born today will have as shorelines flood, wildfires rage and extreme weather becomes more common. Others [potential parents] are acutely aware that having a child is one of the costliest actions they can take environmentally.”

Just in case we might apply critical thinking skills and dismiss this idea, Maggie Astor (or her editors…) explains:  “The birthrate in the United States, which has been falling for a decade, reached a new low in 2016. Economic insecurity has been a major factor, but even as the economy recovers, the decline in births continues.”  Well, that is certainly a very small part of the truth — the large truth is:


Somehow, I don’t think that worries about shoreline flooding and forest fires caused by climate change have been causing this long-term drop in the birthrate.  It may, however, have more to do with the birth-control pill first approved by the FDA in 1960.

ADDED: (from comment by “The Original Mike M”)

Wealth is an even better population control than the pill –

And what do high GDP countries all have in common?


The hypocrisy that undergirds this story is, to me, simply astonishing.

Maggie Astor, in her cognitively impaired state, directs the arrow of cause at the idea of future of Climate Change — rather than at those spreading a sense of doom and alarm that is far from justifiable by reality.  Ms. Astor is one of those responsible.

I maintain that it is rather the case that the endless streams of overblown Climate Alarmism is having harmful effects on the general public, to the point of the commission of one of the greatest crimes possible — I will quote Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan:

You’ve thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins

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Author’s Comment Policy:

You know it by now — I’m happy to answer your questions and discuss the topic of the essay above.  In writing it,  I found I was more emotional about this than I originally thought. I beg your indulgence.

Note:  Please don’t drag in Dylan’s solution to the Masters of War as a solution for Climate Alarmists.  I don’t and I won’t allow it here.

If you want me to respond specifically, begin your comment with “Kip …”

Thanks for reading.

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174 thoughts on “NYT's Maggie Astor @MaggieAstor misdirects the Arrow of Cause

  1. I honestly don’t understand how people like Maggie Astor can look in a mirror without a deep sense of shame.

      • “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
        will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
        – C. S. Lewis

      • And they will stand on their tip-toes to peer into our bedroom windows so that they may be shocked and aghast at what they might see.

      • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King Jr

        • Barbara ==> That was the time of the hobos — the men, unable to support their families, would leave them — going off to “look for work” but often just to reduce the strain on the family budget — wives could get welfare enough, handouts, to keep themselves and kids alive but not if a out-of-work husband was in the home.
          Bad times either strengthens families, or destroys them.

      • Since we are quoting:
        “Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important.”
        Thomas Sowell

      • They are not delusional. They are preaching another plank in the propaganda that is the far Left’s modern orthodoxy.

    • Greater Cause Corruption.
      They are so convinced that they are doing God’s work, that anything is justified.

      • RS – It is priests of a certain persuasion that are seducing alter boys. And the so-called Gay Lobby has induced the Boy Scouts into letting such people take young boys into the woods on camping trips. Wonder how that will work out?

    • A sense of shame requires self-understanding, humility, and a reverent longing for the perfect. Not self-absorption, hubris, and belief you already are perfect.

    • John Garrett
      It is a truth that some people do not have a sense of shame.
      Incredible as this sounds, it is true. Thus lying, twisting, misrepresenting are their mere ‘techniques of argument’.
      I am not in a position to say who should and should not feel ashamed about a particular thing they have done, but there is the reality that a sense of shame drives much of what we call civilised behaviour. We should not pollute the environment, we should give more than we take, and we should refute what is false and vain.

  2. I think it’s GREAT that climate-change idiots aren’t bringing children into the world. I have several like this in my circle of acquaintances and immediate family. I only wish I could have more kids to replace those. When longevity escape velocity arrives thanks to SENS tech, I’m planning on having ~20 every century.

  3. I would comment or inform on this but the NYT is simply not worth my time…..or subscription. BTW you can’t use such pulp for cat box liners if you don’t even receive the newspaper.

  4. re: the picture at the head of this article, climate-domino-theory , sort of like communism and the bogus domino theory of the 60’s and 70’s

    • Sun Spot: Maybe the theory has only kicked in recently, although the soshulists are of the Champagne variety (I call them Sham-painers). UN/EU-centred neomarxbrothers have been working its magic in USA, Canada, Australia…., not like dominoes, more like an aggressive mold.

      • In my experience, those who are most vocal in denouncing the domino theory, are those who wanted the dominoes to fall.

    • SS- cutish bit of marxism there. But we held the line from Greece to SE Asia until the Soviet/Chinese Bloc broke up. At that point, Commonwealth and US blood no longer needed to be spilt for freedom in that cause.

    • It certainly wasn’t “bogus” but when the theory was tested, it was not brilliant at predictions.
      And its underlying assumption, that international communism wanted every country to become communist, was sound and real.

      • I remember when I was in university in the late 1970’s, the women’s centre proclaiming that young women should not become “baby-making machines”.

      • The dividend of rising wealth is all the changes that we have witnessed.
        The pill, human rights, social equality all play out on a stage of rising income and yes energy use.

      • PaulH: “… women should not become “baby-making machines”. ”
        I would have challenged the word “become”; women are baby making machines! Reproduction is the fundamental requirement for life itself. Who can name a more awesome responsibility than motherhood?

    • Increased leisure opportunities and money to spend on it. Power cuts tend to produce a “fertility spike”, so alleviating boredom is probably the main cause.

      • “alleviating boredom is probably the main cause” Maybe a component but the harsh reality in a poor country is that the more children you have the less chance you’ll die of starvation as a homeless beggar when you are too old to provide for yourself.

    • I wonder how female income relates to fertility. I guess, but not know, that wealthy and educated women get less children than poor and uneducated. It is the daughter-of-a-reverend paradox. Some highly desirable woman loving children never finds a suitable man, where a man with high income has no problem. Those bastard men.

      • Hugs, I noticed at the time that the change in attitude to needed birth numbers happened at around NZ$ 6-700 or US$500 weekly household income. That would be, getting middle class foothold in society with its better chance of educational and other aspirations. A home of one’s own and a bit in the Bank really does change aspirations…..

    • Its all the money in the pockets of the rich pressing down upon their testicles FACT…..there is also a correlation between a rise in birth rates and future death rates that is quite alarming.

    • Meanwhile, conservative Muslim countries, Central America, India and some African countries are still promoting high birth rates. The Islamist movement promotes goods and even demands good Muslims have as many children as possible. Those on the left writing in western news outlets are preaching to countries with already low birth rates. It is how Germany got in trouble with immigration and refugees. Their natural birth rate was so low they had few people to do menial tasks so they began to allow immigration from SW Asia and the Middle East. It could totally out of hand when they opened their doors to unlimited refugees.

  5. If the birth control bill caused the drop in child bearing, ours would be the first country in which this relationship has been documented.

      • If the only thing that changed in and around 1960 was the approval of the pill, then your correlation might have some relevance.

    • Extend that chart back another 50 years or so, and you will see that there was nothing special about 1960. It just continued an already existing trend.

    • There are lots of things that affect the birth rate. The pill probably had some effect. It’s not the only way to control fertility though. The Western European Marriage Pattern is an example whose origins date back hundreds of years.

      … comparatively late marriage (in the middle twenties), especially for women, with a generally small age difference between the spouses, a significant proportion of women who remain unmarried, and the establishment of a neolocal household after the couple has married.

      People didn’t marry and have children if they couldn’t afford them. In that case, fertility is correlated with economic conditions. As an example, lots of people didn’t marry during the hard times of the 1930s. Then came WW2. Then came the baby boom.
      The birth rate is also inversely correlated with urbanization. link
      You could even argue that the pill actually increased the birth rate over what it would otherwise have been. There are so many stories about children conceived after the mother ‘accidentally’ forgot to take the pill. 🙂

      • commie ==> Ms Astor only mentions the US birthrate … and uses it to imply that worries bout climate are related to falling birthrates, which demonstrably false.

      • Kip Hansen February 5, 2018 at 12:57 pm
        … Ms Astor only mentions the US birthrate … and uses it to imply that worries bout climate are related to falling birthrates …

        Exactly so. A little googling should have dissuaded her from writing what she did. I am reminded of an old tabloid journalist adage: “Never fact check yourself out of a good story.”
        When someone like Ms. Astor writes something so obviously clueless it does nothing for the credibility of the NYT in particular and the media in general. Lots of people will read what she wrote and decide that it doesn’t sound quite right. They won’t know the exact reasons. They won’t bother to check it out. They won’t complain to the editor. They will just drop their subscriptions when they become sufficiently irked.
        The public no longer trusts the media. That distrust is earned. The public is nowhere as stupid and gullible as the liberal elites think it is.

        • commie ==> This is true: “The public is nowhere as stupid and gullible as the liberal elites think it is.”

      • @ commieBob and Kip
        I don’t think there’s been a survey yet where climate change has ranked higher than tenth on a prioritised list of concerns.

      • Git ==> Yes, I am aware of that — that’s why the NY Times Editorial Narrative calls for a constant barrage of scary stories — to try to scare the public into being concerned.

      • Commie – “There are so many stories about children conceived after the mother ‘accidentally’ forgot to take the pill. :-)”. Makes me wonder if the availability of safety of vasectomies might be a factor in lower birthrates. I had a college friend whose wife was “on the pill”. She went off the pill without telling him – twice. The second announcement of conception resulted in a same-day appointment for him and the doctor. No more children.
        Reversible vasectomies might even reduce the count further.

    • MarkW ==> Truthfully, this essay is not about the cause of the post-1960s drop in the birth rate — it is certainly coincidental — meaning that it happened at the same time. You’ll have to call in the Demographers for an analysis of attribution.

      • If you don’t want people contradicting comments you make, don’t make the comment.
        Especially if, as you say, it isn’t relevant to the story you are trying to tell.

    • I remember seeing an interesting correlation between a drop in crime rate that followed within a generation of more popular usage of “the pill”. Not much of a study but the authors were speculating that a reduction in unwanted children resulted in a reduction of crime.

    • Yes, my understanding is that the Pill increased the amount of sex being had, not the children being born (at least in any way that could be reliably measured given all the noise around the figures I assume that some women did have fewer children because of the Pill).

  6. We poke fun at this but in this slanted world she might just win the Bob Dylan Nobel in Literature or the “preemptive, just in case” Obama Nobel Peace Prize.

  7. It is not just birth control pills. Abortion has played a big role in the U.S., Japan, Italy, and Germany.

  8. “It may, however, have more to do with the birth-control pill first approved by the FDA in 1960.”
    It also has a lot to do with increasing personal wealth and a much lower child mortality rate as people have learned that they no longer need to have six kids in order to have 2-4 of them make it to adulthood.
    Then there’s the increasing dependence of the elderly on Social Security and medicare making them less dependent on the extended family to care for them as they age.

    • True…changing cultural norms…no longer need 10 kids to tend the farm…
      But the pill was probably the biggest single factor in lowering our birth rate…followed a decade later by legalized abortion, women now can prevent pregnancies much more easily than in days past and most have access to abortion in case BC fails…

      • In no country can it be demonstrated that either the pill or abortion had any impact on fertility rates.
        When you chart fertility rates over time, the dates for the introduction for either can’t be pin-pointed on the charts.

        • MarkW ==> You seem to have a bug on this issue — you have posted this same point several times …. while this tiny point is not important to the essay above, if you want to keep hammering on your view — give us some links to papers or even opinion pieces that support the idea. Just repeating it over and over doesn’t cut it here.

      • MarkW ==> You are beginning to cross the line of what is acceptable here at WUWT in comments.
        No one objects to your having a different opinion about the statement — “It may, however, have more to do with the birth-control pill first approved by the FDA in 1960.” There is no need to provide “papers” for a historic fact — FDA approval in 1960. The graph is already provided showing a subsequent drop in birth rates, supporting the “may” in the statement. I have already acknowledged that if we wish to see attribution of cause, then we will have to turn to the demographers.
        You have repeatedly stated that you don’t think so….so fine, you don’t think so.
        But what you may not do here is call the author a liar….that is over the line.
        If you wish to offer a counter-statement — you have done so several times — so that part if done.
        If you wish to dispel the idea that the introduction of The Pill as a birth control method in 1960 did contribute to the subsequent coincident fall in birth rates in the United States, then you can do so but you have to provide data on why you want others to accept that — you can not just call people names.
        Is this clear to you now?

      • As George said, it’s not a lie if you believe it.
        The claim that the introduction of the pill resulted in a drop in fertility rates has been shown to be unfounded.
        Call it what you may.
        I’m sorry if your precious ego is hurt by people pointing out that you are wrong.
        In science it is up to the person who makes the claim to prove it. It is not the responsibility of everyone else to disprove it.
        That’s the standard we have set the claims of the climate alarmists, I see no reason to set up a separate standard for WUWT authors.

      • “If you wish to dispel the idea that the introduction of The Pill as a birth control method in 1960 did contribute to the subsequent coincident fall in birth rates in the United States, then you can do so but you have to provide data on why you want others to accept that — you can not just call people names.”

        There are ever so many studies indicating that economic factors determine birth-rate. Google Scholar is your friend.
        It’s also worth noting that the 60s also saw a marked increase in married women entering the workforce in the USA. Few, if any, of the workplaces accepting women included baby-making in the job description. One suspects the rate of conception had more to do with the increase in family wealth.

      • Pompous Git ==> You are conflating several different sets of information about a lot of different circumstances. In the developing world, birthrate is largely determined by economics and educational chances for women.
        In the developed world, where even the poor are rich by 3rd World standards, other factors are at play.
        I would love to see a study that shows that the US birthrate, since WWII, is controlled by economics.

      • “In the developed world, where even the poor are rich by 3rd World standards, other factors are at play. I would love to see a study that shows that the US birthrate, since WWII, is controlled by economics.”

        Kip, please note my use of the words “in the USA”.
        From The American Economic Review:The Emergence of Countercyclical U.S. Fertility. There are other papers, but many are behind the dreaded paywall. Hope that helps.
        Also note that even where there is a very strong determining factor, human behaviour is sufficiently complex that attribution to a single factor is almost invariably an oversimplification.

        • Pompous Git ==> The economists see economy in everything — like statisticians see everything thorough the lens of statistics.
          The paper referenced states explictly that the post-1960s drop in the birth rate runs counter to their meme of “economy controls birth rate” and them tries to wiggle out of their own conclusion. They do not even mention the advent of cheap ubiquitous birth control as a possible factor.
          Truthfully, relying on economists to answer broad social questions is not helpful — might as well ask a die-hard Communist — one answer for everything.

      • Kip, for someone who tries to seem so dispassionate, you sure are getting hot under the collar.
        First off, there is noting special about the authors on this site. Anyone can write an article and submit it to Anthony. If you wish to put yourself up on a pedestal, than you have to accept the responsibilities that come with the special rights. One of those responsibilities is to defend what you wrote. If you are unwilling or unable to defend your claims, then retract them.
        As to my proving my point, you’ve already done that quite adequately with your chart that shows that the drop in fertility rates preceeded the introduction of the pill by many decades.
        Additionally, as others have pointed out, you have conflated many social and economic trends and assigned them all to your preferred cause.
        Finally, it took decades before the pill was widely used, for many cultural and medical reasons. The early pill had a number of side-effects that deterred a lot of women from choosing it.
        Beyond that, many of the populations that were early adopters were populations that already had low birth rates, such as couples that were already using contraception and believed that the pill would be more convenient, and women that were avoiding sex because they didn’t want to get pregnant.
        PS: Not agreeing with you is not evidence that I don’t get it.

        • MarkW ==> When you have some science (even dodgy social science) to share with me and the readers here, feel free to post the links. Continuing to simply assert the same point over and over is akin to trolling.
          You continue to fail to see the point that it is not “my preferred cause” — I have not perticular opinion about the cause of birth rates and no particular interest in the issue — other than I am sure that “fear of the consequences of Climate Change ” did not cause the all-time low in US birth rates in 2016 (which is a real issue in this essay). You are belaboring a non-issue with nothing but your repeated personal opinion. Throw in some science and maybe I’ll pay attention. Post more assertive opinion, and you will continue to be ignored.

      • “Pompous Git ==> The economists see economy in everything — like statisticians see everything thorough the lens of statistics.
        The paper referenced states explictly that the post-1960s drop in the birth rate runs counter to their meme of “economy controls birth rate” and them tries to wiggle out of their own conclusion. They do not even mention the advent of cheap ubiquitous birth control as a possible factor.
        Truthfully, relying on economists to answer broad social questions is not helpful — might as well ask a die-hard Communist — one answer for everything.”

        Kip, the “meme” that “economy controls birth rate” is yours, not that of Butz and Ward. See the second chart you posted in the headpiece. If it was truly the case that economy controls birthrate, then we would infer from the following chart that the US economy boomed in the 1930s and was a bust in the 1950s.
        You will also note that there’s not the slightest sign of “the advent of cheap ubiquitous birth control”, but that’s statistics for you.
        I’m not sure where the remark about communists came from, but I will leave you to ponder these words from Nikita Kruschev: “Economics is a subject that does not greatly respect one’s wishes.”

      • “You continue to fail to see the point that it is not “my preferred cause” — I have not perticular opinion about the cause of birth rates and no particular interest in the issue — other than I am sure that ‘fear of the consequences of Climate Change’ did not cause the all-time low in US birth rates in 2016 “

        Kip, you posted two charts; one covers the changes in fertility from 1960 to 2015. The other is a snapshot from 2000. This latter shows [1] India and Argentina as having almost identical fertility despite Argentina having a per capita purchasing power almost four times greater. At best, the red line through the scattergraph is a good faith guess and it’s not hard to imagine a very great number of different lines joining the dots including a horizontal line. If you have “no particular interest in the issue” [of birthrates] why on Earth did you write a headpost on the issue?
        Further, you assert “this long-term drop in the birthrate… may, however, have more to do with the birth-control pill first approved by the FDA in 1960”. Indeed it “may”, but you present no evidence for that assertion. Indeed, until the early 1970s, the pill wasn’t universally available in the USA. [2] To insist that either MarkW or myself present evidence for our scepticism is no different to the warmists asking those of us sceptical of CAGW to present evidence for our scepticism while being unwilling to present evidence for their unsupported assertions. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
        [1] While it doesn’t show in the chart you linked to, there are versions of this chart with labels for the different countries.
        [2] See Eisenstadt v. Baird where the Supreme Court established the right of unmarried women in the USA to be prescribed the contraceptive pill in 1972.

      • Not quite. It is to do with the value of women. When they cannot work, or can only do low value work, parents are “happy” to sell them as wives, often to older men in developing countries, particularly Africa. When they can get decent jobs and earn well, parents prefer them to stay with them and maximise value through their labour.

  9. It’s obviously a small group of true believers who are using “climate change” as a reason to be childless. The same ones I saw on TV actually weeping after Trudeau announced approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. And of course you’re right Kip, they are reacting to climate hype that makes them see climate change whenever they look out the window, rather than the actual climate change, which you need to look at post-adjustment data to perceive it at all, and when you do really get into it, it’s all cyclical anyway.
    There was a similar movement back in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Zero Population Growth, that led to a small group of true believers promising not to have kids. It mostly derived its theory from Paul Ehrlich’s predictions of mass starvation by 1986. (Ehrlich is German for “honest, truthful” and I always get a rise out of that; and he;s STILL making the same predictions, just moving the dates)
    Also, back in those days, any thinking person who had paid attention to the Cuba Missile Crisis might have had second thoughts about bringing children into a rather insecure looking world. I know I did, but someone fairly close to me “forgot” to take her pill, and that settled the debate. But really, that was a much more tangible threat to the future than climate change.
    Someone else I know had her tubes tied for a very specific reason: she would rather have no children than have children and expose them to the possibility of the same kind of sexual abuse that she had gone through.
    And now we have a whole class of people that we used to call yuppies, whose child-free lives are so comfortable, that many of them can’t see the point of all the hard work, sleeplessness, loss of freedom to go anywhere at any time etc. etc. These are the ones who are driving the birth rate statistics, and it’s the same all over the developed world. Industrialized countries now depend on immigration to keep their populations stable and keep the age distribution from getting too top-heavy.

    • “Industrialized countries now depend on immigration to keep their populations stable”
      Why not keep the immigrants out and just let our population start shrinking? We certainly do not need “cheap labor” like we did 100 years ago – we have robots. Eventually their countries will catch up and do the same as us. There are many indications that that is already beginning to happen such as in China and India.

      • “Because we need workers to support the growing number of retirees.”
        No, there is far enough of an indigenous population to supply that. Median age keeps increasing but so does the number of people who keep working past retirement age – and they live longer not needing outside support.

      • Your claims about taxes needed to support retirees are simply false. Working longer doesn’t solve the problem, you still have the same number of retirees when they do retire. You can’t change how many people there are by making them do something else.

    • Ehrlich has never changed his fundamental beliefs…despite constantly being wrong…I guess eventually something will happen and he can claim he predicted it…
      “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines–hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
      – Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, (New York: Ballentine Books, 1968), p. 13.
      “We can be reasonably sure . . . that within the next quarter of a century [by 2000] mankind will be looking elsewhere than in oil wells for its main source of energy.”
      – Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The End of Affluence (Rivercity, Mass.: Rivercity Press, 1974, 1975), p. 49.
      “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”
      – Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1986, p. 274.
      “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
      – Paul Ehrlich, quoted in Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 35.

      • I actually agree with Ehrlich that we are headed for a no growth economy but for exactly the opposite reason he thought so. It is not because there isn’t enough to go around – it’s because there is so much that we are becoming weary of it all. Outside of city dwellers we’ve gone from one car per household to almost one car per person in only about 70 years. Not counting toys, almost no one wants to own more than one car for himself so I expect auto sales to stabilize at a replacement level. What are the chances you’ll want a 5th TV or bathroom in your house? ETC.

      • Original Mike ==> Not so sure about all that….my children have an average of 1.8 cars per person, not counting toys like off-road ATVs. Even my old crooked house has 1 bathroom per person. I grew up in a modern house with 1/2 bath per person….we might not exceed one per person, but many new homes are built with a dedicated bath for each bedroom, plus a bath in the other part of the house. I want more than one car for myself — I need a good ol’ beater pickup n top of the go-to-Church sedan. I have been in many homes with a TV in EVERY room, some even include the bath. How far can human over-consumption go? I don’t know, but just look at Al Gore’s house, or any of the 1%ers. drive through a new development of > 500,000 dollar homes….

  10. Without even considering the terror that PC-Progressives spread based on the man-made Global Warming apocalypse fable, this lady’s analysis is completely inverted.
    She said, “Economic insecurity has been a major factor, but even as the economy recovers, the decline in births continues.”
    High income is directly correlated with low birthrates.
    Nearly no country with a GDP above about $23,300 per year has a birthrate sufficient to replace its citizens, i.e over 2 children born per woman:
    So, with her logic on income and births exactly inverted, you can assume that the rest of her logic is likely to be similarly inverted.

    • Kent ==> “this lady’s analysis is completely inverted. ” — it is most surely that, sir.
      I too think that she should know that improved economics, in developed countries, drives births down.

    • “So, with her logic on income and births exactly inverted, you can assume that the rest of her logic is likely to be similarly inverted.”

      No; that would be illogical.

  11. The proportion of women who would rather have a paid job than be a stay-at-home-with-the-kids mother is going up.

    • Reading form the graph, what you call the “blip of BabyBoomers just after World War II” appears to start about 1939, peak about 1943, and fall until 1945. The graph unfortunately doesn’t show any period “after World War II”, which I always associated with the Baby Boomers (1946 on).

      • Lance ==> I feel your pain — I could not find, at the moment, a graph of the same thing that connects the two — the graph in the essay and the early data graph.
        Would appreciate it if you could find one and post it, say from 1890s right up to the present, USA only.

    • It looks like a World War is a remedy for falling birth rates.
      Both the 1st and 2nd World Wars appear to have caused an upward spike.

      • John ==> Those two wars resulted in many men dying … nearly every family lost someone — and part of the reaction to that was to make more children to replace the lost loved ones. That’s my read.

    • I fail to see “economic insecurity” in that graph too. Through the start of the Great Depression the rate barely changes, but it then levels off as the Depression rumbles on through the 1930s.

  12. Why not cut to the chase and go with this: “Climate change will result in the browning of white societies”. Wait a minute — isn’t that a good thing?

    • At one time a good tan was considered healthy.
      Wait, that’s not the type of browning you were talking about?

      • MarkW ==> I still consider a good tan a sign of health — of course, years in the Caribbean will do that to you. Unheralthy pallor, on the other hand, is thought to be causing Vit D deficiency in America’s children.

      • A good healthy tan is fine, as long as you don’t end up looking like crocodile luggage. And. eventually it will catch you up if you are of paler skinned heritage.

      • rocketscientist ==> I have seen my share of wrinkled older sailors for sure. Never met one that regretted it though.

  13. People like Ms Maggie deserve all the mockery and derision that can be thrown their way.
    With luck, they will melt.

  14. Birth control pill, wealth, postponement of child bearing for the “required” college education, sense of security (note the post war baby boom) and probably other variables all contribute to birth rate. Consider those not bearing children as a way of saving the planet simply a potential cleansing of the gene pool.

    • Also, just like with rats, crowding also has a negative effect upon birth rates. As we become more “urbanized” birth rates decline.

      • Kip,
        How Is that compared to the rural areas in those same countries? I know that rural birth rates here in the US track higher than urban rates. And some of those 3rd world countries don’t really know what is going on outside of their urban areas, or inside for that matter.

      • Kip,
        Checked India and China and birth rates are higher in both in rural areas compared to urban. Same for Mexico. These are based upon quick google searches. So go figure.

      • JimG1 ==> Not all the slums are urban — the Haitian Bateys of the DR are rural slums — out in the countryside but the people all crowd together in slums.
        In the DR, a lot of the difference is socio-econonmic class — the lower classes have more kids than the upper classes — same reasons as everywhere else — more education, less need for extra hands. The well-ff have access to doctors and birth control. Urban areas in the DR include the slums and the high rise apartments of the rich.
        Many of the poor slum-dwellers never register their children with the authorities — especially the Haitian illegals (a million or so of them). I am suspicious of the birthrate figures outside the US if they are claiming to have good records from the poor anywhere.

  15. Good work Kip. Indeed wealth is a better predictor of fertility. Cheap childhood labor was a benefit to subsistence farmers and the legal age for marriage was around 14. Now that education is needed to succeed in the industrialized world, young people forgo marriage and families until 30+, or prefer not having children at all.
    But as we are all to familiar with, anything construed as “negative” news will be perverted so as to blame climate change. If it bleeds reads!

    • Jim ==> Peter Seeger:
      “Oh, newspapermen meet such interesting people!
      He knows the low-down (now it can be told).
      I’ll tell you quite reliably off the record
      About some charming people I have known,
      For I meet politicians, and grafters by the score,
      Killers plain and fancy, it’s really quite a bore.
      Oh, newspapermen meet such interesting people!
      He wallows in corruption, crime, and gore.
      Ting-a-ling-a-ling, city desk;
      Hold the press, Hold the press;
      Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
      It’s a mess, meets the test.
      Oh, newspapermen meet such interesting people!
      It’s wonderful to represent the press.”

  16. according to the Economist magazine the strongest correlation is between women’s education and birth rate.
    Strong argument for what we as a society have worked for in the last 150 years among other things.

  17. It is very simple.
    Poor people need lots of children to secure their old age.
    Wealthy people do not.
    A richer world will result in reproduction below replacement rate unless the production of children is incentivised.
    Authoritarianism of either left or right results in people becoming poorer and thus exacerbates the problem of overpopulation.
    Free peoples with a low level of central direction become richer which will eventually solve the problem of overpopulation.
    The left/liberal authoritarian approach is wholly counterproductive.

    • “The left/liberal authoritarian approach is wholly counterproductive.”
      I’d say seemingly counterproductive … until you realize that the central goal of the leftists is not to actually make things better for the masses but to install themselves into a position of power over them. More people + less energy + socialism = more people & poorer = easier to control.

  18. To paraphrase the NYT author, people who possess the gullible gene intend to have fewer kids.
    I’m not seeing the downside here.

  19. No children because of climate change. Some people are considering it.
    I like it. Acts to strengthen the gene pool. Sorta like Darwinism in that stupid genes do not get passed on.

  20. Births are always an indicator of social optimism. To name extreme example, Austria had 86.351 life births in 1937, a figure that soared to 145.926 by 1940. That is an increase by 69%.
    What made this “miracle” possible? It was the “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria by the Third Reich. Please do not get me wrong, I have no intend of praising that time and the politics. But this example shows extremely well, what social optimism can do, whether it is justified or not.
    The same is true for the opposite. Pessimism will accordingly lower birth rates.And the spread of pessimism by left wing politics goes much further than just promising doomsday by global warming. There is hardly a single thing in life, for which they would not have horror visions.
    We need to stop eating meat (instead rather bugs), we need open our borders for everyone, we need to give up heating, driving cars, quit smoking, but lets legalize all kind of drugs, sex shall be an offense per se (see Sweden), and so on..
    This is an agenda to annihilation.

    • How does having your country “annexed” by a megalomaniac make one more “optimistic”? The majority of Austrians wanted to remain independent. The ones cheering and heiling German troops in the streets of Braunau were either Germans who came there the day before, Austrian Nazi sympathizers or poor Austrians paid to be there. It was all for the cameras – film to show other Austrians that being against Hitler was a minority position. The proof is Hitler’s reaction to hearing that Austria was going to vote on it just before then …

      In a desperate gamble to halt the demise and to stave off Hitler, Schuschnigg announced there would be a national plebiscite on Sunday, March 13, allowing Austrians to vote on whether or not their country should remain independent from Germany.
      Hitler, on hearing of this surprise announcement, flew into a rage. He decided on the spot to send in the German Army to prevent the vote.


      • Austria was NOT a “victim”. I am pretty sure that a majority supported the annexation. Even the (then illegal) socialist party had widespread sympathy for it, because it would replace right wing Austrian dictatorship, and “nationalsocialists” where considered “socialists” after all. And of course, most Austrians felt like being Germans anyhow. In fact that is likely what would have happened after WWI, if the treaty of Versailles did not prohibit it.
        That referendum finally took place, on the 10th of April (then under nazi rule of course), and 99.08% voted “yes”.
        But this is not about a lesson in history.

      • The evidence suggests that the majority of Austrians welcomed it, The proposed plebiscite was rigged, by for example raising the voting age as young people were overwhelmingly in favour and offering the opposition trade unions various concessions. That is one of the reasons why Hitler “flew into a rage.” The subsequent plebiscite was also rigged, but saw massive support for joining with Germany. And whilst it was rigged, it was not wholly so – various areas saw large public rejections despite the presence of soldiers or police.
        Many of the crowds greeting Hitler were real, in Lindz for example.
        And nobody thought Hitler was a megalomaniac – they didn’t know what would happen later of course.
        There is virtually no evidence for what you claim.

    • “Pessimism will accordingly lower birth rates”
      Baloney. The highest fertility rates in the world are precisely in those places where people are the poorest and therefore the least optimistic about their future.

      • “The highest fertility rates in the world are precisely in those places where people are the poorest and therefore the least optimistic about their future.”

        Clearly you’ve never visited the Third World. Or read the article Pat Frank linked to in another thread. Despite their poverty, the poor tend to be quite cheerful and optimistic. Wealth above ca. $US10,000 appears to bring no measurable increase in happiness. Rather it’s too much money that seems to induce pessimism.
        Journalist Robert Wright has written on this topic, but alas, my old brains cannot recall in which of his many excellent books.

      • Pompous ==> Well, I have spent much of the past dozen years in the developing world — visiting and working in the slums and bateys of the Dominican Republic. Part of what you say is true — poor people are often cheerful and happy, generous too. What they are not is optimistic about their future or the future of their children — they project their own lives forward for their kids. They are hopeful but extremely pragmatic. They hope if they scrim and save and manage to keep their kids in school, maybe college, then maybe, just maybe, their kids will be better off than they are.
        But even when the kids have a college degree, there is no work for them in their own economy — unless they are lucky enough to have a connection — an IN — somewhere.

      • Well, you need to read it the right way. Sure, poor countries have high, rich countries low birth rates. Yet, birth rates also follow economic trends. If there is downturn, birth rates drop, if the economy is doing fine, they will go up. This is to be understood within a social context.

      • The problem here is the use of the words pessimism and optimism about X. The OED defines pessimism as “the habit of taking the gloomiest view of circumstances: antithetical to optimism”. [Emphasis mine].
        Optimism is the “name given to the doctrine propounded by Leibnitz, in his Théodicée (1710), that the actual world is the ‘best of all possible worlds’, being chosen by the Creator out of all the possible worlds which were present in his thoughts as that in which the most good could be obtained at the cost of the least evil.”
        Of course the post-modernist stance is that it’s possible for this to be simultaneously both the best and worst of all possible worlds.

  21. And these same people support United Nations plans to bring 48 million Muslims into the United States by 2050, families who have 5 to 8 children each.

  22. Kip, another idea for you to ponder/comment on. These people will have less children to indoctrinate/ follow in their footsteps. But they always seem to get into positions where they seek to indoctrinate our children.

    • Optimist ==> Liberal/Progressivism has a strong component of proselytization — spreading the faith and correcting the “incorrect thinking” of others. It is not focused on discovery of truth.

      • Yes , but Christians tend to raise Christians, Vegetarians tend to raise vegetarians, muslims tend to raise muslims. Some do go on to proselytize, that’s true. But here we have people with no one to raise..its different

  23. Let us hope for the sake of the gene pool that she follows her fears and does not reproduce. Ditto Eric Holthaus, how has spouted the same nonsense.

  24. While if they are one ‘the Astors’ that would explain a lot , vast wealth and an ability to get any job without any ability to do the job , hardly makes for a great combination.

  25. I think Maggie Astor should just be left to get on with whatever she does.
    Anybody trying to link the ‘evils’ of global warming and sex is riding alone in the front carriage of the train to totallyignoredbecausethey’reanidiotsville Arizona.

  26. Kip, seems to me that anything she posits could be construed to be a “Potentially Hazardous Astoroid”.

    • Pop ==> It is the Editorial Narrative on Climate Change to blame all bad things on Climate Change — whether it is currently happening or not. One of their memes is “Climate Change is already happening” — by which they mean weather or any change in environmental conditions or any unusual weather event — but only if it is bad. They never claimed the drought in US land falling hurricanes was caused by Climate Change — because that was a good thing.
      When their misguided exaggerations of current and possible future climate changes risks produces bad effects in the general public — depressions, anxiety, worry about kids — they blame as yet inexperienced climate change instead of the alarmist Propaganda that is the real cause.

      • Yikes, that’s spooky because I was thinking something very similar while I was checking to see if you caught my pun on her name.

      • IMHO, the biggest problem the world has regarding climate change is the perception of its gravity upon the present paradigms of nature and society. Improbable, worst case scenarios are regularly touted as “backed by settled science” and “likely if we don’t change our ways”, only because they have “wow factor”.
        The politrickster’s solutions have been far more painful and expensive for Humanity than the climate change which has occurred over the last half-century. Not to mention the divisiveness of the “believe or be chastised” nature of the climate cause.

  27. By logical inference, we can assume these buffoon’s are pro war and pro-virulent pandemics, as both are proven performers in reducing vast swaths of carbon polluters.
    Are we really to believe these “Climate Savior’s” are abstaining from having children out of love for Gaia? One could forgive such nonsense, were it devoid of ego and self-righteous indignation. The meek shall inherent the Earth and these self-involved nutburgers will likely succeed in voluntary sterilization.
    At the seventh bell, when the womb sours, our barren hero’s will know they have succeeded at nothing, and Winter will descend on a dank existence devoid of progeny.

  28. If you want a smaller, more controllable population; scare people into not wanting to have kids.
    “CAGW” is just the latest scare.
    But, yes, it’s almost amusing how she has turned the CAGW scare (and the political atmosphere behind it?) making the young reluctant to have their own young into the just “the fact” of CAGW being the cause.
    If birthrates have fallen, the hype is the cause. Not Man’s CO2.

      • Pop ==> The affluence thing only works to a certain point — certainly true for differences between the developing and the developed worlds. After that, other, more subtle, factors take over.

      • “…After that, other, more subtle, factors take over.”
        I’d guess the least subtle of those other factors would be religion. Perhaps it’s pivotal in that Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, etc. are encouraged by their religion to procreate liberally, while the faithful disciples of the Model Fellowship of Mann are shamed into ending their genetic heritages.

  29. I honestly do not get the feeling that most people around me have the slightest bit of fear about climate change. They are more worried about the charge on their iPhones running low.
    Talking so much about climate alarm creates it, even when you are talking about the talking about it. WUWT, unfortunately, gives alarm an extra boost by giving somebody else yet another opportunity to rebut another counterclaim to theirs.
    Who are these people who are so worried about climate catastrophe? — the same people living extremely comfortable lives because of all the amenities that fossil fuels have allowed modern civilization? — the same people who sport their new fossil-fuel transportation, and wear their high-thread-count, fossil-fuel-enabled clothing? — the same people eating healthy diets, enabled by farming methods that have increased production, transportation, and distribution of food, thanks to (you guessed it) fossil-fuel technology?
    How do such people think that they are as comfortable as they are to focus on climate change, rather than spending their energy adapting to climate, to such an extent that they would have no such time or comfort to think this way?

    • Robert ==> I am afraid that certain people are more suggestible than others. Some are so suggestible that they are good candidates for hypnotism. I used to demonstrate this as part of my amateur magic act when I was a kid. These hyper-suggestible minds can easily be convinced of the most ridiculous dangers — rogue planets, magnetic pole reversal, chem-trails conspiracies. The press and the climate warriors have spent 30 years repeating the same scary stories – -none of which have come true — but the mere repetition of the stories, for many younger people, their whole lifetimes, has hypnotized them into a state of terror which no amount of safe reality can shake.

      • I think my generation was less susceptible because we only had radio and limited TV demanding our attention before cable TV came to be. The impact of the information revolution (and the exploitation thereof) to shape the collective consciousness of mold-able minds is a threat to future generations, though.

      • Ya Pop, all that on top of an ‘education’ (indoctrination) system that certainly appears to be deliberately dumbing down the population and shortening attention spans. What do you feel 2 + 2 should be?

      • … climate alarm hypnotism — there should be a word for that — “climypnotism”, maybe? (^_^)
        I suggest that the “terror” over such things might be a mythical overstatement. I don’t know that I really believe that anybody is terrified. I think this might be a word game played in the media for political gain and, as I suggested, this myth is unknowingly amplified by treating it seriously as real “terror”.
        I don’t think that Gore or Hansen or Mann, for example, are “terrified” over what they claim. Rather,I think that they might be more terrified over loosing their financial foundation, if the myth dissipates.

        • Robert,
          If you think that poor schmucks don’t take the “threat” seriously, then you’re not following along! “Climate anxiety” is among the mental problems that the non-stop terror-inducing apocalyptic your-CO2-is-killing-the-planet causes.
          Just because the purveyors of the panic–Mann, Gore, et al–don’t believe it doesn’t make others cynical. Many poor souls lap it up and take it as gospel.
          Lots of examples. Just Bing “ecoanxiety suicide”.
          “For people not yet living directly in the path of climate change, mental health problems can also be triggered indirectly, from “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children, and later generations.” Such existential anxiety, in other words, can touch anyone grappling with the larger-than-life impacts of a warming planet. Psychologists and researchers are beginning to call this condition “ecoanxiety,” a term that’s been popping up in research papers in recent years.
          Some people “are deeply affected by feelings of loss, helplessness, and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change,” writes the APA. “Some writers [of research papers] stress the possible detrimental impact of guilt, as people contemplate the impact of their own behavior on future generations.”

          • KC ==> For that matter, Bing or Google “threat of polar reversal” 15,200,000 hits, “threat of rogue planet hitting earth” 44 million hits, “government spraying chemtrails” 201,000 hits.
            I have personal experience of acquaintances actually believing and being afraid of these wholly imaginary threats.
            The threat of climate change is just a tiny bit less-imaginary — at least the climate does change.

        • RK ==> “I don’t think that Gore or Hansen or Mann, for example, are “terrified” over what they claim. ” Nor do I, I doubt that they are even simple honest believers — these three have some other motivation for what they do and say. (Though, I am unsure of Hansen….he may be a simple misguided believer.)

    • These unfortunate people will have quite a class action lawsuit potential when it turns out that they gave up having children and living a fulfilled life due to the collusion of the warmists to falsify data and misrepresent global warming models as accurate predictors of a distopian future.

    • The purpose I see here is to expose the ‘climate change industry’ which has taken a minor trace-gas process of the climate system and elevated it to unquestionable omnipotence over the rest of the system, for the purpose of instituting global socio-economic reorganization and the control of energy world-wide.

  30. Epilogue:
    Very interesting — one never knows what the readers here will find interesting and want to discuss.
    Today, the Hot Topic was not the topic of the essay, but a peripheral subject brought up by a side comment in the NY Times article, pointing out that the US birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, and my counter that the birthrate had been falling for 50 years and that it might instead have something to do with the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960. Who would have thought that this idea, this suggestion that “It may, however, have more to do with the birth-control pill first approved by the FDA in 1960.” [than with people being afraid to have children because of climate change] would be such a important issue for so many — and that there would be so many differing certainties on what controls birth rates.
    One time I wrote about birds needing transitional forests, only to have the readers want to discuss nothing but my position on feral cats!
    I do congratulate the readership for staying away from continuing the Dylan quote — and applying it to climate alarmists. Thank you.
    And, thanks for reading.

    • The illustration for this essay was excellent. Push one thing and you never know where it will go.
      In all the comments I didn’t see much support for Maggie Astor’s claim. So why not discuss the counter-claims? I think The Pill had an enormous effect on the culture, in many ways. But birth control was available before the pill. At least where birth control was legal; it wasn’t always legal everywhere. So the pill may not have had a big direct effect on birth rate.
      What is your position on feral cats? With sterilization?

      • Toto ==> I’ll tell you my position on feral cats — but I will not do any follow up to any response — pro or anti.
        “Round ’em up, nuke ’em, bury ’em”.

  31. I am having no more kids because the world might be (is?) ruled by mindless bigots who read the NYT. Can I sue?

    • francozavatti ==> Thanks for the link. Very amusing.
      Don’t worry about your English — you ought to hear my Spanish. I once brought a roomful of Spanish speaking government officials to the state known as ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) by prouding announcing (in MY broken Spanish) “If you have questions, we have spare auto parts!” The difference in Dominican Spanish between “answers: and “spare parts” being a single letter at the end of the word.

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