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No children because of #climate change? Some people are considering it
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Climate Climate Man-Made

Add this to the list of decisions affected by climate change: Should I have children?
Children playing in flooded street
It is not an easy time for people to feel hopeful, with the effects of global warming no longer theoretical, projections becoming more dire and governmental action lagging. And while few, if any, studies have examined how large a role climate change plays in people’s childbearing decisions, it loomed large in interviews with more than a dozen people ages 18-43.

A 32-year-old who always thought she would have children can no longer justify it to herself. A Mormon has bucked the expectations of her religion by resolving to adopt rather than give birth. An Ohio woman had her first child after an unplanned pregnancy — and then had a second because she did not want her daughter to face an environmental collapse alone.
Child holding a stick in a flooded street
Among them, there is a sense of being saddled with painful ethical questions that previous generations did not have to confront. Some worry about the quality of life children born today will have as shorelines flood, wildfires rage and extreme weather becomes more common. Others are acutely aware that having a child is one of the costliest actions they can take environmentally.

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.

And the discussions about the role of climate change are only intensifying.

“When we first started this project, I didn’t know anybody who had had any conversations about this,” said Ms Meghan Kallman, a co-founder of Conceivable Future, an organisation that highlights how climate change is limiting reproductive choices.

That has changed, she said, either because more people are having doubts, or because it has become less taboo to talk about them.

Facing an uncertain future

If it were not for climate change, Ms Allison Guy said, she would go off birth control tomorrow.
But scientists’ projections, if rapid action isn’t taken, are not “congruent with a stable society,” said Ms Guy, 32, who works at a marine conservation nonprofit in Washington. “I don’t want to give birth to a kid wondering if it’s going to live in some kind of ‘Mad Max’ dystopia.”

Parents like Ms Amanda PerryMiller, a youth leader and mother of two in Independence, Ohio, share her fears.

“Animals are disappearing. The oceans are full of plastic. The human population is so numerous, the planet may not be able to support it indefinitely,” said Ms PerryMiller, 29. “This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for people bringing home a brand-new baby from the hospital.”
Ships surrounded by waste,plastic
The people thinking about these issues fit no single profile. They are women and men, liberal and conservative. They come from many regions and religions.

Ms Mumford, a graduate student in a joint-degree programme at Johns Hopkins and Brigham Young universities, plans to adopt a child with her husband. 

A few years ago, she traveled to China, where air pollution is a national crisis. And all she could think was, “I’m so glad I’m not going to bring a brand-new baby into this world to suffer like these kids suffer.”

Some pretty strong cognitive dissonance

For many, the drive to reproduce is not easily put aside.
“If a family is what you want, you’re not just going to be able to make that disappear entirely,” said Ms Jody Mullen, 36, a mother of two in Gillette, New Jersey. “You’re not just going to be able to say, ‘It’s not really good for the environment for humans to keep reproducing, so I’ll just scratch that idea.’”

And so compromises emerge. Some parents resolve to raise conscientious citizens who can help tackle climate change. Some who want multiple children decide to have only one.

For Ms Sara Jackson Shumate, 37, who has a young daughter, having a second child would mean moving to a house farther from her job as a lecturer at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is not sure she can justify the environmental effect of a larger home and a longer commute.

But for Ms PerryMiller, the Ohio youth leader, the thinking went the opposite way: Once she had her first child, climate change made a second feel more urgent.

“Someday, my husband and I will be gone,” she said. “If my daughter has to face the end of the world as we know it, I want her to have her brother there.”
Flooded town seen from above
Ms Laura Cornish, 32, a mother of two near Vancouver, said she felt “some pretty strong cognitive dissonance around knowing that the science is really bad but still thinking that their future will be OK”.

“I don’t read the science updates anymore because they’re too awful,” she said. “I just don’t engage with that, because it’s hard to reconcile with my choices.”

The New York Times

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