Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Imagine kids growing up in a household where the eco-activist parents think their own children are an unacceptable burden on the planet.
Climate ‘apocalypse’ fears stopping people having children – study
Fri 27 Nov 2020 22.00 AEDT
Survey of 600 people finds some parents regret having offspring for same reason
People worried about the climate crisis are deciding not to have children because of fears that their offspring would have to struggle through a climate apocalypse, according to the first academic study of the issue.
The researchers surveyed 600 people aged 27 to 45 who were already factoring climate concerns into their reproductive choices and found 96% were very or extremely concerned about the wellbeing of their potential future children in a climate-changed world. One 27-year-old woman said: “I feel like I can’t in good conscience bring a child into this world and force them to try and survive what may be apocalyptic conditions.”
These views were based on very pessimistic assessments of the impact of global heating on the world, the researchers said. One respondent, for example, said it would “rival world war one in its sheer terror”. The research also found that some people who were already parents expressed regret over having their children.
Having a child also potentially means that person going on to produce a lifetime of carbon emissions that contribute to the climate emergency, but only 60% of those surveyed were very concerned about this carbon footprint.
“The fears about the carbon footprint of having kids tended to be abstract and dry,” said Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, who led the study. “But the fears about the lives of existing or potential children were really deep and emotional. It was often heartbreaking to pore through the responses – a lot of people really poured their hearts out.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/27/climate-apocalypse-fears-stopping-people-having-children-study
The abstract of the study;
Eco-reproductive concerns in the age of climate change
Media reports and public polls suggest that young people in many countries are increasingly factoring climate change into their reproductive choices, but empirical evidence about this phenomenon is lacking. This article reviews the scholarship on this subject and discusses the results of the first empirical study focused on it, a quantitative and qualitative survey of 607 US-Americans between the ages of 27 and 45. While 59.8% of respondents reported being “very” or “extremely concerned” about the carbon footprint of procreation, 96.5% of respondents were “very” or “extremely concerned” about the well-being of their existing, expected, or hypothetical children in a climate-changed world. This was largely due to an overwhelmingly negative expectation of the future with climate change. Younger respondents were more concerned about the climate impacts their children would experience than older respondents, and there was no statistically significant difference between the eco-reproductive concerns of male and female respondents. These and other results are situated within scholarship about growing climate concern in the USA, the concept of the carbon footprint, the carbon footprint of procreation, individual actions in response to climate change, temporal perceptions of climate change, and expectations about the future in the USA. Potential implications for future research in environmental psychology, environmental sociology, the sociology of reproduction, demography, and climate mitigation are discussed.Read more: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-020-02923-y
On one hand, perhaps we are seeing evolution in action; if the only people who have kids are those with an unusually strong urge to procreate, expect to see a lot more children in the future.
But my heart goes out to the few kids those radical activists decide to have despite their beliefs, and the psychological trauma some of them must be enduring.
Imagine growing up in a household where the parents literally think their children are planet wrecking wastes of space or worse. Imagine being taught from the cradle that you are your parents’ guilty burden on the planet.
How do the children of parents who see their very existence as a mistake, whose parents teach them that their inevitable future is misery and a painful fiery death, ever discover a sense of self worth and happiness?
“Daddy, daddy, look what I made in art class!”.
“That’s lovely, but it doesn’t really matter, because you’ll die a horrible death from global warming before you reach adulthood. And you’re helping to make it happen just by being alive”.