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How Do People Feel About Having Children in a Climate-Changed World?

Navigating the decision to have children in a climate-changed world is complex, stirring a mix of hope, fear, and responsibility. Parents grapple with the future's uncertainties, balancing the joy of raising a child with concerns for their well-being in a shifting environment. How are prospective parents coping with this dilemma? Join the conversation and share your thoughts on this pressing issue.

In a 2020 survey, a whopping 96 percent of respondents said they were "very" or "extremely" concerned about their existing or future children growing up in a world that had been irrevocably altered by climate change. The first academic study on the issue, conducted by researchers at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, surveyed 607 Americans between the ages of 27 and 45, nearly all of whom offered a pessimistic view of the future.

“I don’t want to birth children into a dying world,” said a 31-year-old woman. “I dearly want to be a mother but climate change is accelerating so quickly, and creating such horror already, that bringing a child into this mess is something I can’t do."

More on climate anxiety:

  • The survey, published in the journal Climatic Change, found no major differences between the views of women and men. Researchers found that 6 percent of parents even confessed some remorse about having children.

  • Climate anxiety may also be affecting mental health. In 2020, more than 1,000 clinical psychologists signed an open letter warning of “acute trauma on a global scale” regarding the state of the environment.

  • A 2017 study estimated that the carbon footprint of a child in the developed world is 64.6 tons (58.6 tonnes) of CO2-equivalent emissions each year.

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Discussion Comments

anon1004811

One of the most effective ways to inhibit climate change would be to lower the birth rate, since people having 11 kids means a lot of personal consumption for each kid, no matter how good they are at recycling, riding bikes, using solar, etc. Each person eats food, wears clothes, may require medicines, etc.

Why aren't more people talking about lowering the birth rate related to improving our climate?

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    • In a recent study, 96% of 27- to 45-year-olds were concerned about the well-being of their existing or future children in a climate-changed world.
      In a recent study, 96% of 27- to 45-year-olds were concerned about the well-being of their existing or future children in a climate-changed world.