When I was younger, I would constantly daydream about the future and what my life would look like. I thought that by the age of 25, I would be successful in my career, married to the love of my life, and starting a family. I had a timeline and thought everything would naturally fall into place. But, as with most things I thought when I was kid, that didn’t turn out the way I imagined it would.
Today I’m 24, and while I’m happy in my career, I’m nowhere near finding a boyfriend (let alone a husband), and recently began to question whether or not I want to have kids at all. Why? Because of the state of our planet. I constantly ask myself how I can feel comfortable having kids when there’s a real possibility that our planet may not be livable in 50 years. Can I look my child in the eye and say they have a bright and beautiful future when we don’t even know that ourselves because our planet is on the brink of collapse? I don’t think I can. It’s not fair to them.
I don’t want to have to worry about my children doing something simple like playing outside in the backyard because of poor air quality or worry about them having access to clean water.
When the UN recently warned that we have just 12 years to make drastic changes in our practices to avoid a total climate disaster, it terrified me and made me feel helpless. While so many people have made significant efforts over the years to diminish the seriousness of the climate emergency – whether it’s a celebrity donating millions of dollars or my small effort to use less plastic – it still doesn’t feel like enough. We’ll all have to suffer the consequences of the rising temperatures and pollution, and I don’t want my children to be born into that. Do I still want to have a family of my own? Of course. But I’m terrified.
I don’t want to have to worry about my children doing something simple like playing outside in the backyard because of poor air quality or worry about them having access to clean water. I want them to experience the excitement and simple joy about things like rain and snow, not the devastation of losing their home because of extreme weather conditions. My future children deserve the fundamental human right to live, and it’s wrong to sit back and allow those things to slip away.
We have to do more. Our generation has been the loudest at saying enough is enough, but we have to continue to make a collective effort to demand change, especially from our leaders, and hold them accountable for their lack of action. Our lives and the lives of our future children – my future children – literally depend on it.
And while my fear about bringing a child into the current world we live in is very real, I in no way think people who are having kids right now are wrong. We need those future leaders who will make a difference, and we need people who aren’t going to stop the course of their lives because of this same fear. A woman’s decision to have or not have children is deeply personal, and I can’t help but feel this way right now.
It does feel wrong and unfair that I have to base this decision on something like the climate emergency, because it shouldn’t even be a debate in the first place. The science and devastation of our ecosystem makes it clear that we need to change our ways immediately and invest in our beautiful planet. If I do bring children into the world, which is something I still often dream about, I want them to be able to experience the beauty and wonder of Earth, because we don’t have a plan(et) B.