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To Have or Not to Have - children in the age of climate change

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

"I am scared," said a 10-year-old son of a friend while she was putting him to bed. Moritz was scared of the future, "you will die in 40 years, and I will have this climate change to deal with." Harsh but probably right words from a 10-year old, left his mother dumbfounded.

To Have or Not to Have Children - that's the question | Meaning Quotient
To Have or Not to Have - that's the question; Photo from Canva

Moritz is from the generation of Greta, who are feeling the impact of an impending climate crisis in their lives. These emotions are also leading to another question in my age, "whether to have or not to have children." Almost every couple, more so after the introduction of contraceptives, has asked this question using social-economic-religious factors; however, with climate change, we now also have an ecological dimension to consider.

To Not Have - Ecological Dimension:

My friends who debate about not having the children mostly build their argument across the following points:

  • It took around 200,000 years to Homo-Sapiens population to come to 1 billion in 1800, and since then, we have grown exponentially. In my lifetime (born in 1979), the population has already increased by 80% from 4.3 billion to 7.7 billion in 2019. Are there enough resources to support this exponential growth?Unless and otherwise, we get our act together, we are moving towards a climate crisis.

  • Some studies even believe we have passed the tipping point. Is it right to bring new life in the world where the future looks so bleak?

  • There are around 153 million orphaned children in the world. How about making a life of someone already in this world better through, e.g., adoptions or support?

To Have - Ecological Dimension:

On the other side, the evolutionary and ecological arguments to have children also still exists. Some of them include:

  • Reproduction is one of the mammalian needs, along with survival. Why should we not do something inherently built-in nature?

  • The relation with children also generates our emotions to connect better with the broader world and the environment. What if we find nourishment and resilience to sustain our efforts through our children?

  • In the era of climate change, more people have to come together to build solutions for a better world. How about more educated children coming together to fight the battle?

We are at the juncture in the history of the time when the decisions which we take right now will have far-reaching impacts, and we all free to make the decisions based on factors that resonate with us while respecting others.

And Moritz is right in challenging us as we are also leaving a problematic legacy for him and his children (if he decides to have them). Personally, I am living with my paradox. I believe there are too many humans on the planet Earth, and I will celebrate every single life (human and non-human) which has arrived and will arrive.

Names and Gender might have been changed is this blog within auto-cosmological genre.

Deepak Bansal, a philosopher, engineer, & entrepreneur, is a founder of MQ Learning. He is passionate about integrating logic, relations, and human values for meaning driven personal and professional development.

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