Not having children might be the most ethical choice

Clara Kelly

US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave voice to concern surrounding giving birth and climate change recently, pointing to the increasingly dire widespread government inaction as well as a scientific consensus on the issue. 

“It does lead young people to have a legitimate question: is it OK still to have children,” she asked, and maybe we should be asking the same question.

Cortez’s question is a realistic one, the issue of climate change posed with governments unwillingness to offer a reasonable solution, means we must now ask, is it feasible to bring new life into an already crumbling world? For a lot of us, the answer might just be no.

BirthStrike is a movement of women usually in climate change circles who believe that there is a moral responsibility to pause the pursuit of starting a family until life on this planet is bettered.

The movement is distinct from the anti-natalist movement, which says that having children is morally wrong because sentient life is so awful.

The aim of the BirthStrikers is not to discourage people from having children, or to condemn those who already have, but to communicate the urgency of the crisis we now face.

It is an acknowledgment of the threat that human existence and future generations will face, a pressing one at that.

Opting out of family life on the premise of climate change issues may seem like a radical step for some, but in reality, it might be an ethical choice.

When we look at past generations, there is no denying that this particular issue was less of a concern. Yes, there was always an ethical question of bringing children into a time of war, famine, or poverty many times in the past, but never before did young people have to ask the question: will the human race survive long enough?

When we look at the data which suggests that parts of Ireland may be completely underwater in the next couple of years, and the rapid decline of our natural resources, we have to ask: is it fair to bring a child into a rapidly decaying planet to deal with our mess? Combine this question with the problem of overpopulation, and it becomes difficult to think of choosing parenthood in 2020 as an ethical choice.

Some people will have natural parental urges. Maternal and paternal people may find it hard to not think of parenthood in a selfish sense of simply wanting to start a family, however, we can’t always put ourselves first.

The fact of the matter is, if we want to be parents, we must also want to create change, lobby governments about climate issues and make sure this planet is a positive and viable option for our future children, however, idyllic that may seem.

At the end of the day when it comes to parenthood, the choice is yours, and the choice is deeply personal, but there is no doubt that for this generation, we might just have to start asking ourselves if we have a moral responsibility to simply adopt instead.

By Clara Kelly

Image: Wikimedia