Australia’s fertility rate is falling.
Concern about climate change is one of the many reasons people choose to have fewer children, if at all.
Experts say fewer babies born can have a positive impact on the environment, although there are negative implications associated with rapidly aging populations.
While some people are determined to go childless to reduce their carbon footprint, there are those who say having children is a statement of hope.
We spoke to two people whose concerns about the future of the planet influenced their decision whether or not to have children.
Jonathan: free child by choice
While Jonathan (who asked us not to release his surname for privacy reasons) never felt the “strong biological need” to have children, it was environmental concerns that really cemented his decision. to remain childless.
“Environmentally, I am very aware of the devastating trajectory we are already on due to climate change and global warming and even in my late twenties and early thirties I had decided that the most impactful decision I could make about reducing my own carbon footprint was not having children,” the 39-year-old from Brisbane explains.
The latest Climate of the Nation report shows that Australians are increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change, with 75% of respondents being concerned about its impact.
This number is even higher—84%—among 25- to 34-year-olds.
Jonathan, who works in human resources, says that while it’s easy to get into “argy-bargy” about corporate responsibility versus individual responsibility for reducing emissions, he’s also worried about the future of any hypothetical child.
He says that’s mostly because recent reports show that reaching net zero emissions by 2050 is seen as “unrealistic”.
“We’re going to continue to see the trends we’ve seen; increased natural disasters, fires, floods, sea level rise – the works.
“What kind of world would this child enter?” »
Although for different reasons, Jonathan’s partner is also child-free by choice, which made the decision a little easier.
In some previous relationships, this has been a source of conflict, but it was then that Jonathan was able to confirm his position on not having children.
“Going through this process, having these conversations, taking the time to critically assess why I felt this way, what my main concerns were – it really crystallized for me.”
Although there are childless people who openly admit they don’t like kids, Jonathan says he still loves the kids in his life – to some degree.
“I have two wonderful nephews, and other close friends and family have kids I spend time with and adore, but at the end of the day – or usually much earlier in the day than that – I’m more than happy to return them.”
Although he does not plan to have children, he would still like to help future generations fight against climate change.
“I hope that through interactions I can influence [my nephews and friends’ kids] grow up to be… young people who really care about the environment and society.”
Emma Barnett-Johnson: mother of one child
Environmental scientist Emma Barnett-Johnson has spent years studying the climate and says the rate at which we are experiencing change is “alarming”.
“We are currently seeing an unprecedented number of natural disasters, which we know have ongoing consequences beyond the climate itself,” said the 31-year-old from Townsville.
“There are huge financial impacts and impacts on food production, people being displaced, injured or worse, we are seeing an increase in disease and entire species lost.”
What is even more concerning for Emma is the attitude of the “general public and politics”, where she says such concerns are widely dismissed.
Emma’s thoughts on global warming mean the decision to have a baby wasn’t easy for her.
“My biggest fear of having kids was not wanting to leave them in a world where the climate is increasingly unstable and governments don’t want to act on it,” said Emma, Finn’s mum. , 17 months.
But eventually, her desire to raise her own children “tamed” her fears for the future.
Emma says she is lucky to teach her children about climate issues, so they can grow into adults who will be part of the solution.
She hopes to raise children “who will engage in education and science, engage in environmentally responsible behavior and appreciate our natural world” and expect continued action to protect it.
Emma says she has a lot of admiration for people who don’t want to have children, including those who care about the environment.
“It’s a selfless act. Overpopulation will eventually cripple us, it’s unsustainable in the long run.”
Where Emma finds the most hope as a mother is knowing that the younger generations are more informed and action-oriented.
“By continuing to have these discussions and focusing on science, the children born now and in the future will do better and more than the generations that came before them.”
ABC Everyday in your inbox
Get our newsletter for the best of ABC Everyday every week
Job , updated
#selfless #act #climate #change #impact #decision #children #ABC #Everyday