Recently The Nation featured an article about the debate around having children when the world is looking more and more like it is facing catastrophic climate change. I was so happy to learn that I was by far not the only person concerned about this phenomenon, and the article definitely gave me a level of relief that, if doing nothing to assuage my concerns, at least shows that I am not alone.
Though my struggle as a gay man is remarkably different, the article was hauntingly close to home. As the last male that can carry on my family name, there is an intrinsic pressure placed on my not just from my parents but my family at large, to have a child. And not just to have a child, but one that has our family’s genes; ensuring our family continues for another generation. And to be honest… I want that. I want to have a child, or at least one child. I want to be a father and, alongside my partner, raise a family.
Perhaps this comes from my desire to break tradition itself and be an interracial gay coulee raising children. Perhaps this desire is entirely a construct of my family’s pressure. Maybe my desire to parent comes from my love for my partner, wherein creating a family is the ultimate expression of love. Maybe I want to fit in. Maybe I just want someone to help take care of me as I age. I don’t actually know why I want to parent. There are so many forces driving my life and driving a decision to have kids that to me it is almost irrelevant. My child—regardless of their sex, gender or identity— will be loved unconditionally and eternally.
Despite this overwhelming desire to have kids I am terrified to brig a child into a world ravaged by climate change. I fear that I will be bringing into the world a life that will have struggles I cannot predict, will face challenges I cant imagine, and will have a harder life than the one I had.
I worry that our climate inaction will doom my children to a life of nomadism traveling across the country seasonal to avoid temperatures too hot or too cold. I worry about a life where horrific storms are a regular occurrence and not seen as a disaster. I worry about technological decay, the rise of supervises and a global food shortage. I worry about a war-torn world fighting not over ideals or for freedom, but for precious water and food.
This is the undeniable course our planet is on; a course not toward healing, but toward barely-mitigated disaster where the least fortunate pay the highest price while the industrialized world will sit back and slowly amass their stockpiles.
How can i knowingly bring a child into this world? If the last three generations have so ruined the environment how is it that we can expect a fourth generation to flourish? We have set fire to our homes and asked the new tenants to live in it.
At present this struggle is a largely academic one, as my partner and I do not have the financial stability into which we can bring a new member of our household. And in many respects i suppose that my partner’s desire for children is greater than my own and that he will serve as a huge catalyst in making our ultimate decision. But for me what remains to be seen, is how we as a society begin to truly combat climate change and maybe, just maybe give the next generation a fighting chance.