With a research study of 600 people, all aged 27 to 45, a whopping 96% of them said they were worried about bringing kids into a world where the devastating effects of climate change are approaching irreversible levels for future generations.
In this, the first academic study of its kind, people cite their reasons, in a world that has changed over recent decades due to global temperatures increasing and the ice caps melting, as an extreme concern for the well-being of any future kids, according to the Climate Change journal published study.
It found there were no major differences of opinion between men and women, as both appeared worried about the future, even though women made up nearly 75% of the research.
While the ideas of climate change and the issues that come with it are an issue for people, some 60% said they weren’t concerned about potential offspring’s carbon foot print.
Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, who is at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, reckons the two concerns don’t always go hand in hand: ‘The fears about the carbon footprint of having kids tended to be abstract and dry,’ he said.
‘But the fears about the lives of existing or potential children were really deep and emotional. It was often heartbreaking to pore through the responses – a lot of people really poured their hearts out,’ he revealed.
One 31-year-old woman made clear the treatment of the planet was the reason for her choice: ‘Climate change is the sole factor for me in deciding not to have biological children. I don’t want to birth children into a dying world [though] I dearly want to be a mother.’
6% of parents said they had elements of remorse for having kids, with one 40-year-old stating: ‘I regret having my kids because I am terrified that they will be facing the end of the world due to climate change.’
‘I was surprised – for parents, this is an extremely difficult statement to make,’ the researcher admitted, with many of the answers shocking him with their honesty. Perhaps one reason for the brutal honesty is because it was conducted anonymously, so any factor of in-person shaming or guilt didn’t play a role.
‘It is an unprecedented window into the way that [some people] are thinking and feeling about what many consider to be the most important decision in their lives,’ he further said about the revealing nature of people’s opinions.
Schneider-Mayerson also suggested that more and more people would begin to factor in environmental concerns when deliberating having children, as prevalent issues begin to have actual real-world impact.
Referring to global warming, he said: ‘To address this, we really need to act immediately to address the root cause, which is climate change itself.’
And out of the 400 people who offered their views for the future, the results were grim. An overwhelming 92.3% had negative views on the years ahead, while 5.6% were mixed, and a tiny 0.6% said they were optimistic.
While Schneider-Mayerson said more expansive research was needed in order to get a much better sample, as he used a majority of US-based, white, highly-educated liberals, it’s a damning insight into what people are really thinking about life in the 21st century.