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Good Housekeeping: Don’t Have Kids, Because Climate Change

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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Gone are the days when Good Housekeeping just told readers how to make a baby bonnet or decorate a nursery.

The Biggest Thing Holding Me Back From Having Kids Is Climate Change

My husband and I struggle with the impact having kids would have on the planet. 


Growing up, having kids someday felt like a foregone conclusion. My family and I never really talked about it; everyone just assumed I’d follow suit. As I got older, most of my friends started pairing off and starting families, and shortly before we got married, my husband Nick’s brother and sister-in-law did, too. 

After we tied the knot, Nick bought two books on deciding when to have kids, placing them prominently on the coffee table in our newly-purchased home. But something shifted for me around that time. When the decision felt mostly theoretical, I looked at kids the same way I did any other milestone: just another box I was expected to check along the path toward adulthood. But once it became a real possibility, I began to take stock of my place in the world and my responsibility to it.

As Nick and I talked about it, what we realized tipped our personal scales in the opposite direction of we expected. I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about kids, whereas Nick dotes on his nieces and used to think he’d give them cousins someday. On the one hand, children would add another dimension to our little family. On the other, it felt pretty complete already. 

Plus, I’ve always been a worrier, with my anxious brain given to fixating on the worst-case scenario. As a kid, my worries were fairly pedestrian: my house could burn down, my parents could die or I might. As an adult, the scope of my concern has expanded to include not just the well-being of my own loved ones, but everyone inhabiting our rapidly warming planet. As we discussed having kids, Nick and I looked around at our overcrowded world and didn’t see a compelling argument to add to the population. Even more so, we worried about the kind of world they’d inherit, which will almost certainly look far different than the one we grew up in.

For many people like me, composting and driving a Prius no longer feels like enough. A 2018 Gallup analysis reported that 70% of adults aged 18-34 said they worried about global warming, compared to 56% of adults aged 55 or older. A recent BBC survey of people ages 8-16 found that nearly three-quarters reported being deeply worried about the state of the planet. 

Climate change is also impossible to untangle from other social issues related to raising a family. “We want to make the world safer for everyone,” says Kallman. “The right to control the pacing of your children, the health of your communities and a comprehensive view of what makes up a community that’s free of domestic violence, has access to safe food, safe schools, where police violence is not a threat.” By banding together to hold elected officials accountable, we can all make meaningful change that goes beyond our own doorsteps. 

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My first impulse was to make a joke about at least they are removing themselves from the gene pool, but there is something so desperately sad about author Lizz and her husband Nick that I don’t feel like joking.

Nick at least really wanted kids initially, he “bought two books on deciding when to have kids, placing them prominently on the coffee table “. But somehow, they talked themselves out of doing the one thing we are meant to do in life.

I don’t buy that it is actual climate anxiety driving these decisions.

People in poor countries where life is perilous, where people have short average lifespans usually try to have more kids than anyone else. The exact reason is controversial, a lot of people argue the issue is lack of education, women’s rights and access to birth control, but I personally believe the explanation is much simpler – death is an aphrodisiac. If you see death all around you, or have repeated near death experiences, our instincts kick in and try to preserve the species.

What is missing from the lives of people who claim to experience climate anxiety is an actual reason to be anxious. It’s all kind of dry and intellectual, missing the raw panic which might in other circumstances have produced very different reproductive decisions.

What I think we are seeing is the workings of the climate cult, a belief system in which people who lead generally comfortable lives see having kids as a sin.

This is having happened many times in the past, for example the 1700s Shaker movement also thought procreation was a sin.

History of the Shakers


The Protestant Reformation and technological advances led to new Christian sects outside of the Catholic Church and mainstream Protestant denominations into the 17th and 18th centuries. The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, was a Protestant sect founded in England in 1747. The French Camisards and the Quakers, two Protestant denominations, both contributed to the formation of Shaker beliefs.

Ann Lee was born the daughter of a blacksmith in Manchester in 1736. She worked in a cotton factory, and in 1762 she married blacksmith Abraham Standerin. They had four children, all of whom died in childhood. Ann joined the Shakers in 1758, and 12 years later had “a special manifestation of Divine light.” After this experience she became the leader of the Shakers. In 1774 she received a revelation directing her to establish a Shaker Church in America. Ann Lee, her husband, and seven members set sail for America on May 10, 1774. By late 1776 she and some followers were located northwest of Albany, New York, by which point she and her husband had separated. She gathered followers in New York until her death in 1784.

Shaker Beliefs

The Shakers practiced communal living, where all property was shared. They didn’t believe in procreation, and therefore had to adopt children and recruit converts into their community. For those that were adopted, they were given a choice to either stay within the community or leave when they turned 21.

Like the Quakers, the Shakers were pacifists who had advanced notions of gender and racial equality. The Shakers believed in opportunities for intellectual and artistic development within the Society. Simplicity in dress, speech, and manner were encouraged, as was living in rural colonies away from the corrupting influences of the cities. Like other Utopian societies founded in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Shakers believed it was possible to form a more perfect society upon earth.

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The Shakers still exist, though they have all but died out.

But I can’t help wondering how many wonderful additional people there might have been in the world, if Shaker founder Ann Lee didn’t have such a sad experience, seeing all four of her children die.

What the shakers did, what greens are doing today, it’s like watching some prolific serial killer sweeping through the people of the world, killing all the millions of babies and children and adults and grandparents who might have been, removing all that joy and happiness from the world.

Who knows how many Einsteins or Newtons or Mozarts or Picassos or Ghandis might have been, how many people there could have been who might have transformed the world, except then and now, thanks to belief systems which discourage procreation, all these wonderful people will never have the opportunity to be born?

I hope you find a way past this climate anxiety Lizz Schumer, before it is too late. Having children is a stressful, life changing decision, but there is no joy which compares to the joy of bringing a new little person into the world, to share the love of you and your family, and watching them grow up and bring joy and happiness and love to all the people whose lives they touch.

via Watts Up With That?

January 26, 2022

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