- Some people wonder if they should have children because of the climate crisis.
- More than half of respondents in a recent poll said environmental concerns had caused them to reconsider having children.
Amanda Opuszynski, 35, is trying to get pregnant with her first child. But amid the excitement and frustrations of trying to conceive, she is faced with another concern: a deep worry about how the climate crisis will affect the world in which her child will grow up. Sometimes Opuszynski even wonders if having a baby is the right choice.
“It’s really scary to imagine how things could be, the general uncertainty of it all,” she told Insider. “I try to weigh that fear against hope.”
Opuszynski is not alone. Last year, climate-related disasters have reached recording levelswith Forest fires, hurricanes and heat waves causing billions of dollars in damage. This global turmoil is affecting families on the most personal level.
In a survey out of 2,800 people, more than half of respondents said they plan to have children or have more because of climate concerns. Others – around 26% – said they were considering adoption instead of having biological children due to climate concerns.
Bailey, 27, is among those who have changed their family planning due to climate concerns. She asked to be called by her first name to protect her privacy.
“I’m ok with being a dog mom, but if my partner really wanted to have kids, I would consider adoption,” she said.
A tense conversation
Family planning choices are always difficult, but even more so when family members have different views on the climate emergency and the importance of preparing for a bleak future.
Bailey’s mom just can’t understand her daughter’s decisions: the big ones, like not having kids, and the little ones, like her insistence on recycling and eating vegan.
“It took me a long time to accept that my values didn’t really align with my family,” she said.
For Opuszynski, friction is even closer to home. Her husband, Daniel, has two biological sons from a previous marriage. He would rather have no more children because he is deeply concerned about providing for his children in a world of fewer resources and more instability.
“He fears a lot that he won’t be able to protect them or provide them with basic resources when things are going badly,” Opuszynski said.
Daniel is more open to adoption, but Opuszynski has a strong desire to have a biological child. She’s been thinking a lot about the reason for this lately.
“Do I want this because I’m a woman and it’s socially ingrained in me that you’re not a complete woman until you’re a biological mother?” she says.
A more common concern
When Opuszynski got married more than two years ago, his friends thought Daniel was extremely concerned about the environment and the influence they had on his family planning.
“Now I find they are much more responsive,” Opuszynski said. “I’ve had friends who put off having kids for similar reasons.”
Bailey said she believes the more people learn about the climate crisis, the more it will weigh on big life decisions.
“If my mother had been exposed to more resources to learn more about environmental concerns, she would have chosen a different path for us,” she said.
Opuszynski’s mother insists that every generation has its challenges, be it war, famine or social change. People kept having babies regardless, she says.
“I can see both sides,” Opuszynski said. “I feel a bit stuck in the middle.”
An uncertain future
Parents never know what the future holds, but the climate crisis makes that feeling all the more acute for people like Opuszynski.
“We have no idea what world this child will grow up in,” she said. “Not knowing how things are going to turn out makes it very difficult to make a decision that you can’t undo. I mourn the loss of simplicity.”
She can see a future where there are severe restrictions on resources and she regrets having a dependent child, but she can also see one where people are working on solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change and she regrets do not have a baby.
For Bailey, the answer is clearer.
“There are too many things beyond my control to ensure my children have a peaceful and healthy planet to grow up on,” she said.