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Choosing Not To Have Children Because Of Climate Change

New research finds people may choose not to have children because they do not want to contribute to climate change.

“No future, no kids–no kids, no future? An exploration of motivations to remain childfree in times of climate change”, was co-authored by Lincoln University’s Samantha K. White, Dr Joya A Kemper from the University of Auckland, and the University of Arizona’s Dr Sabrina Helm.

Two studies were conducted: the first a content analysis of reader comments on articles discussing going childfree in response to climate change, and in the second semi-structured interviews were conducted in New Zealand and the USA with people between 19 and 35-years-old.

“I would say the majority of the interview participants at least said they were not going to have kids, or they were going to look at adoption instead,” Samantha said.

“Some people were going to limit how many they were going to have but still felt guilty about potentially bringing them into a world that is “doomed”.

“We found that many young people in our study were experiencing anxiety about what the future would look like as a result of climate change, which led them to questioning whether having kids or not was the right thing to do.”

She said the concerns about having children were two-fold.

“Having children was recognised to contribute to climate change through increased emissions and consumption of resources, further exacerbating resource scarcity and environmental degradation. Participants also expressed guilt from potentially subjecting their children and future generations to a world vastly different to the one they have enjoyed themselves.”

The results had wider implications.

“From our own research, and other studies, it is evident that many people are experiencing severe impacts on their mental health as a result of climate change concerns.”

She said the fact that people are now considering climate change in their decision about whether or not to have kids, a decision not taken lightly by many people, makes it clear that climate change has much broader effects “beyond just changes in weather and the environment”.

“It is clear that many young people in our study are frustrated and resentful at having to consider forgoing having children largely due to perceived government inaction and lack of systemic change in relation to climate issues.”

She added greater action was needed not only to mitigate further contributions to climate change, but also to address the already realised impacts, including those on public mental health.

“No future, no kids–no kids, no future? An exploration of motivations to remain childfree in times of climate change”, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11111-021-00379-5

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