Becoming a parent isn’t necessarily the route to happiness, fulfilment and a sense of self-worth, but plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests not having children tends to result in late-life regret and disappointment.
It’s my personal view that it’s incumbent on intelligent people to raise more than the 2.1 children required to maintain a population. This isn’t some supremacist or eugenicist argument, simply a matter of recognising an issue of basic statistical distribution; the trend across every country in the world is that, when the population becomes healthier, wealthier and more educated, they stop giving birth.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that, eventually, the trend leads to the smart genes finishing their million year journey to be replaced by the less smart genes.
Consider then, the couples who are making a conscious decision to not have children…. for the sake of the children.
“I feel so sad, it’s such a hard thing to let go of,” says Morgan, who works in logistics. “My conscience says, ‘I can’t give this child what I’ve enjoyed, I can’t give them the certainty of a future where they can be all that they can be … or have the things they should have, like breathable air and drinkable water’.”
She works in logistics. So, every day she sends goods around the country and/or world in trucks, ships and planes. If CO2 emissions are the biggest concern preventing her from starting a family, she seems to have missed a fairly large personal dichotomy staring her in the face during office hours, Monday through Friday…..
Morgan is feeling “pretty damn certain” a baby is off the cards, even though she fears she might regret it. She has at least two close friends in their early 30s, with good partners, who have made the same decision.
Her partner Adam, who works in web development, agrees. “I have a lot of love to give and would love to raise a child … but it doesn’t feel justifiable. The world is heading blindfolded towards catastrophe.”
“Partner”. So, not “husband”? Ok, one doesn’t need to be married to have children, we’re not stuck in some 1950s morality cliché, but it may be an indicator of the level of commitment they have towards each other.
But wait, there’s another anectdata:
In Mackay in Queensland, community organiser Emma, 32, says she and her partner Mick, 33, were planning to start trying for a family next year but changed their minds after the federal election.
“After the LNP won – with no climate plan – we cried and agreed that the dream of a family wouldn’t be for us,” Emma says. “It’s a terrifying thought for us that the world will be uninhabitable in a few decades if we continue charging ahead with fossil fuels and approving coal mines like Adani.”
Hmm. That sounds sane and rational.
Given that Federal elections happen every three years in Australia and the post of Prime Minister is a job decided by random Jury Service ballot, Emma and Mick may only have to wait to their 35th and 36th birthdays, respectively, to change their minds. Of course, that might be a little too late for Emma, but here’s hoping.
If I were in my early thirties and wasn’t quite sure whether I’d like to start a family with the woman I’m living with, climate change would seem like a brilliantly-convenient excuse.
Of course, should I find myself single a couple of years later, there’s a good chance I’ll still be capable of fathering a child with a new, younger model whilst my ex will be alternatively browsing the FAQ and pricing pages of fertility clinics and cat rescue charities.
The choices these couples are making seem rational… if the underlying assumption that the world is doomed is 100% accurate. To their credit, they are being internally consistent with the actions they are taking.
Big decisions based on assumptions are always worth constant checking though. What if your assumptions of either the problem and solution are wrong? Even by a few percent?