Note — Jun 12, 2022

Your Kids Are Not Doomed

Ezra Klein gets asked these two questions constantly: “Should I have kids, given the climate crisis they will face?” and “should I have kids, knowing they will contribute to the climate crisis the world faces?” He makes a good argument that the answer to both is yes, but I’d like to tack on another layer. He basically says that it’s hopeful to have kids, that we can’t give into doom, and that for most people it’s going to be a hard life but worth living.

What he doesn’t mention directly is that the people who will have it very or even impossibly hard are, by and large, in the global south. So if you start advocating that the world will be too hard for kids and to stop having them, and the kids who will have it hardest are in poorer places, you’re basically back to the old ‘argument’ of overpopulation and ecofascim. Make your own decisions, obviously, but it shouldn’t be a movement, and if there’s a fight to be fought, it’s not about whether it’s going to be too hard for kids in the west, it’s to fight for decent lives for all the other kids.

The fear about the future our children will face, when voiced by well-off residents of wealthy countries, sometimes strikes me as a transference of guilt into terror. To face what we’ve done to others is unimaginable. It is easier, somehow, to imagine we have done it to ourselves. […]

“Almost all pollution is fixed by the structure of society,” Leah Stokes, a political scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told me. “The goal is to undo that structure so children can be born into a society that is not putting out carbon pollution. That’s the project.” […]

A climate movement that embraces sacrifice as its answer or even as its temperament might do more harm than good. It may accidentally sacrifice the political appeal needed to make the net-zero emissions world real.