With college being a time to think about future careers, many students may decide to have children after settling into a comfortable job and lifestyle.
However, climate change is sure to affect every person on this earth. Increased global temperatures, decreased natural resources, less nutritious food, water scarcity just names a few ills imminent in the foreseeable future. With the changing environment, students should reconsider whether they want to bring children into a stressed world.
Children require resources. Water, food, shelter as well as the fossil fuel and the emissions that feed the children. Another human body to nourish exhausts an already taxed global system. Climate change is caused by human activity, so adding more humans will only exacerbate effects of climate change.
Increased carbon emissions will make it harder to feed the population within the next few decades. More CO2 in the air causes plants to grow bigger and faster, but have less nutrients overall. Malnutrition can stunt a child’s immunity, physical and cognitive development, which can affect the child well into adulthood. To cope with decreased food nutrition, future parents must afford the cost of more food, in terms of quantity and nutritional value, or dietary supplements. All are added costs to raising a family as a result of climate change.
The increase in frequency and severity of natural disasters will no doubt physically and mentally harm future children. As we’ve seen with Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, areas within the US can be devastated by climate change induced natural disasters, destroying homes, bodies and livelihoods. While adults have more mental resilience, having an entire town destroyed will no doubt traumatize a child. After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, rates of mental illness sky-rocketed even after the area was reconstructed.
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask people to not have children, but I do think it’s important to consider the effects that bringing another human being onto the planet has. A lot of our kids will have to deal with issues that we’re just beginning to understand, and if potentially not having as many [children] means less strain on the rest of our kid’s ability to survive, then it would be something good to think about,” said Allison Krausman, an EMST and Ecology major from Kennesaw.
Students shouldn’t think about their futures in a vacuum since climate change will touch every aspect of daily life. Future children will have to live in the worsened quality of the environment, maneuvering physical and mental health in the resource-strained earth.
Young people today should work on creating a safer, more sustainable world that is capable of supporting future generations. The gift of life should not include a fractured world.