Parenting in the Face of Ecological Collapse

I’ll be honest. I sometimes wish that I had been born in an earlier generation so that the imminent ecological collapse and extinction of humanity would happen well after I died of old age. But when I think about it, I realize that’s not what I really want. If I do not have an early death (such as by being hit by a car later this afternoon), I will live long enough to know whether humanity will get its act together and create a world where human beings can continue for generations into the future, or whether we are doomed by our own short-term thinking. Even if ecologically collapse means I will die under the age of 60, I think I would rather die knowing the answer than having a life of over 100 years worrying about succeeding generations.

Since I think there is a significant threat than the global ecosystem (and human civilization with it) will utterly collapse within my lifetime, why am I still interested in have a child? First of all, while I recognize that overpopulation is a major problem, the difference between me having one child and me having no children will not have a significant impact on the environment, so that’s not the issue I’m thinking about. If even my own life might be cut short by ecological destruction, the life of any child I might have would be even shorter. Why bother?

However, even if I am fated to die this afternoon, I do not regret having lived. I would really like to live to a ripe old age, and I would die with regrets if I did die today … but if my only two choices were dying this afternoon, and never having lived, I would choose to die this afternoon. Given a choice between only living to the age of 10, and never having lived, I would also choose to die at the age of ten. And so forth.

I want to have a child who will live happily for a hundred years … but even if that’s not possible, I do not want to not have a child just because I am very worried about the future.

And I want human society to get its act together and stop ecological overshoot before its too late. That means pushing governments to stop carbon emissions, stop the depletion of topsoil, stop the poisoning of the water, and to stop destroying the resources upon which our live depend.


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