Scrolling online to procrastinate sleeping, Allie Seroussi stumbled upon an article her mom’s friend shared on Facebook from a series in The New York Times Magazine called “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.”
“My entire body went cold when I read it,” she says.
The article chronicles the plight of some American scientists, activists and politicians who came close to solving climate change between 1979 and 1989. Even with an understanding of the Earth’s warming temperature and its potential consequences, the climate issue continued to fester.
Learning about these failed efforts influenced the 27-year-old from Seattle to make a decision: She doesn’t want to bring a child into a world burdened by the adverse impacts of climate change.
“I started to understand it wasn’t just trash in the ocean. It wasn’t just melting ice. It was really about a livable future,” she says. “And that was a lot for me to take in.”
Seroussi is concerned about how her future child could be impacted by the disastrous impacts of Earth’s temperature reaching two degrees of warming — so much so, she’s opting out of birthing one.
And she’s not alone. In Britain, a group called the BirthStrikers have also decided they can’t bring children into a world predicted to face wildfires, droughts and food shortages.
On why she doesn’t want to have children because of climate change
“One of the things we hear a lot about is it’s predicted that we have about a decade to switch to renewable energy to keep the effects of a changing climate manageable. And that’s terrifying to me. I’m 27 years old right now, and I’m about to go to graduate school. If I think maybe I’d want to have a baby when I’m 31 or 32, and that’s about four or five years from now, to think that kid could be five, and to know that we haven’t switched to renewables, is just heartbreaking to me.”
On how she’s picturing the future
“As I’m picturing it now, I worry that, kind of on the minor end of things, that if I had a kid … it would be hard in the summer. Maybe there would be too much smoke from wildfires — which was an issue in Seattle last summer — and then that would maybe decrease their quality of life. That’s kind of the smaller things I think about. And then I think about, what if there are wars? What if we’re fighting wars for resources? That’s really scary, and I would have to find my child shelter because of climate change.”
On if she might regret the decision to abstain from having children
“I also think that there are many ways to have a family, and it doesn’t necessarily mean having one biologically. … It could mean adopting, it could mean foster care. And I also kind of think of extended family, like extended community family. I have friends with kids. I’m on a sports team and I’m part of a great community of people on the sports team who have kids, and I don’t necessarily think that my decision is one that everyone should be making. I think it’s something that is highly personal, and that’s the choice I’ve kind of made for myself right now.”
On delivering children a future burdened by climate change
“It makes me really, really sad. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and there are so many beautiful places across the world but I am biased toward the Pacific Northwest, and going on this [cross-country road] trip has shown me the natural and cultural beauty of this country. It’s painful to think about that we could be losing a lot of that to environmental destruction and climate change.”
On that David Wallace-Wells, author of ‘The Uninhabitable Earth,’ still had children
“Even if you pull the climate crisis away and it doesn’t exist anymore, I think the decision to have children or not is one that each person, family, couple needs to make on their own. So like I said before, there are people in my life that I care about that have children. I also, just part of general altruism, care about people and children, so they do give me hope. But it’s not necessarily to say that I feel like I could have my own.”
This story originally appeared in WBUR. It is republished here as part of Maine Public’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. For more stories in the partnership, visit mainepublic.org/climatenow.