There are many fears that cross my mind when I think about having children: How will I maintain my independence? What if I’m a terrible mother? What if my relationship falls apart under the pressure of parenthood? What if we can’t afford it? What if something awful happens to them? And the list goes on…
But in recent times, another fear has lodged itself firmly in my brain and weighs increasingly heavy with each passing year: Is it fair to bring children into a world that’s on the precipice of no return?
I know that’s a bleak outlook, but I’m honestly not saying it for dramatic effect. The impact of climate change has dominated social discourse for more than two decades, and yet we couldn’t be further away from a concrete action-plan.
Most world leaders have preferred to bury their heads in the sand than confront a very real crisis on our doorstep, while others have blanket denied the existence of climate change altogether. The response has been tepid at best when we’ve needed clear-headed determination. What hope have we had?
And apparently I’m not the only woman in Australia feeling this way. My anxiety is shared by thousands.
New research from the Australian Conservation Foundation in partnership with 1 Million Women, found that a whopping 9 out of 10 Australian women are extremely concerned about the future of the planet if climate change persists without action; and this fear is impacting the likelihood of young women having children altogether.
33.4 percent of women under the age of 30 (like myself) said they were reconsidering having children or more children for this reason, while 22.4 percent of women in the age bracket of 30-39 said the same.
When asked about living children today, and the world they and future generations would inherit, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed with the statement: ‘I worry for their future and wellbeing in a world increasingly under stress from climate change’; while a minuscule 2.5 percent of respondents reported feeling ‘optimistic’ that future generations would live in a world free from pollution with humans having ‘reduced the risks of climate change’.
“Women across the country are feeling the brutal impacts of climate change right now – bushfires, floods, drought, heatwaves – and they are fed up with politicians who aren’t leading on this,” said 1 Million Women founder Natalie Isaacs.
“This survey shows women in Australia recognise climate damage, they are worried about what it is doing to our collective future and they are changing their lives in response, including their purchasing decisions, votes and even family planning.”
As we creep up to another election cycle, politicians from both sides would be wise to remember that one third of Australia’s female millennials are reconsidering having children because of climate change. The economic risks of this happening are seismic.
And if that’s not enough for them to start hitting the panic button, here’s a quick reality check: 7 out of 10 Australian women would vote for political candidates they perceive to be serious about accelerating action on climate change.
It doesn’t get more clear-cut than that.