|I love and want to protect my child, so I don’t want her to have to live in a crowded and polluted future filled with billions more people, many of whom never got what they needed to really grow up and work well with others. When can I say that out loud? |
As a mother of one child, I think about the future a lot. What will her environment be like? What will the people with whom she shares the world be like? Will she be safe? Our society isn’t equipped to provide each child a fair start from the very first days of life, and we know that whether a child gets the education love, care, and attention he or she needs in the first three years of life can determine how they interact with others for the rest of their lives.
And the truth is, her future most depends on one factor, more than any other: family planning. A family choosing today to have one additional child can exacerbate the climate crisis by 20 times that of other choices, such as those around diet or transportation. Beyond that, overpopulation is one of the key drivers of pandemics.
Several studies show that small changes in average fertility rates will have massive impacts on population growth and that smaller families are the best way to confront climate change and other related environmental crises. By 2100, world population could vary by billions of people depending on whether the average woman in the world has one child more or fewer in the near future. Nothing will matter as much for my kid’s future as the people with whom he will share this world. Who we are matters most of all.
Yes, immediate threats are distracting, but success comes in focusing on what’s important and what’s urgent and from being more proactive than reactive. I can try everything possible within the bubble of our family to ready my child – and all those efforts will go to waste, depending upon what other parents do. Yet I have to write this post under the pen-name Kelly, because calling for family planning laws that ensure parents are ready before they have kids geared toward alleviating the societal ills bred by income inequality or that support smaller and more sustainable families, is taboo. I actually fear I would be condemned by friends and family, and that my business would be threatened. This is the taboo we need to break.
My child deserves a better future than the one she is on track to get, and the way to break off that track starts with a family planning system whereby we take the resources from the rich to level the playing field for the children of the poor, incentivizing smaller and sustainable families for everyone along the way. That is truly fundamental change.