does climate change put you off having children

Does Climate Change Put You Off Having Children?

does climate change put you off having children

I’m curious, does the threat of climate change put you off having children?

As you may know, I have two children, so obviously the threat of the climate change hasn’t personally put me off having kids, but I’m wondering if it has put you off?

As environmentalists ourselves, my partner and I do worry about what the future holds.  We are keen to teach our kids about good environmental stewardship, such as the need for composting, recycling, reducing our plastic consumption, not using the car when we don’t need to, and other things that help the environment.   We’re also keen to teach them key skills, such as learning to grow your own food.

Where our worry has led us down the teaching route, this worry about the future has led to some people abstaining from having kids all together.  I came across this article from 2016 in Vice (there is some bad language there, in case you are offended), where Harriet Spark says her “reasoning for abstaining from having children is two-fold: She does not want to contribute to pre-existing resource depletion by adding another human to this planet, and she does not want to bring a child into a world she sees as doomed”.

It sounds dramatic, but I’m just being realistic,” said Spark. “The way we live currently simply cannot sustain more people“.

I also came across this one from NPR (no bad language in there!) that asks if environmentalists should have kids, and provocatively says “maybe we should protect our kids by not having them“.  The article also references an American non-profit called Conceivable Future, which is founded on the notion that “the climate crisis is a reproductive crisis“.

Some other people say one of the answers to climate change is to have fewer children.   The article from Slate proposes  to “cut the birth rate to one child per couple, for a few generations at least. The population would dwindle by about 5 billion people over the next century, he says, ensuring the habitability of the Earth for the 1.6 billion who remained“.

There’s obviously lots to think about here for a Thursday afternoon, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And if you are child free, or have decided on one kid only, is climate change your main reason?

I’m also making some changes to the Moral Fibres mailing list! If you’d like to receive a fortnightly email with all the content from the site, and exclusive news and content then do sign up below!

Subscribe to the Moral Fibres mailing list

* indicates required


  1. Hi Wendy,
    I want to comment, because I think this is a really important question to raise. Unfortunately, I am struggling to put my thoughts into words. Here goes a try…
    – We stopped at one. Not only for environmental reasons related to overpopulation, but they played a big part.
    – I think a lot of people don’t even consider stopping at one because there is such an expectation in this country that you will have two or more. I wish more was done to normalise this, remove the negativity around “only” children etc.
    – When we started trying 10ish years ago, I think both we and the media held a much more positive view of our near future (environmentally, politically etc). If things had looked as bleak then as they do now we may well not have had children.
    – Discussing this honestly with other people is so hard! It feels judgmental of their choices where so often I am simply in awe of their optimism…

    Looking forward to reading some other opinions!

    • I hear that. I’ve noticed a lot of people have their heads in the sand about the future of our planet. I see optimism in some people, but also a lack of thought about the future and what it might mean for our children. I think the two are related: optimism through ignorance/naïveté/the convenience of not thinking deeply.

  2. I think this is a really interesting topic. I don’t have a child but I do want one – and at a point in my life I did think I didn’t want kids because I didn’t want to bring anyone into a doomed world. So, I completely get what Harriet is saying. As I got older, I realised that’s probably even more of a reason to try and fix the mess we’ve made, so we can provide a safer world for the future.

  3. This topic hits home for me. My husband and I are hoping to start a family. I advocated for adopting when we first started talking about it. My feeling is that there are too many people on the planet, the health of the planet is declining, and there are existing children who need a family. My husband feels that he wants to have his own kids (he promised his grandpa…) and isn’t sure that he’d want to take on the challenges of adoption. So, that leaves us with having our own. I want a family and would be happy to have our own kids, but in the grand scheme, I’m not sure how responsible that would be. And, I can’t help but think that we could have provided existing children in need with a safe, loving household.

  4. As a little girl I dreamed about starting a family and having kids. I don’t anymore and this is due to many reasons. At some point there were mostly environmental, later social and personal matters became additional factors. I don’t think I will ever change my mind about this. However, I think people should always have a choice and not be pressured into having/not having children. Parenting is certainly not for everyone. The world certainly lacks in education (including sex-ed and means of contraception) and it will be a long time until we reach development levels in many countries for people to have that choice.. (and for people not to have kids by accident..) If only all people who have kids could provide them with happy childhoods giving them an upbringing which would make them responsible humans. Through educating and giving them abilities to shape a sustainable future new generations we can make the world a better place. It makes me happy to read how you bring up your children, and the world definitely needs more parents like you. Well done!

  5. I always thought, whilst not being particularly fond of children, that I’d grow up and want them and have a family. However, the older I get the more I don’t want children (now 25). As I’ve become an environmentalist as I’ve got older, environmental reasons definitely have a huge role to play in that decision. I think there’s too many people in the world and many of them are suffering because of that, as well as our planet suffering. But I think because I don’t have a liking for children in the first place it makes it very easy for me to make that decision to not have them. Especially as my boyfriend doesn’t want them either. I imagine if I really really wanted children, as so many people do, environmental reasons probably wouldn’t stop me. Like I am desperate to have a dog one day and nothing will sway me from that! It’s very complex subject, I wish it wasn’t so taboo to talk about controlling population (as in limiting children we have).

    I think everyone who does have children should try to stick to one, or at most two (to replace the parents) because our planet seriously cannot cope.

  6. What a great question. As a fellow environmentalist and also mother of two children, I have asked myself this question many times. Why did I choose to have kids when this planet is already overcrowded and possibly doomed? Well, I grew up always wanting kids and my husband wanted them as well (and if possible wanted his own rather than adopted). This strong pull to have our own children and start a family thus outweighed the potential consequences and realities. I would even consider having a third, as I loved having two siblings and feel there is a child I’ve yet to meet, but my husband is a twin and happy with two. His philosophy is: 2 out 2 in. It could be rationalising after the fact, but my view on it now is: we do need more eco-minded people to help solve the crucial issues facing our planet and, like you, we are teaching our children to be as eco-conscious as we can and to be involved in local action groups. The birth rate is, I believe, falling in many western countries, although I suppose it’s made up for in other parts of the world where it’s rising. Ultimately, however, that primeval urge to have children overcame the potential negatives – it’s startling how all-consuming/blinding/powerful that urge can be.

  7. It’s a topic I’m wrestling with a lot. We have one child, and I’m going round and round in circles about having another. And it’s mostly around the fact that there are too many of us already for this planet’s finite resources. Sometimes it’s seems like a crazy idea to bring another little human into the world, but then I think we need all the creative thinking we can get to get us out of this mess. But that might be me just trying to justify it. I haven’t got an answer – argh!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *