Consume, Reproduce, Obey

Consume, Reproduce, Obey. I used to have a little poster that said that, when I was a teenager. It came to mind but it’s not exactly what I am writing about… though not unrelated….

Seems like more and more people I know in the climate-aware world are taking the climate change future as a factor in the decision whether or not to have children.

For some it’s a matter of “footprint,” knowing that no matter how in the rich world we struggle to reduce it, our kids (especially because we can’t fully control them) are going to consume and grow up to consume and possibly reproduce… Part of the question is whether we have children for our own needs and vanity, and if so, then they are tagged onto our footprint…

Other friends are questioning what kind of world we would be bringing children to grow up into. Past generations have asked this as well, but somehow the future as we see it now seems magnified in its dire multiplications of what can go wrong.

At least four friends have expressed these dilemmas to me in various ways, and I wonder if it is out there at large as a personal question certain people are asking. Of course there’s still plenty of reproduction, including among friends, a surprising number of whom have had three children, which seems a true act of faith as it’s more than the replacement of parents in numbers (in the nuclear family context).

When friends ask I have no answers, only questions. I wouldn’t have any more kids but I don’t want any more– though I would open our family to other children if the situation were right somehow (but not just yet). I am trying to raise the kids I have relatively low-consumption but of course my daughter fantasizes about Primark and I know they will want to travel, want things life in the rich world brings…

It sends shivers down me when they talk, as ordinary children do, of growing up to be parents themselves, to have children, because it’s precisely that time frame, twenty years hence say, when the shit might really hit the fan. I don’t assume I will have grandchildren. I do assume the question of whether to have kids will be incredibly alive for my own children.

There’s a preciousness to babies and children, to new and young life and its innocence and purity and its lack of responsibility. One so wants everything beautiful and perfect for one’s children, for all children. And it’s just upsetting and dark, knowing they are not going to get that, or sure get a lot less of it than might have been…

PS — Am going to start a little, easy practice– copying down climate disaster headline on days when I blog. Yes, yes, I know, no single weather event can be attributed to the changing climate, and yes yes there have always been deadly floods, etc. But at some point (and SOON) we need to stop being cautious and start telling it like it is. If this were a war, casualty headlines would be heeded, and this does feel like a war, just one we just probably cannot win– “At least 124 now confirmed dead in floods in El Salvador.”


4 Responses to “Consume, Reproduce, Obey”

  1. nicola baird Says:

    Hello Annie, your logo board entry was fascinating and I’ve been wiating for replies forever. However you might enjoy the cerebal qualities in this book about “Radical Consumption” by Jo Littler, a very good writer (and mum of a young child). You can read a test chapter too on that particular link.

  2. Paul Mason Says:

    These are all difficult questions to answer. On a personal level it cannot but confuse those of us who are truly concerned with the data that we face. May I share this post with you:

  3. Al Chisholm Says:

    The questions of footprint and of the kind of world our kids are likely to have to cope with are huge ones. A third issue is my sense of the urgent need to campaign on climate change and the challenge of finding ways to combine activism with parenting a baby. I haven’t found a way to do both things simultaneously and well. Any inspiring stories out there??

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