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Author of the image: Virginia E. Patrone

June editorial- New borns and environment: the ethic of having babies on a planet facing climate crisis.

The Native Americans were thinking about how their choices and lifestyle, and in general their impact on the place they were inhabiting, would affect the seven generations of people after them. Today, due to the choices made by few generations before us, we should ask oursevels if it is ethical to bring new lifes on our planet, and not only due to the general idea of becoming a parent - that surely must be addressed - but also because the conditions of the Earth those children will inherit might be disastrous. So, the question is important to be inquired: is it still OK to have babies today? We, humans, have reached a point where one of the most natural things, procreation, must be analysed and discussed, and maybe avoided, because instead of bringing bliss and joy, it can lead to pain and sorrow.

So, if in general people should ask themselves if life is worth living before actually having a baby, among other questions — and this is called conscious parenting — now, if we aproach the topic, we should also consider the kind of future we will offer to those kids. Today, the global temperature has already risen of one degree Celsius since preindustrial time, and with this only one and in appearance almost imperceptible degree, we are already facing the rising of the sea levels, a huge loss in the wildlife and unprecedent rate of species extinction, costlier disasters, wetter hurricanes, deadly heat waves, increasing of wildfires, climate-related migrations crisis, illnesses and many more disasters. And on our current rhythm, we might reach plus four degrees Celsius within a century, creating consequences that today are for us still inconceivable.

In one article published by Vox, Meghan Kallman, the co-founder of Conceivable future (a women-led network that brings awareness to the threat that climate change poses to reproductive justice) affirms she believes that the fact our generation must questioning the right to conceive and reproduce is a political issue. I agree with her in this: she sustains that growing discussion on the topic, shouldn’t simply push concerned future parents in a direction or another — having babies or not — instead, it should rise political awareness and encourage political actions, because as Kallman asserts we will fix climate change by cutting our dependency on fossil fuel, not by pressuring people to have more or less children.

Interestingly, we are not the first generation to worry about the future of our possible babies, and thus the right to have them. For instance, the people of the black communities in the United States have always had such a concern, due to the racist society they were living in, and that they were going to rise their babies in. Also, during the Cold War, people were asking if it was right to have children, being so close to the nuclear annihilation. Today, the nuclear risk is still there, some countries are also facing the rise of fascism and nationalism as well, and, beside that, there is the climate emergency: an issue that also should seriously start to be addressed and immediately.

But, althought all those sad circumstances are true, I believe there is still hope: the terrible future we might foresee is not here yet, and we may not need to deal with all its dreadful consequences, if we act today and start changing things. We should turnaround how the world functions. And we cannot do it if we are alone, we need the decision makers in the higher places of the political hierarchy to urgently address those needs. I used to believe that individual changes could bring solutions; I have arranged my life according to my ideals, especially in regards of the environment: I am aware everything I do has an impact, so I try to eat, move, consume, work, interact having the least impact possible on the planet. But recently I’ve started to understand this is not enough. It won’t be enough. We need global political actions, policies and laws that focus on the urge that will radically change the system our world and global society is based on. We need this for us, we need this for our babies: for the ones that are already born, for the ones that will be born soon. But especially, we need those changes for all those babies that didn’t came into the world because their parents have irremediably lost their hope: because foreseeing no future is the place where a world really finishes.

Written by

Virginia Elena Patrone is an artist, an author and an illustrator born in Italy in 1985. Her web page:

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