Choosing a Different Kind of Family
It has been said before but is not said nearly enough in my opinion - one of the biggest ways to reduce one's carbon footprint is to NOT have children.
If you already have children, that is of course how it is, and your children bring much joy and meaning and wonder to your life, and you wouldn't change anything for the world.
But if you are currently thinking of having children, or of having another child, please think about the world. If you really want a child or another child, you could consider adopting. My partner and I have decided not to have children.
Some would say that there will be a problem in the future when there are not enough younger people to look after us when we get old. I think that we will have voluntary euthanasia soon, and this will be seen as a personal choice for those who have lost the will to live, the ability to have any sort of functional life, or even for those who feel they have 'lived enough' and have no more desire to go on. It will appeal to people who don't want to burden the younger ones or the social security system, and I believe it will become more common and accepted very soon.
If you have children, that is a wonderful thing. You can continue educating your children about climate change, fostering in them good habits and having one or more conversations with them about their desire to bring more children into the world.
Think big. Campaign for voluntary euthanasia and talk about reducing the number of new people we bring into this world.
Of course, at the same time, I think we should invest heavily in young people's education so that we can learn how to live in a post-carbon world.
Looking globally, a lot of poorer nations (mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) will continue to have high birthrates for some time ( even though the birthrate is decreasing everywhere!) and there will be more immigration and more refugees coming to richer countries. We (I'm assuming we readers are mostly from richer countries) should welcome these people as much as we are able to, otherwise, we are ultimately turning a blind eye while they die from starvation. At the same time, we can fund programs to give better access to birth control and promote women's empowerment and education opportunities for children (particularly girls) in these countries so as to lower the birthrates there.
If we can afford to have children but choose not to, why not consider using our extra resources thoughtfully, for the greater good. We could direct money towards programs for underprivileged young people who need help to get access to better education. We could volunteer our time as a mentor or consider foster-parenting. We could help new immigrants/refugees to learn our language and get jobs, forming new friendships along the way.
These are all tough choices I know, but I think it is good to break the received wisdom that one's own DNA is the 'best' way to have a 'real' family. We can 'adopt' (either officially or unofficially) our own family of kindred spirits young and old, forming meaningful attachments, friendships, mentorships and guardianships with those who are not so-called 'flesh and blood'.
Thanks for reading, and I'd be interested to hear what you think about this.