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BirthStrike founder Blythe Pepino. (FACEBOOK/BLYTHE.PEPINO)
BirthStrike founder Blythe Pepino. (FACEBOOK/BLYTHE.PEPINO)

‘Radical acknowledgment’

Meet the young women staying childless because of climate change

By WITW Staff on March 12, 2019

As climate change becomes increasingly impossible to ignore, some women have decided that bringing children into the world at this point is a choice they’re not willing to make.

A group called BirthStrike has crystalized this reluctance. Made up of people who have pledged to forgo having children out of concern for forthcoming “climate breakdown and civilization collapse,” it has attracted 140 members in just two weeks. “I realized that even though I wanted to have a family at that point, I couldn’t really bring myself to do it,” said BirthStrike founder Blythe Pepino, a climate activist and musician, recalling telling her partner of her decision. “I had to say to him: ‘I don’t know if I can do this, considering what we know — if there isn’t a political will to fix this, we really don’t stand much of a chance.’”

The decision to not have children because of climate change is part political protest, part moral vow, and part practical calculation. Scientists warn that the planet will be a far less habitable place by the end of this century, with more severe weather, mass extinctions, and coastlines inundated by rising seas. “I’m just so terrified of what my child will be facing when they are my age,” says BirthStrike member Alice Brown, adding that she worries that children born today will eventually live “in survival mode.”

Many BirthStrikers say their decision is informed by the failure of the world’s leaders to give the problem of climate change the urgent attention it deserves. The co-author of a bill dubbed the Green New Deal, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged last month that many women feel increasingly pessimistic about the future. “It does lead young people to have a legitimate question: is it okay still to have children?” she said.

But the BirthStrike movement, said Pepino, isn’t about discouraging people from having children or judging those who do. The goal, she said, is “radical acknowledgment” of how climate change is already “altering the way we imagine our future.”

“We are hurtling towards disaster, and if I can bring awareness to the situation by sharing this personal choice that I’ve made, I’m willing to do it,” said her co-member Brown. “It is sort of desperation.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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