KEY POINTS

  • First-of-a-kind study finds links between parenting and climate change
  • A small percentage of parents surveyed said they were worried about their kid’s future
  • The study was published in the journal “Climatic Change”

The first peer-reviewed study of its kind found growing apprehension among U.S. adults to having children because of concerns about the impact on climate change.

A study published in the journal “Climatic Change” detailed the results of a survey of 607 people between the ages of 27 and 45 on the views of procreation. The study found that the majority (59.8%,) told surveyors they were either “very” or “extremely concerned” about the impact on the environment from having children.

Nearly all respondents (96.5%) said the same about existing, expected or “hypothetical” children in an era when the impacts of climate change are becoming more and more obvious.

“This was largely due to an overwhelmingly negative expectation of the future with climate change,” according to authors Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Kit Ling Leong, both scholars at Yale-NSU college in Singapore.

While the November study may be the first peer-reviewed article dealing explicitly with the desire to have children, it’s not the first to deal with the carbon footprint of a growing population. A 2010 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that slowing the rate of population growth could contribute to as much as 29% of the reduction in emissions needed to avert the disastrous impacts of climate change.

Schneider-Mayerson said respondents expressed deeply emotional feelings about the carbon impact of existing or potential children.

“It was often heartbreaking to pore through the responses – a lot of people really poured their hearts out,” he said.

The study quoted a 31-year-old woman as saying she did not want a child born “into a dying world.” A 40-year-old mother said she regretted having kids out of fear they may “be facing the end of the world due to climate change.”

The study found about 6% of those surveyed expressed results similar to hers.

“I was surprised – for parents, this is an extremely difficult statement to make,” said Schneider-Mayerson.

Apart from the survey, groups like BirthStrikers are advocating against having children out of concern for the impact it would have on the climate.

The medical journal Lancet — its fifth annual report on the links between climate and health was published Tuesday — found the deadly mix of extreme heat, air pollution and intense farming are combining to produce the "worst outlook for public health our generation has seen."

Former US secretary of state John Kerry signs the Paris climate accord at the UN building in New York, with his granddaughter Isabel Dobbs-Higginson seated on his knee Former US secretary of state John Kerry signs the Paris climate accord at the UN building in New York, with his granddaughter Isabel Dobbs-Higginson seated on his knee Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT