Q. Dear Umbra:
How can I possibly raise a kid with all of this *gestures to everything burning, flooding, and exploding across the world* going on?
— Having Escalated Longing to Procreate
A. Dear HELP,
This is an Umbra question I can’t answer alone.
I very much want a child of my own someday -- the operative word being “someday” -- but I have no earthly idea how to raise a kid in any context, let alone in a never-ending nightmare news cycle. Despite my hardest work to be upbeat and hopeful about the future for you all, I’m not some delusional Tinkerbell-Pollyanna hybrid. I read the news too, it makes me feel just as horrified as you, and I don’t always have an idea for how to deal with it.
So I asked my clever and kind editor, Teresa Chin, a mother of soon-to-be-two, to help me answer this.
Teresa: Being a parent does come with at least some degree of climate guilt. There was that big study from a couple of years ago that suggested that the most significant decision in determining your carbon footprint is how many kids you have. The authors calculated that one child adds about 60 tons of CO2 to your footprint per year. I think of my carbon footprint the same way many new college grads probably feel about student loans. Like, “Oh crap, how am I ever going to repay this?”
That being said, I feel like becoming a mom has given me greater empathy for others, and I’m invested in the future of the planet in a different way than before. So if anything, it’s given me a reason to work harder to make sure we take climate action before it’s too late.