Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the patron saint of millennial representation, put a voice to modern-day fears back in March when she suggested that some young Americans are concerned about having children because of the threat that climate change could post to future generations.
“Our planet is going to hit disaster if we don’t turn this ship around … there’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Live. “And even if you don’t have kids, there are still children here in the world, and we have a moral obligation to leave a better world for them.”
Those thoughts were echoed again this week, this time by Prince Harry in an interview with the renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall. In the conversation for British Vogue, the Duke of Sussex said that he and Meghan would have “two maximum!” when discussing how many children the royal couple planned on having. The question came about when Harry and Goodall were talking about the environmental deterioration of the planet.
A poll by Business Insider found that nearly 30 percent of Americans agree that a couple should consider the negative and potentially life-threatening effects of climate change when deciding whether or not to have children. The same poll found that roughly 40 percent disagreed with environmental considerations when it comes to family planning, and the remainder of respondents had no opinion.
The study wasn’t perfect, it was conducted over SurveyMonkey Audience by the publication, suggesting that everyone who participated opted in of their own accord. However, it reveals some interesting trends in the thinking about climate change and living a happy life.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it revealed a correlation between age and consideration of the environment. Young people are much more likely to take climate change into account when deciding whether to have children or how many, and older Americans were less likely to agree.
Notably, almost half of respondents older than 60 said the environment should not be a factor in the decision to have kids. Of course, the over-60 population aren’t having any more kids, but are likely pressuring their own children for grandchildren.
It remains to be seen how this current trend in thinking about the population will affect us. A CDC report showed that the birth rate in the US fell to its lowest level in the last 32 years in 2018.
After Harry told Goodall his offspring would be a maximum of two, he said that he always thought the planet was “borrowed,” and that as evolved as humans are supposed to be, “we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.”