#nofuturenochildren: the youth aren't kidding
What do you tell your unborn child? That he/she is not welcome into the world? Forget gender divides; both boys and girls are unwelcomed. Hold on — how do you decide not to have children, when you (too!) are a child? You have a conversation with yourself about the surroundings and look to the adults for help. In the event of the latter failing to provide, the decision is not a tough one to reach.
He’ll have to wear a mask to breathe. She’ll not be able to swim in blue waters. He’ll not be able to skate on the pond. They’ll not be able to see how leaves change colours, what clean water tastes like and how clouds form.
Why would anyone want to bring children into a world where you can’t keep them safe? You introspect and rope in your peers as well.
When the girl of the hour, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, was telling world leaders, “How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood,” and ruling our social media timelines and living room discussions, another young activist, along with 1,000 teenagers and young adults, was pledging to hold off having kids until governments around the world take action.
Meet 18-year-old Emma Lim, a student at McGill University, Montreal. Her recently-launched initiative, #NoFutureNoChildren, is one that states that she and her counterparts are putting off having children until governments take climate change more seriously.
Lim, who’s always loved kids (she took up summer jobs as a nanny), says she changed her mind on motherhood when she read a 2018 United Nations report that detailed the consequences of global temperatures rising 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius from 19th-century levels.
It’s a harsh and hard-to-miss fact. There used to be a time when discussions on the consequences of climate change were a part of only global journals and conferences when it was impending danger. Not anymore; the consequences are staring at the youth and adults alike. They’re outside our windows — hurricanes, heatwaves, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods are part of our daily lives.
“We are facing changes that will be irreversible: the loss of ecosystems, the loss of freshwater, the loss of clean air. I want my children to be free to chase their dreams. I am facing a future of economic instability, of food scarcity and extreme weather. It breaks my heart, but I created this pledge. I am not the only young person giving up lifelong dreams because they are unsure of what the future will hold. We’ve read the science, and now we’re pleading with our government,” Emma emphatically says.
It breaks our hearts too. When the youth loses hope, expresses fear and takes ‘adultish’ decisions like these, you know the threat has not just reached our doorstep, is found a way inside as well.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.