#MyImpact
Only 500 pharmacies sign up for morning-after pill prescription programme
“I'm glad I did not have children”. Female climate scientists opt out of starting families

"I'm glad I did not have children". Female climate scientists opt out of starting families

Image source: © Lloyd Russel / Press Release
Marta Grzeszczuk,
10.05.2024 16:45

The Guardian asked female authors and review editors of IPCC climate reports about their decisions on motherhood. Some have not decided to have children, and most are trembling about their future.

The Guardian contacted the authors and review editors of all the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports since 2018. As the newspaper explains, the IPCC’s reports are the gold standard of climate knowledge. Of the 843 contacted, 360 responded to the Guardian's questions about personal life decisions, including having children.

Female climate scientists choose not to have large families

The survey included 97 female scientists, 17 of whom were from Brazil, Chile, Germany, India, and Kenya, who reported that they chose to have fewer children due to climate change. The majority of the female scientists surveyed were over 40 years old, with two-thirds of them being over 50. This reflects the senior positions they had achieved in their professions. A quarter of the respondents were women, which corresponds to the overall percentage of female authors of the IPCC reports.

Loading the post...

"I had the hormonal urges," said Prof Camille Parmesan, a leading French climate scientist. "Oh my gosh, it was very strong. But it was: ‘Do I really want to bring a child into this world that we’re creating?’ Even 30 years ago, it was very clear the world was going to hell in a handbasket. I’m 62 now, and I’m actually really glad I did not have children."

Dr Shobha Maharaj, an expert on the effects of the climate crisis from Trinidad and Tobago, admitted that such decisions are tough. She decided to have only one child, a son who is now six years old. For Dr Maharaj, this decision was a compromise with her husband, whom she described as "the most family-oriented person" she knows. The scientist mused: "Who knows, maybe my son will grow to be someone who can help find a solution?"

"I'm starting to panic about my child's future"

Prof Regina Rodrigues, an oceanographer at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, who has also decided not to have children, was influenced by her first-hand observations of the environmental destruction in the fast-growing coastal city near São Paulo, where she grew up. Most of the female scientists interviewed had made decisions about children long ago, when they were younger, and the grave danger of global warming was less apparent.

Prof Lisa Schipper, a climate change expert at the University of Bonn in Germany, decided to have only one child. "It is honestly only now that I am starting to panic about my child’s future," she confessed in an interview with the Guardian. "When she was born in 2013, I felt more optimistic about the possibility of reducing emissions. Now, I feel guilty about leaving her in this world without my protection and guilty about having played a part in the changing climate. So it’s bleak."

The Guardian did not clarify in its article why it only asked women about their decisions to have children.

Let us know what do you think
  • emoji heart - number of votes: 0
  • emoji fire - number of votes: 0
  • emoji smile - number of votes: 0
  • emoji sad - number of votes: 0
  • emoji anger - number of votes: 0
  • emoji poop - number of votes: 0
Microscopic handbag sold for $64,000