photo-Scarlet Fry [Image: Tom Jacob]
Shortly after Blythe Pepino decided that she wanted to have children, she realized that the idea of bringing kids into a world affected by climate change was making her uncomfortable. “It had only been a couple of years that I’d felt the desire to have kids because I’d met my partner, whom I’m deeply in love with,” she says. “I got to that point in my life where a lot of my friends were having kids and it suddenly seemed like a beautiful idea to me. And that happened to coexist with my becoming much more aware of the climate challenge.”
Pepino, a 29-year-old musician, started bringing up the idea with other women in environmental advocacy groups. “I said, ‘You’re around my age: What are you thinking about kids?'” she says. “I was able to ask that question to a few people, and I was really surprised that there were a lot of people who were saying, ‘I haven’t talked about this to anyone, but I’m really questioning it.'”
She started a Facebook group called #Birthstrike to make the idea public; within a few days, 90 women had joined. While some may be partly motivated by the fact that the choice limits carbon emissions–one recent study found that not having children is one of the most effective ways to limit your personal carbon footprint–the underlying motivation was wanting to avoid bringing a child into a world where they may suffer. “Our main focus is the fact that we’re too afraid really to bring a kid into that future,” Pepino says. After Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez recently suggested that some young Americans feel the same way, a survey found that 38% of 18- to 29-year-old Americans believe that a couple should consider the risks of climate change before deciding to have kids. “I can’t have a child unless I am seriously, seriously convinced that we are on a different path,” one member of Birthstrike, 22-year-old Alice Brown, says in a video about the group.