Climate change is impacting some women’s decisions to have children

CHICAGO -- Climate change is creating yet another debate -- this time largely among women who are wondering what it means for their reproductive future.

They are not saying they fear their ovaries are affected by climate change; instead, they are saying they are so worried about climate change, it has made them wonder if bringing a child into the world right now is a bad idea.

The state of worry has created groups such as Conceivable Future. The group is made up of men and women. Though largely made of women, everyone comes to discuss the next generation and climate change. Members of the organization aren't optimistic for what is ahead, so they are unsure about bringing a child into an uncertain future.

Gone are the days of getting married and nine months later, happy couples welcome their first child into the world.

Now, future parents are calculated, often double earners faced with skyrocketing college costs, the consequences of living in a digital age, ever increasing health risks, and the declining state of our planet. At Conceivable Future, the environment discussion is all about how climate change affects family.

“It’s one way to talk about climate that really cuts both across everybody’s life and cuts to the core of what it really means to be a human," Josephine Ferorelli, co-founder of Conceivable Future, said.

The organization’s founder holds house parties across the U.S., including areas such as Chicago. The mission of these house parties is to get attention with help from testimonials from members.

Hannah Harpole, 34, from New York, is among those that are worried about the future.

“At this point, I feel it is very unlikely that I will have children,” Harpole said. “It’s a biological feeling that It’s a very bad idea to have children because of what’s going on with the climate.”

Harpole is not alone in feeling this way. Andree Zaleska, 48, from Boston, is right behind Harpole.

“I have had to raise my kids with the knowledge that their future is completely uncertain to me," she said.

According to the organization, it is a chance for everyone to have and hold a conversation. Everyone is welcome, men and women, adults and children, those with kids and those without. It’s a forum, a safe place, they say, to share and to ask questions.

Ferorelli initiates this conversation with a question that allows for the discussion to begin.

“How is climate change impacting our reproductive lives? That’s the conversation, as open-ended as that,” she said.

The questionable climate change has prompted others to consider having more children or even a child at all.

Eleanor Ray is one of the many women that see the climate as a reason why she has settled on not having kids.

“Every other thing is eventually going to depend on what the weather does,” Ray said. “ I think it will be the shaping force of the next 100 years, and we’re not planning for it.”

Meera Sanghani Jorgensen has one child. However, the climate’s unpredictability has caused her to question whether or not having more kids is a right move.

“It makes me question whether or not I will have another child,” Jorgesen said. “ When you go and you buy a car or buy a house, you look at so many things. You sort of inspect and observe. It’s the same thing with if you want to consider to have a child or another child. You have to think it through.”

Jorgensen and others worry that even explaining fossil fuel extractions, deadly wildfires and devastating hurricanes around the world is reason enough to question whether expanding her family is a good option.

Environmental writer, Eiren Caffal, mother of one child, says she sees it all the time.

“I find that in my life, I run into a lot of parents who are struggling to explain climate change to their children. How to prepare them for the world that is arriving. How to prepare them for the world that is arriving,” Caffal said.

There is no real conclusion. However, the organization offers a place to talk, and when the time is right, take action.

Ferorelli is among those who have no definite answer on whether or not she wants children.

“I have not concluded. I am 34 years old, I recently got married and I don't know. I don’t know what I’m going to do, and I think that putting myself out there as a vulnerable and undecided person is the only thing I can really do,” she said. “And that is the conversation I am interested in having, not the conversation where I tell people what to do.”