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Women who won’t have children because of climate change

For years, Melbourne-based couple Amena Payne and her partner Stephen McLean have grappled with the idea of ​​having children.
Their hesitation is fueled by uncertainty about what kind of world the next generation will inherit.
“Fires and, you know, the increasing droughts and floods we’re hearing about, and the economic crisis have all had a big impact on our decisions about whether we want to have children of our own.” says Payne, 33.
Extreme weather events announced in November by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO found they were getting worse across Australia.
Since national records began in 1910, the country’s climate has increased by an average of 1.47°C, and sea levels continue to rise.
Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are primarily caused by burning fossil fuels. These gases trap the heat of the sun and increase the temperature of the earth.

Ultimately, the couple, who had been together for six years, decided not to become biological parents.

Amina Payne and her partner Stephen McLean have decided to work against the idea of ​​having children. sauce: attached

“What we’ve decided is that parenthood doesn’t necessarily have to be viewed as a biological endeavour,” says Payne.

“I am an aunt and I love that role.

“There are many ways to become a parent or carer for children who are more in line with what we see as the urgency of the world today.”

woman reading a book

Ameena Payne says being an aunt gives her a lot of satisfaction. sauce: SBS News

Payne, a postdoctoral fellow who moved to Australia from the United States in 2014, says she and her partner aren’t alone in thinking so.

“Many of my friends have taken similar positions. We’ve definitely had these discussions over the past three years,” she says.

“What I’ve noticed in my friendship circles is that we take family planning seriously. [It’s] It’s not just about being financially ready. But can the world also support more children?”

question motherhood

Dr. Carla Pascoe-Leahy, a historian of motherhood, childhood and family at the University of Tasmania, says more and more women across Australia are asking just that question.
“I’m starting to notice that women, especially young women, are questioning whether or not they should have children because of climate change concerns.”

That’s why she and her team of researchers have launched the first-of-its-kind study of how climate change is affecting reproductive decisions.

Women and men in a sport match

Ameena Payne and her partner have chosen not to have children. sauce: attached / Amina Payne

of a joint study by the University of Tasmania, the University of Edinburgh and Flinders University, examines how climate change impacts, such as Australia’s recent bushfires and devastating floods, are shaping decisions about motherhood.

“The really interesting part was when we recruited participants on social media … the reaction was overwhelming and it was nerve-wracking,” says Dr. Pascoe Leahy.

According to Dr Pascoe Leahy, so far the team has conducted extensive interviews with 10 women from different cultural backgrounds across Australia, from the capital to regional hubs.
“Many of them yearn to have children and become mothers. I feel ambiguous.”

The research is still ongoing and the findings are expected to be published in 2023.

mini baby boom

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) statistics, more than 294,369 births were recorded in Australia in 2020, with a record low birth rate of 1.58 births per woman.

Since then, the country has experienced a post-COVID baby boom, with the fertility rate now rising to 1.66, according to data released this week by the federal government.

Chart showing Australian fertility trends

sauce: SBS News

The figures were released ahead of the federal government’s annual population report to be released on Friday.

But Emily Walter, director of demography at ABS, says the overall fertility rate is still declining over the past decade.

“The last peak was in 2008, when the number of babies per woman was 2.02. Since then, there has been some fluctuation, but there has been a downward trend.”

Dr. Pascoe Leahy is also researching How climate disaster It affects women who are already mothers.
“our finds that climate change is already having a severe impact on Australian mothers.

“As disasters increase, mothers spend a lot of time thinking very carefully about how they can protect their families in the 21st century. and how to prepare for future disasters.

The research, which is still ongoing, focuses specifically on women in the Gippsland area of ​​Victoria, which has been devastated by a series of devastating wildfires over the past decade.

Elementary school teacher Jane Sultana, mother of two teenage sons in the area, has been through it all. She says it affects how she raises her children.

Woman with glasses standing in bushland.

Jane Sultana says climate change is affecting how her family approaches vacations. sauce: attached

“When we go on vacation with our family in the summer, we don’t go too far because we don’t want to get caught in wildfire activity while driving.”

“We built our homes as energy efficient as possible. We try to shop while reducing our environmental impact by choosing food with less packaging.
“I am really worried about the future of our children. What will climate change bring to the planet and how will it affect their future?”

Dr. Pascoe Leahy said he hopes the research will lead to better support services for families to deal with the climate crisis.

The Albanian government’s climate bill to help Australia reach net-zero emissions by 2050 passed parliament in September and included a 43% emission reduction target by 2030.
Scientists say Australia should aim for around 74% instead.
Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said in December: “Some people want more. I understand that feeling. Of course, as I have said repeatedly, I think 43% is the lower bound, not the upper bound. There are,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Jim Chalmers welcomed Australia’s recent rise in birth rates, saying in a statement this week:
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https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/the-women-choosing-the-climate-over-having-a-baby/ko3vdw82e Women who won’t have children because of climate change

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