© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Climate crisis is making younger generations rethink having kids

Climate activists in London UK with a sign saying "there is no planet b"
Diana Vucane
Climate activists marching in London, UK.

Last year, at the COP27 Climate Summit, António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations said the world is quickly approaching a tipping point that will make climate change irreversible. "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator," he said.

Those sentiments, echoed by leaders and scientists across the globe for years is leading to growing stress over the climate crisis.

It's been called "eco-anxiety" or "climate anxiety," and it's a concept that an increasing number of researchers and scientists said is taking a toll on people's mental health.

Along with stress, the worsening climate situation is now being cited as a reason for younger generations to decide not have children. A Morning Consult poll from 2020, surveying 4,400 individuals, found that 1 in 4 childless adults said climate change has factored into their reproductive decisions.

Decades ago, the decision to be childless was taboo, but now celebrities from Miley Cyrus to Seth Rogen, and even Prince Harry have gone on the record to say how climate change has prompted them to either forgo parenting entirely or rethink how many children to have.

But how much environmental good does it do to decide not to have children? Is it an effective way to cut carbon emissions? Does the carbon footprint of one human make a dent when large corporations have much bigger climate impacts?

On Monday’s “Sound of Ideas” we’ll discuss eco-anxiety and the evolving conversation around climate change and family planning.

Later in this hour, we'll talk to Johnny Wu, the director of a new documentary that traces the history of Cleveland's Chinatown. That documentary airs Monday night on WVIZ/PBS.

We'll also meet another outstanding octogenarian honored by Crain's Cleveland Business for their "Eight over 80" awards.

- Susan Clayton, Ph.D., Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology; Liaison to the Environmental Communication & Action Pathway, College of Wooster
- Shannon Osaka, Climate Zeitgeist Reporter, The Washington Post
- Johnny Wu, Filmmaker and Director, "A History of Cleveland's Chinatown"
- Toby Cosgrove, Former President and CEO, The Cleveland Clinic

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.