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Children of the heat
On heat waves, hope, and whether it's right to have children if you believe urgently in climate change
With incidents like a significant heat wave threatening to break extreme weather records in the Southwestern United States, we are in for another predictable round of stories pondering whether it's right to have children despite the apparent evidence of climate change.
■ Let a stake be put through the heart of that argument. It isn't "complicated", whatever the alarmist opinion and analysis might say. People should have children to the extent that they are willing to bring love and sufficient wherewithal to the task. To bring a child into the world intending to deprive them of affection or basic needs like food would be cruelty. But to make a choice not to have children based solely upon a dire forecast of the future -- or even of an evolving present -- would be madness.
■ The world has faced countless dire circumstances in the past, and will undoubtedly face new ones again. Two things have seen us through those hard times: The ingenuity of human beings, and the sustained hope that things would become brighter in the future. We cannot solve new problems without the help of new people. And we have no reason to solve them unless we can authentically believe that someone will be around to enjoy the results.
■ The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl put it well when he wrote: "What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic." We need the hope of that vast and incomprehensible meaning being revived around all of us, and it is often heard in a baby's cries. Parenting isn't for everyone, nor does it need to be. But nobody should be running away from procreation just because they fear leaving a carbon footprint.