Emily Holleman a writer for The Cut, – part of New York Magazine’s ‘One Great Story’ section – recently condemned bearing children in the age of the “apocalypse,” selfish.
Holleman’s reflection on anxiety and personal loss in a time of uncertainty is the better part of what becomes an environmentalist “sermon”.
An autobiographical piece, the article describes a grieving, displaced woman, who sees her ‘pandemic pregnancy’ as another nail piercing in an unwanted cross. Her self-indulgent rant against parenthood, is bent into a twisted concoction of hope, and hopelessness – life and death.
The illustrative sermon deploys the dogma of the Green social gospel.
“Catastrophic climate change,” drags down an otherwise thought-provoking story of pregnancy, and married life.
‘Having a child in a developed nation is among the most environmentally unsound decisions you can make — a baby born in the United States adds another 58.6 tons of carbon to the atmosphere per year.’
Presumably, to avoid the charge of racism, it appears that for Holleman, having a child in an undeveloped nation is perfectly acceptable. The hint of contradiction, self-hatred and contempt for her own nation, and its people wafts like a pungent smell from here on out.
Her anti-carbon drivel descends even further, with the proclamation,
‘The decision to have children has always struck me as an essentially selfish one: You choose, out of a desire for fulfillment or self-betterment or curiosity or boredom or baby-mania or peer pressure, to bring a new human into this world. And it has never seemed more selfish than today.’
She rides the pessimistic narrative of falling skies, and “rising temperatures” in a world that worships climate-control.
(A world oblivious to the acclimatisation of air-conditioned comfort, because it’s too focused on self-aggrandising posturing, and panic inducing “climate crisis” headlines.)
If we are faced with “catastrophic climate change” it would be better to ditch fossil fuelled artificial climates in homes, business and transport, not reproduction, families and the life that both carries.
Even here, one has to ask Holleman what she means by Climate Change. Which climate is facing catastrophic decline? Is it temperate, mild, dry, tropical or polar?
Where does the sun and solar activity play a role? Could it be that the sun is a bigger contributor to any warming climate, than the carbon footprint of children, including her own son?
Holleman’s article is a cross between anti-parenting, anti-carbon and anti-people. There is a stark absence of balance, especially given the basics: Carbon is plant food and without it, life on earth ends.
I acknowledge Holleman is writing from hindsight. She’s writing about becoming a mum for the first time, in trying times.
Holleman is in a foreign place. She’s greeted with one bitter disaster after another.
A pregnant woman, facing a difficult childbirth. A grieving sister – and general fish out of water – having relocated from the congested New York to California’s wide-open spaces.
Yet, her situation is compounded by the presence of wild fires, panic on the TV, COVID-19, and (as my wife put it after reading the piece) all the hormonal trimmings attached to having a baby on the way.
A soon to be mother, Holleman argues existence with non-existence with emotional reasoning.
She confesses to feeling selfish. Then supposes that the answer to a “climate catastrophe” is for the people of the developed world to stop having children.
The hope of a better world Holleman finds in the embrace of her new born son, is morbidly smothered by a lament at what a child’s carbon footprint is.
Twistedly Holleman infers children are a great evil, but they’re a useful distraction.
For her, kids are a “blessing” to have around, because they provide ‘small moments of joy.’ A welcome distraction from ‘cataclysmic changes to the climate [and other] inequities it exacerbates.’
Holleman lives in a world which views children as either an accessory, or an inconvenience.
A world that also equates conceiving a child, with contracting an STD.
What’s also striking is the use of eschatological terminology: “End Times.” Indicative of the religious environmentalism – or cultism – which pervades her Green ideological evangelism.
In the broader context of Holleman’s experience, it’s not easy write to this off as rhetorical.
Holleman believes we’re all doomed, stating, ‘we are living in a real way on borrowed time, under the shadow of carbon.’
The takeaway conclusion: “Carbon is the great Satan. Humans are carbon. Ergo, humans are a great evil.”
One thing Holleman can be applauded for is repeatedly referring to her [then] unborn son as a baby, not a “clump of cells”.
Another is the depth to which she writes about the clash between her grief, her beliefs, and the hope beaming from the new life she holds in her hands.
Having kids, Holleman concludes, provides a semblance of comfort and reassurance about the future, and that makes the future worth fighting for.
I support her positive conclusion, but 80% of what Holleman writes is straight-up tripe.
There’s nothing more selfless than having kids.
You’re constantly giving, serving and saying “no” to yourself, in order to say “yes” to life.
Out of 21 years of fatherhood, there is no greater example who testifies to this than my wife.
She conceived six times. (We miscarried badly on the first.)
With the five who followed I witnessed her battle a war with uncontrollable nausea.
A condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (an extreme, rare form of morning sickness that went on for months).
Over the space of ten years, with pauses in between, she was hospitalised for severe dehydration five times.
After diagnosis, even when offered to abort our children, she refused.
Doing so with the full knowledge that this new pregnancy will likely mean another round of constant vomiting and lengthy stays in bed.
Not only did my wife choose to fight for life, instead of embrace destruction, we did it together.
We often did so without the support of family, church or friends. Many of whom misunderstood her decision, as much as they misunderstood her condition.
Contra to Emily Holleman’s anti-kid “climate change” tirades, there’s nothing more selfless than having kids.
There’s nothing selfish in saying “no” to yourself, in order to care for the young, through the joyful embrace of saying “yes” to life.
To quote the oft quoted, Theodore Roosevelt,
‘The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt.’
(A slightly revised version of this article was first published on Dads 4 Kids, under the title: Our Children are the Answer, Not the Problem to Our Environmental Challenges; also published on Caldron Pool, 22nd October 2021).
©Dads4kids; Rod Lampard, 2021.