Global warming: why our generation shouldn’t have kids


Photo courtesy of CWU Flickr

Andrew Ulstad, Columnist

I have wanted to be a father since shortly after my first nephew was born. Something about helping to shape a personality seemed appealing to me. This was reinforced over the next decade and a half when my nieces and nephews started showing interest in pastimes that of mine.

However, all of these feelings were self contained. I didn’t start thinking about the world around this new life until my mid-twenties. That’s when I realized that by the time a child of mine reached their mid-twenties, the climate would be hotter and more volatile than ever seen in human history.

Scientists have been warning about the effects of global warming for decades. A 1989 article called Global Warming Is Expected to Be the Hot Issue of 1990s published in The LA Times quoted The Worldwatch Institute as saying “by many measures, time is running out.”

Despite these warnings, very little action was taken until recently. According to the website for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN member nations reached a deal called the Paris Agreement in 2015. The goal of the agreement was to limit carbon emissions and reach “a climate-neutral world” by 2050.

This agreement may have come too late. According to statistics compiled by the World Meteorological Organization, 2015-2019 saw global warming reach 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, gaining .2 degrees since the last five year period. 

The goal of the Paris Agreement was “to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels” by 2030.

It doesn’t take a lot of math to see that the first five years of this agreement were ineffectual. According to research from The University of Washington that includes multiple types of emissions, if emissions continue “under a moderate…scenario, by 2029 the planet has a two-thirds chance of at least temporarily exceeding warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, even if all emissions cease on that date.”

Based on that research, our kids would be starting school with a 66 percent chance of seeing a more volatile and dangerous climate than ever seen by modern humans.

If the warming trend from 2015 to 2019 had continued this long, the average temperature outside would be 1.9 degrees Celsius (about four degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial levels.

According to, the current temperature increase of 1.1 degrees Celsius “is driving regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reducing snow cover and sea ice, intensifying heavy rainfall, and changing habitat ranges for plants and animals.”

Selfishly, I still want to have kids. I want to experience their successes with them, help them learn from their failures, and watch them grow into a compassionate adult.

Looking at the broader picture, I can’t imagine bringing something that pure into the world, only to have to watch as the world crumbles around them.

Research from the University of Washington shows a continuing rise in global temperature even if all carbon emissions cease (image courtesy of and Dvorak et al.)
Global warming projections continue to trend upward despite the Paris Agreement (image courtesy of