Baby, it’s hot outside

Cool Tips for a Hot Planet series

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By Ginny Colling

Ginny Colling was passionate about the environment before retiring from teaching college communications students. After retiring she trained with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and has presented to numerous groups about the climate crisis.

Students take climate change action to the streets
A previous climate change protest held in front of MPP Laurie Scott's office.

My good friend’s granddaughter was born shortly after the Paris climate accord was signed. That little girl’s family lives in California, where she has experienced severe drought and pollution from wildfire smoke almost every year since. When she was two, her babysitter’s family home burned in the blazes.

Those kinds of impacts are getting more frequent and closer to home. Some young adults are so concerned they’re rethinking how many children they want to bring into this over-heated world – if any. In 2021, a global study in the Lancet reported that almost 40 per cent of the 10,000 16-25 year olds surveyed said climate change made them hesitant to have children one day. In 2019, singer Miley Cyrus made headlines when she said she wouldn’t have a baby on this “piece of shit planet.”  That same year, Prince Harry and wife Meghan publicly committed to having a maximum of two children to reduce their impact on the environment.

For some, the concern is the world their babies would inherit. For others, it’s because more babies mean more planet-warming pollution. And before we point any fingers at large family sizes in poorer nations, consider this: The annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) per Canadian in 2019 was 20.7 metric tons. For the average person in Bangladesh: 1.5.  

In 2019 Canadian university student Emma Lim started the online pledge #NoFuture,NoChildren. By 2020 10,000 young people across the world had signed on. That reluctance to have kids isn’t just created by the floods, droughts, and fires they’re hearing about. It’s largely because of the lack of serious action being taken by our governments, according to the Lancet study.

But while some are rethinking parenthood, others consider having a child an act of hope and a motivation to fight climate disruption. Britt Wray, one of the researchers for the Lancet study, moderates the recently released CBC documentary The Climate Baby Dilemma. By the end of the film, we see a very pregnant Wray talking about her decision to have a baby. “For me, not having a child was a commitment to fear, while having a child was a commitment to joy – and the responsibility to engage in climate action.”

I’m well beyond child-bearing years, but I’m deeply saddened by the baby dilemma. What can people like me do? For one, remember that it’s largely 35 years of political inaction that’s causing their anxiety. Now UN climate scientists are saying we have just seven years to cut GHGs in half to keep planetary warming in check.

We can also:

  1. Actively encourage politicians to reduce fossil fuel use – less natural gas and coal, more electric vehicles and heat pumps. Sign petitions, email, or call them. Contact them in support of policies that preserve natural areas that store carbon – our forests, wetlands and grasslands.
  2. Keep our eyes on the prize – the cleaner, healthier world we want to create. Then take action on a personal level to make it happen. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for the politicians to do all the heavy lifting.

As David Suzuki’s 12-year-old daughter told the Rio climate summit some 30 years ago: “You grown-ups say you love us, but I challenge you, please: Make your actions reflect your words.”


  1. Wallace says:

    hot in California ? Gotta be ‘global warming’ .. I mean ‘climate change’ (eye roll)

  2. Joan Abernethy says:

    When people my age (73) were young, many of us also considered having no children to reduce misery on earth. But as Leonard Cohen observed, “Puppet lovers, in their bliss, turn away from all of this” – all of this being the misery.

    Al Gore has made hundreds of millions of dollars from climate alarmism. It’s big business.

    There are no guarantees in life. It has always been a risky business that none of us escapes from alive. Should we self flagellate, blame and excoriate others (so long as they live in the west), and bully them into shame and misery? No, we should encourage each other to adapt well to change which is how we have always survived and thrived.

  3. Lew says:

    Another climate change grifter, just what we need.

    Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on earth. If you think it is pollution, you are simple not very intelligent.

  4. Wayne says:

    Has David Suzuki sold any of the multiple homes he owns? Has he stopped flying around the world like he has been doing for 50yrs? His carbon footprint is 1000s of times larger than the average person. I’m sick of the ‘do as I say , not as I do’ rules from people like Suzuki, Gore and that child Greta…. When I see hypocrites, like them, changing their lifestyles, I will consider changing mine.

  5. Maggie Bradamore says:

    Bravo, thank you for this enlightening and important article, as always. Many things to consider.

  6. Andrea says:

    It’s not just the climate change!!! There are serious issues in the world today. I fear that my own children no longer have privacy from the opposite sex……because there are only 2 genders……in a public bathroom for starters!!! We can hang pride flags and talk about an inclusive world but what about including christians and those who have morals. Our seniors who have been through war and worse things, no longer have a say because someone is offended!!! Let be serious! Only certain voices are being heard and rules are being changed based on the minority….not the majority!!!! Bring the Lord’s prayer back to schools and let’s change the anthem of our nation back to It’s original wording because not everything needs changing!!!! Climate change is definitely a very serious issue, one that absolutely needs to be dealt with but if we don’t deal with all the problems of the world, fixing one will not resolve anything!!!!!!!

  7. Diane Engelstad says:

    Keep up the good work, Ginny Colling. We all need to hear what you are saying, and do what we can to create a cleaner, healthier world, including people who shout the loudest about their personal pet peeves, and use a lot of exclamation marks.

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