Last year, I have been interviewed by 4 different students from 4 different countries (Australia, USA, Czech Republic and Norway), in order to help them with their thesis on environmental antinatalism / the reproductive choice within climate change activism. I accepted to do that 4 times because I believe that their work is very important as this subject has not been researched so far. For the same reason I talked to other people who share the same views and asked them if they would like to do the same and gladly, some of them accepted.

Recently, I got feedback from one of them, Sarka Stribrska, an MSc student of 27 years old from Czech Republic, and I am happy to share with you the abstract of her master thesis:

“This qualitative research focuses on the decision to stay childfree as a specific individual strategy for coping with the effects of climate crisis. The purpose of this study is to show ways in which the climate crisis is internalized and stressed within the decision to stay childfree. Data for this research were created through semi-structured interviews with 12 informants coming from all around the world. These informants were divided into two different categories.

First of them, the kinnovators, perceive their decision to stay childfree as a way to erase the boundary between human and non-human worlds and therefore, similarly to Donna J. Haraway (2016), they perceive their childfreeness as an alternative to the popularly held belief of genalogical view on human kinship. These informants experience a great amount of environmental grief (Kevorkian, 2004) based on the values of antispeciesism and they see the main causes of climate crisis in the epoch of Anthropocene and therefore in the problems connected to human society – such as overpopulation (e.g. Ehrlich, 1986, compared to Haraway, 2016) or consumerism (Bell, 2004). Kinnovators perceive their decision to stay childfree as their individual responsibility and as a way to mitigate climate crisis, as well as a means to maintain their integrity.

Environmental antinatalists perceive their decision to stay childfree as a kind of adaptation to the climate crisis. These informants feel strong individual responsibility for the wellbeing of future generations and their environmental grief mingles with their personal grief. Environmental antinatalists highlight systemic nature of climate crisis and they see individual responsibility (Maniates, 2002) as an ineffective way for solving climate crisis. Childfreeness is for them therefore also an individual way to cope with the feelings of helplessness.

Informants from both categories perceive reasons concerning climate crisis as playing a very important role in their decision to stay childfree, however they also mention other significant reasons, such as absence of positive relationship towards children, fear of labour or fear of loosing one’s individual freedom. Furthermore, stigma connected to childfreeness and gendered perception of parenthood (Park, 2005) impacts mainly female informants.

Key words: antispeciesism, Anthropocene, apocalyptism, childfreeness, Chthulucene,
climate crisis, environmental antinatalism, environmental grief, individualized society”

Sarka studied Social and Cultural Ecology at Charles University in Prague and the title of the thesis is: Childfreeness as a response to the current climate crisis.

I am not going to hide that It was the first time I read/heard about kinovators…So I asked her for more information in order to help you all understand better what she is talking about. Here’s what Sarka wrote me about it:

“It comes from the book of the multispecies feminist theorist Donna J. Harraway: Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. By “kin”, Haraway means to make partnerships and kindships between all human and non-human animals. So she wants us to think about kindship outside the genealogical way of thinking (we don’t have to be relatives by blood to be in a kindship and to take care of each other and to be nice to each other). That’s why it is closely related to antispeciesism. Haraway in this book is also talking about the fact that there are soon going to be too many people on planet Earth and that’s why we need to start thinking about other ways to relate to each other, outside the genealogical perspective on kindship (she’s talking about how we should i.e. simplify conditions for migrants who want to live in “our” country and that migrants should have the same rights as local people; she’s also talking about adoption and about taking care of the most vulnerable groups of people, animals, countries, etc.). She’s talking about how making biological children should become a minor way to parent. But she’s is also stressing the structural and historical inequalities which were made by colonialism, rasism, capitalism and which we have to have in mind when trying to reduce the exponencial growth of human population.”

The thesis is written in Czech so we won’t be able to read it as a whole unfortunately. She also informed me that one more girl from Czech Republic did a similar research but again, it’s written in Czech.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get in touch with the other students so hopefully, at some point in the future I will be able to add here more abstracts.

If you are reading these lines and you are someone who wants to have a human family – please consider adopting a child instead. I personally agree 100% with Haraway since from young kid I am raising cats and dogs because this is my dharma, I am inherently a caring person but I never felt that I have to procreate in order to take care of someone. I hope that in the near future I will have a multispecies herbivore family to take care of, and why not, an adopted kid too, at some point, if the circumstances allow it. Life already taught me -after my mom’s passing- that human and non human animals with who I relate(d) in a non genealogical way, have been more close to me than whoever I am related genealogically.

Update 1/22: I just got an email from Silje Mari Mo, the Norwegian MSc student. Her thesis will be available for reading from February 14th, here. Until then, you can read the abstract. The title of her thesis is “Childfreedom as Climate Action. Experiences of Pronatalist Pressures and Gendered Expectations Among Members of the BirthStrike Movement.”. 

Elisabeth Dimitras