Only a couple of days ago, people across the globe awoke to the news of wildfires, disastrous and monstrous wildfires blazing across Athens, Greece; news outlets plastering grave photographs across social media that stood as representation of the looming destruction that climate change has brought us face to face with. Unfortunately, this news came as no surprise to most. For the past two years,, the updates of the California wildfires, progressively worsening, have made headlines every single month. A fire in the middle of the ocean proved shocking, in which a pipeline burst, only a month ago, exposing the cracks within the Gulf of Mexico’s oil regulation. The discussion and dilemma of climate change has only intensified and accelerated as we have reached a point of no return, placing the question of our very existence at the forefront of political discourse.
Nature is chaotic and unpredictable and she’s been abused to an extent that the experienced wrath can only be self blamed. Many have been spending their days contemplating the existential dread and despair that the fear of an ‘end of world’ scenario provides as a heating earth responds in drastic measures accordingly. With scientist confirmation that it is human beings causing irreversible damage, for the younger people of this country, one thought persists: this is the world we are being left. As children, teenagers, and young adults, the question of our future hangs in the balance as many debate the validity and ethical reality of continuing our race – the human race – within the messy circumstances that we are stuck in the middle of. The idea of continuing life, and the debate of how ethically sound our living existence is, in general, has raised valid questions that have been debated by anti-natalists and coalitions of individuals aiming to change the nature of adoption.
A new report by UNICEF, the Children’s Climate Risk Index, stated that the impacts of pollution and climate change place approximately half of the world’s children at risk – around one billion lives. This index creates a comprehensive report that aims to measure each country on the basis that their exposure to this environmental crisis, affects children. While it is said that every single child around the globe faces a hazardous and dire effect of the environmental pandemic, it is these billion children that are considered to be living in the “extremely high risk” countries, while 850 million experience at least four or more dangerous climate categories, such as cyclones, air pollution, flooding, heatwaves, or drought. As a means to demonstrate the urgent situation of the environmental crisis on the youth of the globe, this index aimed to create a portrait in order to show that it is these children in danger that are to be those growing up to experience these damages, from start to finish, acting as both the victims, yet the perpetrators.
This brings teenagers and young adults to question what is the correct way to age and develop within the bounds of our circumstances. An ever changing progressive society, where the norms that once were, continuously evolve, have proposed the question of what a future family home is to look like. Due to the environmental crisis, the conversation has now become framed to say “why should I bring another child into a world left to deal with its destruction?” This particular discourse has raised numerous controversial ideas on the nature of this idea; private vs. foster care, domestic vs. international, and the controversy that encompasses transracial adoption.
For some, adoption means family, love, and a chance at a full life. For others however, adoption is unethical, only to bring damage and destruction to the child in question. According to UNICEF, there are approximately 153 million orphans worldwide looking and hoping to find a home. However, the practical nature of adoption has numerous layers to it in which each come with their own pros and cons; their own negative and positive views. It is said that these millions of orphans are more prone to mortality due to war, child labor, starvation, or the geopolitical state of their country. Many in these circumstances argue that children everywhere deserve the chance at a better life. The pushback to this discussion however, provides a looking glass view of the negative results that it may bring. International adoption may often lead to cases of kidnapping (the child up for adoption having been stolen from their own family), human trafficking, slavery, or sexual abuse. As these instances have been many, a main question remains: why adopt internationally with these risks as opposed to adopting domestically in which thousands of children within one’s own country are in need of a home. This valid discussion begins to transcend to the other points that arise within this discourse.
In the conversation of private adoption vs foster care, many view the means of private adoption to be a selfish gateway into acquiring a child, allowing agencies and lawyers to gain wealth from the process and leaving thousands of children that are aging in foster care to continue their process while a newborn gets chosen immediately. On the other hand, while many of those within the foster care system struggle and suffer, being products of ‘broken’ homes at all different ages and walks of life, some families looking to adopt a foster child may not be able to provide the emotional and mental needs of that child. Adopting a child from a different background may also entail receiving a child from a different race, in which the question of transracial adoption stands as a controversial topic for many.
Allowing a family to adopt a child of a different race (in most examples when discussing this – a white family adopting a child from a race or culture different than theirs) can be seen as an action of a fairly problematic nature. The dilemma that many understand in transracial adoption is that it may be dangerous for a child; removing them from their home country or their familiar background into another, may spark instances of a child growing up with an identity crisis: feeling to be different or stand out, not having had an opportunity to understand who they are and where they have come from. In these instances, there are certain values and lessons that parents of a different background simply cannot teach their children – whether it be race, ethnic heritage, or cultural practices. Simply ignoring the differences becomes a disservice to that child, one that cannot occur. The proposed idea that prospective parents should be trained, taking classes to understand how to better provide support and education to their child regarding race or culture, can be seen as a step in the right direction, only when done correctly.
Understanding these complexities and comprehending the opposing sides to the conversation, a philosopher by the name of David Benatar makes a controversial statement, believing that reproduction is an intrinsically cruel act for “life is permeated by badness.” With this thought however, he is not referring to the nature of adoption, but rather the notion of being born all together. The pressing issues of environmental climate change have brought many to face questions about their purpose; were we meant to be on this Earth if it has only been us humans to cause its destruction? Anti-natalists such as Benatar fundamentally believe that life is not worth starting in the first place; that individuals, as a compassionate act of kindness, should cease from procreating so as to stop the constant suffering of human life.
The common denominator to these discussions is, ultimately, the existential dread that has derived from our current climate crisis. A crisis which, however, although already gone too far, it is not yet irreversible. This provides an example of the new challenges and difficulties which are surfacing given our current world order, ones that if given our time, effort, and nuanced discussion, can only help create a closer world. It is through a common effort and a shared drive that we, as a world community, can change our actions that have only furthered the crisis and left many vulnerable. Hence, it is with this awareness and dedication that we have to move into our future, to not only save our world, but to provide a better one for the generations to come.
Edited by Costanza Marino