The most Guardian Guardian column you’ll ever read
Meet Dave Bry. Dave has a question for Guardian readers: “Does climate change make it immoral to have kids?” As the rule dictates, any headline posed as a question must be answered ‘No’. But Dave will not be sterilised so easily. He has a column to fill.
Bringing children into a disintegrating environment used to be a theoretical fear. Now it’s a very real one
Dave is scared of disintegration. He also tell us he has children. This being the Guardian, chances are they will soon be introduced in Dave’s column or one of their own, little Bry-lined specimens, keepers of the Bry hard stare.
…the world is a wonderful place, one we humans have made nicer for ourselves with wonderful inventions like books and record players, penicillin and pizza, it’s also a really awful place, one we’ve ravaged with deforestation and smog, nuclear weapons and mountains of pizza delivery boxes and other garbage.
Which one of those awful things do you suppose Dave and the Bry-lines rub up against on a given day? Nuclear weapons? (Isn’t Islington a nuclear free zone?) Deforestation by the Guardian’s new Kings X offices? Pizza? The Internet?
The awfulness seems to be getting worse, especially now that climate change has sped up – sea level rise that was supposed to take centuries has recently been projected as taking just decades. This complicates the already difficult decision of whether to have a kid.
It’s too late for Dave. But if he can put you off breeding, he’ll have made his contribution to Gaia’s health. And he will do it with science:
We’re living through what scientists call the “Sixth Extinction”, an era of precipitous decline in the number of species able to live on the planet. The last mass extinction, the fifth, happened 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid crashed into Earth and 76% of all the species on the planet perished.
He sees “global economic collapse, famine, border disputes, wars.”
Thinking about the horrific future scientists predict hurts a very specific part of me, a part of me that I only first learned was there when I met my newborn son, 11 years ago, as he lay on the tray of the scale where the doctors had just weighed him and counted his fingers and toes.
The moment is wordless, and as mind-blowing as any drug trip I ever took.
Trust me. I’m a stoner. And Dave is re-evaluating:
Was I complicit in the damage? I remember every extra paper towel I’ve ever unspooled from the roll, and think about a tree falling in the Amazon, and then think about my son growing up in a gray, dying world – walking towards Kansas on potholed highways. Maybe while trying to protect his own son, like the father in The Road. Will he decide to have a kid? I have foisted upon him a decision even more difficult than my own. It’s all very depressing.
No. It’s hilarious. And curse those mahogany paper towels!
What if, and this is obviously a huge “if”, some young person, perhaps a certain 11-year-old in a Black Sabbath T-shirt (I highly doubt it, he can rarely remember to take his lunchbox out of his knapsack at the end of the day), perhaps someone who is not yet born, perhaps not yet conceived, is the one super-genius to figure out the invention that could save the planet?
For anyone not laughing themselves silly at Dave, the story ends with a line about his science:
This article was amended on Saturday 2 April 2016, to correctly identify the timing of the last mass extinction.
Spotter: Brendan O’Neill.