On ‘Raising My Child in a Doomed World’

Roy Scranton excerpted this piece from his new book.

I am a left-leaning academic, concerned about climate change, and I just had my own baby daughter three months ago — so you would think this piece would resonate with me.

But it doesn’t.

Instead, I’m annoyed to read yet another confused op-ed claiming “individual choices aren’t enough” and the solution is simply to “be kind to one another and fight for the future”.

One the one hand, the author writes:

“The main problem […] isn’t with the ideas of teaching thrift, flying less or going vegetarian, […] but rather with the […] idea that we can save the world through individual consumer choices. We cannot.”

But, on the other hand:

“All I can do is teach her […] how to be kind and how to live within the limits of nature’s grace. […] But I also need to teach her to fight for what’s right, because none of us is in this alone.”

Roy, your daughter (and my daughter!) will need to be revolutionaries, not kind, ascetic liberals who love nature and hike on weekends and “fight” by donating to the Sierra Club.

They will need to vote, to be scientists, entrepreneurs, and politicians, to conspire and write and shape the public discourse, to impel others to action, and to cross cultural divides. They will need to set policy and use the power of government — the major mechanism we have for compelling society-wide behavior change. They will need to invent new ways to make and distribute energy. They will need to create new economic tools to fund and incentivize large-scale climate change mitigation projects.

They will need to do all these things if there is any hope of reversing what will surely be decades more climate change by the time they are adults.

Roy, you must do much more than just “teach her how to care.” I really hope your book has more to say about how you plan to teach your daughter to “fight for what’s right.”