Motherhood as a climate-induced choice
In an article titled “The default question should be: Why do you want to have kids?”, Gayatri Rangachari Shah writes about her change in attitude towards motherhood – from a default and innate position to something based on conscious choice. She talks about a Noida-based couple in the article who has decided against having a child based on the status of the global climate.
As per studies conducted in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad, they are already experiencing the phenomenon of Urban Heat Island – urbanization-induced higher temperatures in comparison to its surrounding non-urban areas. Lancet has published a study on pregnancy loss and stillbirths in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh between the years 2000 and 2016. According to this study, 34,197 women had lost a pregnancy, including 27,480 miscarriages and 6,717 stillbirths, in the period. Out of these, 77 percent of pregnancy loss cases were from India, which could have been prevented if our recommended air quality level was as per WHO standards. Pregnant women in the capital city of Delhi are urged not to go out of their homes. Underweight childbirths (2.2 pounds) in Delhi began to be reported in 2019 due to rising air pollution.
The city of Mumbai is already facing the financial impacts of its sea-level rise. As reported by a documentary on climate change produced by The Quint, the city is highly likely to be submerged in water before the turn of the century, i.e., by 2050. Alauddin, a fisherman featured in the documentary, rhetorically states, “Every man wants their child to succeed and fight against all odds in the journey. But whom do I fight against? Do I fight against climate change?” Although this man is talking about sustenance at one level, this is the narrative of several other underprivileged and middle class communities that are already bearing the brunt of climate change, with no capability of voicing their grievances.