And I was 40 years old and working at IKEA. I was very committed to recycling and salvaging and thinking about the environment for future generations even though I knew that I would never have children of my own.
A twenty-something co-worker and I were tossing broken items into the crushing dumpster* and I brought up my desire to waste as little as possible etc., etc., because tomorrow's children deserve a chance, blah, blah. My co-worker brought up the point that she thought that the world would hold together long enough for her to have children but didn't think things would be very good for the generation after that.
There was a bland acceptance in her perspective that troubled me. She wanted the good things in life, including having a family. But, she, like many of my co-workers, didn't feel like going through too much trouble to recycle or reuse or salvage and repurpose items. And she wasn't investing any angst into what her children and their children's lives would be like.
Correct me if I am wrong, but that sounds like nihilism to me. It was also short-sighted and selfish.
I have a much higher opinion of the young woman who doesn't plan on having children because of its impact on the environment--or because she couldn't guarantee that her children would live decent lives in a sustainable world.
Clearly, not every single breeding age person of the next generation will feel that way. The chances of our species going down for the count because no one will be having any babies in the future is zero.
The real issue is what sort of life can we offer to a reasonable number of people in the future. Total pessimism will not fix the future, of course. But thinking about the future beyond one's own personal desires and aspirations is part of the mindset needed to confront the challenges ahead.
* For those in Customer Service, even those who genuinely enjoyed helping people as I did, the crushing dumpster was the most blissful form of therapy ever invented.