This summer, I attended a totally unusual baby party.
Instead of the typical banter about burping and baby food, this one had less of that and more of ... well, prospective parents gathering to discuss whether or not it still makes sense to have kids these days.
The decision to have a baby can be stressful. There's the money, there's having to, y'know, feed them and teach them stuff, there's staying up late, there's the money again. Having kids. It's kind of a big deal.
But for some people, there's another, perhaps less obvious, concern about bringing a child into the world.
The prospective parents at this party had one thing in common. They were all sincerely worried about climate change making the world unlivable for their children.
That's why Josephine Ferorelli and Meghan Kallman, two women of childbearing age, came up with the idea for Conceivable Future house parties. They couldn't stop thinking about the challenges climate change might pose for their children. Now that might sound overboard, but it's a legitimate concern.
So Josephine and Meghan started throwing these house parties for women and men who hadn't had kids yet — like a baby shower but without the tiny socks — to give people a chance to explore their complicated feelings about the whole situation.
So far, they've held a half dozen parties in homes, movie theaters, summer camps, and community centers from Seattle to New York City, with six more in the works.
“I've been conflicted about having children, and one of the main reasons is the question of what kind of world I'm going to will to that child," says Meghan Kallman, one of the organizers, in a video for the project.
She remembers her own niece being born during a heat wave two years ago and thinking that things just didn't feel normal in the world. And for what it's worth, 2014 was the hottest year on record, and now 2015 is set to beat that record, so this isn't just theoretical. Some people are sincerely scared, and this group gives those people a chance to voice their worries.
Climate change is happening. But these people want to make a difference.
At each party, attendees are invited to record their own testimony, and you can listen to many of them online. The stories are meant to show that the reason so many people care about climate change isn't about winning a political fight, or moral superiority, or even saving the very cute but far-away polar bears.
The real reason is because people love and want to look out for their families and children — and there's nothing sweeter than that. (Except tiny chocolate cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles, which I hear are served at all the best baby showers. Ahem.)
So what do the people running Conceivable Future want?
They want the U.S. government to stop subsidies to oil companies, which are creating pollution that contributes to climate change and endangering the futures of our hypothetical children. (It kind of reminds me of the plot line of “Knocked Up," when Katherine Heigl's character basically tells Seth Rogen's character he can't raise a kid with her if he's going to be high all the time. But, on a planetary scale. C'mon, Washington, pull your weight around here!)
Check out Meghan's video testimony, and ask yourself what kind of world you would like to see your children living in.
What we do now could make a difference for generations to come.