This is a crazy person confession. Brace yourself.

With everything that’s been happening in Japan and Haiti and Chile and Thailand. With the photos I see of the ice caps shrinking, and those commercials about the polar bears dying and how they have to walk miles and miles now over melting, crappy ice just to feed their babies. With all of that – I have a real fear that we’re all just killing the planet and by the time I’m 60, by the time my kids are ready to have their kids, the earth will look nothing like it does now. And I don’t even like composting!

For serious, this is one of those fears I never really say out loud, but the other night we were watching more Japan Tsunami footage and I totally started having a freak out. One of my biggest fears is having children, and then having the world fall apart and then having to try and protect them in a situation where no one is safe. And I know this sounds so extreme, and like I’ve been watching too many replays of The Road, but I worry about this when scary environmental things like this happen. I feel like yes, the media makes it extreme and give disasters pithy titles, and pimp the shit out of them for ratings. And I know that with more technology the world is smaller, and now everything is accessible in an instant so it feels like everything is bigger, closer, more intense. But I also am just straight up afraid that … it IS.

I feel like we are killing the planet, faster than we realize. I feel like greed and pride are the culprits. I worry that the environment is going to tick along, getting slowly worse, without any real wake up calls, and then suddenly it will be too late and everything will get bad and scary and horrible in a snap. And I guess the worst part is I feel helpless.

I recycle, I work to conserve water, I’ve decreased my bottled water usage dramatically, we use energy saving lightbulbs, I drive a fuel efficient car. But really? What the hell does that do when there is China – under a cloud of awful, toxic pollution – when there are massive oil spills killing millions of fish and sea life, when there is a super volcano in Yellowstone threatening to take out nearly a quarter of the United States whenever it feels like bubbling up to the surface.

I do my best to push this fear out of my mind, since the reality is if it’s going to happen in my life time, if the world is going to become a dust bowl of lifeless mess, then it’s going to happen without my consent. But AH! I feel like I can see it rolling toward me, down the road, and all we are doing is racing towards it. Is this totally nutso? I feel like saying this out loud is going to make me a complete crazy-face, but at the same time it’s possibly my biggest real life fear at the moment. So here I am – telling you I’m afraid the world is going to come to an end! Irrationally or not – ugh, it’s awful.

50 thoughts on “Fears”

  1. Probably not helpful to you, but I don’t think this is irrational at all. I think we all just try to not pay attention to how dire the situation is no matter how many studies and reports come out, but then something like these disasters happen and we are forced to confront it more directly for a little while. It is a part of why I decided a long time ago to not have children. (In principal, I am open to adoption, but in practice, likely will not because I don’t have a strong desire to parent, or think I would be good at parenting either way.)

    1. This is not a popular opinion, but one of the reasons I don’t want to have my own biological children is because I believe there are already too many people in the world. If we decide to have children, we will adopt.

      1. I agree with you. Really. I really think over population is a huge problem, but then again – I’m going to be part of the problem when I have kids. I’m just not someone who can adopt. I totally think adoption is awesome, but for whatever reason – I’m not one of those people who would be able to. Sigh. I feel guilty even admitting that.

          1. As i’m saving them from post-apocolyptic disasters? 🙂

            And you know, I’ve really thought about this, talked with Kamel about it, and we just couldn’t. I would never feel like they were my own kid. As much as I think adoption is amazing, even if I was completely sterile, for me adoption just doesn’t feel right.

          2. Lauren, I’ll be honest, I have never understood that. And that is nothing against you and your feelings. Maybe it’s because I have never had a biological urge to reproduce. I understand that birthing a child creates a strong bond, but I just feel like there must be ways to create that bond without birthing. If you are comfortable sharing, I would love to hear why you don’t think you would feel that attachment with an adopted child.

          3. I don’t think I can really explain it beyond the fact that it’s just not for me. It’s not about biological urges. I would like to have children, but I don’t have any urges at all simply to raise children – all I want to do is raise my own. And both Kamel and I feel the same on this – adoption for us just wouldn’t work, we would never feel like they were our kids. And! If we can’t have children, we’ll be content not having children at all. I have only positive feelings for adoption in general. It’s totally awesome and those kids belong to those parents 100%, but it just doesn’t have a place in my life.

            Does that make sense? I have a feeling nothing I say on this will be all that satisfying. :/

  2. For what it’s worth, I’m right there with you. My husband and I watch a ton of news and keep up on politics, and it makes me feel like I owe my 7 month old daughter an apology every day. Like before long I’ll be telling her about the good old days, before women’s rights were repealed, and it was safe to go for a walk outside. I don’t know if the answer is to watch less news, move to a Scandinavian country, or take an anti-anxiety med. But anyway, you’re not alone.

  3. Uh, I’m crazypants about this too! I also worry a lot about consumerism and greed and media overexposure. I worry about the economy and how people today rely so much on debt to finance their educations and cars and lives. I worry a lot about where we’re all headed.

  4. agree, you are not being crazy irrational. it is scary what we are doing to our planet, and when big scary things happen it just highlights that. ummm, nuclear meltdown??? i’ve been dreaming about acid rain, so i’m right there with you…

  5. When my parents got married my mom convinced my dad that they wouldn’t have children because of fear of nuclear war, environmental deterioration, etc. Obviously she didn’t stick with that promise because she changed her mind two years later and got pregnant with me.

  6. I was just talking to my boyfriend about this this morning…with all the bad news/wars/natural disasters flooding the media I just feel so hopeless. Like nothing I do will help at all and we’re just waiting for the day something like this happens in our backyard. It’s sounds so bleak to write out like that, but I really am scared. So no, you’re not crazy because I fell the same way.

    1. This is such a relief to know that I’m not the only one really taking these things seriously!! I feel like if I use the term “end of the world” people will think i’m a religious nut or overreacting … but I feel like the evidence is everywhere and sometimes I don’t understand why there isn’t mass panic in the streets.

  7. Oh sweetie, this isn’t crazy. There’s so, so much wrong. Not even just the environmental issues.

    I’ve always laughed at people who do the whole “I’m moving to Canada” thing … but seriously, with all of the shit being stirred up by the House/Senate/states lately … living elsewhere (where my morals/beliefs/sanity can stay intact) is starting to sound REALLY good.

    1. I was thinking about hiding in the hills of montana on the drive to work this morning. Like… hmm… where would I run to if there was mass devestation? Somewhere quiet and away from skyscrapers, and where nature wins over infastructure, and where I can hide from the zombies… and stuff.

  8. I don’t think you’re irrational about this, and I completely understand the fear. (I may actually be completely irrational, because in addition to worrying about “my kids won’t be able to swim in lakes or eat fresh food,” I also worry about things like “I won’t be able to send them to private college and if I die, I can’t trust anyone else with them.)

    You’ve got the right idea, though. All we can do is take the steps we can to stop this mess, and realize that things happen without our consent all the time, and sometimes all we can do is be brave and face them.

    (PS- you’ll be happy to know I almost bought a bottle of water on Sunday, and then I thought, “What would Lauren do?” and stopped myself.)

    1. SERIOUSLY? ah! that makes me happy. I get around it by buying glass bottles and then reusing them at work or in the house and then recycling them. Glass = happy, plastic = sad. ha.

  9. I worry about water. About someday being in a position where we don’t have fresh, clean, safe running water. I worry that hot showers will become a luxury of the wealthy and privileged.

    Actually, I worry about a lot of normal, every-day things like hot showers and fresh fruit and access to health care (ESPECIALLY reproductive care for women) becoming accessible only to the rich.

    It’s true that a lot of what happens in the world is done without your (or my, or whoever’s) consent. Which is why I think it’s important to do what we can and give ourselves credit for it. Like the water bottles. Or recycling. Or composting. Or donating money to organizations working for causes that will help benefit the planet. Or being aware of our own impact. Or speaking out. Or voting for representatives that we believe will fight for what’s important. Or volunteering. Or holding companies accountable for their environmental practices. Or supporting local farmer’s markets.

    None of these things are going to stop earthquakes or tsunamis or undo a lot of damage that we’ve already done. But they still count and should be done.

    But yes. It’s all still scary.

  10. Hi Lauren. I’m a new commenter… love the blog, btw.
    Two things:
    1. Japan is not going to have a nuclear meltdown. Promise.
    2. You should compost. It’s not that bad! You can get cute little bins that don’t smell at all.

    1. you know, I wish I could compost, and perhaps if I lived in a house and not in a tiny apartment that doesn’t do composting, I may…. BUT. BUT. I have a huge ick-out factor about food. Like, if my environment is too stressful or too untidy, I can’t eat. Food literally grosses me out. The kitchen is a rocky place for me. ha. but I’m doing my best in other areas. 🙂

        1. ha. I have no idea! they don’t have a compost bin, that’s for sure.

          I can’t even handle banana peels in my garbage can, it makes me want to puke.

          1. Your apartment has green bins, right? If not, they totally are in violation of city law.

            I get why folks don’t want to “do” the composting in their homes, but I live in Oakland and just have a separate tiny trash can with a lid and compostable plastic bag (you could reuse paper bags). I take that bag out to our green bin every couple of days.

            It’s really no different than putting food waste into the main trash bag. In fact, I probably take the compost “waste” out more often than I took out the trash when it was all combined. So less yuck indoors overall.

            Do it, do it! Pretty please…

            P.S. I am 100% with you on the fear. I think it’s rational, and it’s huge reason why I may not have kids. Plenty of scientists think the landscape of our world will be totally different in 100 years if resource depletion doesn’t slow down.

          2. Here’s some back up from http://www.sfenvironment.org

            “If you are a renter in San Francisco you are entitled to recycling and composting in your building. If your landlord has not responded to requests to provide these services, you may report the building using our anonymous report form. We will get in touch with the property manager directly and work with them to set up service.”

            I’m such a composting evangelist that I brought my co-worker a few compostable plastic bags to encourage her. 🙂

  11. Lauren, you are so not crazy. I worry about all these same things on a daily basis. It doesn’t even take a natural disaster or a news story about climate change to get me going. The world is a scary place. I was just saying to my fiance the other day that the situation in Japan makes you realize how fragile we are a a species. Nature, which we are destroying and constantly screwing with, has not regard for us. It does what it wants when it wants to and it has a lot of power to destroy us. Throw in the damage we’re doing and it is a miracle we’re all still here. I worry about having kids too. I don’t want to contribute to our already too high population or about my kids growing up in some barren wasteland where everyone has asthma because the air is unbreathable, the soil can’t sustain life, and all we can eat is astronaut style spacefood. (If you’re crazy then I am isane)

    Also, The Road scared by beyond belief. It left me theorizing about what happened that made earth that way and it left me thinking about how “OMG. Something like this could happen any day. gah!”

    I guess the best we can do is try our best to be kind to the environment and get other people to do the same. If something is going to happen it is going to be out of our control. I hate having crazy moments where this is all I think about but ultimately we need to keep going. Hopefully, we can keep going without our heads in the sand.

  12. Ive had a constant fear of the end of the world forever as well. I hate it when the hubs watches the Nat Geo channel, im always like oh GREAT, hows the world gonna end today?! Im mostly worried about the dying part I think. I just keep telling myself, at least we’ll ALL die together. Quick and painless right? Right. That and all my super religious friends tell me that in the bible it says that there will be 7 years of peace before the end of the world comes. Sooo that means at least 7 years from last friday. Ill just keep holding on to that belief 😉

    1. The dying bit doesn’t freak me out as much as the SCARY bit does. Like, if it’s the end of the world there is going to be a lot of terror and horriblness before the dying part. Unless the sun just explodes and then it will be more like *poof!. But yes, I think the worst would be to survive some sort of massive disaster and be left to slowly die of lukemia or watch your kids starve to death or something equally horrific. 🙁

  13. Brian and I seriously decided not to even talk about having kids until after 2012 is over. Just in case the world ends, and we have to make a run for it. I’m worried enough about keeping track of our damn dogs.

  14. Totally have the same fear!!!! James is convinced people will be wiped off the earth in one fell swoop sometime in our lifetime. Like the earth will just be like, “Screw all you jerks trying to ruin me. I’ll show you… I can do just fine without you humans around.”

    As a side note… James loves post apocalyptic books… so I figure he will be prepared if we ever survive one…

  15. ” One of my biggest fears is having children, and then having the world fall apart and then having to try and protect them in a situation where no one is safe. ”

    WOW – were you and I separated at birth? I have said to my boyfriend that while I want children, I worry about bringing another life into this world and having them experience the worst, between nuclear wars, Mother Nature, evil people, end of days 2012, genocide, or the effects of breaking down of the ozone. I think something is up with Mother Nature, there have been a lot more frequent disasters in recent years.

    Too many people I think are selfish and only think about the now aspect of life. If it doesn’t affect me directly, I don’t care, attitude. I don’t think ENOUGH people realize what may be in the future. You are not alone or irrational.

  16. I’ve been a fan of reading distopic stories since high school. Before The Road I read The Parable of The Sower and tons of other stories about the breakdown of the earth and the social world. The one message I took away from those stories was to stay educated and to do what I could to be prepared mentally and physically. One interesting read for you might be A World Without Us. Not something you can tackle in a day, but an interesting telling tale about the perseverance of nature. Do your best to be prepared for the world you want (less water bottles is a great start) and you will have less to fear.

      1. I can’t let fear get the best of me. I don’t like that feeling so I try to feel more in control of my own little patch of the world.

        You should have seen how excited I was when we moved into our house and got a gigantic recycling bin, I was in heaven. At our TX apartment there was no recycling so I found local places to take our paper products and our glass and cans. I couldn’t stand to just throw those things away. After the move I packed up the entire back of my Subaru wagon with flattened boxes and hauled them to an elementary school. I felt so much better. Creating less waste is a big deal for me.

        Think of what you did at your clothing swap – less waste! Bonus, you inspired me and I held my very own swap last weekend. The girls I invited nominated me to do two regular swaps a year to clean our closets.

    1. that is so weird you mention Parable of the Sower! I had it as an assigned book in college and randomly started reading it again on Friday morning, about 10 minutes before hearing about the earthquake in Japan. talk about freaky – that book is making me want to prepare a disaster kit STAT.

      1. I know what you mean Nikki – the disaster kit was a must when I was in Seattle and now that I’m in Texas and can’t think of any imminent disasters, I’ve flaked a bit. My mom has a kit in her car and everything fits into a back pack. Not a bad idea at all.

        1. You must do it. I live in Christchurch, NZ and we have just had two major earthquakes in the past 6 months (the first one was bigger than Haiti, the second one killed hundreds of people and decimated our city). We were not previously considered an “earthquake” city but it just shows how powerful, and unpredictable, mother nature can be. Get an emergency kit. Stat.

  17. heck yes…i took environmental science in school and before that i was a massive litterer. it didn’t take but two class periods for me to go all environmentally-insane on everyone. now i snap at isaiah if he leaves the water running while he brushes his teeth. i have yelled at my mom about her insane habit of leaving lights on while she’s AT WORK for the day. there is so much to change…

  18. Nope, I worry about that stuff all the time. To the point that I’ve made the rest of my family agree upon a plan and meeting place in the event of a Giant Game-Changing Emergency Situation.

  19. Here’s the thing. The destruction of the planet by our hands is a very real fear. It’s real because it’s happening at such a rapid pace, and even though we’re young, we have seen it with our own eyes. We’re so short sighted that there’s no way we can be proactive, we’re just reacting to the damage we’ve already done. And I have no idea what it’s going to take for us as a global community to make that change.

    I know that you cutting back on energy usage and recycling and composting and reusing and me cutting back on energy usage and recycling and composting and reusing make a difference — of course it does! But in order to reverse the damage, the changes are going to have to be made on the policy level, and corporations and governments are going to have to be held responsible.

    When you say these things people think you’re being extreme. “Green” (and greenwashing) are trendy now, but those people being “green” enough to actually change their lifestyle and speaking out to support doing so are still seen as being on the fringe. It’s frustrating.

    And don’t even get me STARTED on reproductive rights and education.

  20. I am so glad you’re brave enough to write this down. I think about this stuff ALL THE TIME and never even speak it, let alone blog it. Thank you for making me feel less crazy (or at least, less alone in this particular crazy). 🙂

  21. Welcome to Generation X thinking. We’ve all seen the same thing coming since 1980. It’s why we’re so bitter. Because NOBODY will listen to us. Then they blame us for the problem. Fun, huh?

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