I was raised to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. However, after educating myself on the devastating impacts of climate change and our world leaders’ delayed plans for action, that ideal felt impossible. Bearing witness to environmental catastrophe is, unsurprisingly, causing many young American adults to debate the ethics of deliberately introducing new life to this cruel, disaster-ridden landscape.
It’s that very same thoughtfulness that helped me decide to give birth to one of the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy equipment — a solar panel.
I always felt I would make a great parent, but that doesn’t guarantee having an exceptional child. No one is certain they’ll have another Greta Thunberg or Hazel Johnson or Jane Fonda. Even the best parents can have children who go on to become employees of Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.
But once the idea of birthing a solar panel dawned on me, I couldn’t shake it. I started noticing solar panels everywhere I went, being pushed around in strollers and Home Depot carts or playing with each other along the curbs of front yard walkways and on rooftops. Plus, there’s no way a solar panel can work for BP and spill oil into the ocean. After weighing all my options, I knew I needed to take the steps towards raising my own little low-emitting bundle of renewable joy.
You would think delivering new, energy-harnessing technology into the world would feel like a no-brainer, but the decision was difficult. I had to balance my excitement entering motherhood with the guilt of not knowing if it was a good idea. I studied all the climate projection models, watched news stories covering wildfires and flooding, and found ways to support climate activists, all while growing this big frame of photovoltaic solar cells inside me.
My parents, of course, judged me throughout the process. “Just suck it up and give us a little fossil fuel burner,” those coal combustors would say. But they just don’t get it! Their generation didn’t have the same sense of climate doom, so they never doubted procreating in this world and starting huge families of frackers and deforesters. I was hopeful that birthing my solar panel would offset the harmful decisions from every industrializing generation before me.
As confident as I seemed, my inner monologue was constantly interrogating my choices. Am I really making the right decision? What if I’m just using my environmental politics as a way to avoid unpacking why I feel pressure to be a mother? Is solar energy even the best use for my uterus, or should I go wind or geothermal instead?
Today I write this with no regrets, five years after vaginally delivering a beautiful, bouncing baby solar panel (with no complications) and officially starting my dream family of climate activists (I had 2 more panels! Twins!) united all under and on top of one roof.
While having solar panels changed everything about me both internally and externally, I don’t regret it for a second. I just hope my little solar panels go on to live long, happy, and carbon-neutral lives.