The conceivable future Planning families and taking action in the age of climate change

Meghan Elizabeth Kallman

Book - 2024

"The impact of climate change has created a global concern about the future of our reproductive health. The Conceivable Future creates a conversation of what family planning in the era of climate consequences is while being a stimulating guide to a balanced life of participating within climate activism"--

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Lanham : The Rowman & Littlefield [2024]
Main Author
Meghan Elizabeth Kallman (author)
Other Authors
Elizabeth Rush (writer of foreword), Josephine Ferorelli (author)
Physical Description
xxxvi, 352 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Part I. The Impossible Question
  • Chapter 1. A Dangerous World for Birthing
  • Chapter 2. But Are Babies Bad for the World?
  • Chapter 3. A Brief History of Women-Led Movements
  • Part II. Rolling Up Our Sleeves
  • Chapter 4. The Freedom to Feel
  • Chapter 5. Family Planning: The Labor of Love
  • Chapter 6. See Yourself in the Beloved Community
  • Chapter 7. The Big No
  • Chapter 8. The Big Yes
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix: Beyond Our Bibliography
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

Questions about the challenges and ethical implications associated with bringing new life into a world torn by dissension and climate change have haunted prospective parents for decades. So have entreaties to practice responsible family planning, especially in the face of dwindling resources and population growth. This balanced and empathetic offering comes from Kallman and Ferorelli, cofounders of the Conceivable Future organization, a grassroots movement devoted to giving people, especially women, a platform to share their stories. Their thoughtful and engaging narrative addresses multiple facets of emotional, social, economic, and political concerns (cultural expectations, adoption, reproductive activism), with helpful navigational features (self-checklists, flowcharts, step-by-step action guides) and numerous quotes and anecdotes from specialists, commentators, and individuals seeking answers. Distinctive threads run throughout: there are no such things as right or wrong answers; everyone has the right to make judgment-free choices, and everyone has the capability to change the future. The concluding chapters ("The Big No"; "The Big Yes") pull everything together, and multiple resources cited throughout the book combine with detailed chapter notes and a lengthy bibliography to offer readers considerable assistance. This reassuring consideration of a deeply personal matter teams seamlessly with a reasoned, emphatic call to action.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this disjointed probe, Kallman (The Death of Idealism), a University of Massachusetts Boston sociologist and Rhode Island state senator, and Grandgather blogger Ferorelli explore strategies for fighting climate change and how global warming is affecting decisions about whether or not to have children. According to the authors, calls to lower one's carbon footprint by having fewer children are misguided because they place the onus to stop global warming on the average person while distracting from the fact that meaningfully reducing carbon emissions will require tackling the biggest industrial polluters. Though Kallman and Ferorelli encourage parents to talk with children about climate change "in an age-appropriate way" (without specifying how to do so), they otherwise struggle to connect their material on global warming and families. For instance, a chapter on family planning explores how polyamorous partnerships, queer couples, and close ties between aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews offer alternatives to the heteronormative nuclear family, but barely touches on climate change. Conversely, profiles of organizations tackling climate change at the local, state, and national levels (the authors highlight the Capital Good Fund's work offering small, low-interest loans aimed at helping people with low incomes convert their homes to clean energy) have little to do with family. This suffers from a lack of focus. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Excerpt © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Excerpt from the Introduction As activists in the environmental movement, we'd been indoctrinated with guilt for every way we weren't conforming to the rules and regulations of Green Living. This included mixed feelings about bringing a child into the world: a child whose disposable diapers could circle the earth and whose carbon footprint would multiply our own. But beside that was a deeper well of fear: not what harm our children might do to the world, but what harm was in store for any child entering into a harsher, hotter, less just world? From this embattled place, what meaningful actions could we take that helps balance big scales of injustice? Back when we began, feelings were not yet an acknowledged part of the climate discourse. That was baffling: most of us commit to activism because we feel. And these feelings emerge from a society that offers up the future as a sacrifice zone--a place determined to be inessential, which can be degraded in exchange for profit. From the beginning our goal has been the same: to bring people together to share their experiences and navigate these threats, together. And by doing this, we have aimed to transform the national climate conversation from one trapped in remote, chilly legalese to a widespread, vital, moral one. We're writing this book to describe what we've learned through our organizing work, which we believe points at new ways to understand this predicament, and its solutions. We share our own experiences, and we talk with dozens of people who have found imaginative, effective ways to join the massive effort to right this keeling ship. Our book is an invitation to get unstuck, to find your people, to acknowledge your feelings and roll up your sleeves; to learn how to be activists and change-makers. It's as much about taking action as it is about family planning. We can't give you easy answers, but we can accompany you on this journey from paralyzing questions to transformative action for a future we imagine, together. Excerpted from The Conceivable Future: Planning Families and Taking Action in the Age of Climate Change by Meghan Elizabeth Kallman, Josephine Ferorelli All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.