The bleak realisation of failure - parenthood in the face of a climate-disrupted future


With my son, aged 11 months

I have made a bleak realisation. I am a failure. I have failed at the single most important role in my life – to safeguard the future for my children.


This has been an awful realisation to make, and it crystallised when my 14-year old son, after listening to some climate-related report on the radio said, ‘We are doomed, aren’t we, Mum?’. Unusually for him, there was not even a hint of facetiousness or irony – he was quite sincere.


At that moment, a bit of my heart shattered into pieces.

Carter and Caitlyn with Rosie the chicken. What will their future hold?

We now face the growing certainty that we will breach the 1.5 degree warming threshold that may have enabled us to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change. We have been warned that accelerating climate breakdown will lead to more severe and frequent climate disasters, ecological collapse, economic and social breakdown and unimaginable human suffering, including starvation, illness, displacement and death.


Or as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres so starkly put is a few days ago, ‘we are on a highway to climate hell’ with the option to cooperate or, enter a collective suicide pact, and perish.


A girl carries a goat through floodwaters in Bangladesh. Climate Outreach.

Even if my children do not experience the worst of this ‘climate hell’ first-hand, they will see it unfold in parts of the world, including the ‘global south’, most vulnerable to climate disruption.


Carter playing his beloved uke, Pippa by his side, under the macadamia nut tree.

As parents, we have worked to equip our children with the skills and attributes they will need when their time comes to navigate the adult world, and hopefully help make it a better place: critical thinking skills, a basic understanding of democratic process, compassion and empathy, and self-belief, especially when they hold views different from others.


And as a parent, I can only hope that this will be enough to weather the climate storm ahead.

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