Miley Cyrus believes there are a lot of similarities between how humans treat the planet and the women who live on it — and they’re not good.
"We've been doing the same thing to the earth that we do to women," she recently told Elle in an interview. "We just take and take and expect it to keep producing. And it's exhausted. It can't produce."
Cyrus compared societal expectations placed on women to have children to expectations for the planet to endlessly produce resources, and highlighted the ways in which one can feed into the other. She added that she and husband Liam Hemsworth do not plan to have children.
“We don’t want to reproduce because we know that the earth can’t handle it,” she said.
Studies have shown that the planet has suffered more than scientists had previously estimated. A recent report from Australia-based think tank Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration pointed out that climate change could have civilization-ending impacts by 2050. The report also added that countries urgently need to commit to net-zero emissions to combat the issue.
Even though 174 countries and the European Union have signed the Paris agreement — which calls for accelerated efforts and investments to combat climate change — no country is remotely close to achieving targets set for 2030.
Communities around the world are already feeling threatened by the potential impact of climate change, influencing many young people to opt out of having kids for fear of the harsh planet on which they would have to live. Cyrus is no exception.
"We're getting handed a piece-of-shit planet, and I refuse to hand that down to my child,” Cyrus said. “Until I feel like my kid would live on an earth with fish in the water, I'm not bringing in another person to deal with that.”
Having one fewer child per family can save an average of 58.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions per year, according to one study, making it a more impactful way to help the environment than going vegan, car pooling every day, or using public transport.
But many people, particularly women, feel pressured to have children due to societal expectations and deeply entrenched traditional gender roles.
"We're expected to keep the planet populated. And when that isn't a part of our plan or our purpose, there is so much judgment and anger that they try to make and change laws to force it upon you — even if you become pregnant in a violent situation," Cyrus told Elle.
The actress and singer said that her concern for the environment increased and her perspective widened after last year’s devastating wildfires in Northern California caused significant damage to her Malibu home. Experts say climate change made the area particularly vulnerable to the deadly wildfires, and Cyrus said the disaster helped her see what humans are doing to the planet.
Scientists expect only extreme weather disasters like wildfires, floods, and droughts, to become more frequent and devastating due to the worsening effects of climate change. According to the UN, one climate disaster now takes place around the world every week.
The costs of these disasters are also on the rise. Climate-related catastrophes are estimated to cost $520 billion a year, and the additional spending required to build resilient infrastructures that can withstand rising global temperatures is predicted to be $2.7 trillion in total over the next 20 years.
“With natural disasters, you don’t get a choice. You surrender,” Cyrus said. But the entertainer now appears determined to do everything she can to reduce her carbon footprint.