Don’t procreate. That’s the advice from scientists who have calculated just how much of an environmental impact not having children has on the earth.
Choosing to limit the number of offspring one has is more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than not driving your car, riding in an airplane and eating a plant-based diet.
The findings come courtesy of researchers in Canada and Sweden who compared 31 green-oriented “lifestyle choices” (transportation, recycling, skipping plastic bags) to see which was best at cutting earth shattering emissions.
Speaking to NBC News, study co-author Seth Wynes says, “Until we’ve completely decarbonized society, adding another person to the planet is always going to add more emissions. We don’t want to knock recycling, but some people…are ready to step up their game and do something a little more challenging for the environment.”
While saying “no” to plastic grocery bags cuts about 11 pounds of carbon dioxide from one’s footprint, adopting a vegetarian diet cuts a ton (even more is switching to a vegan diet). But not having kids? Wynes and his fellow researches concluded that single action cuts the carbon footprint by 65 million tons a year (that number considers the greenhouse gases emitted from your child’s perceived progeny).
Of course, ending procreation all together just leads to more problems (like, you know, zero population) and critics say it’s no solution at all, and that obviously telling families not to have kids is a big ask. And who knows? Maybe this next generation of children will be the ones who solve the global warming issue.
Wynes agrees, and says his research should at the very least be a tool that families use when considering how many children to have.
“For me personally,” he tells NBC News, “the climate is very important…I want to leave a healthy atmosphere for future generations. It’s something I’m going to be cognizant of, but not everyone is in the same place.”