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Natural Awakenings

Population Control: Family Planning Reduces Carbon Footprint

Statisticians at Oregon State University have concluded that in the United States, the greenhouse effect carbon legacy of choosing not to have a child is almost 20 times more important than other environmentally sensitive practices people might employ during their entire lives. Counting future descendants, each child adds about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, an individual person is responsible.

The research makes clear that the potential carbon impacts vary dramatically across countries. For example, the average, long-term carbon impact of a U.S. child and his or her descendants is about 10,407 tons, more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh. The long-term impact of a child born in China is less than one-fifth the impact of one born in America.

The researchers are not advocating any particular position. They say they simply want to make people aware of the environmental consequences of their reproductive choices.


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