The Best Way You Can Go Green: Have Fewer Children


photo: Ted Johnson/Creative Commons via flickr

Forget changing your lightbulbs, driving a car with high fuel efficiency, adopting a vegetarian diet or even switching to green power. If you live in the United States and really want to reduce your carbon emission legacy, perhaps the single largest change you can make to your life is commit to have fewer children. That's the word coming from LiveScience: Each Child Increases Your Carbon Legacy 5.7 Times
LiveScience cites a study from statisticians at Oregon State University which shows that in the United States each child ultimately adds about 9,400 metric tons of carbon emissions to the average parent's carbon legacy -- about 5.7 times the average US resident's emissions over their lifetime.

Each Chinese Child Has One-Fifth the Impact as US Child
For sake of comparison, researchers found that the long-term impact of a child born in China has only one-fifth the environmental impact as a baby born in the United States.

Ecological & Carbon Footprint Differences Tell the Tale
Ultimately that comes straight down to resource consumption: While the average per capita carbon emissions in the United States are up around 20 metric tons per person, in China that's about 1.3 tons per person.

It terms of ecological footprint, Footprint Network says that US resource consumption requires about 9.5 global hectares per person, while China's use of natural resources requires slightly over 2 hectares per person -- which is just what the globe can support. The global average is 2.7 global hectares per person -- in other words, we're overshooting global biocapacity by an increasing amount.

Population Growth, Resource Consumption a Big Problem
Researcher Paul Murtaugh said,

In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his of her lifetime. Those are important issues and it's essential that they should be considered. But an additional challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources.

More: LiveScience
Population Growth
When Population Growth and Resource Availability Collide
Population Growth, Resource Over-Consumption at Center of 'Looming Catastrophe', Stanford Biologists Claim
Brits Break Silence on Population-Climate Change Links

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Environmental Footprint | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes

Best of TreeHugger