The High Carbon Impact of Having Children

Joe Veix

A new study from Oregon State University puts numbers on the obvious: having children has a high carbon impact.

We’ve heard about the environmental impact of various birth controls, and now a new study released by Oregon State University examines the environmental impact of having children. According to an article in the New York Times:

"Take, for example, a hypothetical American woman who switches to a more fuel-efficient car, drives less, recycles, installs more efficient light bulbs, and replaces her refrigerator and windows with energy-saving models. If she had two children, the researchers found, her carbon legacy would eventually rise to nearly 40 times what she had saved by those actions."

The carbon impact varies based on geography. The article adds:

"An American woman who has a baby will generate nearly seven times the carbon footprint of that of a Chinese woman who has a child…"

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The whole study pretty much confirms the obvious: having more people causes more pollution. What’s interesting is that there are finally some numbers showing exactly what the impact is. The study also begs other uncomfortable topics to be discussed, overpopulation among them. But other than that, I think it highlights the importance of making smart reproductive decisions. It seems like there’s now a "going green" slant on arguments for better sex education in our country, plus yet another reason to adopt.

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