Research shows having smaller families is best way to reduce gre - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Research shows having smaller families is best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: Updated:

By Kate Baggaley

NBCNEW.COM -  Want to do all you can to help the environment? You have lots of options, of course, from driving less and recycling more to installing solar panels on your roof. But provocative new research shows that the most effective way to fight climate change is to have fewer children.

Researchers in Canada and Sweden compared 31 green-oriented lifestyle choices of people living in industrialized nations to see which was best at curbing emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. Their calculations showed that having fewer children brought the biggest reductions, followed by ditching your car, avoiding airplane travel, and eating a plant-based diet.

“Until we’ve completely decarbonized society, adding another person to the planet is always going to add more emissions,” says study coauthor Seth Wynes, a graduate student in geography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “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.”

Switching from plastic to canvas shopping bags cuts about 11 pounds of carbon dioxide from your carbon footprint each year, the study showed. Going meatless cuts way more — almost a ton. But each child you don’t have cuts your carbon footprint by 65 million tons a year, say Wynes and his collaborator, Kimberly Nicholas of Lund University in Sweden.

Those figures are based on the greenhouse gases your child and their offspring would have put into the atmosphere as a result of their daily living. Each parent is responsible for half of a child’s lifetime greenhouse gas emissions, a quarter of his or her grandchildren’s emissions, and smaller fractions of more distant descendants’ emissions, according to the study.

Obviously, society would eventually collapse if everyone stopped having children. And Bastien Girod, a sustainability researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, isn’t sure that having smaller families is a realistic solution to the global warming problem.

“People want to reduce environmental emissions, but they will start where it hurts least,” he says, adding that the biggest impact will come from many people taking small steps rather than a few people making drastic lifestyle changes.

And he says that our children may prove to be the ones who come up with even more effective approaches to protecting our planet.

“Children cannot only be part of the problem, but also part of the solution,” he says. “To say having less kids is the best thing you can do for climate, I wouldn’t subscribe to that.”

Another problem with the fewer-children argument is that it would take centuries to reduce the number of people on the planet, Chris Goodall, an author who writes about sustainability and energy, told The Guardian. “In some ways [the study] will just reinforce the suspicion of the political right that the threat of climate change is simply a cover for reducing people’s freedom to live as they want,” he added.

Wynes acknowledges that how many babies to have is a very personal decision. His research isn’t meant to guide national policies or to pressure people into having smaller families, he says. But it could give people more information to consider when they’re deciding how many children they want.

“For me personally, the climate is very important…I want to leave a healthy atmosphere for future generations,” he says. “It’s something I’m going to be cognizant of, but not everyone is in the same place.”

The findings were published July 12 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Roommate of woman found at recycling plant stops at KHQ before turning himself in

    Roommate of woman found at recycling plant stops at KHQ before turning himself in

    Friday, April 20 2018 2:35 AM EDT2018-04-20 06:35:28 GMT

    Spokane, Wash. - It's been more than a month since Stephanie Standen was last seen by her roommate Eugene Jupp. But according to court documents he says he heard her in her bedroom three to four days before her body was found. Jupp and Standen were once roommates at a house on West 15th next to Roosevelt Elementary School. According to court documents Jupps was not close with Standen and did not report her missing. But she was reported missing by adult protective services...

    >>

    Spokane, Wash. - It's been more than a month since Stephanie Standen was last seen by her roommate Eugene Jupp. But according to court documents he says he heard her in her bedroom three to four days before her body was found. Jupp and Standen were once roommates at a house on West 15th next to Roosevelt Elementary School. According to court documents Jupps was not close with Standen and did not report her missing. But she was reported missing by adult protective services...

    >>
  • Washington man dead after TV tower collapses in Missouri

    Washington man dead after TV tower collapses in Missouri

    Friday, April 20 2018 12:59 AM EDT2018-04-20 04:59:21 GMT
    Courtesy FacebookCourtesy Facebook
    Courtesy FacebookCourtesy Facebook

    FORDLAND, Mo. - Investigators say a worker was killed on a tower after it collapsed in a field in Fordland, Mo. KY 3 TV reports that 56-year-old Steve J. Lemay from Washington state died in the collapse.  Firefighters say a crew of seven were working at the tower when it fell. Three suffered minor injuries. Emergency crews transported them to a Springfield hospital. Ozarks Public Television, KOZK-TV, confirmed with KY 3 TV that it was the 

    >>

    FORDLAND, Mo. - Investigators say a worker was killed on a tower after it collapsed in a field in Fordland, Mo. KY 3 TV reports that 56-year-old Steve J. Lemay from Washington state died in the collapse.  Firefighters say a crew of seven were working at the tower when it fell. Three suffered minor injuries. Emergency crews transported them to a Springfield hospital. Ozarks Public Television, KOZK-TV, confirmed with KY 3 TV that it was the 

    >>
  • Students walk out of school to demand change to gun laws

    Students walk out of school to demand change to gun laws

    Friday, April 20 2018 12:26 AM EDT2018-04-20 04:26:43 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Tomorrow students across the country and right here in the Spokane area will be walking out of school demanding change to the current gun laws. Students at Lewis and Clark High School will be walking out starting at 10 a.m. They have invited other schools in the are to join them. They will have speakers and performers at the event demanding change to the current gun laws in the country. One of the speakers is Kai 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Tomorrow students across the country and right here in the Spokane area will be walking out of school demanding change to the current gun laws. Students at Lewis and Clark High School will be walking out starting at 10 a.m. They have invited other schools in the are to join them. They will have speakers and performers at the event demanding change to the current gun laws in the country. One of the speakers is Kai 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Local students walk out on 19th anniversary of Columbine shooting

    PHOTOS: Local students walk out on 19th anniversary of Columbine shooting

    Friday, April 20 2018 4:11 PM EDT2018-04-20 20:11:55 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Thousands of students across the country walked out of class on Friday to protest gun violence on the 19th anniversary since the shooting at Columbine High School.  Freeman High School students walked out and held a moment of silence for the 12 students and one teacher killed in the Columbine shooting. Freeman student Sam Strahan was killed at the beginning of the school year during a school shooting. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Thousands of students across the country walked out of class on Friday to protest gun violence on the 19th anniversary since the shooting at Columbine High School.  Freeman High School students walked out and held a moment of silence for the 12 students and one teacher killed in the Columbine shooting. Freeman student Sam Strahan was killed at the beginning of the school year during a school shooting. 

    >>
  • 1 injured, suspect in custody in Florida school shooting

    1 injured, suspect in custody in Florida school shooting

    Friday, April 20 2018 4:06 PM EDT2018-04-20 20:06:31 GMT

    OCALA, Fla. - Authorities say one student shot another in the ankle at a Florida high school and a suspect is in custody. The Ocala Star-Banner reports the shooting happened Friday morning at Forest High School which was on lockdown.  The injured student was taken to a local hospital.

    >>

    OCALA, Fla. - Authorities say one student shot another in the ankle at a Florida high school and a suspect is in custody. The Ocala Star-Banner reports the shooting happened Friday morning at Forest High School which was on lockdown.  The injured student was taken to a local hospital.

    >>
  • How to prepare your home to sell (sponsored)

    How to prepare your home to sell (sponsored)

    Friday, April 20 2018 3:17 PM EDT2018-04-20 19:17:53 GMT

    Preparing your home for the market means making repairs and general sprucing-up ? but also making it easy for potential buyers to imagine their happy lives there. Before you show your home to buyers, put yourself in their shoes, advises Sara Ramirez, a Realtor at Century 21. Look at your home with a critical eye. More...

    >>

    Preparing your home for the market means making repairs and general sprucing-up ? but also making it easy for potential buyers to imagine their happy lives there. Before you show your home to buyers, put yourself in their shoes, advises Sara Ramirez, a Realtor at Century 21. Look at your home with a critical eye. More...

    >>