A new study, done by researchers from Lund University in Sweden, says having children is one of the worst things you can do for the environment.
The study notes that eating meat, driving a car and flying in an airplane are some of the top most polluting habits to the environment. However, according to the study published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, children are the most destructive to the planet as they create “an average of 58.6 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year”. This number is calculated not only by factoring the impact of the child, but as well as his or her future descendants.
“A US family who chooses to have one fewer child would provide the same level of emissions reductions as 684 teenagers who choose to adopt comprehensive recycling for the rest of their lives,” the study reported.
Lead author of the study, Seth Wynes, said in an interview with The Local “We found there are four actions that could result in substantial decreases in an individual’s carbon footprint: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car free and having smaller families.”
The study also analyzed 39-peer reviewed journals that discuss environmental policies around the world. Researchers concluded that many of the initiatives and strategies taken by governments only make small reductions of CO2 emissions. Wynes adds the 4 actions given “have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies”. For example, recycling is 4 times less effective than eating a plant-based diet. Furthermore, using energy-saving lightbulbs is 8 times less effective. Wynes continues, “living car-free saves about 2.4 tons of C02 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tons of C02 equivalent a year.”
There are already several groups around the globe that have been promoting this idea, such as “Population Matters”. Population Matters is a U.K. based charity that addresses population size and its effects on environmental sustainability. The charity believes population growth directly effects environmental degradation as well as societal problems. Population Matters is supported by many famed environmentalists such as Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Jane Goodall.