Monday, August 31, 2009

The Environmental Impact of One American Child

A new study out of Oregon State University suggests that limiting the number of children you have is a way more effective action you can take to reduce carbon emmissions than other more conventional actions such as recycling and cutting energy consumption.

In the article, published in Global Environmental Change 19 (2009) researchers Paul A. Murtaugh and Michael G. Schlax had this to say, in summary:

Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions.

Clearly, an individual’s reproductive choices can have a dramatic effect on the total carbon emissions ultimately attributable to his or her genetic lineage.
Murtaugh and Schlax make a strong case for smaller families, particularly in countries like the United States where one American child born in 2005 will likely produce close to 20 times more carbon emissions per capita than a child born in India.

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