Weird Science: Stop Global Warming by Having Fewer Children

child parents

Are you trying to do the right thing to be good to the environment? Have you changed your light bulbs, added recycling to your lifestyle and traded out that old gas guzzler? Some scientists say that’s not enough.


A recently released study reveals the unusual, and some would say strange proposal by statisticians at Oregon State University. The conclusion of the study is that the way to save the planet is to stop having so many children. These scientists say that a child, in the long run, ends up creating 20 times the carbon legacy as would any one of the environmentally friendly practices we may employ. However, the issue for this study is not only carbon emissions but the consumption of resources:

“When an individual produces a child — and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future — the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.”

Here’s an overview of the “impact” that a having a child has on the environment, according to this study:

Eventually, one child would add about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent; that amounts to approximately 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for an average person. This includes the impact due to more waste and more stress on the water supply.

The researchers who conducted the study say that they are not interested in proposing any population control laws. Instead, study team member Paul Murtaugh said this:

Many people are unaware of the power of exponential population growth. Future growth amplifies the consequences of people’s reproductive choices today, the same way that compound interest amplifies a bank balance.”

Are we losing perspective when we sacrifice family for the sake of what may actually be simply a cyclical warming of the planet? While these scientists are not advocating changing laws, we cannot help but ask what they actually expect people to do? Of course, first there is the issue of the validity of the “science” of climate change because so many scientists have rejected the notion of its very existence. Beyond that is the question that if there is some sort of warming, is it merely cyclical or is it, as this study would argue, created by human consumption — and now production choices! Last, if all these researchers propose is true, we then have to make a value judgment. What is the most important thing about this planet and about being on it? Is there such a thing as placing human life and the propagation of family above the hysteria that is now encouraging people to have fewer children? The planet exists for human life and not vice versa, I would argue. It doesn’t mean that I’m not environmentally conscious. Having lived in California most of my life, conservation and recycling became ingrained in my lifestyle and now my family’s lifestyle and routine.

I appreciate the value of science and what the scientific community has to offer. However, I am not unaware that it has its own value system as well. And, at the end of the day, what this study offers as its suggestion is a moral value judgment against children and families. That’s not the kind of science I’m interested in.

What do you think? Are the statisticians on the mark? Or are they off their rockers?

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