The Stream

Will not having children help save the planet?

Growing number of people are choosing to have fewer or no children as carbon emissions remain high and climate change worsens.

The choice on whether or not to have children is one of the most deeply personal decisions one can make, with a variety of financial, career, health and religious aspects to consider. But with ever-more severe weather events happening around the world due to climate change, many people are now choosing to have fewer or no children chiefly because of their concerns over the future state of the planet.

Supporters of movements such as BirthStrike and Conceivable Future are among those who say they don’t want to bring chidren they bring into a world the UN says is standing on the brink of a climate catastrophe. They stress their decisions are not to criticise those who do want to have children, but are instead aimed at compelling political leaders around the world to do more to lower carbon emissions and give the next generation a chance of a brighter future.

2017 study by researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that the biggest impact individuals in developed countries can have in alleviating climate change is to have one fewer child, which would save more than 58 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. But with many Western countries already below the replacement rate of their respective populations and population growth largely concentrated in the developing world, scientists are sceptical that people foregoing having children is the sole effective answer to curb runaway carbon emissions. Nonetheless, birth strikers say that while many of their co-supporters do want to have children, the lack of immediate and effective global political action to tackle the climate emergency has prompted them to remain childless as a matter of conscience.

We’ll look at the science, ethics and emotions around the issue and how they factor into intensely individual decision-making on relationships and family life. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Ashley Sanders, @ashsan82
Writer and Activist


Amy Blackstone, @soc_gal
Author of “Childfree by Choice”


Shahra Razavi, @UN_Women
Chief of Research and Data 

Read more:
I Chose Not To Have Kids Because I’m Afraid For The Planet – BuzzFeed News
Bioethicist: The climate crisis calls for fewer children – The Conversation
Stop Telling People Not to Have Kids to Save the Planet – Motherboard/Vice

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