Cut Your Carbon Footprint—Use Birth Control

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overpopulation stork

Researchers at Oregon State University have made some helpful calculations on how much extra carbon little Johnny and/or Suzie are likely to emit over the course of their Gaia-destroying lifetimes. As the OSU press release explains:

Some people who are serious about wanting to reduce their "carbon footprint" on the Earth have one choice available to them that may yield a large long-term benefit – have one less child.

A study by statisticians at Oregon State University concluded that in the United States, the carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of an extra child is almost 20 times more important than some of the other environmentally sensitive practices people might employ their entire lives – things like driving a high mileage car, recycling, or using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.

The research also makes it clear that potential carbon impacts vary dramatically across countries. The average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the U.S. – along with all of its descendants – is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.

"In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime," said Paul Murtaugh, an OSU professor of statistics. "Those are important issues and it's essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources."

In this debate, very little attention has been given to the overwhelming importance of reproductive choice, Murtaugh said. 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.

Under current conditions in the U.S., for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent – about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible.

Since the average American woman has 2.05 children over the course of her lifetime now, aka, the replacement rate, this implies a future total fertility rate of around 1 going forward, about where Hong Kong is today.

My question: Since my wife and I are childless by choice, do we get extra carbon credits to sell?  Let's see: 9,441 tons X $50 per ton X 2 kids = $944,100. Deal.

So would deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions make much of a difference? According to the press release, the study finds:

The study examined several scenarios of changing emission rates, the most aggressive of which was an 85 percent reduction in global carbon emissions between now and 2100. But emissions in Africa, which includes 34 of the 50 least developed countries in the world, are already more than twice that level.

The study passes over in silence the lifestyle that level of emissions implies. 

In any case, people are already having fewer children. I speculate as to why in my column, "Why are People Having Fewer Kids?: Perhaps it's because they don't like them very much." (For my next trick, I will kick puppies.) 

On a happier note, recent research suggests that an "Invisible Hand of Population Control" is already encouraging lower fertility rates. 

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  1. My daughter emits a lot of methane. But I’m keeping her.

  2. “In this debate, very little attention has been given to the overwhelming importance of reproductive choice, Murtaugh said. 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.”

    They talk about “producing a child” like it is the same thing as buying an gas guzzling car. They don’t really get the idea that children are people and have any special value or are of any interest at all beyond their earth destroying future activities.

    These fuckers about 10 years or so from just exterminating people in their quest for environmental purity.

  3. I’m a financially lower class, married fat ugly balding middle aged male. That’s my birth control.

  4. Killing children to save the earth — it’s for the children!

  5. See if I end up having a kid, can I just snuff out someone I don’t like?

  6. And I suppose all you libertards want to keep this reproduction crap unregulated?

  7. I don’t really get the idea that children have any special value or are of any interest at all.

  8. I knew Catholicism was somehow responsible for destroying the planet.

  9. It’s not just the children! It’s the animals too! Those cute Bambi-like fawns grow up into carbon stomping bucks! And don’t leave Thumper out of your environmental calculus, as one rabbit can breed a swarming herd of burrowing carbon molesters. Owls, coyotes, squirrels and even the sacred bison all exhale carbon.

    Nature is killing nature!

  10. I love it when environmental fanatics decide not to have children. Natural selection–they’re weeding themselves out of the population.

  11. Video games, social anxiety and living in mom’s basement – that’s my birth control.

  12. “The average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the U.S. – along with all of its descendants – is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.” Would we meet our Kyoto targets if American women went to Bangldesh for childbirth?

  13. Those cute Bambi-like fawns grow up into carbon stomping bucks!

    And since they’re ruminants they burp tons and tons of methane.

    Maybe this hunting season I’ll get to do my part to save the planet. 🙂

  14. We’re one and done, so I’ll take a $475K carbon credit. Although, I’m glad I do have one. I hope he continues his interest in technology so he can create new industrial efficiencies that put all those resource-squandering, Sarah Palin-loving conservatives out of work or into wage-slave competition with even more Chinese peasants.

  15. I wonder how soon the lefties are going to propose that we limit immigration since once the immigrants move to America, their carbon footprints increase.

  16. Kurt, a minority at a Sierra Club convention many years back proposed exactly that.

  17. Er, when I say “minority”, I mean it was voted down.

  18. “I wonder how soon the lefties are going to propose that we limit immigration since once the immigrants move to America, their carbon footprints increase.”

    Their sollution is to make our carbon footprint and lifestyle equal to that of a peasent in Bangledesh. That way the immigrant both has no reason to come here and if he does, will live the spartan 7th century peasent approved lifestyle.

  19. Put me down for my $944K carbon credit, too.

    I plan to spend it on a fleet of muscle cars.

  20. Ska:

    Human offset credits! I love it.

  21. Also, I stand by my solution of space colonization.

  22. They’re wrong, children don’t alter your carbon footprint at all. Being their own individual people, children have their own carbon footprint entirely separate from yours.

  23. I don’t get why so many are against population growth. More people working means more wealth for everybody.

    Of course, I think the concept of carbon credits is full of shit too.

  24. Aren’t you just a peach, Ron?

  25. Of course, I think the concept of carbon credits is full of shit too.

    That’s why you’re not a researcher at Oregon State University.

  26. Andrew G, a great point. But you’re still responsible for ‘how many children you have.’ You could have 10, or you could have 1. That’s YOUR choice, not the choice of the child you will eventually have (or not have).

  27. I’m hoping that this situation can be resolved on pure Darwinian principles. The Gaia-worshippers and Malthusians quit having children, and they are promptly replaced by the offspring of normal people.

    It’s like *Idiocracy* in reverse. Self-correcting stupidity.

  28. I’ve got four kids. Does this mean re-education for me, come the Year Zero?

  29. These fuckers about 10 years or so from just exterminating people in their quest for environmental purity.

    This carbon obsesssion does seem to be moving at an alarming rate from a mere religion to a psychopathy.

    I’m hoping they’ll all just eventually decide to go the Jim Jones in Guyana route so us normal people can get on with living.

  30. Mike M., maybe a grant funded study showing that the treetard lifestyle has a much larger carbon footprint than a decaying body?

  31. Carousel!

  32. # Tenacious D. | July 31, 2009, 4:21pm | #

    # We’re one and done, so I’ll take a $475K
    # carbon credit.

    Us, too. That would pay off all current debt and provide a tidy nest-egg for our comfortable retirement as benefactors of the human race. My wife and I stopped at 1 because it seemed like the right thing to do (not for the planet, but for our child, so we could be sure of taking good care of him). But hey, if we can get paid retroactively for our decision, show me the money!

    Seriously, if population control is so blasted important, where are the incentives to do it that are commensurate with the benefits that society is alleged to receive? It doesn’t take government to make this happen. All the ZPG and NPG folks can pool their forces and simply start offering “good sense” awards to couples who minimized their number of offspring. After news of the first few awards got out, there would be a serious incentive to think carefully about whether or not to have another child.

    Mind you, I think of more people as additional units of talent, creativity, and production (economically speaking), and not just as more units of consumption. So I think that the ZPG/NPG people are misguided. But at least they ought to put their money where their mouths are and make it worth the while of us “breeders” to refrain from breeding — not to lobby government, for example, to snip our private parts by force or otherwise penalize overbreeding.

  33. I’ve got four kids. Does this mean re-education for me, come the Year Zero?

    Oh, yes. Yes it does.

  34. Their sollution is to make our carbon footprint and lifestyle equal to that of a peasent in Bangledesh.

    Yes, I realize that is their eventual goal and I dimly remember the proposal at the Sierra Club. I think they were denounced as racists by some other Lefty organization.

    Lefty on Lefty outrage. That’s hawt!

  35. Q: What do lawyers use for birth control?

    A: Their personalities.

  36. Oh, okay, thanks Green Pol Pot. It’ll save me and the missus from worrying about retirement.

    There is one win-win solution: Ship excess population to other planets or habitats in space. So all those Luddites in the green movement should hold their noses and make one big push for fusion and cheap space access, then kick the rest of us off of beloved Gaea and live like cavemen.

  37. I’ve advocated this before in a raging shitstorm of delusional assholishness. When Obama gets through spending a googillion nonexistant dollars for everything from healthcare to carbon sequestration in Sri Lankan dildoes, the resulting hyperinflation will result in the complete and utter collapse of the world’s economy. This will result in the deaths of about 86.319% of the world’s population. Population control will no longer be a problem. I can only hope that the stupid people are the first to go.

  38. Xeones | July 31, 2009, 4:44pm | #
    That’s why you’re not a researcher at Oregon State University.

    Indeed.

  39. I wouldn’t worry too much, war over resources should weed out these pesky children everyone’s talking about…and if it doesn’t, well then we’ve obviously figured out some other solution.

  40. So all those Luddites in the green movement should hold their noses and make one big push for fusion and cheap space access, then watch the rest of us get the hell off of their beloved Gaea and die shortly thereafter from exposure .

    Fixed

  41. Only stars create carbon, through nuclear fusion. This legacy and credit stuff makes no sense on the face up it. Might as well worry about your argon footprint.

  42. Here’s where the body’s buried (with extra points for referring to a child as “it”):

    The average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the U.S. – along with all of its descendants – is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.

    Under current conditions in the U.S., for instance, each child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent – about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible.

    They don’t specify how many generations are included in “all of its descendants”, nor whether they’re correcting for the fact that every descendant in the second generation will be counted twice, every one in the third will be counted four times, etc.

    Also, are they talking about the marginal carbon cost of having an extra child, or are they simply dividing the US carbon emissions by 300 million and multiplying by the number of descendants? If it’s the latter that makes no sense, as there are many sources of carbon emissions that aren’t affected by population growth.

  43. I’d wonder if they’re planning a Final Carbon Solution, but then the cremation furnaces would release carbon into the atmosphere, wouldn’t they? Time for Plan B, I guess…

  44. Isn’t this more of a carbon cumstain rather than a carbon footprint?

  45. See if I end up having a kid, can I just snuff out someone I don’t like?

    Now there’s a plan.

  46. Brent,

    Plan B is to encase people alive in fresh cement. You know, sequester all that carbon.

  47. Cement is the only cure for Carbon Foot.

  48. The only serious environMental is one who kills himself.

    Any that don’t kill themselves are not serious.

  49. If Ron is right about lives lived in Bagladesh having 1 / 160 th the climate impact of an American’s , perhaps we should require low carbon footprint nations to accept 160 American deportees for each emigrant headed here.

    Giving millions of American jailbirds their liberty in exchange for a lower carbon footprint lifestyle might be accomplished at no cost to say, Bangladesh, since remitting 1/160 the cost of keeping them in jail here would provide an ample diet by local standards.

    Not just convicts, but productive members of the aromatherapy, lobbying, and organic produce dispensing professions should be happy to join the green exodus to Dacca’s fragrant suburbs.

  50. I went to the article: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/07/oregon_state_researchers_concl.html
    and posted links to the REASON behind the push to reduce U.S. peopls from having children and the WHY, and a screen name “marthajean” got really super upset because she’s a leftist liberal and she contacted oregonlive.com and had many of my posts with links, one of them was this one as my evidence: https://www.reason.com/news/show/28411.html
    and after her constant complaints and sarcastic remarks directed at ME, they removed my posts, and monitor any further posts I try and make.
    I’m screen name on there: Colony14
    I give really good evidence as to why I think this is being done.

  51. Then, I wrote to Foxnews.com and told them about “marthajean” and her constant badgering at me on the Oregonlive.com website, and they are NOW running the story about this exact article, ‘Oregon State University researchers conclusion reduce carbon footpring by having less children”.

  52. married fat ugly balding middle aged male

  53. My children are going to help kill those nasty carbon producing tasty animals some day. In the meantime, I heard some animal right activist saying that farts produce harmful methane so I’m going to do my part by only farting indoors.
    (hey, it does just about as much good as that carbon credit crap the hypocrite Al Gore keeps pushing! Besides, you need to prove ‘carbon’ is a pollutant beyond getting all your pseudo-scientists on the agenda payroll to give it the nod. Ever hear of this little thing called THE SUN? 200 years of human industrialization is not going to supersede a 2 ? 1030 kilogram ball of nuclear reactive hydrogen and helium 1,392,000 km across at 5500 ?C. Not to mention that a planet that has existed for 4.5 billion years old with life on it for 3.5 billion of those years! Anyone that buys the carbon crap obviously fails at math.
    Even worst case scenarios predict a minimum of 500 million more years of the capability to support life. And I’d say that’s highly pessimistic. Get over yourself, but while you are at it – with the kind of stupidity your blog is demonstrating, please set a good example. Morons like you should not reproduce!

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