Alistair Currie is seen in this undated handout photo. Currie, head of campaigns and communications at the U.K.-based charity Population Matters, said choosing to have fewer or no children is essential to ensuring people have a “decent living” on the planet in 50 years’ time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Alistair Currie

Groups believe not having children is a way to cut a person’s carbon footprint

Thought is particularly prevalent in countries like Canada, which have a greater carbon footprint than less developed nations

When Roy Sasano told his parents he was getting sterilized a few years ago to reduce his carbon footprint, he remembers they weren’t surprised.

After all, he had already taken other steps to fight climate change by becoming a vegan, ”virtually” eliminating single-use plastic and reducing his consumption as much as is practicable.

“I think there was a brief moment of disappointment, but they just laughed it off,” said Sasano, 39, who lives in Vancouver.

“I know quite a few people, especially men, who have chosen to get sterilized and I know women who’ve done the same.”

Sasano is part of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement or Vhemt (pronounced vehement) that believes in “refraining” from reproduction.

“Why should we be creating more people to create more suffering for ourselves and the rest of the planet?” Sasano said in a recent interview.

There are other examples that show the argument against human reproduction isn’t happening on the fringes of the climate change debate anymore.

“There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the U.S. Congress recently asked in an Instagram video.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor of political science at Texas Tech University, said individual decisions matter in the fight against climate change as much as collective action on things like carbon pricing and the Paris agreement.

But while each additional child adds more carbon, she said children are also tied to a sense of hope.

“Personally, I can’t advocate for people not to have children in order to fix climate change because why am I fixing climate change? I’m doing it because of my child and because of everybody else’s children,” she said. ”So that’s what gives us hope. Again, I’m not having 12 children. I have one child.”

READ MORE: Love and marriage? Not in this B.C. town

Hayhoe said the behaviour of people in developed countries like Canada is also a factor in climate change, noting that per capita, Canadians add much more carbon than Zambians.

“If the entire world were like Zambia we would not really have much of a problem,” she said. “If the entire world was filled with people with the carbon footprint of the average Canadian though, we would have a huge problem.”

Hayhoe said she knows people who’ve decided not to have children because of the environment.

“It’s very hard to bring a child into this world but if we decide not to then there’s no hope in the world,” she said. “It’s not black and white. It’s a very, very grey issue.”

Alistair Currie, head of campaigns and communications at the U.K.-based charity Population Matters, said choosing to have fewer or no children is essential to ensuring people have a “decent living” on the planet in 50 years’ time.

It’s hard to estimate how many people are choosing not to have children mainly because they feel judged, Currie said, although the perception is slowly changing.

“Particularly women,” explained Currie, whose organization campaigns to achieve a sustainable human population. “We get this all the time, women feeling judged somehow as being inadequate or selfish.”

The United Nations projects the world population will increase by more than one billion people within the next 15 years, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030, then increasing to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.

Sixty per cent of the global population lives in Asia, 16 per cent in Africa, 10 per cent in Europe, nine per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the remaining five per cent in Northern America and Oceania.

“We can keep feeding people in their billions for a long time,” said Currie, who has one son. “But we cannot do it without the planet staying healthy and sustaining its soils … water and our forests.”

Currie said there are other factors that have an impact on climate, adding that an American produces about 160 times the amount of carbon as someone living in Niger. People in countries like India and China are also generating more carbon as they become more affluent.

“That sounds like a more concerning situation when you are looking at both sides … each person producing more carbon and there being more people.”

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers reach tentative three-year deal

Union membership to vote on collective agreement on July 31

Island pickleball players perfectly prepared

Top-notch action at Fuller Lake Park in singles, doubles and mixed doubles

Dormant Chemainus Foods building soon to be revived

Market expected to bring new life to the downtown core

Ladysmith Arts Council leads effort to establish Vancouver Island as an arts powerhouse

Terry O’Reilly will be the keynote speaker during an interactive live webcast on August 8 at 6pm

Oyster Bay Microtel solidifies reputation as a Vancouver Island destination

The Microtel is focused on continuing to build their reputation over the summer

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Most Read