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

BC Bus North service extended to September

Transportation ministers have extended the service, which was set to expire at the end of May

Council briefs: City creates new zone to allow for smaller, affordable homes

Key discussions from city council meeting April 23

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

Northwest local governments team up to fill in future employment gaps

Around 17,000 jobs will need to be filled in the region over the next eight years

Providing athletic opportunities for First Nations’ youth

Many aspiring athletes don’t have access to the simple necessities of sport

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Canfor curtailing operations across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read