Guardian: Save The Planet, Have Fewer Children


Having children is a “lifestyle choice” to be discouraged among young people in developed nations and is bad for the planet, according to a new paper trailed positively by the British left-wing Guardian newspaper.

Reporting a new Swedish-Canadian study promoting reducing the number of children born and seeking to target anti-child messages towards adolescents, Britain’s Guardian newspaper has played up the findings, labelling the “true impacts” of having a family as “lifestyle choices”, and asking the question of readers “Can you bring yourself to have one fewer of these?”.

“The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions”, published in Environmental Research Letters, is a new study by Seth Wynes of the Centre for Sustainability Studies, Lund University, Sweden, and Kimberly A Nicholas of the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Assessing the environmental impact of various “green” actions that might be taken, the study found the best-known like using low-energy light bulbs, recycling, and switching a petrol car for Electric were among the least effective.

Commending more radical approaches to cutting Carbon Dioxide use, the paper points to giving up long-haul flights, getting rid of cars altogether, but most crucially — giving up children — finding having one fewer child per couple is worth more than all the other actions both large and small combined.

The Guardian stated in their report: “By far the biggest ultimate impact is having one fewer child, which the researchers calculated equated to a reduction of 58 tonnes of CO2 for each year of a parent’s life”.

Emphasising the importance of communicating this information to young people, remarking that “adolescents [are] poised to establish lifelong patterns are an important target group for promoting high-impact action”, the academic paper lamented the lack of anti-children content in school textbooks.

Seeking to redress this perceived failure of schools, the report said including the environmental impact of creating more humans should be included in sexual education in developed nations. It said: “adolescents… should be informed of the environmental consequences of family size as they are likely becoming sexually active.”

Despite the enthusiastic cheerleading for reducing birthrates in developed nations, the paper’s authors are not totally insensitive to how this approach may seem to many. While “some high-impact actions may be politically unpopular”, this “does not justify” failing to “providing accurate guidance and information, especially to ‘catalytic’ individuals such as adolescents” on reducing the number of children born.

In a feat of remarkable self-awareness the Guardian also picks up on potential reactions to the suggestions made in the report, quoting the remarks of  “low carbon living and energy” author Chris Goodall, who said: “in some ways it will just reinforce the suspicion of the political right that the threat of climate change is simply a cover for reducing people’s freedom to live as they want…. cutting the number of people on the planet will take hundreds of years. Emissions reduction needs to start now”.

Follow Oliver Lane on Facebook, Twitter: or e-mail: olane[at]



Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.