Jillian Bandes

What's the best way to save the planet? Don't have kids, say researchers from Oregon State University.

"Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle," the report states.

The OSU study calculated the relative carbon impact of children born in the United States and then compared it to the carbon impact of other activities they considered to be unfriendly to the planet. A couple not having a child saves twenty times the amount of carbon compared to if that couple undertook a multitude of other carbon-saving activities, according to the researchers.

Ann McElhinney, a film producer who focuses on global warming hysteria, called the report absolutely ridiculous," and said it fit perfectly with what she had borne witness to while traveling around the world and examining global attitudes towards climate change.

"This idea that having children is somehow damaging the environment is extraordinary. The environmentalists don't seem to think [this] about large populations of elephants, newts, or lemurs," said McElhinney.

But Laurie Mazel, writer and editor of a forthcoming book A Pivotal Moment: Population Justice and the Environmental Challenge, said she agreed with the report's basic premise.

"I think it's certainly true that people who live in industrialized countries have high per capita carbon emissions...and that we should factor that into our childbearing choices," said Mazel. "The average American produces 20 metric tons of carbon every year, and the average African produces 1 ton," she said.

Mazel made it clear that she was not interested in advocating for women to reduce the number of children they had as the result of this report. Advocating for population reduction is a "slippery slope," "scary," "not a productive conversation to have," and "not what we need," according to Mazel. But she still thinks "we should all make decisions in our lives that impact the environment, like the size of our car, house, and the size of our family."

The report focused on the choice to reproduce and the resulting child's environmental impact during his lifetime, as well as the environmental impact of children he may produce himself. The report weighted these future children by picking a percentage of responsibility the original human had for his later descendants, saying that parent is at fault for half of that child's carbon output, and one-quarter of his grandchild's output.

The report did not state why the original human being would not be responsible for 1/8 of their great-grandchild's carbon output or 1/16 of their great-great-grandchild's carbon output and so on.

"Obviously, the choice to reproduce contributes to future environmental impacts. There are immediate effects caused by each offspring over his or her lifetime, but, should the offspring reproduce, additional impacts could potentially accrue over many future generations," the researchers wrote.

Mazel also agreed with the report's idea of carbon accumulation over generations.

"There is still a lot of play in the population projections — there could be between eight and 12 billion of us by mid-century. That's going to make a lot of difference for a lot of things.... environmentalists and a lot of others believe that we should aim for the lower end of that spectrum," she said.

Alyssa Cordova, a lecture director at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, said that the very idea that family preferences should be affected by concerns about global warming was ridiculous. Cordova said that the study was based on liberals' hatred of traditional family values and penchant for using climate change alarmism to attack those ideas.

"To conservatives, people are a blessing and a resource, but to liberals in the environmental movement they are nothing more than parasites on the Earth," she said. "To say that American women should be discouraged from having children because of a 'larger carbon footprint is absurd."

McElhinney had similar sentiments.

"This is a massive flaw in the environmentalists’ philosophy; leaving humans out of the environmental equation. And the idea that humans can be compared to animals is absolutely ridiculous," she said. "We can't be compared to animals, to that kind of bestiality."


Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com