The Environmental Decision to Abstain From Parenthood

There was once a time when getting married and having kids was a societal norm, but now, things are changing. With a rise in personal autonomy, more people are choosing to abstain from having kids. In an article written by A. Pawlowski, 7 Reasons Why People Choose to be Child Free, she reveals that double the number of U.S. women between the ages of 40 and 44 didn’t have kids in the 2000s compared to the 1970s.

abstain from kids
Credit: Dan Stark, Unsplash

One interesting reason Pawlowski brought to light about why some women are deciding to refrain from having kids is that they think it’s a responsible decision to make. Some women feel as though having kids contributes to the looming issue of overpopulation and overconsumption. You can imagine the implications that both issues have on our planet.

So, how exactly does having kids affect the environment and will refraining from doing so make a huge difference? Keep reading to learn about the environmental decision to abstain from parenthood and what difference it could make.

The Decision to Abstain

Overpopulation is an issue that advocates of climate change often debate. Presently, there are about 7.7 billion people on earth and the UN projects this figure could rise to 9.7 billion by 2050 depending on the direction culture, policies, and healthcare go in.

The concern with overpopulation is the depletion of natural resources because of overconsumption as well as greater levels of pollution. There is an argument that efforts towards sustainability are redundant if the issue of overpopulation persists. For this reason, people are making the choice not to have kids because of how it impacts the environment. Bringing more kids into a world characterized by ecological uncertainty isn’t an option for these individuals.

With an increasing number of people on the planet comes an increase in the consumption of energy and electricity. The U.S. is already enlisted as the second-largest consumer of electricity in the world. Not to mention that they’re heavily reliant on fossil fuels which contribute to climate change. Until this reliance on fossil fuels ends and people shift towards the use of more renewable energies, many are refusing to have kids. It can be argued on these premises that the decision not to have kids is an ethical one.

Why People Are Making It

Did you know that just by having a single child, can create a footprint of 58.6 tonnes of carbon every year? If this impact can be made by a single human being, imagine the impact of having several children on the planet? Some feel that having fewer kids will minimize the effects of environmental degradation.

Many argue that population growth is having irreversibly negative effects on the environment, especially organizations like Population Matters and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. These organizations campaign against population growth and try to shed light on the detrimental effects it could have long-term. The reality is that an increasing population equates to an increase in consumption which further exacerbates the issue of climate change and excess waste. However, not having kids could mean one less person to consume nappies, wipes, paper cups, and emit Co2 emissions from their car.

In addition to the effect it has on the planet, another reason some women are abstaining is because of how limiting having kids can be career-wise. Women who are aspiring to join the C-Suite may not want to make their chances of becoming a CEO any more difficult than it already is. According to Fortune, women become CEOS of S&P 500 companies at a rate of 1 every two years which is far slower than men. While trying to get to the peak of their career with these challenges and motherhood isn’t impossible, it could be tougher.

How it Helps the Planet

Finally, can not having as many kids truly make a difference?

Humanity has consumed more resources in the last 50 years than generations before us. This could be because as our population grows exponentially, our resources deplete. A 2017 study even found that the fight against climate change would be more effective if people had one less child. Skipping out on having babies and slowing it down would hopefully, have the reverse effects.

As has been mentioned above, lower population density can help the planet by ensuring one less person is able to leave a carbon footprint. Creating awareness about the decision not to have kids can also send a positive message to other people about the sacrifices that need to be made to help the future of our planet.

This isn’t to say that people should stop having kids altogether as it’s a personal choice. If you are looking for alternative ways to contribute to lessening carbon emissions, consider reducing your footprint by changing your daily habits. For instance, if you drive, reduce engine idling so that you waste less gas. Your car already produces fossil fuels that impact the environment, so every little bit counts. You’re also setting a good example for your kids so hopefully, they’re conscious of their carbon print as well.

Life without children doesn’t have to be any less meaningful. It’s about standing for a cause that you believe in, especially if it means that future children that aren’t yours will reap the benefits of you doing so.