When I first wrote the book, The Green Parent, a few years ago, it was pointed out to me on a number of occasions that my book itself was an oxymoron. Simply put, I was told that it is not possible to be a green parent, because the very act of bringing children into this world defeats all other efforts that one could make as an environmentalist.

It is that line of thinking that is behind a new British report that hopes to emphasize birth control as one of the world's best tools for fighting climate change. According to the report, every new baby to emerge on the scene will generate decades of pollution and environmental damage by their very existence. Optimum Population Trust, the British activist group that sponsored the report, thus argues that by preventing the creation of new polluters, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. 

There is no possibility of drastically reducing total carbon emissions, while at the same time paying no attention whatever to the drastic increase in the number of carbon emitters," said Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, a British nonprofit that sponsored the report and whose goal is to rein in population growth in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. "For reasons of an irrational taboo on the subject, [family planning] has never made it onto the agenda, and this is extremely damaging to the planet."
The group is basing their assesment on its study as well as a separate study from Oregon State University -- two reports that use statistics to quantify exactly how much each life, and especially each American life, adds to the world's emissions. According to OSU research, each baby born in the United States results in 1,644 tons of carbon dioxide ... five times more than a baby in China and 91 times more than an infant in Bangladesh. Longer life expectancies and indulgent lifestyles give Americans some of the highest per-capita emissions in the world.

Bottom line: if you live in the U.S., it doesn't matter how much you recycle or how many CFLs you install ... your eco-efforts would cut out only about one-40th of the emissions caused by bringing two children, and their children's children, into the world.

Also on MNN: 

• What's not green about sex?