“It is basically a scientific consensus that the lives of our 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 (D-NY)
Bringing a child into the world is the most consequential personal action most of us will ever take. Some young people in the U.S. and other highly developed nations are reportedly considering climate impacts as part of this critical decision. When the likes of freshman Rep. Ocasio-Cortez raise this question, it attracts widespread attention among young Americans.
We applaud thoughtful choices. And there is now a superabundance of data to show that when women are able to make their own informed decisions, most choose smaller families. This is a virtuous cycle.
But in a world where population will soon soar above 8 billion, we need to expand this focus beyond decisions made by those of us who are more affluent. I worry we may once again leave little room for consideration or action with respect to those, here at home and around the world, whose pregnancies are unintended.
Many women and couples lack access to the education, services, and freedom to avoid pregnancy. Here in the U.S., there are 1.6 million unintended births each year. Globally, there are 32 million unintended births annually.
We must do our part to help remove the barriers that contribute to the high level of unplanned births wherever they occur. Every woman, everywhere, needs and deserves a decent life. That must include reproductive freedom.
Modern contraception can be the single most transformative technology when it comes to meeting the challenge of climate change. In the developing world, there are 214 million women who have an unmet need for modern contraception. Helping meet that unmet need would cost Americans about a nickel per week.
The Trump administration has done everything within its power to make it harder for people to decide the trajectory of their own reproductive lives. Eliminate those barriers, and population growth could evaporate. That’s why we’re leading the grassroots resistance to Trump’s disastrous global war on reproductive health.
Slowing population growth could reduce emissions by 37–41 percent by 2100. This is all about investing in efforts that enable every woman, everywhere, to achieve her own chosen reproductive autonomy. In our risk-filled world, this comes about as close to a guaranteed return as you’ll ever find.
Plant a tree. Fund a wind turbine. If you fly, these are ways you can donate money to help offset your carbon impact. One of our members recently suggested an alternative: Make your climate offset donations to Population Connection. After all, we are the grassroots group working to reduce climate impacts through population stabilization. Calculating offsets can be quite complex since it varies according to the type of airplane, length of flight, time of year, number of empty seats, type of fuel, class of seat, direction of flight in relation to the jet stream, etc… A simple rule of thumb, however, would be $5.00 for each round trip flight. Keep us in mind, won’t you?