Faced with the population explosion, they give up children to save the climate

This small French “ecological and declining” association campaigns for “the stabilization and then the slow reduction of the human population”. “I don’t want to feel guilty about giving birth to a child in this mess,” says Alice Rallier, who was in a relationship with two men “who didn’t want a child either,” and who opted to undergo permanent treatment. Surgical sterilization.

“Population Myth”

“Each child born today is part of the problem” due to the pressure exerted by population growth on natural resources, according to this activist who says she is aware of a “taboo” and the “populationist myth that says that the more , the better”. For these activists, it is not a matter of forcing but of proposing a “voluntary incentive”, for example, limiting family allowances for the second child, argues Denis Garnier, president of “Responsible Demography”.

According to a survey published in 2021 by The Lancet, carried out among 10,000 people in ten countries on all continents, 39% of young people between the ages of 16 and 25 “are hesitant to have children” because they are concerned about climate change. The idea was aired in the UK in 2018 by supporters of a “birthstrike”, and in Canada by students who pledged not to have children until the government did more on climate change. In Germany, an anti-natalist author, Verena Brunschweiger, caused controversy by describing parenthood as a “selfish” approach.

demographic inertia

“Many people wonder” but the phenomenon is still difficult to quantify, clarifies the French consultant Emmanuel Pont, author of the recent book “Should we stop having children to save the planet? (Payot Editions). Especially since the environment is not the only motivation for those who refuse to be parents and some end up changing their minds. At 35, Sébastien Verdier – known on social media under his militant pseudonym Sereb – “brought his actions in line with his ideas” by undergoing permanent sterilization.

It is up to him both to avoid the unborn child “an unpleasant future that I do not wish on anyone” and “not to add another consumer to the system”. “Sereb” agrees, however, that his commitment is more “symbolic” than really effective in the fight against global warming, due to the “enormous inertia” of demographic changes that only make their effects felt after several decades.

limit fertility

according to a study published in 2014 by two Australian researchers, “even with one-child policies enforced around the world and events resulting in catastrophic mortality, there would likely still be between 5 and 10 billion human beings in 2100” . Furthermore, beyond this question of “demographic inertia”, there is no consensus on the link between demography and climate protection.

A study published in 2017 by two North American specialists in climate change concluded that having “one less child” was much more efficient in terms of carbon footprint than giving up the car, air travel or meat consumption. But other scientists have disputed these results, arguing that the authors had considered that future generations would necessarily have a level of consumption that is as harmful to the environment as that of their elders.

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