Every additional person on our planet uses resources and produces carbon dioxide, and people living in upper-middle-income economies have a bigger impact than people in low and middle-income countries because they consume more and emit more.
A child born in the United States, for example, will be responsible for almost seven times the carbon emissions of a child born in China and 168 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.1
The United States has the largest population in the developed world, and is the only developed nation experiencing significant population growth: its population may double before the end of the century. Its 300 million inhabitants produce greenhouse gases at a per-capita rate that is more than double that of Europe, five times the global average, and more than 10 times the average of developing nations.2
So, when looking at how each of us can reduce our impact, the number of children we have is a significant factor. In fact, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have suggested four ways we can each reduce our environmental impact: have fewer children, go car-free, fly less and go vegan.3 Since animal agriculture is responsible for more emissions than the fuel from every car, bus, ship, plane and train on the planet, Oxford University research concluded that switching to a plant-based diet is the single biggest thing we as individuals can do to reduce our impact on the planet.4
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