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The Environmental Benefits of Living Childfree

Let's evaluate our impact on the planet when determining our family size

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We were very pleased to see TIME give cover space to the increasing number of people who’ve decided that their lives are complete without having children of their own. (“The Childfree Life,” Aug. 12)

The decision if and when to have children is a very personal one, and it belongs solely with the people involved. As the nation’s largest grassroots population organization, we’ve found that many of our members take their impact on the planet into account when deciding on their family size.

A 2009 study by Oregon State University found that the carbon footprint of an American child is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the U.N. projects that by 2050, nearly 9.6 billion of us will be sharing our planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization projects that we must increase agriculture production 40 percent by then in order to feed everyone—a task made more difficult by climate change. We at Population Connection want to salute people who take their impact on the planet into account when planning their families.

John Seager, President, Population Connection, Washington D.C.