Shut off the lights. Put up solar panels. Ride a bike instead of driving. You've no doubt heard plenty of suggestions from people worried about the environment on ways to reduce your carbon footprint. In an essay at Outside, Wes Siler raises the bar. He got a vasectomy because, he writes, "there are simply too many humans on this planet." Siler is 38 and childless, and he got engaged last year, "a couple months before a wildfire destroyed an entire town in California and another one wiped out sections of Malibu." He and his fiancee are both worried about the planet, particularly about what he views as a "new normal" of increasingly worse climate devastation. They decided the best thing they could do on this front was to forgo having kids, and the related math was a deciding factor.
"If I gave up my 15 mpg pickup truck—basically the mascot for climate inaction—and rode my bicycle everywhere, I’d save the planet 2.4 tons of carbon emissions a year," Siler writes. That's nice, "but it’s nowhere near the carbon emissions I’ll save by skipping becoming a daddy, which comes in at around 58 tons annually, per kid." He and his wife could take all kinds of smaller measures, but they would not collectively add up to that figure. So he got snipped. "It might not be enough to save the polar bear, and it might not prevent the next Camp Fire, but this is the absolute biggest difference we can make," he writes. "We need fewer humans, and getting there voluntarily will be an awful lot less painful than doing it with war, famine, and natural disaster." Read his full column. (Read more climate change stories.)