The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about

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four lifestyle choices had a major impact: Become a vegetarian, forego air travel, ditch your car, and—most significantly—have fewer children.

The top ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Credits: (Graphic) J. You/Science; (Data) Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas, Environmental Research Letters (2017)

Eating no meat cuts an individual’s carbon footprint by 820 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, on average, about four times the reduction they’d get by recycling as much as possible. (Emissions generated by eating meat result, in large part, from the large amounts of energy needed to grow, harvest, and process feed crops.) Foregoing one round-trip transatlantic flight each year would cut a person’s emissions of CO2 by 1600 kilograms. Getting rid of their car would reduce emissions by 2400 kilograms, or 2.4 metric tons. And by choosing to have one fewer child in their family, a person would trim their carbon footprint by a whopping 58.6 metric tons—about the same emissions savings as having nearly 700 teenagers recycle as much as possible for the rest of their lives.

Despite the effectiveness of these four measures, neither the textbooks in Canadian schools nor government reports or websites in the European Union, the United States, Canada, or Australia highlight these choices, possibly because most of them require such extreme changes in lifestyle.

doi:10.1126/science.aan7083

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http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/07/best-way-reduce-your-carbon-footprint-one-government-isn-t-telling-you-about

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