Remember when Elon Musk took his private jet on a nine-minute flight? And we were all like “what’s the point of sorting our recycling and walking to work if billionaires and corporations are allowed to do whatever they want?”
OK good. Just want you to keep that at the forefront of your mind before you read this next part.
According to The Age, a new report in Australian Anaesthesia said that pregnant people should be made aware of nitrous oxide’s environmental impact before using the substance as a pain relief option during childbirth.
Nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, slows the nervous system and is often used in childbirth as an alternative to epidurals or opioids as it has no effect on unborn babies. It’s self-administered and will not eliminate pain, but it can dull it and lessen anxiety.
According to The EPA, nitrous oxide is the third highest emitted greenhouse gas in the world after carbon dioxide and methane. Seems pretty bad right?
Well, carbon dioxide counts for a whopping 76 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, with methane accounting for an additional 16 per cent. Nitrous oxide makes up about 6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
According to research on the US’ emissions, most nitrous oxide emissions are actually from agricultural soil management. Nitrous oxide emissions from maternity wards account for less than 2 per cent of all N20 emissions in the US.
Yeah we better take a look at those laughing-gas-during-labour emissions. Massive contributor to the climate problem, hey. (You’ll find it somewhere in the “Other” slice) https://t.co/GzWkcOGNRU pic.twitter.com/mvZq3FfwIE
— Matt Bevan (@MatthewBevan) May 30, 2022
The Australian Anaesthesia report, titled ‘Nitrous oxide use on the labour ward: efficacy and environmental impact’, warned that laughing gas might be ok for the parent and baby but not for the environment.
“By educating medical staff and pregnant women about the carbon impact of N2O … we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the labour ward and help to mitigate the effects of climate change,” the report read.
The authors of the paper meant well I’m sure, but taxing corporations for their environmental impact, banning coal mines, investing in more renewables and electric cars are ALL surely more impactful than… using 4h of nitrous during labour 🙄 https://t.co/vanfNp0hpf
— Signe Dean (@nevertoocurious) May 30, 2022
I don’t know. Even though nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas, asking pregnant people to consider the environmental impact of their pain relief while in the midst of labour feels like just another way to shame them.
It really feels like we should be focusing our shaming efforts on the billionaires and corporations who contribute the lion’s share of emissions.