A recent journal paper on the implications of population growth and urbanization for climate change argues that it is not the growth in populations that drives the growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but rather, the growth in consumers and their levels of consumption. Why should this be the case? Well, a major proportion of the world’s population consume so little that they contribute an insignificant amount of GHG emissions. It is subsequently argued to be extremely misleading to view population growth as the main driver of climate change. In particular, the paper draws upon emissions data for carbon dioxide and looked at how such emissions have changed between 1980 and 2005 (and also between 1950 and 1980). The data is interpreted as showing little association between nations with rapid population growth and nations with high GHG emissions and rapid GHG emissions growth. This journal paper is an interesting contrast to a recent article written by Jonathon Porritt on issue of population growth and climate change in which he argues that the two are inextricably linked.
Journal Article Link: http://eau.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/21/2/545
Jonathon Porritt Article: http://www.jonathonporritt.com/pages/2009/03/a_sustainable_population.html
To see how the issue of population is playing out in the media, why not read a recent article that appeared in the Times newspaper. The article argues that better infrastructure, communications, and education are required if societies are to better manage the needs and impacts of their growing populations.