The Impact of Population Growth on Tomorrow’s World (from the Royal Society)

September 23, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Mark O’Connor for this link to the September 21, 2009 online edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The Royal Society will be submitting this as background reading for all the 2000 delegates attending the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

The experts writing in this volume conclude slowing population growth is essential if the world’s poor are to be lifted out of poverty, and if the next generations are to live in a biologically sustainable economy. Coming from many disciplines, the writers emphasize how the size, rate of growth and age structure of the human population interact with many other key factors, from environmental change including atmospheric pollution to conflict and the breakdown of governance.

Fortunately, the assumption that people must become richer or better educated before they have fewer children is being replaced by a clearer understanding of the many barriers that separate women from the knowledge and technologies they need to manage the size of their family. When these barriers are removed family size falls even in poor, illiterate communities. Conversely, as a result of lost attention to family planning since the 1990s, the projection for the population of several countries in 2050 has been raised (e.g. in Kenya from 54 to 83 million). Investment in family planning and in education interact synergistically. It is imperative that attention be given to the large and growing unmet need for family planning.

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