Stemming population growth is a cheap way to limit climate change

December 13, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Steve Kurtz for this article. See:

Stemming population growth is a cheap way to limit climate change

There’s no one way to suddenly cut carbon emissions, but better family planning where it’s most needed is a cost-effective start

Thomas Lovejoy, Monday 31 October 2011 04.00 EDT

On October 31, according to forecasts, the 7 billionth person will be born. A few weeks before this milestone, Adnan Mevic, whom the United Nations declared Baby 6 Billion in 1999, celebrated one of his own. He turned 12.

More than 200,000 people are added to the population each day, and we’re expected to keep growing for years to come, reaching anywhere from 8 billion to 11 billion mid-century.

The idea of living sustainably, of “going green”, has recently become a buzzword when talking about everything from energy to water to agriculture. We certify energy-efficient LEED buildings. We build electric cars. We invest in solar power. But in terms of our own numbers, we are anything but sustainable.

Of course, consumption is a big part of the problem. With less than 5% of the world’s population, the US consumes about one-fifth of the world’s energy. We’re among the top countries in the world in terms of per-capita emissions, and the average American is responsible for about 200 times as much carbon as the average Ethiopian.

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