Links between climate change and population growth

November 29, 2012 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Serial Dramas, United States, Daily Email Recap

Congratulations to John Seager, President of Population Connection, for the following Op-Ed, which has appeared in several iterations in various publications around the country. Especially interesting here is that Mr. Seager gets into the informational and cultural barriers of access to contraception (as opposed to just lack of availability/supply): “They include misinformation about side effects of birth control methods, including the false notion that they lead to sterility. In many societies, women – especially young brides – have no power over their own lives. Husbands, clerics and even mothers-in-law occupy the positions of authority.”

Of course, PMC has long noted that providing physical access is crucial, but also that the lack of such access is cited infrequently by those who are categorized as having an unmet need for family planning. Concerns about health side effects, partner opposition, religious opposition, and fatalistic mindsets are the most prevalent reasons cited by non-users who do not want to be pregnant. Changing this situation takes more than provision of family planning services. It requires helping people understand the personal benefits in health and welfare for them and their children of fewer, spaced births. It requires a major shift in societal attitudes and knowledge. It involves role modeling small family norms and making them popular, as well as overcoming the fear that contraceptives are dangerous or that planning one’s family is unacceptable.

Links between climate change and population growth 
Family planning in the developing world is key to cutting emissions


As people along the East Coast struggle to recover from super storm Sandy, there has been serious talk of building giant floodgates to protect parts of New York City from the next such event.

Giant floodgates might be part of a long-term solution, but we need to find others that address the looming consequences of climate change, and recognize that family planning is part of the mix.

As weather threats have grown, so has our world population. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year the United States suffered a record 14 weather events, each costing at least $1 billion in damage. And every year, more than 80 million people join our human family. That’s like adding another New Jersey every six weeks.

Rapid population growth and fossil fuel emissions are two leading characteristics of our modern age. Since 1800, world population has grown sevenfold, while per capita CO2 emissions have increased 150 times. Put the two together, and you have about 1,100 times as much in terms of emissions.

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Current World Population


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