COVID-19: PMC provides a trusted voice for high-risk global audiences. Learn More

Population, development, and climate change: links and effects on human health

September 30, 2013 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Population, development, and climate change: links and effects on human health

Judith Stephenson, Susan F Crane, Caren Levy, Mark Maslin

Global health, population growth, economic development, environmental degradation, and climate change are the main challenges we face in the 21st century. However, because the academics, non-governmental organisations, and  policy makers in these specialties work within separate communities, our understanding of the associations between  them is restricted. We organised an international symposium in May, 2011 in London, UK, for academics and  technical experts from population, developmental, and environmental science to encourage debate and collaboration between these disciplines. The conference provided the impetus for this Review, which describes, in historical  context, key events and fundamental intercommunity debates from the perspectives of population, development,  and climate change communities. We consider the interconnections between population, development, and climate change and their eff ects on health, including new analysis of longstanding debates, and identify opportunities for effective collaboration on shared goals.


Because of huge population growth in the 20th century,  the world’s population is expected to be ten times larger by  2050 (roughly 10 billion) than it was for most of the 19th century (around 1 billion) (fi gure 1A).1,4,5 The European Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries) started this  growth and laid the foundation for improvements to public health that triggered a global demographic transition. This transition began in northwest Europe pre-19th century and continues worldwide.6-8 In pre-transitional societies, high fertility rates offset high mortality rates and population levels remained constant (figure 1A) because, on average, only two children per couple survived to adulthood.7,8 The fundamental processes of demographic transition-which causes a population to move from high mortality and high fertility to low mortality and low fertility-are associated with a sustained decline in mortality leading to population growth and a decline in fertility leading to population ageing and urbanisation.

Please click here for the full PDF:

Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit