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Climate Change and World Population: Still Avoiding Each Other

September 17, 2014 • Daily Email Recap

Climate Change and World Population: Still Avoiding Each Other 

Despite their intimate relationship, climate change and world population are still not talking to each other. The lack of meaningful dialogue has persisted for decades, with both seeming to deliberately ignore the significance, relevance and impact of the other.
With the simultaneous convening on Sept. 22 of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly marking the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development and the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23, this estranged relationship is now more glaring. Both gatherings are taking place within shouting distance of one another at UN headquarters in New York.
With growing concerns and uncertainties about the extent of the detrimental consequences of rapid population growth and climate change, the international community of nations convened the first World Population Conference in 1974 and the first World Climate Conference in 1979. Growing at 2 percent annually, global population increases reached a record high, doubling the world population in just 38 years. At the same time, rising amounts of carbon dioxide spewing into the atmosphere pointed to a gradual warming of the earth, especially at higher latitudes. The recommendations for action emanating from these groundbreaking conferences, however, essentially ignored each other.


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