Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: A Population & Emissions Roundtable

December 21, 2015 • Daily Email Recap

Climate: Just one more reason for Africa to slow its population growth
There are those who perceive any effort to limit population growth as “population control.” This is a term that chillingly evokes coercive state intervention to control individual reproductive behavior. Population control programs have rarely been implemented without exacting unacceptable ethical costs.
But there’s a big difference between coercive state-led population control programs and efforts to slow rapid population growth. Population control programs target the actions of individuals. Efforts to slow the population growth rate, meanwhile, work within existing societal contexts and seek to produce voluntary change.
Population size and composition are among the key drivers of climate change. Whether there are 7 billion or 14 billion people on Earth matters on a fundamental level for the climate. But the relationship between population and planetary health is not straightforward. A child born in, say, North America will have a heavier carbon footprint than will her age-mate born in sub-Saharan Africa.

Current World Population


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