According to the latest data coming from the UN, the world population will reach a staggering thirty billion people by 2300. Now, that’s a lot of people and a real sobering thought for those concerned with the impact of a growing population on the earth’s finite resources.
As the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has experienced some of the highest population growth since the 1950’s- second only to sub-Saharan Africa- you could argue that it’s time the region took population control seriously. If only to save the planet.
Over-simplistic link between Population and Climate Change
The link between a high population and climate change is a simple one. More people equals less resources and more emissions, which ultimately leads to resource conflict and more climate change. Subsequently, some have argued that by controlling the population, through better family planning facilities, we can have more control over our resources and emissions and so mitigate climate change.
In terms of population growth, the MENA region, which is made up of a large Muslims population, is one of the top offenders. However the fertility rates in the region is believed to have fallen over the last 20 years, according to a journal by Nadia Diamond-Smith, Kirk Smith and Nuriya Nalan Sahin Hodoglugil exploring the link between climate change and the Muslim world. Even so, the population in the region has been steadily increasing and the MENA region is expected to rise from 423 million (2007) to 800-900 million by the end of the 21st century. With all this in mind, it seems to make sense to take on board population control as a solution to climate change.
Over-consumption: One American produces the same emissions as 250 Ethiopians
However, the only problem with the ‘control population= more resources=less conflict= less climate change’ equation is that it’s rather simplistic. The fact remains that whilst the figures do show that the earth’s population has skyrocketed, in reality it is consumption, and not the existence of people alone, that is bringing the earth to near collapse. So, even if we somehow managed to control population growth, if these people were still consuming the earth’s resources without check then we would still be doomed.
For example, Fred Pearce the environmental writer calculated that on average the carbon emissions of one American is equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians. And so it is the rich consumer of the West that are doing more harm than the supposed ‘breeders’ of the developing world.
Whilst many people like to think that climate change may be the fault of overbreeders in some countries/regions/religions- or at least that family planning is the answer- it is (unfortunately?) not that simple.
: Image via Brad.K on flickr.
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