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Population and Climate Change

Population and Climate Change

At the UN Climate Conference in Lima this past December, the Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising urged world governments to include climate change in school curricula (1). Education on climate change could enhance student understanding of climate issues, mitigation strategies, and adaptation mechanisms.

Incorporating the subject of population into climate curricula could be extremely relevant, particularly within a classroom of young adults. A report published in 2010 found that if the world population reached 7.5 billion in 2050, as opposed to 9 billion, humanity’s carbon footprint could be curbed by 5-9 billion tons of CO2. This reduction in green house gas output could account for 16-29% of the emissions cuts needed to prevent global temperatures from rising above irreversible levels (2 degrees Celsius) (2).

Highlighting the relationship between population and climate could be valuable to students who may eventually consider having a family. When the average American produces 19 tons of CO2 annually followed by Europeans at 10 tons annually, population is a pertinent issue in the climate discussion (3). In countries with reduced individual carbon footprints such as Kenya, smaller families could be an adaptive approach as food and water scarcity issues are exacerbated by climate (4). With an awareness of the population-climate link, students around the world may consider having smaller families in order to create a more inhabitable world for themselves and their children.

Furthermore, incorporating population into climate curricula could aid in bringing the topic of family size into public conversation. Through understanding that the magnitude of the world’s population is relevant to climate change and quality of life, the advantage of having smaller families becomes self-evident. At Uncrowded, we promote smaller families through the model of responsible parenting. With an emphasis on the well being of each child born, we can foster a world in which children are protected from irreversible climate change and can enjoy an uncrowded planet.



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  1. Anonymous
    AnonymousFebruary 9,15

    Number of children to have, the foods we eat, energy use and what we do with our pets are topics tossed around in discussions of Urban Ecology. While not everyone currently lives in a city, more people are moving into them, and likely new cities will be created to support the growing human population. It begs the question, is this the path we should be taking?

    This paper is a little on the technical side, but might be of interest:

Sometimes less is more.