Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hey, U.N.: Climate change and population are related

From Grist:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related

By and 18 Sep 2014

On Sept. 22 and 23, the United Nations will host separate daylong conferences on two issues of incalculable importance to the future of humanity: population and climate change. Though the two meetings will take place just one day apart, neither is likely to refer to the other. And that will be a missed opportunity, because scientific research increasingly affirms that the two issues are linked in many ways.

The population gathering in the General Assembly on Sept. 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. The next day’s summit has been convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for government and business leaders to brainstorm ideas for addressing climate change.

The coincidence of these meetings occurring a day apart offers a teachable moment for the global decision-makers gathering in New York. Actions to promote the well-being of women might produce mutually reinforcing benefits in both areas.

Population, the lives and status of women, and climate change are rarely linked at the United Nations — or in any other intergovernmental conversations, for that matter. Intuitively, it’s easy to understand that the growth of world population from 1 billion people at the start of the Industrial Revolution to 7.3 billion today has something to do with the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But most of the climate change the world is currently experiencing stems from decades of carbon-intense development by the world’s wealthier countries. These countries’ populations are growing much more slowly (and in a few cases not at all), compared to those of poorer countries with low greenhouse-gas emissions. So what’s population got to do with climate change today?

That’s a question researchers are beginning to answer. Published science presents growing evidence for climate-population linkage that is complex, far more nuanced than the conventional “rich-versus-poor” debate, and worth working to understand.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related

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