Population Connection Launches Project Highlighting the Effects of Population Growth on Climate Change

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As the United States’ leading grassroots organization seeking to stabilize global population through education about population challenges and advocacy supporting U.S. investment in voluntary domestic and international family planning programs, Population Connection will launch a project aimed at illuminating the link between empowering women and girls and addressing climate change while mitigating its harmful effects on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

A generous pool of donors, led by James R. Bennett of Arkansas, has stepped forward to provide initial funding for this project. Major activities will include a speakers series; outreach on campuses and through digital media; and the addition of new, downloadable college-level materials available to those interested in the links between population growth, reproductive health, social justice, and environmental challenges—with a particular focus on climate change.

Growing Populations, Growing Carbon Footprints

Global warming poses unprecedented threats to humanity. Little has been done to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions despite 40 years of scientists’ warnings, with C02 emissions soaring from just over 10 gigatons per year in 1979 to nearly 35 gigatons per year today. While wealthy nations must account for historical emissions and the highest current per capita emissions, research indicates that slower future population growth “could reduce global emissions by 40% or more in the long-term.”

As people in low-income countries achieve improvements in standards of living, those countries’ carbon footprints will grow—both from a necessary rise in per capita emissions and from population growth.

Nearly half of the world’s pregnancies are unintended, and 214 million women in the developing world want to prevent pregnancy but aren’t using modern contraceptives. To lessen the impacts of global population growth on carbon emissions and biodiversity loss, we must implement human rights-based policies to extend family planning and reproductive health care to people worldwide—including in the high-emitting United States, where 45% of pregnancies are unintended.

Now is the time to ensure voluntary family planning options for all, and to provide universal education for girls. Together, these interventions to ensure the full autonomy of girls and women could have a greater impact on carbon emissions than any other, single tactic.

Population Connection draws the links between global population growth and the countless environmental challenges facing us—we educate people of all ages and motivate them to take action. We’ve made steady progress over the past 50 years, educating young people on population concepts and advocating for expanded access to voluntary family planning programs for people everywhere. Nearly 100 countries have achieved replacement rate fertility since our founding in 1968—up from four countries at that time.

But we must accelerate our progress to solve the climate crisis.

Population Connection’s campaign will bring population stabilization into the public discourse about climate change mitigation and adaptation, adding momentum to achieve a dramatic increase in access to family planning and reproductive health care programs for people around the world. In this way, we can lessen the impacts of global population growth on C02 emissions and biodiversity loss, while increasing vulnerable populations’ capacity for climate change adaptation and resilience. For more information on this project, please contact Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) Specialist Hannah Evans.

6 thoughts on “Population Connection Launches Project Highlighting the Effects of Population Growth on Climate Change

  1. At last! Thank you for facing reality square on and stepping up to educate the world. I am a volunteer and would love to help you spread the word.

  2. The TV show “All in with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC has done a lot of broadcasting about climate change, but to my knowledge none of it has included information about the role of population. Also, it concerns me that the host, Chris Hayes, just had his third child which I think is a case of “not putting your money where your mouth is.”
    I strongly support your goal of putting focus on the role of population in the climate change crises.

  3. It’s absolutely true that the most good for the future that we can do per unit of effort or cost is to help women everywhere on Earth to have equal rights and thus the same levels of education as men and the absolute right to prevent unwanted pregnancies births. But merely achieving population stabilization once the global population has doubled by more than eleven times (more than a 2,000X increase) since the last time we were all still hunter gatherers will not come anywhere near a sustainable state for civilization. A global population of 200 Millions living at an upper-middle class American standard of living has and will have, despite being greener than today, a gigantic long-term impact on declining natural resources which may not be sustainable for more than a few millennia. Today’s population and rates of resource consumption are, in sum, between about 10,000 and 20,000X greater than those of our pre-technology ancestors. Population levels more than a very few percent of today’s levels will assure a relatively rapid end of the human experiment and of most of the Tree of Life. Today there are but 9,000 blue whales remaining. There are supposed to be 300,000! At this point human civilization is an unmitigated catastrophe, despite seeming to be thriving for now, simply because we haven’t learned and accepted the need to live in near absolute harmony with nature despite having given ourselves the blessings of technology (which is what has caused our numbers and resource consumption to explode). There is normal about having billions of people alive at once! We can’t presume that it’s normal merely because it’s been this way for a few generations, though since I was born the population has tripled and the rate of resource consumption has increased 10X! Please help me to lead the world to a real solution, not a solution which is merely a good first step. Stabilizing at 8 or 9 or 10 Billions is not a solution. All we can say is that it will be less rapidly catastrophic than stabilizing at 12 Billions.

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Since 1968, Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth or ZPG) has been America's voice for population stabilization—we are the largest grassroots population organization in the United States! As a 501(c)(3) charity, all donations made to us are tax-deductible.

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