UN Climate Conference Notes Role of Population Growth


This linked article offers one more glimmer of hope that the subject of overpopulation is getting more attention.  Although the article reports that the UN is unwilling to take on the issue of population growth as it grapples with global warming, experts in attendance at the UN climate conference in Poland recognize the role of population growth in worsening the problem and see a need to address it on a national level.

“Population is the unmentioned elephant in the living room when it comes to climate change,” said Bill Ryerson, president and founder of the Vermont-based Population Media Center.

“A lot of people say population pressure is a major driving force behind the increase in emissions, and that’s absolutely true,” the U.N.’s top climate official Yvo de Boer said.

“If we don’t address the population issue and population continues to grow the way it is, … we will fail to solve the climate crisis,” Ryerson said.

Brian O’Neill, a population expert with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said there is substantial evidence showing a strong correlation between a country’s economic growth and its emissions.

Even if it doesn’t come up in Poznan, the Worldwatch Institute’s Robert Engelman said policies to slow population growth will eventually find their way into the climate toolbox for many countries.

“Population doesn’t need to be part (of) international negotiations on mitigation. You don’t have (to) say country X will cap its emissions and population,” he said.

“But countries will begin to see that a more rapidly rising population will make it hard for them to curb emissions,” said Engelman, the author of “More: Population, Nature and What Women Want.”

With the heavy emphasis that Obama has placed upon the issue of climate change, elevating it to a national security issue, how could it possibly escape his attention that it is exacerbated by population growth?  To hope for some kind of national policy aimed at stabilizing our population may be a stretch but, at the very least, one would hope that it will make Obama reluctant to liberalize immigration policy.

9 Responses to UN Climate Conference Notes Role of Population Growth

  1. The mystery of our not including population growth as a key element in human caused global warming would stump Alfred Hitchcock.

    Decreasing auto emissions by 50% and increasing autos by 50% is a zero sum gain where I went to school. The patients are running the asylum.

  2. Clyde Bollinger says:

    That climate change is real is not debatable. How much is attributable to human action is, at least to me. Polution can more accurately be attributed to human action although even that occasionally pales by comparison to natural events such as volcanic eruptions. Our fouling the atmosphere probably exacerbates climate change but I doubt it is sufficient to effect climate change were it eliminated. We’ve always had climate change and I suspect this will not change.
    None of the fossil fuel we depend upon would exist were it not for climate change. Imagine arctic circle tropical forests. This happened long before man came on the scene.
    With respect to population, US emigration policy changes as a climate preservation tool equate to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If this is ultimately determined to be the answer, the problem is global and must be addressed accordingly.
    I generally try to offer a positive aspect to either the problem or a potential solution, but this one eludes me. I do not envy the new administration as it assumes responsibility for these and other problems.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Clyde, climate change is, of course, outside the realm of my theory and, so, I’m no expert. But, having watched “An Inconvenient Truth,” I found it to make a pretty compelling case.

      Although I’d prefer for folks to recognize the need to stabilize and even reduce our population from an economic perspective, if it’s done out of concern for the environment, the net effect is the same and I’ll be just as happy.

  3. sparrowshead says:

    Interesting site – many excellent points. There are an enormous number of challenges here and I don’t see politicians rushing to fix the problems. Sadly, the average US citizen isn’t aware of a lot of these problems, simply because the mainstream media doesn’t highlight the issues.

    I’m a legal immigrant though, so please don’t kick me out. 🙂

  4. Clyde Bollinger says:


    Here is a link to a blood pressure raising site I got from a Florida teacher.


    We’re not only allowing excessive immigration, we’re encouraging and subsidizing it.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      This site is an organization devoted to assimilating refugees and asylees into the U.S. I have no problem with the U.S. admitting people who have legitimate fears of persecution or worse if they are returned to their native lands. But in the case of refugees, many of these are people who have already escaped those countries and are safely residing in 3rd countries. They then use their “refugee” status to apply for admission to the U.S. as their safe haven of choice. The U.S. has an obligation to do its fair share to help nations who are overwhelmed by refugees, but its immigration laws shouldn’t be abused or used as loopholes for simply admitting more immigrants whose claims of persecution are shaky at best.

      I actually have much more concern about the myriad of web sites, many of them law firms specializing in immigration, devoted to helping immigrants game the system and obtain their green cards. Just google “immigration web sites” and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. Randy says:

    Ponzi schemes require it.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      You’re exactly right, Randy. Our economic system, as currently designed, is a Ponzi scheme that relies upon never-ending population growth, something that any thinking person recognizes as an impossibility.

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