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Climate Change and Population Growth

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Information about Climate Change and Population Growth
Education

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: FFrancesche

Source: slideshare.net

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Federico Sotomayor 18 February 2014 The World Bank Group 4°C Turn Down the Heat Climate Change and Population Growth One can reflect on several significant topics in the course’s readings, but the issue that stood out in particular, with an aura of exponentially increasing importance in assessing future sustainability, was that of overpopulation and the subsequent effects it has shown to have in reference to advancing global climate change. It must first be stated that people around the world are being born at a much faster rate than they are dying, simultaneously, and possibly as a result of, the process of modernization and industrialization of large geographic areas around the world, especially developing nations. This creates certain socio-political conditions that have led to significant environmental problems that must be addressed with utmost seriousness if the increasing global population is to have any chance of sustaining any type of longevity on this planet. The consensus among contemporary scientists is that most of the atmospheric warming and climate variation occurring over the last two centuries has been as a result of human produced carbon emissions (anthropogenic forces) from the utilization of fossil fuels for energy and transportation since the inception of the industrial revolution. We must, as a whole, drastically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted, by 15-20% below baseline levels. "This goal suggests that carbon dioxide concentrations must peak by 2015-20 and then fall (McKeown and Gardner, Climate Change Reference Guide)." This estimate can be slightly overwhelming when considering the relative proximity of the years in question. Personally, I believe that this transition can be successfully implemented with the distribution of clean energy by replacing the fossil fuel emissions that are produced from the demand for electricity and transportation; though only through collective collaboration of herculean proportions on all fronts, can this ultimately be achieved. Although this is quite conventionally stated as being of the highest priority in dealing with climate change (carbon emissions), something quite different stood out for me that I was not previously aware of, and that is the relative significance of other greenhouse gases, specifically methane and nitrous oxide.

Although these two are emitted at far less quantities than carbon dioxide at the present moment, it is stated in the ‘Climate Change Reference Guide’ that methane and nitrous oxide have much higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) potency, 25 and 298, respectively, than carbon dioxide and thus theoretically hold the potential to do more damage, although methane and nitrous oxide are less stable and dissipate at faster rates. These two gases struck me as particularly important in the future context of overpopulation since these two are formed primarily through the use of agriculture and land use changes (Summary for Policy Makers p.2). As more people populate the earth, the need for food and waste management will increase, thus increasing the levels of methane and nitrous oxide. I am currently researching the phenomenon of ‘vertical farming’ and see the potential benefits of promoting this type of sustainable development/technology earlier rather than later. Also, with the unequivocal rise in global average air temperatures (Summary for Policy Makers p.5), the rise of methane gas through the advancing rates of bio decomposition in landfills will only work to accelerate global warming in a way that if unaddressed, can lead to large scale global climate imbalances and unpredictability amongst weather patterns. One major obstacle in which I had previously not had the opportunity to reflect upon, until now, is that although climate change is a global issue, the fact that “the impacts are felt differently from region to region (McKeown and Gardner, Climate Change Reference Guide)” only serves to limit or restrict the levels of accountability that must be put forth by nations in a position to affect the entire global political economy, i.e. 1st world developed nations or those in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The question that arises from this reflection is whether or not it can be scientifically measured and proved that the carbon emissions from one specific nation, affect the climate or environment of a separate nation?

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