|I receive updates from ASHRAE regularly, and I noticed a link to an interesting article in the New York Times – Reducing Carbon by Curbing Population. The article rightly points out that much of the conversation on Climate Change is linked to reducing emissions, but we don’t look past this to consider some of the reasons behind the emissions rates. It’s interesting that the article states that only half of the increase in food consumption is due to population growth, but the other half is related to improved diet and higher incomes. So lifestyle choices are another factor in this complicated scenario.
The article goes on to say that if the world’s population grew at a slower rate than that predicted, we could reduce carbon emissions by a substantial amount (of course, this seems to assume that we all continue to live our lives and consume resources at the same rate as today).
It’s certainly true that in the West we don’t concentrate on population growth as seriously as other social problems. In 2006, Tony Blair stated that the UK has no policy on population.
But at what cost do we control population size? The article mentions past population control measures that many see as inhumane, such as China’s one-child policy, and forced sterilisations in India. There are better means of achieving a stable population, such as providing improved healthcare and education, but as a nation becomes more developed, it generally consumes more resources through industrialisation and consumerism.
So how do we balance the two? And how do we balance the myriad issues that all interconnect to form the problem of anthropogenic climate change, and all the other damage to the environment that humans are responsible for? Maybe it’s not as simple as just turning the heating down one degree.
I’m also hoping to attend the ASHRAE Winter Conference this year, and I’ll be blogging about my time there. Click here for information on the programme.