We hear a lot of talk about climate change and most people know it is mostly associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide, Co2, mostly results from burning fossil fuels principally coal and oil. Worldwide it has been estimated that 40% of this comes from coal fired electricity power generation and a further 30% from transportation (petrol and diesel driven vehicles). Over the past decade alone with the industrialization of China it is claimed Co2 emissions have increased by over 30%.
There are many suggestions as to how to limit these emissions including less polluting sources of power generation and less polluting vehicles. However none of these suggestions address the fundamental cause of Co2 emissions and climate change.
Recent samples compiled by scientists in Antarctica from the Aurora Basin Ice Core Drilling, show carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have grown exponentially since 1750, directly mirroring population growth.
Of course as economists know 1750 is generally considered to be the start of the Industrial Revolution. The main reasons why this massive change in human activity occurred at this time in history that had never happened before are:
- Following the highly destructive 30 year war in Europe scholars decided they had enough of centuries of rule by the churches and monarchies telling people what to think.
- They decided to think for themselves.
- This led to the Age of Enlightenment and the phrase by Descartes 'I think therefore I am'.
- For the first time in history industrialisation resulted in a mass movement of people to the cities and a massive growth in population and pollution, that has continued to the present day.
Thus population growth coupled with the industrial revolution are the principle causes of climate change.
Prior to 1750 the world's population had grown slowly in fits and starts over many thousands of years and was about 1 billion people. In the last 250 years it has grown faster than in all of history and is now over 7 billion people. In recent times has been doubling every 60 years.
So to halt climate change, along with other measures, we must stop this massive population growth.
With China and India industrializing and Africa likely to follow in the future we must act immediately. The carbon footprint of a person in America exceeds that of an average Indian by over 1,200%, and an average Ethiopian by over 10,000%. The same trend is happening but with massive populations in these industrializing countries.
Of course now it gets complicated to realize why population growth is so hard to stop. Briefly main reasons are:
Religious objections to contraception.
Politicians wanting continuous growth to create jobs
Companies wanting population growth to have ever-expanding markets for their goods.
Do gooders providing health care in developing countries without helping families to have fewer children.
There is a way to have zero population and economic growth with reasonable and sustainable standards of living. This encompasses the concept of continuous economics which involves aligning economic activity with the cycles of nature and producing durable goods rather than 'consumer society' planned obsolescence goods.
But for now what is needed is a ground up movement to lobby governments to tackle overpopulation on a global scale. The future of the world depends on it.