On the Heels of the IPCC Report, May/June 2007 Issue of World Watch Examines Population and Climate

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Washington, D.C.—With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reporting that the world’s poorest will be hit hardest by global warming, Sarah DeWeerdt examines the connections between population and climate change in the lead article of the May/June issue of World Watch magazine. Ironically, global warming is threatening the most vulnerable populations—those least responsible for causing it, writes DeWeerdt: “Accounting for population growth, continued ‘business as usual’ greenhouse gas emissions could increase the ranks of the hungry by 80 million by 2080, mostly in Africa and southern Asia. Mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever have recently been spotted in highland areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America where temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating, and plant communities are moving to higher altitudes. And a sea-level rise of one meter could drive 18.6 million people in China, 13 million in Bangladesh, 3.5 million in Egypt, and 3.3 million in Indonesia from their homes.”

Climate change and population are interlinked in complex ways, DeWeerdt notes. During the 20th century the global population quadrupled, but carbon emissions increased 12-fold. The major factor now contributing to increased emissions is not population growth but growth in affluence, particularly in rapidly industrializing countries such as China and India.

WHAT’S CREDIT GOT TO DO WITH IT?

The environmental community should join economists calling for better oversight and more transparency in credit markets, writes Jim Cochran in “Carbon on Credit: Global Warming and the Derivatives Market.” While environmentalists intuitively understand that local economies are less susceptible to global financial crises, they also need to question the relationship between accelerating carbon consumption and the accelerating velocity of credit markets. “If we were to live by more traditional rules of credit allocation guided by community bankers, I suspect that we would consume far fewer resources, including the fossil-based energy resources that are driving climate change,” writes Cochran. 

UNUSUAL SUSPECTS PARTNER FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN COLOMBIA

The idea behind Las Gaviotas, a sustainable community in Colombia, is being expanded thanks to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian Air Force, a Belgian entrepreneur, and Paolo Lugari, Gaviotas’ founder. The Air Force commitment to sustainable development as a path to peace is unprecedented in the history of any Latin American military, according to Richard E. White and Gloria Eugenia Gonzáles Mariño in “Las Gaviotas: Sustainability in the Tropics.” One key component of the community’s success is forest regeneration, which will offset roughly one-quarter of Colombia’s entire projected contribution of global greenhouse gas emissions during its 50-year growth cycle.

ALSO IN THE MAY/JUNE ISSUE:

ESSAY: INDIVIDUALISM AND AMERICA: THE NEWS FROM L.A.

Editor emeritus of World Watch Ed Ayres opines on government bureaucrats, the Eagles’ hit song “Hotel California,” and Rush Limbaugh.

EYE ON EARTH: FEATURED TOPICS

Program Aims to Save “Mona Lisas” of the Animal World
Ecuadorian City Winning against Traffic, Pollution Problems
Innovative Approach to Development Recognizes Role of Grandmothers
IPCC Report: Barring Action, More Weird Weather on the Way
World Governments Adopting Bright Idea
Biogas Program Fuels Sustainable Agriculture in Tibet
Geothermal Could Power Millions of U.S. Homes, Study Says

MATTERS OF SCALE: Greenhouse Car-Nations

World total of motor vehicles, 2004: 826 million

Emissions of CO2 from petroleum consumption, metric tons:
United States: 2,595 million
China: 816 million

(for more Matters of Scale, see the May/June issue of World Watch.)

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