Too Many People

People have often told us ‘well there are just too many people in the world’.

While population growth is important it cannot be used to dismiss the causes of climate change so easily.

It also raises the question about whether they are saying ‘it would be good if millions of people died’.

First of all let us look at how CO2 emissions vary with wealth:

What is happening with climate change is the poorest people (in Africa, India etc) are the ones most likely to die due to the effects of climate change.

Will that have an effect? It will but not that much.

Then we expect that more poor people in relatively rich countries in Europe and the USA would start dying. It will have a bigger effect but still not change the major problem which is the emissions from the top 10%.

If people think that genocide is the solution (NB I do not) to climate change then they should be specific about their target – the top 10%.

Inequality and Population Growth

So if we do think that population growth is a problem then what are we going to do about it? Simply making statements such as ‘people should have less children’ will achieve very little.

If we look more deeply into the problem we see that high population growth is linked to inequality1. If we can decrease inequality – particularly the status of women – then it could have a positive effect on population growth.

A rising population is not the problem – growing inequality is, The Guardian, November 2011 (


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