A family planning expert says we should be taking a hard look at the cost of an increasing population on climate change.
With climate change already close to tipping point, urgent action is needed to reduce our carbon footprints as well as the number of children we are having, John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, argues in The BMJ.
Guillebaud says that most climate change discussions wrongly focus only on technology and consumption. He points out that 45 per cent of the world lives in areas where total fertility rates range from 2.1 to five children, and 9 per cent where they exceed five. The UN’s latest median world population projection of 11.2 billion by 2100 assumes continued reductions in fertility rate, he adds.
Guillebaud says by having one fewer child, an American woman would reduce her carbon legacy by 9441 tonnes: 20 times more than would be saved by other actions.
“Action on population growth as well as technology and consumption is essential to ensure that climate mayhem is both minimised and mitigated,” he says.