New Data On ‘Population Emissions’

Article author: 
Brett Smith
Article date: 
12 June 2012
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

While many climate change studies focus on the physical and ecological processes that drive greenhouse gas emissions, a new study published this week focuses on the societal forces that could cause global warming.

In a report published Sunday in Nature Climate Change, Michigan State University professor Tom Dietz and his colleague Eugene Rosa from Washington State University looked at the various social factors that have long been prime climate-change suspects, including the role of population growth.

“How does population growth influence greenhouse gas emissions?” lead author Dietz asks. “Well, in looking at most nations of the world during the last few decades, we find that for each 1 percent increase in population, we get a bit more than a 1 percent increase in emissions.”...

...the number of households may have a greater impact on emissions than the number of people, “as a large proportion of household energy consumption is used to heat, cool and light dwellings and power the appliances in them, and such uses may be insensitive to the number of occupants,” the study said....

“Another major direction is to look at the relationship between stress placed on the environment and human well-being. How much benefit do we gain from using the environment as a source of raw materials and as a sink for waste? Are there ways that some nations do a much better job of improving the well-being of their people while minimizing harm to the environment?”