• Jacob-B
    here is a crucial element missing in the frenzy of debates and protests about climate change,it is truly the proverbial elephant in the room (it might have been the mastodon, had it not been made extinct by our ancestors). It is the problem of population growth. If left unchecked, population growth could more than annul any gains achieved by changing patterns of energy generation and consumption, To a very large extent the problem is centred on Africa. According to Wikipedia:

    ‘By 2070, the bulk of the world's population growth is predicted to take place in Africa: of the additional 2.4 billion people projected between 2015 and 2050, 1.3 billion will be added in Africa, 0.9 billion in Asia and only 0.2 billion in the rest of the world’.

    What would be the effects of such explosive growth? One would like to be an optimist and hope that through a concerted effort of the developed world and African governments supported by modern technology (greening of the Sahara?) the growing population could be fed and sheltered without wars, deforestation, wiping out wildlife, an increase in greenhouse gases emission. However, looking at the present situation the room for optimism is rather limited. There are tribal conflicts, religious conflicts, and many of the continent's government are corrupt. The dominant religions and cultures are essentially opposed to family planning.
    The unchecked increase in Africa's is a ticking environmental time bomb that should be at the top of the world's agenda but surprisingly is seldom discussed.

    Sourced from Wikipedia:
    As of 2016, the total population of Africa is estimated at 1.225 billion, representing 17% of the world's population.[3] According to UN estimates, the population of Africa may reach 2.5 billion by 2050 (about 26% of the world's total) and nearly 4.5 billion by 2100 (about 40% of the world's total).[3]
    The population of Africa first surpassed one billion in 2009, with a doubling time of 27 years (growth rate 2.6% p.a.).[4]
    Population growth has continued at almost the same pace, and total population is expected to surpass 2 billion by 2038 (doubling time 29 years, 2.4% p.a.).[3]
    The reason for the uncontrolled population growth since the mid 20th century is the decrease of infant mortality and general increase of life expectancy without a corresponding reduction in fertility rate, due to a very limited use of contraceptives. Uncontrolled population growth threatens to overwhelm infrastructure development and crippling economic development.[5] Kenya and Zambia are pursuing programs to promote family planning in an attempt to curb growth rates.[6]
    The extreme population growth in Africa is driven by East Africa, Middle Africa and West Africa, which regions are projected to more than quintuple their populations over the 21st century. The most extreme of these is Middle Africa, with an estimated population increase by 680%, from less than 100 million in 2000 to more than 750 million in 2100 (more than half of this figure is driven by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, projected to increase from 47 million in 2000 to 379 million in 2100). Projected population growth is less extreme in Southern Africa and North Africa, which are expected, respectively, to not quite double and triple their populations over the same period.[3]
  • fdrake
    The majority of humans have little to no climate footprint, rather than the unconstrained growth of people, the more important category of analysis for climate impact is the unconstrained growth of production and consumption. The world can support many more crofters than rich consumers in capitalist economies.
  • Bitter Crank
    Don't worry about population. Mother Nature has the requisite ways and means to lower the population to sustainable levels. Just hope you're not around when she does it.
  • frank
    We also have the means. Educate women. Give them opportunities to contribute creatively other than childbirth. Population growth stagnates. It's not hypothetical. It's called Europe.
  • Bitter Crank
    Projections of population growth may not be realized. Global warming is likely to have significant effects on food production, disease rates, available water for drinking and agriculture (and industry), reproduction, and so on. Worse for everyone concerned, 2070 will be another 50 years past peak oil. The whole world will be very hungry for that dense energy source. The greening of the Sahara, never mind stopping the progression of desertification on the southern edge of the Sahara, is not something we will be able to engineer.

    Are you familiar with the "wet bulb" measurement? It references how fast moisture evaporates at given temperatures and humidity. Human beings can not survive outside when the wet bulb temperature is above 98. [>98º + high humidity] Why? Because our sweat doesn't evaporate, we can't cool off, and our internal temperature starts to rise, and we go into heat shock and die. A high wet bulb temperature means that much less time outdoors is available for agricultural work, hence less food production. Who will be affected? Everyone in tropical and sub-tropical areas, including the southern US.
  • Bitter Crank
    Yes; affluent people reproduce less than poor people. Why, exactly, isn't clear. Maybe affluent people are too busy earning affluent incomes to raise children. Maybe affluent people would rather be affluent than spending hundreds of thousands of euros on children. Maybe child survival rates are so high that 1 child is enough. Maybe sophisticated European metrosexuals just can't be bothered. Europe's population rate is below replacement levels which is a good thing in terms of ZPG, but is very bad for the economy. After all, somebody has to work in the factories, distribution centers, transportation, hospitals, nursing homes, farms, etc. Therefore, immigrant labor is necessary. Fortunately for affluent people in Europe, North America and parts of Asia there are plenty of inexpensive laborers available.

    I'm not knocking immigration here (I do that elsewhere). I'm just pointing out that the virtue of low birth rates here and there is limited, because the population of laborers is still needed by affluent people to maintain affluence.
  • Bitter Crank
    Educate womenfrank

    Yes. That has been demonstrated many times that educated women bear fewer children.
  • ssu
    Population growth was a big bogaboo in the 1970's. Now it isn't. Only African countries might be worried.

    The thing is that likely in this Century we will see Peak Human population and then the global population will shrink. Already a lot of countries are decreasing in population. The biggest reason for this is the rise of prosperity: we simply don't need offspring to take care of us anymore. And as Bitter Crank said, women are educated, their role isn't to produce as much offspring as they can as before.

    Above all, China is has a fertility rate of 1,635 (children per women), hence China's population will stop growing. Here are actually all the countries that have a problem that their fertility rate is below 2, which would sustain the population size:

    Bahrain 1.998 children per woman
    Jamaica 1.991 children per woman
    French Polynesia 1.99 children per woman
    Ireland 1.98 children per woman
    Uruguay 1.979 children per woman
    New Zealand 1.974 children per woman
    France 1.973 children per woman
    Georgia 1.971 children per woman
    Kuwait 1.967 children per woman
    Vietnam 1.946 children per woman
    Iceland 1.921 children per woman
    Guadeloupe 1.92 children per woman
    Sweden 1.909 children per woman
    Saint Vincent And The Grenadines 1.902 children per woman
    North Korea 1.893 children per woman
    United States 1.886 children per woman
    Qatar 1.881 children per woman
    Martinique 1.881 children per woman
    United Kingdom 1.871 children per woman
    Brunei 1.848 children per woman
    Australia 1.832 children per woman
    Norway 1.827 children per woman
    Colombia 1.827 children per woman
    Belgium 1.799 children per woman
    Barbados 1.799 children per woman
    Aruba 1.796 children per woman
    Finland 1.782 children per woman
    Chile 1.765 children per woman
    Costa Rica 1.764 children per woman
    Denmark 1.762 children per woman
    Bahamas 1.755 children per woman
    Russia 1.751 children per woman
    Netherlands 1.75 children per woman
    Trinidad And Tobago 1.73 children per woman
    United Arab Emirates 1.725 children per woman
    Cuba 1.716 children per woman
    Belarus 1.706 children per woman
    Brazil 1.705 children per woman
    Albania 1.705 children per woman
    Lebanon 1.704 children per woman
    Lithuania 1.661 children per woman
    Estonia 1.659 children per woman
    Montenegro 1.657 children per woman
    Slovenia 1.638 children per woman
    China 1.635 children per woman
    Iran 1.621 children per woman
    Serbia 1.62 children per woman
    Armenia 1.601 children per woman
    Luxembourg 1.594 children per woman
    Bulgaria 1.584 children per woman
    Latvia 1.57 children per woman
    Czech Republic 1.566 children per woman
    Canada 1.563 children per woman
    Ukraine 1.557 children per woman
    Switzerland 1.549 children per woman
    Macedonia 1.546 children per woman
    Romania 1.54 children per woman
    Austria 1.511 children per woman
    Italy 1.491 children per woman
    Japan 1.478 children per woman
    Malta 1.475 children per woman
    Puerto Rico 1.47 children per woman
    Germany 1.47 children per woman
    Slovakia 1.462 children per woman
    Thailand 1.458 children per woman
    Croatia 1.446 children per woman
    Saint Lucia 1.444 children per woman
    Mauritius 1.433 children per woman
    Hungary 1.397 children per woman
    Spain 1.391 children per woman
    Bosnia And Herzegovina 1.386 children per woman
    Macau 1.347 children per woman
    Cyprus 1.337 children per woman
    Hong Kong 1.326 children per woman
    South Korea 1.323 children per woman
    Greece 1.302 children per woman
    Poland 1.29 children per woman
    Singapore 1.26 children per woman
    Portugal 1.241 children per woman
    Moldova 1.23 children per woman
    Taiwan 1.218 children per woman
  • I like sushi

    “Yes; affluent people reproduce less than poor people. Why, exactly, isn't clear.”

    It is clear enough. Poorer people need children to provide for them, and generally speaking child mortality has been, until recently, relatively high in many places (as you mentioned).

    Of course religious attitudes, medicine, education pay into this too, other than the need for an extra pair of hands to bring the money in (call it the natural pension scheme if you will; cynical view but it’s the practical truth in many places around the globe).
  • Jacob-B
    one of your comments addressed the issues I raised;

    1, will sub-Saharan Africa be able to cope with more than doubling its population within 35 years and
    2, What would be the effect on its environment and greenhouse emissions.

    Immigration is definitely not a solution to a problem of this scale even if it was not fiercely resisted by the hosting countries, It is worth noting that infant mortality nowadays even on the poorest African countries is less than 10%, so fertility of 5-6 children is not justified on grounds of being looked after in old age.

    I wish I could be as optimistic as you are.

    Incidentally, China would not be where it is now were it not for the one-child policy/

    Also, please bear in mind that automation reduces the need for manual labour. A Mac restaurant today employs less than half the number of one in the 80s. A car factory of say 4000 workers produces more cars than one which employed 20,000 in the 70s. Robotics makes major inroads been into the caring services,
  • ssu
    Incidentally, China would not be where it is now were it not for the one-child policy/Jacob-B
    I'm not so sure.

    You see, rising prosperity makes population growth to decrease. India hasn't had any kind of similar policies, yet look at the change:


    China has basically made a real short term pension problem into the future.
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