Climate Change

Where next? Conclusion for ‘The impact of population growth on tomorrow’s world’

Malcolm Potts

This paper provides a personal perspective on the rich discussions at the Bixby Forum. The size, rate of growth and age structure of the human population interact with many other key factors, from environmental change to governance. While the details of future interactions are sometimes difficult to predict, taken together they pose sombre threats to a socially and economically sustainable future for the rich and to any realistic possibility of lifting the world’s bottom two billion people out of poverty. Adaptive changes will be needed to cope with an ageing population in countries with...

THE POPULATION FACTOR: How does it relate to climate change?

Malcolm Potts
Leah Marsh

The human contribution to climate change is driven primarily by high per capita consumption in the North. The poorest 1 billion people living on a dollar or two a day contribute only 3 per cent of the world’s total carbon footprint, yet the loss of healthy life-years resulting from global warming could be as much as 500 times greater in Africa than in Europe (McMichael et al., 2008). It is also true that 99 per cent of the projected 1-4 billion increase in global population that will occur between now and 2050 will take place in the least developed countries with the smallest carbon...

Global warming and reproductive health

Malcolm Potts
Courtney E. Henderson

The largest absolute numbers of maternal deaths occur among the 40–50 million women who deliver annually without a skilled birth attendant. Most of these deaths occur in countries with a total fertility rate of greater than 4. The combination of global warming and rapid population growth in the Sahel and parts of the Middle East poses a serious threat to reproductive health and to food security. Poverty, lack of resources, and rapid population growth make it unlikely that most women in these countries will have access to skilled birth attendants or emergency obstetric care in the...

Crisis in the Sahel: Possible Solutions and the Consequences of Inaction

Malcolm Potts
Eliya Zulu
Michael Wehner
Federico Castillo
Courtney Henderson

The following report documents how, over the next 30 to 40 years in parts of sub- Saharan Africa, between 100 million and 200 million people are likely to be without sustainable food supplies. This was the conclusion of a multidisciplinary group of experts from Africa and North America, who asked what will happen in the Sahel when new projections of global warming are combined with rapid population growth. The meeting was not the first on the Sahel, but the breadth of expertise in agriculture, climatology, demography, family planning, the status of women, terrorism, and national security...

Big issues deserve bold responses: Population and climate change in the Sahel

Malcolm Potts
Alisha Graves

Parts of Africa have the most rapid population growth in the world. Recent studies by climatologists suggest that, in coming decades, ecologically vulnerable areas of Africa, including the Sahel will be exposed to the harshest adverse effects of global warming. The threat hanging over parts of sub-Saharan Africa is extreme. Fortunately, there are evidence-based achievable policies which can greatly ameliorate what would otherwise be a slowly unfolding catastrophe of stunning magnitude. But to succeed such measures must be taken immediately and on a large scale....

Why Bold Policies for Family Planning are Needed Now

Malcolm Potts
Rachel Weinrib
Martha Campbell

Last spring at a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) talk in Berlin, Melinda Gates used this phrase, “The most transformative thing you can do is to give people access to birth control.” She expressed similar sentiments at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012, as did the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Andrew Mitchell who was then Secretary of State for the Department for International Development, the British equivalent of United States Agency for International Development. The London Summit represented a new focus on international family planning after...

Les grandes questions meritent des responses audacieuses: la population et le changement climatique au Sahel

Malcolm Potts
Alisha Graves

Certaines régions d’Afrique ont la croissance démographique la plus rapide du monde. Des études récentes menées par les climatologues indiquent que dans les prochaines décennies, les zones écologiquement vulnérables de l’Afrique, y compris le Sahel, seront exposées aux effets néfastes les plus sévères du réchauffement climatique. La menace qui pèse sur certaines régions de l’Afrique sub-saharienne est extrême. Heureusement, il existe des politiques réalistes fondées sur des preuves qui peuvent largement améliorer ce qui autrement constituerait une catastrophe qui s’évolue lentement d...

Population and Climate Change: Empowering 100 Million Women

Malcolm Potts
Alisha Graves

Meeting the world’s need for family planning is a human right and a climate imperative. Wherever women have been given information and access to family planning, birth rates have fallen – even in poor, low-literate societies like Bangladesh or conservative religious countries such as Iran.

Published in The United Nations Climate Change Conference – Cop19 & CMP9 2013; 30-31.

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Population and climate change: who will the grand convergence leave behind?

Campbell M
Casterline J
Castillo F
Graves A
Hall T
May J
Perlman D
Potts M
Speidel J
Walsh J
Wehner M
Zulu E

For many developing countries, investments in health have proved a great success. The Lancet Commission “Global health 2035: a world converging within a generation” and the 2014 Gates annual letter envision the possibility of a “grand convergence” by which more countries will have a child mortality rate as low as 15 per 1000 livebirths in 20 years time. We wish to draw attention to the special case of the least developed countries, which on present evidence are likely to be excluded from such a convergence. To start a discussion we will focus on the Sahel (the 1 million square-mile semi-...