The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
greenhouse gases to varying extents. In most societies the
burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation is a
Since releases of greenhouse gases are connected to most
economic activity, significant reductions in their emission may
affect the economic competitiveness of individuals, firms, and
nations. Avoiding additional greenhouse warming may be costly, it
may create economic winners and losers, and it may alter trade
The Effects of World Population and
The world's population today is 5.3 billion, and it is expected
to continue to grow at about 1.7 percent per year at current rates
of fertility. Figure 2.1 shows historical population growth and an
estimate for 2000. This increasing population is one of the major
factors affecting trends in greenhouse gas emissions. More people
create greater demand for food, energy, clothing, and shelter.
Producing such products emits greenhouse gases.
Economic growth also produces more greenhouse gas emissions. If
population grows with constant per capita income, more resources
are used for food, clothing, and shelter. If per capita income
grows in a constant population, the demand for goods also grows,
particularly for health and education services, transportation, and
housing. Most nations in the world have policies to reduce
population growth rates, but all nations seek to achieve rapid
growth in per capita income. The reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions is well served by the first objective (reducing
population growth) but, depending on the means used, can be in
conflict with the second (growth in per capita income).
The detailed links between population growth and greenhouse gas
emissions are complex and not well understood. The developing
countries that have reduced their population growth rates within
the last 30 years did so only after rapidly increasing their
standards of living. This often was accompanied by environmental
degradation. Perhaps it will be possible to rapidly raise living
standards without resulting in traditional patterns of pollution.
Unfortunately, there are few examples to guide us. What is needed
is a breakthrough in strategies for development, especially with
respect to energy supply and demand. Developing countries
experiencing rapid economic growth will need effective mitigation
programs if they are to avoid substantial increases in their
greenhouse gas emissions. Implementing new strategies will require
funds that will probably be scarce if populations grow rapidly.
Nevertheless, at any given per capita rate of greenhouse gas
emissions, a smaller population means fewer emissions, as well as
less stress on the environment in general.