Population threat to climate change fight

April 8, 2006

Environmental problems such as global warming can be tackled only if the international community addresses the problem of population growth, a leading scientist warned today.

Professor Chris Rapley, the director of the British Antarctic Survey, said the 76 million annual increase in the world’s population threatens “the welfare and quality of life of future generations”.

But he said population growth was the “Cinderella” issue of the environmental debate, because its implications are so controversial that nobody dares to raise it.

Scientific analysis suggests that the Earth can sustain around 2-3 billion people at a good standard of living over the long term, wrote Prof. Rapley in an article for the BBC News website.

But the current global population of 6.5 billion – expected to rise to 8 billion by the middle of the century – means mankind is imposing an ever greater “footprint” on the planet.

Independent Online Edition > Environment

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