Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports Case Assignment
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports Case Assignment
Addressing population growth is not an issue of limiting numbers of spe- cific groups of human beings. But it is clear that many regions will remain at risk
until their populations are stabilized and the capacity to adequately support more people is created. One economic report notes the evidence shows that ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth, but that tackling it does not cap the aspirations for growth for rich or poor countries.44
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that many human systems are sensitive to climate change, including water resources, agriculture and forestry, fisheries, human settlements, energy, industry, insurance and other financial systems, and human health. The IPCC projects adverse impacts such as a general reduction in potential crop yields in most tropical and subtropical regions; decreased water availability for populations in many water-scarce regions; an increase in the number of people exposed to vector-borne and water-borne diseases; an increase in heat stress mortality; and increased energy demand for space cooling.45
Nonetheless, population seems to be missing from many environmental discussions. Of the few voices making the connection between population and global warming, perhaps the most well known is Chris Rapley, head of the Science Museum in London. Quoted in a July 2007 Telegraph newspaper article, Rapley said, “My position on population is that I am disturbed that no one will talk about it.”46 Among other things, Rapley told the newspaper that saving a gigaton of carbon emissions through education for women and birth control programs would cost 1,000 times less than any of the other technical options available, such as nuclear power, renewables, or increased car efficiency.
A year earlier, Rapley opined on a British Broadcasting Corporation web- site that population was a “Cinderella” subject, rarely visible in public or even private, and noting that it is in fact “. . . A bombshell of a topic, with profound and emotive issues of ethics, morality, equity and practicability.”47
Along with the issues discussed in international global warming meetings, Rapley noted that attention is merited by a much broader range of human impacts contributing to global warming, such as land cover, the water cycle, the health of ecosystems, and biodiversity, as well as the release of other chemicals into the envi- ronment, the massive transport and mixing of biological material worldwide, and the unsustainable consumption of resources. All of these effects interconnect and add up to the collective footprint of humankind on the planet’s life support systems:
Although reducing human emissions to the atmosphere is undoubtedly of critical importance, as are any and all measures to reduce the human environmental “footprint,” the truth is that the contribution of each individual cannot be reduced to zero. Only the lack of the individual can bring it down to noth- ing. So if we believe that the size of the human “footprint” is a serious problem (and there is much evidence for this) then a rational view would be that along with a raft of measures to reduce the footprint per person, the issue of population man- agement must be addressed. 48
In describing how environmental writers are part of the problem for not mentioning population growth in their discussions, environmental writer and activ- ist John Feeney notes that it is well known among scientists that the size and
growth of the global population is a root cause of environmental degradation, including climate change. He comments on one author who avoids the subject because it is “political poison,” stemming from negative reactions to news of coer- cive family planning policies in some countries, free market capitalism that stress- es growth, and political wrangling by concerned groups.49
In an online article about peak oil and carrying capacity, Canadian writer Paul Chefurka calls population the “elephant in the room:”
At the root of all the converging crises of the World Problematique is the issue of human overpopulation. Each of the global prob- lems we face today is the result of too many people using too much of our planet’s finite, non-renewable resources . . . The true danger posed by our exploding population is not our abso- lute numbers but the inability of our environment to cope with so many of us doing what we do.50
Car ownership offers insight on the convergence of population and carbon emissions in the future. Over the next 25 years, more cars are expected to be sold than in the entire history of the automotive industry.51
In an A.C. Nielsen survey of 28 countries in Europe and Asia, as well as the U.S., seven countries ranked “high” on an “Aspirational Index,” or future intent to buy a vehicle. All were in Asia, and of those, three are in the top four most popu- lous countries (China, India, and Indonesia). In addition, less environmentally friendly sport utility vehicles (SUVs) were selected by 19 percent of those in Asian regions as the design of choice,52 a preference that is on the rise.
In terms of overall emissions, while many developing countries account for far less per capita emissions, their overall population will offset the per capita imbalance. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency calculated that China surpassed the United States as the world leader in carbon dioxide emissions in 2006.53
According to a U.S.-based report, over the next quarter century, car sales in China may reach 62 million. India will reach 20 million, just behind the U.S. at 23 million.54
Thus, in India, with more than 1.1 billion people and a rapidly growing population, a curb on population growth would have a significant impact on future automobile emissions. (It is also compelling to consider how India, which subsidizes fuel prices to its citizens, will manage to continue keeping fuel prices artificially low as its share of global oil demand rises from its current 3 percent to 10 percent by 2030.55)
Another troubling intersection of population growth and climate change is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country, one of the most fragile on the planet, also has some of the world’s highest population growth fig- ures. Its population is projected to soar by nearly 200 percent by 2050, from a cur- rent level of 62.6 million to 186.8 million. The rate of natural increase (3 percent) is one of the highest in the world, as is the total fertility rate (6.7 chil- dren per married woman), although the country has one of the world’s lowest per capita incomes (US$720).56
The DRC is also home to the world’s second largest tropical woodlands, which act as a planetary “second lung” along with the Amazon forest, to trap carbon that would other- wise become carbon diox- ide in the atmosphere. Logging companies now control about one-quarter of the forests, but the DRC largely lacks a functioning system of forestry control.57 The country also ranks in the bottom six internation- ally for corruption on a Transparency International list.58
Forest harvesting, especially in under-controlled environments, leads to a predictable pattern of initial access from road building (legal and otherwise) by the timber companies, followed by further subsistence cutting and burning, game hunt- ers and often herds of domesticated animals, followed by subsistence farmers and others driven by poverty to further exploit the dwindling forests. The DRC will undoubtedly follow this pattern as the population climbs upward.
In addition, at the time of this writing, a delegation of pygmies from deep in the DRC rainforest was meeting with officials from the World Bank in Washington to request limitations on the activities of the Bank-supported timber companies. The pygmies assert the logging activities upset their subsistence pat- terns, tied closely to the forest, and allow future encroachment from outside, non- indigenous populations. A recent study by World Bank independent auditors found that logging was causing malnutrition in children and had led to local violence, that locals were not consulted, and that logging companies made incorrect claims about the value of timber.59
An easing of the population pressure in the DRC would benefit the forests that retain carbon from the world’s air as well as the indigenous groups who live therein, not to mention the various benefits to the country’s overall population (e.g., healthier, better educated families).
That climate change is a complex, interconnected subject is borne out by “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” a report prepared by sev- eral senior retired U.S. military officers, a cohort not generally known for environ- mental crusading.
In their report, the authors found that projected climate change poses a seri- ous threat to U.S. national security, acting as a “threat multiplier” for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world. According to their report, climate change, national security and energy dependence are a related set of global chal-
lenges for the U.S., and they include recommendations that the U.S. should commit to help stabilize climate change and commit to global partnerships to help less devel- oped nations build the capacity and resilience to better manage climate impacts.60
Populations and the environment, no matter where on the globe, are inex- tricably intertwined, and must be considered together if forces damaging the planet are to be mitigated.
Population and Clean Water/Sanitation
Of the conflicts between population and resources, the one which will emerge the soonest and perhaps most dramatically will involve clean drinking water and a scarcity of water for sanitation, agriculture, and other uses. In the most tragic of circumstances, humans can survive in war zones and through natural disasters, they can bear disease and live marginally without shelter. Even a lack of adequate food does not mean a quick death. But humans can survive a lack of potable water for only a few days at most.
The United Nations has stated that more than 2.7 billion people will face severe water shortages by 2025 if world consumption of water continues at current rates, and another 2.5 billion will live in areas where it will be difficult to find suf- ficient fresh water to meet their needs.61 However, the UN also predicts consump- tion rates will increase by up to 12 percent per decade until 2025.
The head of the UN agency tasked with promoting socially and environ- mentally sustainable housing has warned that water will become the dominant issue of this century and its availability could threaten the world’s social stability.62 Indeed, the UN Development Programme made the issue of water scarcity the subject of its 2006 Human Development Report.
The box at the bottom of the following page highlights just a few of the specific problem areas around the globe. According to the UN, water use is pre- dicted to rise by 50 percent in developing countries, and 18 percent in the devel- oped world. At the same time, water quality is declining because of pollution from causes such as chemicals, microbial pathogens, and excessive nutrient runoff.
Globally, contaminated water remains the single greatest cause of human disease and death. In developing countries, some 3 million people, most under five, die annually from water-borne diseases. An estimated 2.6 billion people, over a third of the world’s population, lack improved sanitation services. In urban areas, the poor are often not connected to municipal supplies, and thus must pay many times more for water from private vendors. Although the planet is covered by water, only 2 to 3 percent is fresh water, and most of that is frozen at the poles or inaccessible in deep underground aquifers. Some 70 percent of the water that is available is used for irrigation, and thus the potential for conflict is clear. Of the world’s major rivers, 10 percent fail to reach the sea for at least part of each year due to irrigation demands. There are 216 rivers flowing through two or more coun- tries, and 31 nations that receive more than a third of their water from rivers that cross international borders. Two-thirds of Arabic-speaking peoples receive water from sources that begin in non-Arabic countries.63
International development funding has not responded to this rising need and may not always reach those who need it most. The share of water as part of total official development assistance has remained at about 5 percent, while spend- ing for education, health, and emergency aid has risen sharply. In addition, between 1990 and 2004, 60 percent of development assistance for water went to 20 coun- tries and is still being distributed unequally between countries, according to a World Water Council report.64
The implications of water need and population growth are troubling. Of the top 20 recipient nations for water sector funding, 11 are in the top 20 overall in terms of world population rankings. However, only seven are rated by the UN as being least developed or other low income countries. According to the World Water Council, the three predominant factors when it comes to receiving aid are being demographically small, politically stable, and geopolitically “visible.”65
As Table 2 shows, populous and poor states not among the top 20 recipient will need to address their water risks without the bulk of international support. Family planning would be a very effective component in helping them manage the future.
According to the Fourth World Water Forum, to achieve the MDG Target 10—“Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”—would require yearly funding of $12 billion, instead of the current $3.5 billion.66
With the world’s sanitation coverage only 38 percent in rural areas, and half the population of the developing world lacking basic sanitation, we can anticipate the continued suffering of millions from preventable diseases, as well as impedi- ments to gender equity and economic growth, as populations rise in the poorest countries.
Prudence suggests not anticipating a sudden, exponential increase in fund- ing for water programs. The effect of climate changes on global weather and
More than half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling. • The depletion of aquifers and the resulting harvest cutbacks could come at roughly the same
time, creating potentially unmanageable food scarcity. • Irrigated land accounts for close to three fi fths of harvests in India and four fi fths in China. • Large dams in Turkey and Iraq have reduced water fl ow to the once fertile crescent, helping
to destroy more than 90 percent of the formerly vast wetlands. • In Yemen, the water table under most of the country is falling by roughly 2 meters a year as
water use outstrips the sustainable yield of aquifers. • In Mexico, 51 percent of all the water extracted from underground is from aquifers that are
being overpumped. • Observation wells in parts of Pakistan, a country growing by 3 million annually, show a fall
in the water table from 1 to nearly 2 meters a year. Tables around Quetta are falling by 3.5 meters per year.
In Tamil Nadu, a state with more than 62 million people in southern India, falling water tables have dried up 95 percent of the wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in the state by half over the last decade.
From “Emerging Water Shortages” in Lester R. Brown, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
related patterns of rainfall cannot be accurately calculated, although poorer, tropi- cal countries, often those most reliant on rainfall, are expected to become drier; the outlook is ominous.
Population pressures will only increase the stresses on societies and poten- tial conflict areas as water scarcity increases. For example, in raw numbers, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes that by 2025 approximately 480 million people in Africa, one of the most vulnerable regions, could be living in water scarce or water stressed areas.67
Paradoxically, meeting the MDG on hunger would require a doubling of water use for crops by 2050.68 Where funding is available, sexual and reproductive health components of water management programs would provide a significant and cost-effective contribution to program success. Family planning programs in their own right would also contribute to stabilization in countries most at risk.
Population and Food Security
Food security is closely tied in many ways to climate change and water scarcity. Several additional factors affect the dynamic, however, including global food production (and the uncertainty over shifts from harvesting corn to producing more corn for ethanol), domestic subsidies, food aid, world prices for fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modified crops.
In an interesting twist that clearly outlines the complex and troubling inter- relationship between population growth, agriculture and climate change, while agriculture is a victim of climate change, it is also part of the problem. Livestock accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while forestry and deforestation is responsible for 18 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Rice pro- duction is perhaps the main source of anthropogenic methane, emitting some 50 to 100 million metric tons per year.69
Growing populations in states with at-risk agricultural production will only exacerbate the potential for both internal and cross-border conflicts. Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, writes “…achieving an acceptable worldwide balance between food and people may now depend on stabilizing popu- lation as soon as possible, reducing the unhealthily high consumption of livestock products in industrial countries, and restricting the conversion of food crops to automotive fuels.”70
Writers participating in a special multi-part Science magazine series exam- ining critical worldwide resources note that global food security will remain a worldwide concern for the next 50 years and beyond; crop yields have fallen in
many areas because of water scarcity and declining investments in research and
infrastructure, and climate change and HIV/AIDS are other crucial factors affect- ing food security in many regions. The situation is dependent on several intercon- nected factors, including education and investments in ecosystems, but is in need of increased investment and policy reforms.71
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that the pres- sures of climate change on the world’s food system are better understood than most other impacts. While there may be beneficial effects for more industrialized coun- tries due to higher yields, there will be strong negative effects for crops and people in poorer and hungrier regions, as well as for those poorly connected to regional and global trading systems. Overall, the number of hungry and malnourished in the world may increase by 10 percent, or an additional 80-90 million people, later in the 21st century.72
Once again, the poorest countries will suffer the most. In sub-Saharan Africa, the population may increase by 80 percent by the year 2020,73 setting the stage for potentially dramatic consequences. During the same time period, agricul- ture fed by rainfall could decline 50 percent in some African countries. As a whole, over 95 percent of Africa’s agriculture depends on rainfall.
“Climate change in Africa is a life or death situation,” said Menghestan Haile, weather expert for the World Food Program. “I think global warming will affect everyone. The difference is our capacity to respond and adapt to it.”74
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports Case Assignment
QUALITY OF RESPONSE NO RESPONSE POOR / UNSATISFACTORY SATISFACTORY GOOD EXCELLENT Content (worth a maximum of 50% of the total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 20 points out of 50: The essay illustrates poor understanding of the relevant material by failing to address or incorrectly addressing the relevant content; failing to identify or inaccurately explaining/defining key concepts/ideas; ignoring or incorrectly explaining key points/claims and the reasoning behind them; and/or incorrectly or inappropriately using terminology; and elements of the response are lacking. 30 points out of 50: The essay illustrates a rudimentary understanding of the relevant material by mentioning but not full explaining the relevant content; identifying some of the key concepts/ideas though failing to fully or accurately explain many of them; using terminology, though sometimes inaccurately or inappropriately; and/or incorporating some key claims/points but failing to explain the reasoning behind them or doing so inaccurately. Elements of the required response may also be lacking. 40 points out of 50: The essay illustrates solid understanding of the relevant material by correctly addressing most of the relevant content; identifying and explaining most of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology; explaining the reasoning behind most of the key points/claims; and/or where necessary or useful, substantiating some points with accurate examples. The answer is complete. 50 points: The essay illustrates exemplary understanding of the relevant material by thoroughly and correctly addressing the relevant content; identifying and explaining all of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology explaining the reasoning behind key points/claims and substantiating, as necessary/useful, points with several accurate and illuminating examples. No aspects of the required answer are missing. Use of Sources (worth a maximum of 20% of the total points). Zero points: Student failed to include citations and/or references. Or the student failed to submit a final paper. 5 out 20 points: Sources are seldom cited to support statements and/or format of citations are not recognizable as APA 6th Edition format. There are major errors in the formation of the references and citations. And/or there is a major reliance on highly questionable. The Student fails to provide an adequate synthesis of research collected for the paper. 10 out 20 points: References to scholarly sources are occasionally given; many statements seem unsubstantiated. Frequent errors in APA 6th Edition format, leaving the reader confused about the source of the information. There are significant errors of the formation in the references and citations. And/or there is a significant use of highly questionable sources. 15 out 20 points: Credible Scholarly sources are used effectively support claims and are, for the most part, clear and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition is used with only a few minor errors. There are minor errors in reference and/or citations. And/or there is some use of questionable sources. 20 points: Credible scholarly sources are used to give compelling evidence to support claims and are clearly and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition format is used accurately and consistently. The student uses above the maximum required references in the development of the assignment. Grammar (worth maximum of 20% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 5 points out of 20: The paper does not communicate ideas/points clearly due to inappropriate use of terminology and vague language; thoughts and sentences are disjointed or incomprehensible; organization lacking; and/or numerous grammatical, spelling/punctuation errors 10 points out 20: The paper is often unclear and difficult to follow due to some inappropriate terminology and/or vague language; ideas may be fragmented, wandering and/or repetitive; poor organization; and/or some grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors 15 points out of 20: The paper is mostly clear as a result of appropriate use of terminology and minimal vagueness; no tangents and no repetition; fairly good organization; almost perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. 20 points: The paper is clear, concise, and a pleasure to read as a result of appropriate and precise use of terminology; total coherence of thoughts and presentation and logical organization; and the essay is error free. Structure of the Paper (worth 10% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 3 points out of 10: Student needs to develop better formatting skills. The paper omits significant structural elements required for and APA 6th edition paper. Formatting of the paper has major flaws. The paper does not conform to APA 6th edition requirements whatsoever. 5 points out of 10: Appearance of final paper demonstrates the student’s limited ability to format the paper. There are significant errors in formatting and/or the total omission of major components of an APA 6th edition paper. They can include the omission of the cover page, abstract, and page numbers. Additionally the page has major formatting issues with spacing or paragraph formation. Font size might not conform to size requirements. The student also significantly writes too large or too short of and paper 7 points out of 10: Research paper presents an above-average use of formatting skills. The paper has slight errors within the paper. This can include small errors or omissions with the cover page, abstract, page number, and headers. There could be also slight formatting issues with the document spacing or the font Additionally the paper might slightly exceed or undershoot the specific number of required written pages for the assignment. 10 points: Student provides a high-caliber, formatted paper. This includes an APA 6th edition cover page, abstract, page number, headers and is double spaced in 12’ Times Roman Font. Additionally, the paper conforms to the specific number of required written pages and neither goes over or under the specified length of the paper.
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