If family planning was made available globally, the population growth rate could be stabilized by 2050.
By Dr. John J. Hidore
May 10, 2014—Scientists now agree that increasing carbon dioxide is the major factor in climate change. In a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, it was disclosed that, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important factors in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission increases from fossil fuels.” Population growth, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change are associated with each other. Growth rates of the human population, atmospheric CO2 and climate change are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.
Estimated Growth of Global Population
In the next 12 months, the global population will grow by approximately 80 million. In the same 12 months the earth will need to increase food production, fresh water supplies, housing and employment to meet the needs of the 80 million increase in population! Growth rates for the planet are as high as they have ever been at anytime in history. The estimated growth of the global population is between nine and twelve billion by 2100. Think of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that will be added to the atmosphere by this time! The impact on climate change and the problem of providing for another two to five billion people is unimaginable!
Africa’s Population Growth
Under present conditions most of the population growth will be in Africa. The United Nations estimates the population of Africa will grow from the current level of one billion to more than four billion (3.1 billion to 5.7 billion is the range in estimates). Population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double from 0.86 billion in 2010 to 1.96 billion in 2050 because most women of child bearing age in families of the poorest people do not have access to family planning. In Somalia, for example. the average number of children per family was 6.4 in 2010.
Availability of Family Planning Effects Population Growth
There is ample evidence that most cultures rapidly adopt family planning and contraception if it is available. Over 200 million women do not have access to family planning. National governments have been a major influence in making family planning available to their people.
Japan adopted family planning shortly after WWII and their birth rated dropped in half in just seven years, between 1951 and 1958. In the 1980’s Iran enacted family planning policies. Iran dropped its growth rate in half from 1987 to 1994. The number of children born per family dropped from seven to two.
Encouraging Population Growth
Some countries which have supported family planning are now reversing this policy, or considering it. Iran is one of these–it has now dropped its family planning agency. Iran is attempting to pass legislation to ban permanent sterilization and contraceptives. Justification for eliminating or reducing the funds for family planning? The population is aging and the growth rate is slowing. National leaders want to double the population, as a greater population would strengthen Iran’s prominence in the Middle East. One piece of legislation in Iran would give employment preferences for jobs to married men with children.
Similarly, a number of European countries are encouraging families to have more children. A non-profit group in Denmark, which is influential in sex education, is now changing its emphasis from how to prevent child birth to one that encourages families to have children. Denmark is not alone in concerns of a steadily lowering birth rate. Other countries include Germany, Italy, and Greece. Birth rates have been dropping in these countries for a variety of reasons.
Stabilizing Global Population Growth
Conservative groups in the United States have been attempting to eliminate abortion. In response to this pressure many states, such as North Carolina, are increasing restrictions on abortions. Most recently there has been a substantial effort to prevent group health plans from requiring the funding for contraceptions. Lobbyists in the United States are also fighting to stop the United States from funding family planning in foreign countries.
A simple policy that would make an almost immediate impact on population growth and climate change would be to make contraception available to all families that want it. This would be the simplest and most effective way to reduce carbon emissions, slow climate change and improve the lives of women the world over. If family planning was made available globally, the population growth rate could be stabilized by 2050. It would not only slow climate change but have many other benefits. It would improve women’s health, and help to reduce poverty. It can be done if enough people would support it!