182890 An ethical argument for making the “Population Growth-Climate Change” connection

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:15 AM

Suzanne D. Petroni, MS , Global Health Department, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
Many see the current high level of attention to the issue of climate change as an opening in which to make the case that global warming can not be alleviated or reversed without slowing population growth. They believe that linking population growth and climate change will help governments to see the exigency of the matter, and will place family planning back into the political realm as an urgent matter of national and environmental security. But others worry that focusing on the environmental impacts of demographic change places at risk the hard-fought and long-developed global consensus that individual rights and empowerment are what matters most in fostering just and sustainable development, and in stabilizing population growth. They fear that a renewed focus on the impacts of our global population risks moving the international community back to numbers-driven policies and programs, which have not always prioritized individual interests. This paper focuses on United States population policy. It presents a brief historical background on how population issues have been addressed over time and summarizes the current state of scientific evidence regarding the impacts of population growth on climate change. It then analyzes some of the underlying ethical issues involved in advancing an advocacy argument around increasing family planning assistance as a way to slow population growth and thereby mitigate climate change. Finally, it recommends a way in which advocates can frame the connections between population growth and climate change in a just and ethical manner.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this session, participants will be able to: - Recognize the ethical concerns related to advancing an advocacy argument based on the connections between population growth and climate change; - Evaluate the merits and deficiencies of developing and promoting such an advocacy argument; - Discuss the ways in which connections between population trends and climate change can be made in an ethical and just manner.

Keywords: Population, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I wrote the paper on which this presentation is based.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.