Policy review: thoughts on addressing population and climate change in a just and ethical manner
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Many believe that linking population growth to the issue of climate change will help to place family planning back into the political realm as an urgent matter of national and environmental security. Others worry, however, 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 sustainable development and stabilizing population growth. This paper focuses on United States population policy. It presents a brief historical background and summarizes the 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 as a way to slow population growth and mitigating 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.
KeywordsPopulation growth Climate change Ethical considerations Population-environment Linkages
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