Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More people, more environmental stress

Date:
June 11, 2012
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Scientists have taken a critical look at the various factors that have long been prime climate-change suspects. One in particular: the role of population growth.

Concept of urbanization of planet.
Credit: Chlorophylle / Fotolia

Although it's long been suspected that human activity has greatly contributed to environmental stress, it's only recently that science has begun to show just how great a role that activity is playing.

Related Articles


In an article published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Michigan State University's Thomas Dietz and his colleague, Eugene Rosa of Washington State University, take a critical look at the various factors that have long been prime climate-change suspects. One in particular: The role of population growth.

"How does population growth influence greenhouse gas emissions?" Dietz asks. "Well, in looking at most nations of the world during the last few decades we find that for each 1 percent increase in population, we get a bit more than a 1 percent increase in emissions."

And with Earth's population projected to reach 10 billion by the end of this century, "it unquestionably will add to the stress we place on the planet," Dietz said.

Until recently, climate-change debate had focused on whether it was brought about by human activity. Recently that debate has shifted to what sorts of activities are creating it.

"No single factor acts independently of the others," said Dietz, a professor of sociology and environmental science and policy, and assistant vice president for environmental research. "The effect of population size depends on consumption; the effects of consumption depend on how many people are consuming at that level."

Another factor that has sparked climate-change debate focuses on how affluent a nation is. On one hand it's argued that more affluent nations use more resources, thus creating more emissions.

On the other hand, citizens of more affluent nations tend to be more socially conscious and are willing to work and pay for a cleaner environment.

"For example," Dietz said, "increased use of electricity generated by renewable sources that do not emit greenhouse gases might partially or wholly compensate for the tendency toward increased emissions that come with increased affluence."

Dietz and Rosa write that they are not optimistic about the future, calling the paper they did "sobering."

"The population and economic growth that can be anticipated in coming decades will tend to push emissions substantially upward," they wrote.

The only possible saving grace, they say, is improved technology and changes in the way humans use resources.

"However, these changes will need to be huge because they must counter substantial increases in scale coming from population growth and especially increasing affluence."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eugene A. Rosa, Thomas Dietz. Human drivers of national greenhouse-gas emissions. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1506

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "More people, more environmental stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122554.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2012, June 11). More people, more environmental stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122554.htm
Michigan State University. "More people, more environmental stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122554.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins