State of World Population 2009

Facing a Changing World - Women, Population and Climate

image of State of World Population 2009

The whole world has been talking about carbon credits, carbon trading and emissions targets. But not enough has been said about the people whose activities contribute to those emissions or about those who will be most affected by climate change, especially women. How do population dynamics affect greenhouse gases and climate change? Will urbanization and an ageing population help or hinder efforts to adapt to a warming world? And could better reproductive health care and improved relations between women and men make a difference in the fight against climate change? The linkages between population and climate change are in most cases complex and indirect. But the nature of these linkages is becoming clear enough to arrive at the key recommendations of this report for mitigating climate change and aiding adaptation to it: elicit a new level of engagement by Governments in the areas of population and development, provide access to reproductive health and actively support gender equality.

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Elements of climate change

The temperature of the earth’s surface has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years. This increase may not seem much, but this warming has been sufficient to disrupt many of the planet’s ecosystems to pose significant risks to human well-being. More importantly, if recent trends continue or accelerate as many climate scientists predict, the earth’s temperature may rise another four to six degrees by 2100, with likely catastrophic effect on the environment, habitats, economies and people.

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