Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pakistan: Uncontrolled population blamed for climate change

IPS (Pakistan): When it comes to climate change population matters, particularly for countries in South Asia, Africa and some Arab countries, says Prof. Khalid Rashid. A mathematician and physicist in Pakistan, he has long been studying the phenomenon of global warming and views the uncontrolled population explosion with much trepidation.

But there are climate scientists like Dr Shaheen Rafi Khan, a researcher with an Islamabad-based policy-oriented research institute, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), who insist it is how we live and use resources that matters not the number of people.

"Because," insists Dr Khan, "the focus remains on emissions in the North and adaptation to climate change in the South. The South is the victim of climate change not the agent." He however, adds: "Population growth impact is likely to be incremental and the country that will contribute substantively to it will be India, with its large and growing population and surging economic growth."…

The reality is that even where women want fewer children or practice birth spacing they face difficulty in accessing the family planning services. They meet with a non-supportive environment at home, and encounter misconceptions and misinformation about the use of family planning.

…Khan appeals to Pakistan's leaders to tackle the population growth issue, also "because of its climate change implications. Urban emissions pose huge health hazards in southern cities. They are directly related to burgeoning urban populations thanks to high fertility and rural-urban drift."

Unfortunately green lobbyists everywhere have shied away from the issue, according to Khan. They are more concerned about the impact on biodiversity, he points out.

…Dr Khan, however does not subscribe to the theory that massive growth in population has had more impact on biodiversity than any other single factor. "No, recent research shows a tenuous population-poverty-degradation nexus. The problem lies in management and giving people their resource rights," he insists.

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