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Breathing Earth Shows Relationship Between Humans & Climate Change

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:07pm

The human population explosion experienced in the 20 thcentury is closely followed by two other significant trends: the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and average global temperatures – a phenomenon known as climate change. To visualize this complex relationship between population and climate change, click on Breathing Earth’s display of the real-time effects of births and deaths by country, on carbon dioxide emissions.

In the last century, global human population has grown from 1.65 billion to 7 billion, where as per capita increase of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion have risen from 0.3 metric tons (mt) to 4 mt. Attributing a four fold increase in global population, and a ten fold increase in global carbon dioxide emissions, to the 20 th century alone. Though the annual growth rate has decreased to 1.3 % per year from a peak of 2.04 % per year, this still means an increase of 75 million people per year. In fact, the International Energy Agency shows that global carbon dioxide emissions have increased 16% from 1990 to 2002, just as annual population growth rates began to drop.

Indeed, a complex relationship between human population and climate change exist. In simplified terms: more people equal greater resource usage and negative environmental impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists estimate that if today’s carbon dioxide emission trends continue, by 2100 surface temperatures will rise from 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius); where as sea levels will rise from 9 to 88 centimeters. Decreasing global emissions continue to pose a problem, especially since efforts are impaired by exponential population growth.

"Reduce What you can, Offset What You Can’t ™"

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