Climate Change and the Demographer's Vocation

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This article was downloaded by: [UNSW Library] On: 29 March 2012, At: 13:17 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Asian Population Studies Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE DEMOGRAPHER'S VOCATION Adrian C. Hayes Available online: 15 Oct 2010 To cite thi
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  This article was downloaded by: [UNSW Library]On: 29 March 2012, At: 13:17Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Asian Population Studies Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THEDEMOGRAPHER'S VOCATION Adrian C. HayesAvailable online: 15 Oct 2010 To cite this article: Adrian C. Hayes (2010): CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE DEMOGRAPHER'S VOCATION,AsianPopulationStudies, 6:3, 261-262 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.  COMMENTARY CLIMATE CHANGE AND THEDEMOGRAPHER’S VOCATION Adrian C. Hayes The role of population in the causes and consequences of climate change needs tobe better understood; reaching equitable agreements on how to respond  *  locally,nationally and internationally  *  could depend on it. So far only a relatively small number of demographers have taken this responsibility seriously.Human populations are complex entities and much of that complexity is implicatedin the way populations are coupled with ecosystems. When we examine the role of population change in rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions we find that populationgrowth is significant, but in the present global context of rapidly rising consumption percapita it is usually not the most important factor. The world’s population will probablypeak this century and most of the additional three billion people we expect by 2050 willbe the result of population momentum, not high fertility. Reducing population growth canhelp reduce emissions, but not nearly enough to solve the problem. Meanwhile there aremany challenging research questions to explore regarding the changing composition of populations associated with rising consumption. Urbanisation has an effect on emissionsand so do population ageing and household structure. Studying the causal chains in detailcan suggest realistic and cost-effective ways emissions can be reduced. The research ischallenging because many of the underlying processes are interdependent; rapidurbanisation in developing countries, for example, is often associated with rapid ageingof the rural population.Many of these processes are running at unprecedented rates in Asia. When theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 4th Assessment Report in2007, global emissions were already edging higher than even their highest scenario,mainly because of the exceptionally high rates of economic growth achieved during thecurrent decade by large developing countries like China, India and Indonesia. We are livingin what Ross Garnaut has called the Platinum Age of Development. We know that long-term mitigation requires breaking the nexus between economic growth and risingemissions and some Asian countries (Japan, Singapore) are in the vanguard of attempts toaccomplish this. China overtook the United States (US) in GHG emissions from burningfossil fuels in 2007, and just two years later it overtook the US in investment in renewableenergy.When the IPCC did their initial work during the early 1990s they focused mainly onanthropogenic effects and their mitigation. This was considered top priority andstakeholders worried that too much attention on adaptation might cause policy-makersto believe a massive reduction in emissions was not important after all if we could adapt toclimate change anyway. Unfortunately, the Kyoto Protocol was not implemented onschedule and we are now faced with the urgent necessity of adapting to climate change.  Asian Population Studies, Vol. 6, No. 3, November 2010 ISSN 1744-1730 print/1744-1749 online/10/030261-02 – 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17441730.2010.512758    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U   N   S   W    L   i   b  r  a  r  y   ]  a   t   1   3  :   1   7   2   9   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   2  Even if emissions miraculously stabilised at current levels today, global surfacetemperatures would continue to rise for decades because there is a substantial time-lagbetween an increase in atmospheric GHG concentrations and the resulting temperaturerise due to radiative forcing.The physical impacts of climate change will not be distributed evenly across theglobe and within geographical areas, some population groups will be better resourced toadapt to climate change than others. In broad terms we expect the rich to adapt betterthan the poor, working-age adults better than elderly dependents, and the educatedbetter than those with little education. Farmers will be affected in different ways thanfishermen, urban populations will be affected differently than those living in rural areas.However, national adaptation strategies need far more discriminating detail to beeffective. Demographers need to help identify the dimensions of population compositionmost relevant to vulnerability and resilience.Demographic research can also contribute to resolving issues of climate justice. It isthe rich industrial countries located in middle latitudes which are historically responsiblefor most of the GHG concentrations in the atmosphere today, but it is the poorerdeveloping countries located closer to the equator which will experience most of theadverse impacts. Mitigation is the classic prisoner ’ s dilemma. Every country stands to gainby allowing other nations to contribute the most to mitigation while doing as little aspossible themselves. In sharing the cost, equity requires that we must find a fair balancebetween rich and poor countries, between those that might be affected the most andthose least affected, and between citizens living today and those of future generations.There are similar issues to negotiate within countries. Nations and vested interest groupswill clamour for special treatment and exceptions. Establishing equitable solutions is animmense task of almost unimaginable complexity but it is worth noting that many of thefactors which need to be balanced, like costs and benefits to the current generation on theone hand and to future generations on the other hand, are firmly rooted in populationdynamics. Once again demographic skills and insights can make a major contribution.Many policy-makers, and others who influence public opinion, have a very simpleconcept of population as being just a matter of population size and growth. They tend, asa result, either to exaggerate the importance of population for addressing climate changeor dismiss it as irrelevant. Only the demographer ’ s more powerful concept of populationas a complex entity can clarify adequately the role of population in adaptation, mitigationand climate justice. The last century has been called the Demographic Century, and thepresent may be tagged the Century of Climate Change. Regardless, as demographers westill live in interesting times. Adrian C. Hayes (author to whom correspondence should be addressed), AustralianDemographic and Social Research Institute, Coombs Building, The AustralianNational University, Canberra, ACT 020, Australia. Tel:  61 2 6125 9287; 262 ADRIAN C. HAYES    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U   N   S   W    L   i   b  r  a  r  y   ]  a   t   1   3  :   1   7   2   9   M  a  r  c   h   2   0   1   2
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