Policy ForumClimate Change

Global warming policy: Is population left out in the cold?

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Science  17 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6403, pp. 650-652
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat8680

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  • Population and climate change
    • Kirk Smith, Professor, University of California Berkeley
    • Other Contributors:
      • Alistair Woodward, Professor, University of Auckland
      • Andy Haines, Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
      • Zoe Chafe, Postdoctoral Scholar, Cornell University

    We applaud the Policy Forum (Aug 17, p 650) that deplores the failure to explicitly include population issues in IPCC summaries and other major discussions of what to do about climate change risks. Population issues, however, were in fact discussed in the Fifth Assessment (section 11.9.2, in the Health and Co-benefits chapter - see below), specifically the point that providing greater access to reproductive health services for those who wish to limit their families will both significantly mitigate climate-relevant pollutants and protect human health. Unfortunately, this information was not included in the final WGII Summary to Policy Makers or IPCC Synthesis Report. Thus, suggestion in the Policy Forum article that population issues should appear in the body of the Sixth Assessment, will not guarantee that policy makers will become aware of population-related findings. Indeed, there are a wide range of issues raised in the assessment chapters that never see the “light of day” in the summaries, a phenomenon which should focus attention on developing rigorous and transparent guidance on how decisions are made on what, from a vast panorama of analyses in the main chapters, is highlighted for policy attention. Ends up being critical given that most readers examine only the summary documents.

    Kirk R. Smith and Alistair Woodward, Co-coordinating Lead Authors; Andy Haines, Chapter Review Editor; Zoe Chafe, Chapter Scientist; Chapter 11, WGII, AR5, IPCC

    Smith KR...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Global warming policy: Is population left out in the cold?

    Not generally understood is that all Republican Presidents in the US since Regan have in their first days in office have issued an Executive Order restricting the use of US aid funds by groups who even mention abortion as an option for an unwanted pregnancies, thus imposing on the poorest women in the world a burden that would not be legal in the US. Democratic Presidents have reversed these orders on their first days in office. This callous disregard by Republicans for the health and welfare of the poorest women in the world should be sufficient by itself, irrespective of all other policy and political considerations, to rule them unfit for office.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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