Magazine article Geographical

A Time Bomb Defused?

Magazine article Geographical

A Time Bomb Defused?

Article excerpt

As an environmentally minded school and then university student during the late 1980s and early '90s, population (page 42) was always the big issue for me. It all just seemed so obvious: world population was growing rapidly, people were already consuming resources unsustainably, so more people would just make things worse. The big environmental concerns, from pollution to threatened species, could all be tied back to more and more people having a bigger and bigger impact on the world around them. And so I resolved never to have children--I would do my bit to slow population growth.

But of course, I got older, and the issues became more nuanced. Towards the end of my time at university, global warming entered the equation and turned a lot of my ideas about conservation on their head. It began to seem as though problems such as habitat loss and over-exploitation were being overtaken by the changing climate. Worries about individual species were replaced by concerns about entire ecosystems.

And suddenly the population problem wasn't just about numbers of people any more, it was about resource use and carbon footprints. …

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