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The forgotten issues of climate change

By Murray Hunter - posted Tuesday, 10 August 2021

The IPCC is about to publish, what are called 'landmark' report findings on climate change very soon. According to The Guardian, the report states that, "the greenhouse gas emissions spewed out by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities are now clearly destabilising the mild climate in which civilisation began."

The environment, global warming and climate change has become one of the most important political issues over the last decade. There is a prevailing attitude that the science of climate change is complete, the majority of those within the scientific community agree with the science, and that anyone who questions this, is a climate denier.

Climate science is immensely complex, spanning many disciplines, where there are really only a few people in the world who can thoroughly understand the various hypotheses around the issue. The rest of us may understand the issues, know the outlines of some of the more published climate hypotheses, are exposed to various sets of data that supports these hypotheses, and carry an opinion on the issues.


It doesn't matter whether one fits into somewhere within the gambit of believing in the 'doomsday' hypothesis, or have complete 'climate scepticism', there are a number of environmental issues that are important to maintaining a human evolutionary trajectory, upon the earth today. Ignoring the issues below will place humankind in mortal danger of becoming threatened with our very own survival.

These issues have been the casualties of environmental evangelism.


Population growth is putting stress on the world's resources, and the cause of the growth in human produced greenhouse gas emissions. World population has increased from one billion in 1800, to 7.7 billion today. According to United Nations population projections, world population is expected to be 9.74 billion in 2050. This growth is expected to primarily come from the African and Asian regions.

The major consequence of population growth is overuse of finite resources, if not the potential complete depletion of some, like fisheries, wetlands, forests, groundwater, and a number of rare earths. Population growth will put stress on agricultural production, leading to potential food shortages. Putting taxes on selected resources, i.e., the carbon tax will only add to the cost of living, and become a tradable market creating wealth for some, and poverty for others.

Continued population growth will increase urbanization, deplete the stock of world forests, increase the incidence of poverty, and add to mass unemployment, as not enough potential jobs will be created to accommodate extra population. This is becoming a major concern with the increase in productivity, the continued centralization of the means of production for economies of scale, with higher efficiency and productivity, and all that accompanies the advent of Industry 4.0.


Particularly within Africa and Asia, population growth will lead to environmental damage, and spark mass migration from highly populated, low per-capita income regions, to higher per-capita income regions of the world. This will create political friction, and future potential wars.

There are possibilities that the projection of 9.74 billion people by 2050 is an over-estimation, as fertility rates in Africa and South Asia may dramatically reduce, as they did in other countries, as prosperity increased in the past. However, even if actual population growth doesn't grow to expectations, this doesn't negate population as a major environmental concern.


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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis. He blogs at Murray Hunter.

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