This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Climate Change on the Obama Inaugural Agenda

President Obama put climate change clearly on the national agenda in his inaugural address, as the New York Times notes:
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said on Monday at the start of eight sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
He had largely avoided the subject during his campaign, perhaps out of fear of a backlash among the vocal minority with its hand in the sand about this issue (yes, I realize that "head in the sand" and "vocal" sound a bit contradictory, but you know what I mean).

Somewhat paradoxically, today's Times also has an editor's blog item by Vicas Bajaj asking "Will China Have to Abandon Its One-Child Rule?"
Chinese officials released data on Friday showing that the country’s economy grew faster than previously anticipated at the end of last year. Investors greeted that news enthusiastically while virtually ignoring another, more worrying development: The country’s working age population has officially started declining. In 2012, for the first time in recent memory, the number of Chinese between the ages of 15 and 59 fell — by 3.45 million to 937.27 million.
Although the decline is tiny in percentage terms, less than 1 percent, it marks an important turning point for the country and the global economy, which has come to rely on Chinese workers to assemble its iPhones and stitch its T-shirts. Beijing will now have to seriously confront the pleas of families, economists and others to abandon the draconian one-child rule.
To that we can only respond that (a) there are plenty of hungry would-be workers in other nations; but, more importantly (b) the world's climate cannot possibly handle a larger Chinese population putting out the kind of pollution that is currently required to make cheap goods for the rest of us.

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