It’s gratifying to finally see this issue pop up in the media, almost a year to the day after the 2008 SEJ conference panel on population and climate change moderated by Constance Holden of Science that attracted a respectable (but not remarkable) audience of 40. The panelists decried the media’s relative silence on the impact of population growth and other demographic dynamics on environmental issues.
NPR’s Steve Curwood pointed out that while it’s “something we don’t talk about at all in America,” U.S. population growth increases emissions faster than developing-country population growth, due to our larger per capita consumption. A lone AP article, “Population growth contributes to emissions growth,” reported on the discussion.
In contrast, a population-climate panel at last week’s SEJ conference drew an overflow crowd of more than 100 people. Former SEJ President Tim Wheeler read off recent headlines demonstrating that the media does mention population. However, he noted that “most of the instances I cited are op-ed opinion pieces, not news coverage or feature stories.” In recent climate coverage, he said, “population gets mentioned as an undercurrent and afterthought; our attention intends to be on the immediate. And it has those challenges of so, what do you do about it, how do you deal with it.” But it is “our constant challenge to continue to wrestle with these issues.”