Study concludes that population is a major driver of environmental change

Tim Murray here spells it out in a nutshell and below is an abstract from a major study on population and carbon dioxide emissions
Tim Murray of Cananda uses some examples linking population and Green House Emissions

1.From 1990, the Kyoto base-line year, until 2006, Australia’s population grew by 30% while its GHG emissions grew by 30%.

2.From 1970 to 2004, America’s population grew 43% while its GHG emissions grew by 43%

Yet as Murray remarks, some never seem to grasp this---it is not just our footprint that counts, but the number of footprints.

Assessing the temporal stability of the population/
environment relationship in comparative perspective:
a cross-national panel study of carbon dioxide
emissions, 1960–2005

Andrew K. Jorgenson • Brett Clark
Published online: 25 June 2010
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Abstract: This study examines the temporal stability of the population/environment
relationship. We analyze panel data from 1960 to 2005 to determine whether
the national-level association between population and carbon dioxide emissions has
remained stable, declined, or intensified in recent decades. Results indicate that
population size has a large and stable positive association with anthropogenic
carbon dioxide emissions. The findings of temporal stability generally hold for both
developed countries and less-developed countries. The authors conclude that population,
in tandem with other social drivers, remains an important consideration for
research that addresses the human dimensions of global environmental change.

Taken as a whole, the analyses suggest that the effect of total population on total
carbon dioxide emissions is large and remained very stable from 1960 to 2005, and
this applies to less-developed countries and developed countries.8 Further, the
relationship between population and emissions is not spurious due to nonstationarity
dynamics that plague pockets of past research in the environmental
social sciences (see Wagner 2008). These findings support the argument put forward
by various scholars that population remains an important driver of environmental
degradation in macro-comparative contexts (e.g., Harte 2007; Hunter 2001; Shi


In this research brief, we found that the relationship between population size and
total carbon dioxide emissions has remained very stable through time, and this holds
for developed countries and less-developed countries. While we find no evidence of
decoupling or intensification of this population/environment relationship, we
emphasize that population size continues to have a large effect on the scale of
anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and thus climate change. Simply,
population size is a major contributor to total carbon dioxide emissions, and
according to our results it has been consistently so for close to 50 years. Drawing
from the results of this research and with the availability of adequate panel data, in
follow-up cross-national analyses we plan to assess the temporal stability of
population’s effect on a variety of other scale-level environmental outcomes,
including anthropogenic methane emissions and other air pollutants as well as the
ecological footprints of nations.

It is well documented that a myriad of human activities¬such as the burning of
fossil fuels, economic growth, international trade, deforestation, the ability of the
oceans and forests to absorb carbon, and technological efficiency¬influence the
accumulation of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere (e.g., IPCC 2007; Jorgenson
and Kick 2006; Roberts and Parks 2007; Rosa et al. 2009). The environmental
consequences of population growth are complex (e.g., Entwisle and Stern 2005;
Entwisle et al. 2008; Lie et al. 1999), given the vast differences in conditions
throughout the world. Nonetheless, the temporal stability of the relationship
examined in this study illustrates that population should continue to be considered in
tandem with other social drivers when investigating the human dimensions of global
environmental change and that relevant policies that address the persistent role of
population along with other factors are far from misguided.