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    U.N. Convention on Climate Change

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    You are a demographer, a person who studies population patterns. Like most demographers, you are well aware of the growth of the human population in the last century. In 1900, the earth had a population of about one and a half billion people. By 2000, earth's population had quadrupled to six billion people. Most of these people live in the developing world.

    One of your responsibilities is to help educate the public about the consequences of over-population. People don't understand much about demographics, so part of your job is to put your findings into language that lay people can understand. Sometimes you are asked to give speeches to business and environmental organizations. For example, next week you are scheduled to deliver an address on sustainable development to the annual meeting of Citizens for a Greener Planet. Shortly after that, you are participating in a panel discussion at Westmont College on the causes of famine.

    You have academic responsibilities as well. For example, in a few weeks, you will be presenting a paper to the World Population Council on why fertility rates remain high in developing nations. It will be a difficult issue to present, since part of your presentation will have to deal with why some developing countries have been slow to adopt contraceptive practices that are commonly used in developed nations.

    In 1922, the futurist H.G. Wells predicted that human survival would depend on "the race between education and catastrophe." Wells was speaking about mankind's ability to pervert science in ways that might cause the destruction of the planet. He might have just as well been speaking about the potential of mankind to over-exploit the Earth to the point where too many people will be left competing for too few resources. It is an important part of your job to alert the public to the consequences of the population explosion, of which climate change, air and water pollution, the destruction of forests and wilderness areas, and the loss of biodiversity are the most frequently mentioned. You know that these consequences can be averted if humankind has the wisdom to maintain the balance between its needs and the resources that are available to sustain them.

    While reading your favorite magazine in the field, you come to a column that stirs you to respond. In it you read that Article 4 of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change (commonly known as the "Rio Treaty") contains the following paragraph.

    The developed country Parties...shall adopt national policies and take corresponding measures on the mitigation of climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs. These policies and measures will demonstrate that developed countries are taking the lead in modifying longer-term trends in anthropogenic emissions consistent with the objective of the Convention, recognizing that the return by the end of the present decade to earlier levels of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol would contribute to such modification, and taking into account the differences in these Parties' starting points and approaches, economic structures and resource bases, the need to maintain strong and sustainable economic growth, available technologies and other individual circumstances, as well as the need for equitable and appropriate contributions by each of these Parties to the global effort regarding that objective. (United Nations Framework, 1992)

    Is it proper to place the burden for the reduction of greenhouse gases on the developed nations, considering that some of the worst examples of deforestation and air pollution are occurring in developing nations?

    You decide to send a few paragraphs to the magazine editor in response.


    United Nations framework convention on climate change: Article 4. (1992). Retrieved April 18, 2007, from UNFCC Web site: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf

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    Solution Preview

    The response addresses the queries posted in 594 words with references.

    // As per the requirements of the paper, the first section explains about whether developed nations should bear the burden of reduction of greenhouse gases or not. It also explains about the main gases that produce the 'Greenhouse Effect'. //

    No, it is not proper to place a burden for the reduction of greenhouse gases on the developed nations, considering that some of the worst examples of deforestation and air pollution are occurring in the developing nations.

    Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone (in the order of their proportional abundance) are the Greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases come from the natural sources as well as human activity. The sharp increase of rate in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 2000 of more than 3% from 1.1% during the 90's is because of the lapse of previously declining trends in carbon intensity of the developing and the developed nations as well. Even though more than 3/4 of ...

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