Climate change is a defining feature of life on Earth today. Efforts to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of rising global temperatures are urgently required. Human populations are at the centre of these processes. Over the last 150 years, human activities and the burning of fossil fuels for heating, transportation, electricity, economic expansion and food production have led to anthropogenic climate change. Population size nevertheless matters less for human impacts on the climate and other earth systems as compared to affluence and consumption, which vary widely across the planet.
The impacts of climate change are also not distributed evenly across time, space and different population subgroups. Those born today are far more likely to experience extreme weather events in their lifetimes compared to their parents and grandparents. Moreover, the impacts of climate change will be more serious for places or people who are already vulnerable (e.g. because of poor health, low level of education, or low income) with limited capacity and resources to cope with and adapt to these changes.
Demographic heterogeneity is thus critical to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This calls for an understanding of the heterogeneous contributions of populations to climate change, as well as the differential vulnerabilities to future climate impacts. These close reciprocal relationships between population and climate change makes demography a highly relevant discipline in providing evidence-based policy solutions to building sustainable and resilient societies.
The Wittgenstein Centre Conference 2022 aims to bring together researchers from around the world, focusing on demography and climate change from diverse perspectives, including - but not limited - to demography, economics, sociology, environmental sciences and geography. Contributions with a focus on demographic heterogeneity are particularly welcomed. Submissions may focus on historic, current or forward looking, empirical analyses, and methodological advances. Potential topics include:
- Population and biodiversity loss
- Population and energy
- Population and greenhouse gas emissions
- Population and natural resources
- Population, food production and food security
- Differential vulnerability and adaptive capacity
- Climate change and reproductive behaviour
- Climate change and mortality, health, and wellbeing
- Climate change and migration