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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English

  • from BBC Learning English.

  • I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam.

  • We're talking about the environment

  • in this programme, specifically climate change.

  • Now, Sam, what do you think is

  • the biggest cause of climate change?

  • An obvious answer would be that

  • climate change is the result of

  • carbon emissions caused by humans.

  • It's about people's carbon footprint

  • the measurement of how much carbon

  • dioxide is produced by someone's

  • everyday activities.

  • That makes sense.

  • But recently some

  • scientists, especially in the west,

  • have been focusing on another issue:

  • the increasing number of people

  • in the world, something known as

  • overpopulation.

  • In this programme,

  • we'll be discussing the controversial

  • link between overpopulation and

  • climate change.

  • And as usual

  • we'll be learning some new

  • vocabulary, as well.

  • Sounds good, Neil, but first I

  • have a question for you.

  • Over the last 100 years,

  • within one lifetime, the world's

  • population has soared.

  • At the

  • start of the 20th century,

  • it was around one-and-a-half billion,

  • but how many people are there

  • in the world today?

  • Is it:

  • a) seven billion?

  • b) eight billion?

  • or c) nine billion?

  • I'll say around eight

  • billion people live on the planet today.

  • OK, Neil, I'll reveal the

  • answer later in the programme.

  • Since climate change is caused

  • by human activities, it seems

  • common sense that fewer people

  • would mean lower carbon emissions.

  • But in fact the connection isn't

  • so simple.

  • Not everyone emits

  • carbon equally, and people in

  • the western world produce far

  • more than people in sub-Saharan

  • Africa or Asia.

  • Arvind Ravikumar is professor of

  • climate policy at the University

  • of Texas.

  • He's made the

  • surprising calculation that

  • an extra two billion people born

  • in low-consuming countries,

  • would actually add very little

  • to global carbon emissions.

  • Here, Kate Lamble and Neal Razzell,

  • presenters of BBC World Service programme,

  • The Climate Question, discuss

  • Professor Ravikumar's findings.

  • What he's saying is kind of

  • astonishing, right?

  • Two billion

  • people is, to say the least,

  • a lot.

  • It's the combined population

  • of Europe and Africa.

  • He's crunched the numbers and

  • found that an extra two billion

  • low-income people as defined by

  • the World Bank, these are people

  • without cars, without electricity

  • often, would see global emissions

  • rise by just 1.5%.

  • Add two billion high-income earners

  • - that's people with cars and

  • power and all the mod cons,

  • and Arvind reckons emissions

  • would rise by more than 60%.

  • So when it comes to climate change

  • and population, where you were

  • born matters.

  • Professor Ravikumar made his discovery

  • after crunching the numbers,

  • an idiom meaning performing many

  • mathematical calculations involving

  • large amounts of data.

  • He concluded that whereas two billion

  • low-income people would increase carbon

  • levels very little, two billion

  • high-income people would increase

  • it a lot.

  • That's because high-income

  • populations have mod cons, which is short

  • for 'modern conveniences': technology

  • and machines like cars, fridges

  • and air-conditioning that make life

  • easier and more pleasant.

  • According to this view, the

  • real problem is not overpopulation

  • but overconsumption.

  • Affluencethat's having

  • lots of money and owning many things,

  • has become a big factor in climate change,

  • and that's true in poorer countries

  • as well as richer ones.

  • Listen to Rajesh Joshi, reporter

  • for BBC World Service's, The Climate

  • Question, interviewing a rich

  • Indian housewife, Priti Dhagan,

  • in her luxurious home in New Delhi.

  • I need everything that I buy.

  • You cannot be judgmental about

  • anybody's needs, and I derive a

  • lot of happiness out of being very,

  • very drawn towards consumer things,

  • and I love it.

  • And I'm not

  • apologetic about it.

  • So if I tell you that poor

  • people have a smaller carbon

  • footprint as compared to their

  • richer counterparts, do you feel

  • apologetic about it?

  • So the brain says yes, we should

  • be apologetic about it, but the heart

  • does not agree.

  • Yes, poor can't

  • afford lots of stuff so their

  • carbon imprint is small, but here

  • my heart wins over my brain

  • because it gives me happiness.

  • Priti does not feel apologetic

  • about her shoppingshe doesn't

  • think that she should feel sorry.

  • Shopping makes her happy and she

  • lets her heart rule her head

  • an idiom meaning that you do

  • something based on emotions

  • rather than reason.

  • Priti is being very honest.

  • She is consuming and looking for

  • happiness in a way that people

  • in the west have been doing for decades.

  • It seems overconsumption is

  • a bigger cause of climate change

  • than raw population numbers.

  • Speaking of which...

  • what was

  • the answer to your question, Sam?

  • Ah yes, I asked about the

  • current global population.

  • You guessed it was around eight billion

  • people which was... the correct answer!

  • According to the United Nations,

  • the world's population reached eight

  • billion on November 15, 2022.

  • Right, let's recap the

  • vocabulary we've learned,

  • staring with carbon footprint

  • a measurement of how much carbon

  • dioxide someone's activities produce.

  • If you crunch numbers, you perform

  • many mathematical calculations involving

  • large amounts of data.

  • Mod cons is short for 'modern conveniences'

  • - machines like cars, washing-machines,

  • and fridges which make life easier

  • and more pleasant.

  • Affluence means having lots

  • of money or material possessions.

  • If you are apologetic, you show

  • that you feel sorry for something