One author and activist thinks he’s found the answer to reversing climate change: the education and empowerment of women.
In a talk at Singularity University’s Global Summit last week, author Paul Hawken presented an extensive plan for how to reduce climate change. Specifically, he says family planning, and the ensuing population decline would result in 119.2 gigatons of CO2 saved by 2050, the largest estimated reduction in the presentation.
Educated women, he argues, have fewer children, lower mortality rates, and healthier families. Smaller families with healthier children would result in 59.6 gigatons of emissions reduced.
In order to get more girls in school, Hawken proposes making schools more affordable and more girl-friendly, and also reducing the time it takes for girls to get to school. The last might seem like a curious addition, but according to children’s rights organization Plan International, school in developing countries can be a four- or five-hour walk for some kids. Parents are more likely to keep young women at home to protect them from potential attacks on the long trip.
If women were to receive more education, it’s possible we might see an uptick in girls who go into STEM fields. This might also help improve climate change, if only because it increases the number of different viewpoints on the issue. As National Geographic points out, having more female researchers can help expand our knowledge base — and with it, our ability to improve on existing climate change solutions.