In seeking to understand how future societies will be affected by climate change we cannot simply assume they will be identical to those of today, because climate and societies are both dynamic. Here we propose that the concept of demographic metabolism and the associated methods of multi-dimensional population projections provide an effective analytical toolbox to forecast important aspects of societal change that affect adaptive capacity. We present an example of how the changing educational composition of future populations can influence societies' adaptive capacity. Multi-dimensional population projections form the human core of the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways scenarios, and knowledge and analytical tools from demography have great value in assessing the likely implications of climate change on future human well-being.
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Partial support for this work was provided by the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant entitled 'Forecasting Societies' Adaptive Capacities to Climate Change' (ERC-2008-AdG 230195-FutureSoc). We would like to thank Samir KC and Nadia Steiber for their comments and input in the preparation of the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lutz, W., Muttarak, R. Forecasting societies' adaptive capacities through a demographic metabolism model. Nature Clim Change 7, 177–184 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3222
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