Mobile Worlds: Choice at the Intersection of Demographic and Environmental Change

Posted: 26 Oct 2018

See all articles by Jon R. Barnett

Jon R. Barnett

University of Melbourne

W. Neil Adger

University of Exeter

Date Written: October 2018


Research on environmental change has often focused on changes in population as a significant driver of unsustainability and environmental degradation. Demographic pessimism and limited engagement with demographic realities underpin many arguments concerning limits to growth, environmental refugees, and environment-related conflicts. Re-engagement between demographic and environmental sciences has led to greater understanding of the interactions between the size, composition, and distribution of populations and exposure to environmental risks and contributions to environmental burdens. We review the results of this renewed and far more nuanced research frontier, focusing in particular on the way demographic trends affect exposure, sensitivity, and adaptation to environmental change. New research has explained how migration systems interact with environmental challenges in individual decisions and in globally aggregate flows. Here we integrate analysis on demographic and environmental risks that often share a root cause in limited social freedoms and opportunities. We argue for a capabilities approach to promoting sustainable solutions for a more mobile world.

Suggested Citation

Barnett, Jon R. and Adger, W. Neil, Mobile Worlds: Choice at the Intersection of Demographic and Environmental Change (October 2018). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 43, pp. 245-265, 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Jon R. Barnett (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

W. Neil Adger

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

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