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GEOG 3020
Noella Gray

1 GEOG* 2030: Population as a Problem 2013-10-01 Today‟s Plan Population as an environmental (env) problem, i.e. „neo- Malthusianism  Logic and examples  Policies  Critiques Why are we talking about population?  Your top env problems in developing countries: overpopulation was #2  Sustainable Development o Our Common Future poverty as problem  Chain of Explanation: o local env change/livelihoods Global political economy  This week‟s focus: population/poverty Malthusianism  Idea of population being a problem is not a new idea  Thomas Malthus (1793) Principle of Population o Food production grows linearly, population grows exponentially – population outstrips food supply (see image below) o  Said it would be the poor that would die from starvation and the government would need to control social upheaval from this Neo-Malthusianism  Limits to Growth – book published by a research group arguing that resources are finite and population growth is exponential  Blame on “overpopulated” regions of the developing world  The Population Bomb – another book outlining the „threat‟ of population growth  World Conservation Strategy (1980) 2 o o noted that population growth was a problem but didn‟t say how to address it  Our Common Future: o “time is short and developing countries will also have to promote direct measures to reduce fertility to avoid going radically beyond the productive potential to support their populations” (WCED, 1987:56).  Garret Hardin and the “Tragedy of the Commons” (1968) o Idea of an open access pasture – problem is that “freedom in the commons brings ruin to all” o Private interest outweighs public interest which leads to degradation o Solution – government control, or private property to protect the resource base o This is only a problem with high population densities  Projected Population in more/less developed countries (as of 2011) o  Neo-Malthusians: pop growth in developing countries is the issue Malthusian Metaphors  The population bomb  Population as a cancerous growth  Spaceship earth 3 Neo-Malthusianism Summary  The Problem: o Finite natural resources (renewable and non-renewable) o Too many people – “population” thought about in the aggregate; a number, not individual people  The Solution: o Hierarchy – those who know best (experts/government) need to manage and control the masses (population  Power/Knowledge/Scale: o Elites know best – they manage the rest o Populations do no have agency – they are acted upon (contrast with livelihood approach – people live within constraints, but we can make choices to manage our lives and resources) o Global problem, national solutions (particularly in developing countries o Power to control discourse (population as problem) – how do we think about population as a problem? Neo-Malthusianism: Policy Implications  Political A
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