Class 9 - Population Dynamics.docx

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Class 9: Population Dynamics
Human Population Growth
The “biotic potential” for the human species exceeds environmental resistance (forage
availability, predation, parasitism, etc.)
Birth rates still death rates globally
Limits to human population growth: Malthus
Thomas Malthus (1798) argued that human populations tend to increase exponentially
when food production is plentiful
Human populations inevitably outstrip food supply and eventually collapse
Assumed that human populations are stabilized by „positive checks‟, which raise death
rate, and „preventative checks‟ which lower birth rates
Assumed humans do not voluntarily reduce birth rates
Interpretation of human population growth: Marx
Karl Marx (1818-83) argued that human social behaviour can be understood in the
context of the capitalist economy, which creates social classes that necessarily compete
with one another for resources
Population growth is a symptom of poverty and exploitation
If you want to control population growth, you must first remove the root causes
Solution: social change
Malthusian and Marxian influences on today’s population science
Neo-Malthusians: Believe we are approaching, or have already surpassed, the earth‟s
carrying capacity
o We should make over-population issues our first priority
Neo-Marxists: Believe eliminating oppression and poverty through social change is the
only solution to the population problem
o Wealth and resource distribution must be addressed
Cornucopians
A term coined to describe those who believe all major economic, social and
environmental problems can be fixed
Typically requires resolve, often requires technological improvement or new technology
Example: food supply
Using the agricultural technologies of the 18th century with which Malthus was familiar,
indeed, a global population of 7 billion would be difficult to achieve, let alone sustain
He could not foresee the technological change to follow
Examples of improvements in food production technology
Hybridization of crops
Mechanization of agriculture
Transition to monoculture production
Agrochemistry
Food storage technology
Food distribution technology
Green (Agricultural) Revolution
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