PSCI 3064 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Fear Mongering, System Dynamics, The Population Bomb

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Lecture #2 (4/4 pts)
Malthus on Population
Food supply increases in a linear fashion, while population increases
exponentially
Crisis = when population exceeds food production
Neo-Malthusianism
’s: rediscovery of Malthus
Why ’s: crop failures, loss of agricultural land poverty/starvation
people seek answers
Paul Ehrlich published _The Population Bomb) to raise awareness of and
public concern surrounding increases in population and the link with the
environment
o Fairly fatally ambiguous hundreds of millions will starve, nothing to
do about it
o Malthusian explanation, realization of Trap
o Vague prescription refuses ideas/values/priorities in the face of
knowledge
o Main criticism: shouting apocalyptic ideology (exaggeration)
without offering a solution; essentially worldwide fear-mongering for
the sake of exposé
From systems theory ECOLOGY
: Club of Rome founded as apolitical invisible college with mission to
rebel against the suicidal ignorance of the human condition
o Mix of scientists, politicians, and philanthropists
o Funded Forrester’s work on system dynamics
Web of cause/effect relationships between population and
sectors of societies
Example: rise in population rise in urban development
rise in population lowers in biodiversity, etc.
MIT modeled interactions between variables, ran future projections for 12
scenarios (7 end in collapse)
Book released in spring 1972, sold 12 million copies
o Led to widespread knowledge and interest surrounding the issue, not
just scientists
o Ecological limits thesis not as defeatist as Ehrlich’s
Ehrlich-Simon wager
1980 bet over future price of copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten
Way of measuring/predicting resource scarcity
All 5 decreased, Simon won $576.03
Validates Simon’s POV, further invalidates Ehrlich’s
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