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FOCUS ON GENDER. 1993 Feb; 1(1):22-3.Inequalities in distribution of wealth, uneven use and distribution of resources, and human settlement patterns contribute more to environmental degradation than does population size. Current global economic strategies and policy decisions affect population and the natural environment. Large-scale technology and communications, the globalization of capital, subordination within world markets, and increasing consumption levels have broken down livelihoods and the environment. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, population growth is not the key variable in environmental degradation. The erosion of livelihoods really affect women, especially poor women. Legal and political rights, women's economic independence, education, health, access to reproductive health services, and improved child survival greatly influence fertility decline. The disintegration of women's livelihoods restricts their access to health services and education. We cannot depend on capitalism to protect our livelihoods or the health of the environment. So nongovernmental organizations, international agencies, and national and local governments must do so. Assessments of intensive agriculture, industries destroying the social and physical environment, and military activities are critically needed. We need to reassess the macroeconomic forces affecting the natural environment and livelihoods of the poor. Communities should influence and demand policies and regulations preserving their access to resources. Women must participate more intensely in decision making. They should have access to key services. Citizens should have more access to information on environmental damage of industrialized products and processes. All of us need to advocate for more environmentally sound and sustainable forms of development and technology. People at the local, national, and global levels must work to change values that have caused overconsumption, thereby promoting a new ethic centering on caring for people and the environment.
AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW. 1999 May; 89(2):251-5.This paper examines how population growth affects the average level of utility, particularly, the consumption per capita. It also focuses on the effects of population growth on the ratio of dependent consumers to working-age adults. The model employed in this paper has three demographic groups: working-age adults, who produce and consume, and the young and elderly, who only consume. This study concluded that the transition to lower population growth requires a long period of reduced dependency in which society benefits from lower spending on children while it has yet to pay for higher old-age dependency. The dependency level after 30 years is not significantly different from that which would exist in an optimal stable population. Any rise in fertility that would decrease old-age dependency in the long run would require a lengthy period of higher-than-steady-state dependency.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. 1994 Oct; 114-22.At the time of the toolmaking revolution, around 1 million years ago, human numbers rose to 5 million. As humans invented agriculture and animal husbandry, the population grew to about 500 million. In 1994 the number was 5.6 billion; it may double or triple before leveling off again 300 years after the industrial revolution began. If the transition to a warmer, more crowded, more diverse world can be managed, there may be promise of an environmentally sustainable future. The reconstructed population series for 4 ancient regions, the Nile Valley (6000 years), the Tigris-Euphrates lowlands of Iraq (6000 years), the basin of Mexico (3000 years), and the central Maya lowlands of Mexico and Guatemala (2200 years) all show waves in which population doubled over the previous base and then fell by at least half. This raises questions about human life on the earth: perhaps even regions that are world leaders can collapse in modern times. Among likely threats are 3 areas of concern: 1) pollutants: acid rain in the atmosphere, heavy metals in the soils, and chemicals in the groundwater, 2) global atmospheric dangers of nuclear fallout, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climatic warming, 3) deforestation, desertification, and species extinction. 10 billion people would require a 4-fold increase in agricultural production, a 6-fold rise in energy use and an 8-fold increase in the global economy. 2.1 births per woman is required for zero-population growth, while the current birth rate is 3.2. In developing countries after World War II, the life expectancy at birth was 40 years, now it has increased to 65 years. The slowing of the rate of population growth everywhere is encouraging for sustaining life on the earth, which requires cohabitation with the natural world; limits to human activity; and wider distribution of the benefits of human activity.
POPULI. 1993 Nov; 20(10):5-6.Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland delivered the 5th Rafael M. Salas lecture at the United Nations in September 1993. The most serious, predictable, and intractable crisis facing us is population growth. If we do not recognize this threat, we will not be able to circumvent it. We must look at population policies in the wider framework of global burden sharing. We must all equally share bills for peace-keeping, peace-building, reducing poverty and famine, preventing environmental threats, and checking population growth. Areas requiring our attention include a need for industrialized nations to change production and consumption patterns, reduction of poverty, meeting basic human needs, a need for developing countries to protect the environment, and curbing population growth to help realize sustainable development. Industrialized nations need to realize the reducing consumption of natural resources does not denote a reduction in the standard of living. Consumption of renewable and abundant resources need not be reduced, however. Structural adjustment programs and external debt prevent developing countries from increasing their health budgets. Military budgets remain unreasonably high in many countries and those that have military budgets greater than a certain level are uncreditworthy. We should be educating a healthy population not arming them. Signs of hope in reference to population growth include: a consistent, overall decline in fertility which is especially sharp in developing countries; and socioeconomic development centering on enhancing human resources overcoming traditional religious and cultural obstacles to fertility decline. The success of family planning programs depends on improving women's status. Men need to become responsible for their sexual behavior, fertility, health, and children. We know what needs to be done to achieve sustainable development, but we mobilize everyone, especially political leaders and the mass media.