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Your search found 22 Results

  1. 1

    Population perspectives and sustainable development.

    Rajeswar J

    Sustainable Development. 2000; 8(3):135-141.

    Neo-Malthusianism advocates 'population control' as the solution to all major global problems. While overpopulation is a serious problem, blaming the population growth in the South as the prime cause for the destruction of the environment is hypocritical. Rather than the 'bottom billion', it is the 'top billion' population from the 'affluent' West - and their 'effluence' - that is inflicting greater environmental injury to the earth. In the patriarchal system of free-market economy, aborigines and women are marked inferior. Given the strong preference for male children in many Third World countries, the statistics on 'missing girls' explain the sad situation of female infanticide and underreporting of female births. Most contraceptive research is aimed at women only. Furthermore, newly developed contraceptives would be first tested on poor women of colour, often without their knowledge or consent. However, after the 1994 Cairo Population Conference, reproductive rights and empowerment of women are recognized as key issues in controlling population growth. There must be a radical change and paradigm shift in policy-making at every level from subjugation and subordination to partnership in order to solve most of the world's problems. (author's)
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  2. 2

    Why excess immigration damages the environment.

    Population-Environment Balance

    POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT. 1992 Summer; 13(4):303-12.

    Overpopulation is the single greatest threat to the environment because as population increases, consumption increases faster than conservation. Thus, it is easy to exceed the carrying capacity of the natural, social, and economic systems. An immigration policy based on replacement levels, combined with the near zero growth by natural increase, would allow the US to maintain a stable population size. Every year approximately 200,000 people leave the country voluntarily, these spots should be filled by people with the greatest need and who will best serve the interests of the US as determined by the Congress and the citizens of America. The 200,000 figure must include all refugees asylees, relatives, and other immigrants in order to maintain the concept of replacement level immigration.
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  3. 3

    Overpopulation and overconsumption: where should we focus?

    Hanauer MG

    Washington, D.C., Negative Population Growth [NPG], 1998 Mar. 4 p. (NPG Forum)

    In many environmental and population circles, the traditional thinking dictates that the problem in developing countries is overpopulation, while in the developed world the bulk of the problem is overconsumption. Such an oversimplification, that the US only faces a problem of overconsumption, provides easy answers to many environmentally conscious individuals and organizations. However, easy answers are dangerous because they lead to incomplete actions by masking the enduring effects of population growth. In most developing countries, consumption levels are lower than the US because of a lack of the most basic items. Only these items make up most of the consumption difference between the US and these developing countries. Attaining reasonable levels of consumption may not be morally wrong, but population size matters most with regard to the big picture and over the longer term. Even when new technology or reduced consumption might help in solving environmental problems, evidences are available which point out that population growth is even more important in the ride toward sustainability. Population growth is important in itself, and so is its effect on overall consumption growth. Overall, halting population growth is a necessary part of the sustainability equation.
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  4. 4

    Ethics for a small planet: new horizons on population, consumption, and ecology.

    Maguire DC; Rasmussen LL

    Albany, New York, State University of New York Press, 1998. xv, 151 p. (SUNY Series in Religious Studies)

    This book assesses the combined impact of overpopulation, overconsumption, and economic and political injustice. Complementary studies on these issues are presented by two major social ethicists, which focus on seeking a new understanding of religion and its power. Daniel C. Maguire indicts the male-dominated religions for the ecologic and reproductive ethical problems. He raises the controversial questions of whether the concept of God is a problem and whether the Christian notions of afterlife and a divinized male have done more harm than good. Larry L. Ramussen, on the other hand, identifies a male-made and wealth-dominated world as the cause of the problem. He observes that Europeans packaged a form of earth-unfriendly capitalism and sent it all over the world with missionary zeal. He reviews the history that led to the manic rush to push the earth beyond its limits and suggests moral norms and policy guidelines for sustainable communities and shared power. Arguments between positive and renewable moral energies in the world's religions, as well as an understanding of the response on the sanctity of life, provides a grim prospect for the world. A sense of sacredness is presented as the nucleus of good and the only force that could bring about the lifestyle changes and power reallocations necessary for terricide prevention.
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  5. 5

    Demographic entrapment -- a choice of uproar.

    King M


    The subject of demographic entrapment is taboo in most UN agencies and in academia because of the upheaval that would occur if entrapment were acknowledged. Demographic entrapment occurs if a population has exceeded or is projected to exceed the combination of the carrying capacity of its own ecosystem and its ability to trade for its needs or to migrate to other ecosystems. Demographic entrapment leads populations to become progressively stunted physically (as is occurring in Malawi) or starve, die from disease, or implode in social chaos (Rwanda). Disentrapment can theoretically occur if communities increase the carrying capacity of their ecosystem, develop an export community, increase migratory opportunity, reduce population growth, or combine these measures. The major method of escaping entrapment seems to be reducing population growth by promoting one-child families. If developed countries urge developing countries to adopt this policy, developed countries should adopt it also because per capita consumption of natural resources in developed countries is perhaps 50 times greater than in developing countries. Discussion of demographic entrapment remains taboo because of fear that such discussion would challenge: 1) the materialistic, consumeristic, market economy that is the current foundation of global society; 2) the consumption and employment patterns of developed countries; 3) human rights notions about reproduction, anti-abortion attitudes, and pronatalist views; and 4) false assumptions about universal economic development. Countries (like Malawi) where entrapment is causing widespread malnutrition should receive interim food aid tied to population reduction. Developed countries should promote development of sustainable lifestyles that include having one-child families and consuming photon-efficient diets. UN agencies must face the uproar that will occur upon acknowledgement of entrapment in order to call for simultaneous reproductive and lifestyle changes throughout the world.
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  6. 6

    Population, environment, and consumption.

    Nash J

    In: Interfaith reflections on women, poverty and population, [compiled by] Centre for Development and Population Activities [CEDPA]. Washington, D.C., CEDPA, 1996. 75-90.

    Discussed are the issues of overconsumption in the developed world and the need to balance population with resource use throughout the world. The author identifies some ethical issues that people of faith must face and some virtues that should be cultivated. Overpopulation is defined as excessive consumption in relation to environmental capacities that jeopardizes future prospects and ecological integrity. There is underconsumption and overconsumption. Overconsumption is a consequence of competitive and profitable production and not especially the wants of consumers. The 1994 Cairo conference addressed the issues of overpopulation, but avoided the issues of overproduction and overconsumption. Imbalances between population and resources occur when the entire world population reaches light consumption, based on US consumption patterns, or when the world with a small population of overconsumers and overproducers is overpopulated. The threat to human existence is ecological scarcity and ethical questions about who is entitled to what quality of life. The US may be the most overpopulated nation in the world, due to its consumption patterns. Overpopulation and overconsumption affect nonrenewable resources, renewable resources, fisheries, water, pollution, and biodiversity. The global picture reveals wide income disparities and disparities in life expectancy, infant mortality rates, child mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, nutrition, literacy, health care, sanitation, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Chronic poverty leads to exploitation of resources. The deprivation of the necessities of life is an ethical issue of justice and a demand to be more frugal among the wealthy. Moral norms are desired for equity, sustainability, bioresponsibility, frugality, reproductive responsibility, and generous sharing. The US should be giving 0.7% of GNP in development and population aid.
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  7. 7

    Population growth and road construction: looking to traditional indigenous ways.

    Lundberg JC

    POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT. 1995 Sep; 17(1):79-87.

    The author discusses the links among road construction, fossil-fuel consumption, and population growth. "Overpopulation in some northern nations, notably the United States, is overlooked due to official neglect of the scientific measurement of carrying capacity, and due to political considerations in discussing immigration even as an environmental issue or component of overpopulation. Traditional indigenous peoples' population sizes and such societies' ethic toward their land are indicated as models of sustainability." (EXCERPT)
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  8. 8
    Peer Reviewed

    A developing countries' perspective on population, environment, and development.

    Najam A


    The subject of this paper is the political behavior of developing states (the South) on issues of population, environment, and development. It attempts to understand why the South is so weary of international population policy in the name of the environment. It argues that the South's response is shaped by five interrelated concerns about responsibility, efficiency, efficacy, additionality, and sovereignty. That is, the developing countries, a) do not want their population growth to be held responsible for global environmental degradation, b) argue that a more efficient solution to the environmental crisis is consumption control in the North, c) believe that development remains a necessary condition for efficacious population control, d) are weary of the population priorities of the North distracting international funds from other developmental goals of the South, and e) are unprepared to accept any global population norms which challenge their fundamental political, cultural, or religious sovereignty. It is maintained that these concerns have historically guided the positions of the South and remain valid and relevant today. Although, over the last two decades of North-South debate on the subject the nuances within these concerns have evolved, the concerns themselves remain valid and were apparent again at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. Finally, it is proposed that although a grand North-South bargain around population-environment-development issues remains unlikely, both sides can gain much from trying to understand--even where they do not agree with-- the other's concerns. The purpose of this study is not as much to defend the South's position, as to present it and the rationale behind it. (author's)
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  9. 9

    Global carrying capacity: how many people?

    Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation

    PEOPLE COUNT. 1992 Jul; 2(6):1-4.

    During 1980-85 energy consumption in developing countries increased by 22%, of which 50% was used to maintain current levels of use and 50% pertained to real economic growth. Commercial energy consumption during 1970-89 tripled in developing countries. Population growth alone is expected to increase world energy consumption from the current 13.5 terawatts (13.5 trillion watts) to 18 terawatts by 2025 at the same level of use. The increased level of consumption (4.5 terawatts) is the equivalent of total current commercial energy consumption. One terawatt is equal to energy use from 5 billion barrels of oil yearly, 1 billion tons of coal, or 1.6 billion tons of wood. Economic development will require even greater levels of energy use. Since the oil price increases of the 1970s, developed countries increased their energy consumption by about 33%, even while becoming more fuel efficient. During 1990-2025, if developing countries double their per capita energy use and developed countries reduce their use by 50%, world energy consumption will still be almost 21 terawatts. If consumption remains constant at current levels without any population increase, the oil supply will be exhausted in 40 years. Coal consumption will last hundreds of years but air pollution will worsen, and global warming will be accelerated. Developed countries, which are wealthier, are having difficulty switching to non-fossil fuels, and the prospects for developing countries pose even greater challenges. Slowing growth buys time for technological development. World population is expected to reach 8 billion by 2020. Stabilization of growth at 8 billion would occur only if world fertility averages 1.7 children per woman by 2025. One opinion is that the carrying capacity has been reached with the present population of 5.4 billion. Others say that with changes in consumption and technological developments the earth can sustain 8 billion people. The physical limits are 1) the finite capacity of natural systems to provide food and energy and to absorb wastes, 2) the amount of greenhouse gases tolerated in the atmosphere without untoward side effects, and 3) the amount of fresh water available to support all forms of life.
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  10. 10

    [Overpopulation is bad, but excessive consumption is worse] La superpoblacion es mala, pero el consumo excesivo es peor.

    Susuki D

    PROFAMILIA. 1993 Dec; 10(22):76-7.

    The notion that consumption in developed countries is the main cause of ecological deterioration and planetary contamination is contested by many who assert that overpopulation in the developing world is the main factor. But the great disparity in income and consumption between rich and poor countries cannot be ignored. Each Canadian consumes 16 to 20 times more than an inhabitant of India or China and 60 to 70 times more than an inhabitant of Bangladesh. Consequently, the 1.1 billion inhabitants of industrialized countries cause ecological effects equivalent to what would be produced by 17 to 70 billion inhabitants of developing countries. The planet could not support 5.5 billion persons consuming at the rate of the 1.1 billion in the developed world. Consumption has been encouraged by the government and businesses in the U.S. and is an important factor in the health of the economy. But increases in consumption are not sustainable indefinitely. Much of current consumption results from inefficiency and waste. The life style of the developed countries has a high price in violence, alienation, alcoholism, vandalism, loneliness, pollution, and disturbance of the family and neighborhood. Becoming content with less consumption and striving for a future based on communities with greater self-confidence and self-sufficiency is a reasonable goal from both ecological and social points of view.
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  11. 11

    Post-communal land ownership: poverty and political philosophy.

    Richards D

    In: Commons without tragedy. Protecting the environment from overpopulation -- a new approach, edited by Robert V. Andelson. London, England, Shepheard-Walwyn, 1991. 83-108.

    Absolute private ownership of land has been traced to ancient Near East civilizations, including the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, and later to Carthage whose land laws were adopted later by the Romans. Eventually the modern Western world revived land ownership laws and applied them to the atmosphere, ocean beds, and Antarctica through pollution permits and mining licenses. The socially unjust and inefficient system of land tenure of the West is the source of the population concerns of the late 20th century, the abuse of the environment, and crises in terms of lopsided distribution of income and wealth. Private land ownership increased productivity, but it overexploited the environment and was not the sole curse to achieve progress. Some demographers maintain that poverty causes population problems by inducing high birth rates. There is also the hypothesis that large-scale poverty is the result of private land ownership. The concept of land rent and decisions regarding its distribution is detailed in the context of the current debate on environmental policy. The World Bank showed that the developing world, with 80% of the global population, is responsible for only 7% of carbon dioxide emissions. The links between land tenure, demographic problems, and other environmental problems are further examined. The political branch of the rural real estate business hastened the demise of the family farm in the United States. Latin America has the longest history of private land ownership, with the results of land left idle and massive poverty despite higher productivity on small plots. The South is repeating the same ruinous and wasteful tactics of devalued land ownership as the North as done (including the USSR prior to perestroika). The western model of economic growth has increased poverty on the Indian subcontinent owing to avoidance of the land tax. The African situation is similar with increasing numbers of people being crammed into inferior land.
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  12. 12

    Sustaining life on the earth.

    Kates RW

    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.
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  13. 13

    Overpopulation and overconsumption [letter]

    Welch AM

    BMJ. British Medical Journal. 1993 Aug 7; 307(6900):387-8.

    In his editorial on overpopulation and overconsumption Richard Smith fails to look beyond the appearance of the global problems. Discussions of these issues usually start from the assumption that there are too many people and not enough resources to go around and proceed to the conclusion that the population must be smaller. Overpopulation and overconsumption have become overused and ill defined terms. As with so many social concepts today, their meaning has become more implicit than literal and the assumptions therein are subjected to little critical investigation. For instance, certain areas of the world are relatively overcrowded, which places serious strains on the existing infrastructure, but this does not mean that the world is overpopulated. Certain population groups consume a proportionately larger share of resources, but this does not lead to the conclusion that overconsumption is the main problem. A population may or may not place strains on the economy. The inability of an economy to provide a certain standard of living may be due to an absolute shortage of realizable resources--in which case the population becomes unsustainable--or to the structural faults of that economy--in which case the ability of that society to change its economic organization becomes the deciding factor. Though I agree that "deforestation, soil erosion, water shortages, and desertification" are typical of many Third World areas today, I disagree that the main cause is population growth. Population growth is not the single determinant of a society's wellbeing. The starvation visited on some of the richest rice growing areas in Asia during the colonial years was more to do with their harsh exploitation by the imperial powers than any population explosion. Today, as Third World countries become more marginalized in the world economy and less able to maintain debt repayments it is their desperation, poverty, and stagnation that determine their inclusion in the "developing' world. While the world economy leaves millions with no access to clean water or medical or food supplies and pays Western farmers to leave productive land fallow, Smith highlights the "evidence...that many women are crying out for access to contraceptives." Population must be kept "on the agenda...from the UN to the village council," but until the prevailing assumptions are replaced with critical scientific, social, and political investigation there will be no solutions. (full text)
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  14. 14

    Overpopulated America.

    Davis WH

    In: Learning to listen to the land, edited by Bill Willers. Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1991. 177-82.

    The US is the most overpopulated nation on earth. The numbers of people and their activities rapidly destroy the ability of the land to sustain life. Even though India's population is almost 2.5 times larger than that of the US, Indians contribute much less to land destruction than do US citizens. To operate an air conditioner in the US, we strip-mine land in Kentucky, deposit the dirt and slate into a stream, and burn coal in a generator, causing a plume of smoke which seeds clouds resulting in early rain, rain which should be falling on farms in Minnesota. One American pollutes 3 million gallons of water; industry and agriculture use an additional 30 million gallons of water for each American. The US Army Corps of Engineers constructs dams and floods farmland, perpetuating unchecked water use. US activities constantly drain the productivity of the land. An Indian equivalent is the average number of Indians needed to make the same detrimental effect on the land's ability to sustain life as would the average American (anywhere from 25-500). Thus, the US population in Indian equivalents is at least 4 billion. Per capita gross national product of India is 38 times lower than that of the US. The US economy is based on a belief of continued growth in population and productivity, but the world is finite. Civilization is like a living organism in that its longevity is a function of its metabolism (i.e., the higher the metabolic rate, the shorter the life), so this affluence-creating economic system causes a short life span. A predicted famine will kill millions in India and in the US, but the land in India will survive, while the concrete, strip-mined landscape and silt-choked reservoirs in the US will not allow the polluted land to survive. To prevent destruction of US land, we must stop destroying land and reverse population growth. Desired family size in the US is still high (3.3).
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  15. 15

    Overpopulation is bad but overconsumption is worse.

    Suzuki D

    POPULI. 1993 May; 20(5):12-3.

    Developed countries must not shift their responsibility from consumption based on greater efficiency and less waste to overpopulation. The future should be based on "making do with less" and on building communities with greater self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The current life style has many detrimental features to the well-being of the population: violence, alcoholism, crime, vandalism, drug abuse, alienation, loneliness, pollution, and disruption of families and neighborhoods. The great disparity between the rich and poor countries of the world must be dealt with. Lack of access to resources in developing countries makes ecological destruction worse. The ecological impact of the 1.1 billion people in the developed world is the same as the impact of 17-77 billion people in the developing world. It is hard to believe that in the future another 5.5 billion people could live the way people in developed countries do today. However, there is strident opposition to blaming consumption or denial. The ultimate goal of the American economy as a producer of more consumer goods was the stated economic aim of the US Council of Economic Advisors in 1953. Today, this vision is a reality; most homes have the regal treasures of cars, television, telephones, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and stereos as necessities. The media promotes the messages of consumerism. Consumption or the increasing appetite for more has been recognized as a feature of mankind since the time of Aristotle. The media promotes the messages of consumerism. Consumption or the increasing appetite for more has been recognized as a feature of mankind since the time of Aristotle. The appetite for more consumer goods has been the deliberate goal of American business and government. "Shopping" is a recreation. Satisfaction or happiness appears to be unrelated to possession of consumer goods. During the past 40 years, the percentage of the population that is happy has not changed. Furthermore, consumption is not sustainable. Since 1950, the world's populations have consumed as many goods and services as all previous generations. The US since 1940 has used up a share of the Earth's mineral resources equal to all mineral consumption of all generations before.
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  16. 16

    Overpopulation and overconsumption. Combating the two main drivers of global destruction [editorial]

    Smith R

    BMJ. British Medical Journal. 1993 May 15; 306(6888):1285-6.

    Commentary is directed to the accomplishments of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and responses to overpopulation. The benefit of the summit was not in the agreements, but in the debate. The overwhelming understanding was that environmental degradation is linked with overpopulation, poverty, development excessive consumption, and relations between rich and poor nations. Inadequate attention in the final statement was directed to overpopulation and overconsumption. The US President, in a reelection position, remained noncommittal on overconsumption. The Vatican and anti-abortion lobbies influenced the position on overpopulation. Population control will be a sensitive issues in the 1990s because rich countries are in an awkward portion to preach about overpopulation to poor countries, where most population growth is occurring. There are many complex factors involved with the issue of population growth. State intervention in personal decision making has not always, as in the case of India and China, been without excess. Politicians are afraid of losing the Catholic vote. Mistakes have been made in the dire predictions of the 1960s. None of these reasons is sufficient to ignore or become bored with overpopulation. Population growth has resulted from lower global death rates and birth rates which have fallen only in the rich world. It is likely that world population will grown by 3.5 billion or more, to reach 8 billion in 2025. This means a fourfold decrease over 100 years. Population must be kept on government agendas at the village, state and international level. One way to accomplish this end is for physicians to become more politically involved within their profession and in conjunction with other professions. Collaboration between professions will contribute to better solutions and to a larger pressure group at the world conference on overpopulation in Cairo in order to overwhelm the small interests that dominated past world conferences. Notwithstanding population increases, energy consumption increases grew even faster. Energy consumption grew from 1 terawatt in 1890 to 3.3 terawatts in 1950, and to 13.7 terawatts in 1990. So far, growth is concentrated in developed countries and is linked with standard of living. Energy availability will not keep pace with demand.
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  17. 17

    Population as a cause of global warming.

    Carr R

    [Unpublished] [1990]. [4] p.

    Global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activities. Carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), nitrous oxide, and low level ozone trap the earth's infrared heat in the atmosphere thereby increasing global temperatures. The adoption of the Montreal Protocol on phasing out CFCs leaves carbon dioxide and methane as major contributors to global warming. 1/2 of greenhouse emissions consist of carbon dioxide, mostly from fossil fuels and deforestation. Deforestation is caused by fuelwood needs of 2 billion people, slash-and-burn agricultural expansion, and cattle ranching, particularly in Central and Latin America. Methane emission increased by 11% in the 1980s, mainly from rice paddies and cattle. At the current 1.7% rate of population growth the world's population may exceed 10 billion by the middle of the 21st century. With only 5% of the world's population the US emits 24% of greenhouse gases. However, by 2030 the increased population in less developed countries will contribute twice the amount of emissions than the added population in developed countries, as they are emulating a higher standard of living with more energy use. China's share could mount, as it has embarked on quadrupling economic production by 2000. There are about 500 potential contraceptive acceptor women in the developing world who need supplies and information, but these countries lack the funds. Provided worldwide contraceptive prevalence increases from 45% to 71% by 2025 the total population will stabilize at 10.2 billion. Otherwise, it could soar to 14 billion within a century with unforeseen environmental repercussions.
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  18. 18

    Balancing humans in the biosphere: escaping the overpopulation trap.

    Costanza R

    NPG FORUM. 1990 Jul; 1-6.

    Cultural evolution has allowed humans to change their behaviors and adapt to new conditions much faster than biological evolution. The most critical of these is the overpopulation trap, caused by the imbalance between the short-term incentives to have children and the longterm social and ecological costs of having too many. This process of short-run incentives getting out of sync with longterm goals has been called social traps, as the decision maker is trapped by the local conditions into making a bad decision viewed from a longer perspective. The biological and cultural incentives to procreate combined with rapid reductions in mortality have changed the long-run ecological cost structure. The elimination of social traps requires intervention by education (about the longterm, distributed impacts), insurance, superordinate authority (legal systems, government, religion), and converting the trap to a trade-off. In a sense, this is an extension of the polluter pays principle. Summary suggestions: establish a hierarchy of goals for national and global ecological economic planning and management, sustainability should be the primary longterm goal, replacing the current GNP growth mania; develop better global ecological economic models about the interrelated impacts of population, per capita resource use, and wealth distribution; adjust current incentives to reflect long-run, global costs, including uncertainty; and allow no further decline in the stock of natural capital by taxing natural capital consumption. The US population in 1986 was about 240 million. Current technology and consumption patterns from renewable energy alone could sustain about 85 million people, or about 35% of the current population, or with a more equitable distribution 170 million at a high quality life style on renewable energy alone.
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  19. 19

    The future conflict between population and grain output in China.

    Hu A; Wang Y


    This preliminary report is excerpted from a longer formal report on survival and growth in the longterm development of China's rural areas. One of the conclusions was that there will be a severe grain shortage in the coming 3-4 decades. Discussion centers on the nature of the rapidly growing demand for grain due to population growth, the difficulty of the task of increasing grain output, and the problems resulting from an increasingly severe grain shortage. Increase in per capita income and in the total population accounts for increased demand. China's population increased from 540 million in 1949 to 1.08 billion in 1987. The forthcoming decades are expected to be the 3rd major growth period, following the 1st in the 2nd Century B.C.-24 A.D., and the 2nd in the mid 17th-mid 18th centuries. A population of 1.2 billion is expected before 1994, and 1.5-1.6 billion between 2020-30, which is the highest rate of growth historically. 70% of the increased grain output between 1949-87 was offset by population growth. The expectation based on demand for 1949-2000 is 97%, assuming the current level of grain supply per capita. Both the quantity and quality of food will increase due to rising per capita GNP, which is expected to reach 760 US dollars by the year 2000. Per capita consumption of grain is expected to increase to 1000 jin (1 jin = 500 g = 1.1-23 lb) from 750 in 1985. Increased rates are also expected annually for grain of 2.08%, pork of 3.24%, fowl of 5.04%, eggs of 4.06%, and liquor of 4.86%. The demand for grain will be approximately 1.36 trillion jin in 2000 and 1.8 trillion jin in 2020. This constitutes a 60% and a 130% increase over the current level. The current production is based on a slow rate of growth and shortages in the expected goal of 900 billion jin for 1990; the expected level is only 835-42 billion jin. Under specified improved conditions in the next decade, the expected grain output for 2000 is 955 billion jin with an annual growth rate of 1.36%. This means a per capita grain supply of 732, which is lower than presently supplied. Remarkable improvement would increase per capita consumption to 804 jin and total output to 1.049 trillion jin. In the recent past, yields have been increased by raising the per unit area yield (PUAY). The increase must reach 700 jin/mu, or a minimum of 597- 656 jin. The current highest threshold is 660 jin in Zhejiang Province. Future problems entail a demand for grain in excess of the supply, a rise in grain prices, price subsidies burdening State finances, resumption of a Government grain monopoly on purchasing and marketing and rationing, and a food crisis.
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  20. 20

    Rapid population growth and environmental degradation: ultimate versus proximate factors.

    Shaw RP

    ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION. 1989 Autumn; 16(3):199-208.

    This philosophical review of 2 arguments about responsibility for and solutions to environmental degradation concludes that both sides are correct: the ultimate and the proximal causes. Ultimate causes of pollution are defined as the technology responsible for a given type of pollution, such as burning fossil fuel; proximate causes are defined as situation-specific factors confounding the problem, such as population density or rate of growth. Commoner and others argue that developed countries with low or negative population growth rates are responsible for 80% of world pollution, primarily in polluting technologies such as automobiles, power generation, plastics, pesticides, toxic wastes, garbage, warfaring, and nuclear weapons wastes. Distortionary policies also contribute; examples are agricultural trade protection, land mismanagement, urban bias in expenditures, and institutional rigidity., Poor nations are responsible for very little pollution because poverty allows little waste or expenditures for polluting, synthetic technologies. The proximal causes of pollution include numbers and rate of growth of populations responsible for the pollution. Since change in the ultimate cause of pollution remains out of reach, altering the numbers of polluters can make a difference. Predictions are made for proportions of the world's total waste production, assuming current 1.6 tons/capita for developed countries and 0.17 tons/capita for developing countries. If developing countries grow at current rates and become more wealthy, they will be emitting half the world's waste by 2025. ON the other hand, unsustainable population growth goes along with inadequate investment in human capital: education, health, employment, infrastructure. The solution is to improve farming technologies in the 117 non-self-sufficient countries, fund development in the most unsustainable enclaves of growing countries, break institutionalized socio-political rigidity in these enclaves, and focus on educating and empowering women in these enclaves. Women are in charge of birth spacing and all aspects of management of energy, food, water and the local environment, more so than men, in most countries.
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  21. 21

    Public health and the ethics of sustainability. Swellengrebel Lecture.

    King M

    TROPICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL MEDICINE. 1990 Jul; 42(3):197-206.

    An exposition of the ethical arguments for placing sustainability as a priority in implementation of public health programs is made, considering the definition of sustainability, theories of the demographic transition, the ecological transition, the relationship between sustainability of the ecosystem and the human birth rate, types of ethical conflicts over the issue of child survival interventions, a suggested way of resolving the dilemma and a possible paradigm shift constituting a scientific revolution in the field of international health. Sustainability means maintenance of the capacity to support life in quantity and variety. Although most demographers are familiar with Notestein's classic definition of the demographic transition, many are unaware of the likelihood that many countries will become entrapped in stage 2, to the extent that they destroy their ecosystem and thus their population, the "demographic trap." The 3 stages of the ecological transition are 1) expanding human demands with sustainable yield; 2) excess human demands with consumption of biological reserves; 3) ecosystem collapse and death or exit of the human population. An early sign of the 3rd phase is a rise in infant mortality. Sustainability can be increased by adjusting the environment or by lowering human birth rate, with Chinese rigor in need be, or by adding sustainable elements to the system that outweigh de-sustaining ones. Unfortunately there are too many unremovable constraints, and not enough time to wait for socioeconomic gains to lower birth rates. The current attempt by UNICEF to lower the child death rate to effect a demographic transition is attractive but unsound, since it has been proven that numbers of child deaths do not affect family fertility sufficiently. Reducing child deaths will only make population pressure worse. Ethical principles arguing for lowering child deaths have been articulated in Western culture, but now the challenge of sustainability may outweigh them all. It may be possible to apply sustaining measures to countries where possible, but for others, it is argued that child survival measures should not be instituted. These would only make the demographic transition impossible and prolong human misery for larger numbers. For these societies, only the kind of care Mother Teresa gives is appropriate. Finally, residents of developed countries must assume a "deep green" behavior code, a sustainable consumption level. WHO's definition of health should be updated to "Health is a sustainable state of complete...well-being."
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  22. 22

    On the generalization of the Boserup model: some clarifications.

    Salehi-Isfahani D


    This essay airs differences between the author and correspondents to this journal concerning interpretation of the Boserup economic model of agricultural intensification in subsistence conditions. The first disagreement was whether intensification is an example of technical progress, or in the narrower view, merely technical change. Movement from slash and burn forest farming to bush fallow to permanent cropping to irrigation would be considered progress only if the same product could be obtained with fewer man/hours (increased labor productivity). A graphic model is presented to show that population pressure causes decreasing returns with more labor on less land per person. Intensification is of no value as such unless increased population is available to provide labor. Boserup argued that population pressure induces transmission of technology, not invention of technology since societies often know of or use more intensive farming simultaneously with less intensive methods. It is important to distinguish between product per man versus product per manhour. Labor should be considered an endogenous factor, on the demand side, since only population pressure generates the need for more food and more labor in subsistence farming. As regards the introduction of high yield varieties (HYV), it is not known whether a given HYV requires the same or more labor. Therefore, from the policy viewpoint, to increase use of HYVs, what is needed is not dissemination of more information, but more technological investment to make HYVs more labor efficient.
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