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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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demographics

The Population Bomb Has Been Defused

Some of the most spectacularly wrong predictions in history have been made by those who claim that overpopulation is going to swamp the planet. Thomas Malthus, a British economist writing in the late 1700s, is the most famous of these. Extrapolating past trends into the future, he predicted that population growth would inevitably swamp available food resources, leading to mass starvation. That didn’t happen — we continued to develop new technologies that let us stay ahead of the reaper.

 

In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb,” warning that unchecked population growth would lead to mass starvation in the 1970s. He was just as wrong as Malthus. Global population did surge, but food production managed to keep up.

 

So far, the prophets of overpopulation have been defeated by technology. But human ingenuity alone can never deliver a final victory in the battle to feed the world — eventually, population growth will overwhelm the Earth’s ability to provide calories. That’s why in order to put Malthus and Ehrlich finally to rest, a second component is needed — lower fertility rates. To save both the environment and themselves, humans must have fewer kids.

 

Fortunately, this is happening. During the lifetimes of Malthus and Ehrlich, humans still tended to have large families, with each woman bearing an average of five children over her lifetime. But shortly after Ehrlich’s book, that began to change.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

Mathusian ideas are incredibly controversial; there are articles that will proclaim that he was right and others that will point to how he got it all wrong.   The critics of Malthus see that Earth and humanity will survive as fertility rates fall almost everywhere but the Neo-Malthusians see that while fertility rates are dropping, the total population of the world continues to climb.  This article has many great fertility rate charts.  

 

Questions to Ponder: What did Malthus get right?  What did he get wrong? 

 

Tags: Malthus, op-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

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How to Train Your Dragon Child

Every 12 years, there’s a spike in births among certain communities across the globe, including the U.S. Why? Because the Year of the Dragon, according to Chinese folk belief, confers power, fortune, and more. We look at what happens to Dragon babies when they grow up, and why timing your kid’s birth based on the zodiac isn’t as ridiculous it sounds.

Source: freakonomics.com

1976. 1988. 2000. 2012.  We often assume that births on a graph in any given year will follow a smooth linear pattern similar to the years around it, but the Chinese zodiac and the mythical standing of the dragon can create spikes in diasporic communities away from the mainland.  This economic podcast offers an interesting glimpse into the looks some of the communal impacts of a mini-baby boom and cultural reasons for these patterns. 

 

Tags: Taiwanpodcast, population, demographic transition model, modelsunit 2 population. 

Which Countries Have Shrinking Populations?

Source: www.youtube.com

This video explores some of the impacts of a declining population on a country (for example, a smaller workforce, economic decline, and growing public debt).  Eastern Europe as a region is used as the principle example and the countries of Bulgaria, Moldova, and Japan are highlighted. 

 

Tags: declining populations, population, demographic transition model, models, migration, Bulgaria, Moldova, Japan.

Europe’s Population Change (2001 to 2011)

The map provides a level of detail previously unavailable. It is the first ever to collect data published by all of Europe’s municipalities.

Source: www.citylab.com

Questions to Ponder: What regions can you identify as a part of a trend?  What possible factors have led to these patterns?  What are the long-term implications of this data? 

 

Tags: Europe, declining populations, population, demographic transition model, models, migration. 

 

Human Settlement Predictive Model

“Simulating climate conditions over the last 125,000 years and predicting how those changes would have allowed humans to spread around the globe, this video models human migration patterns.” Read more: http://ow.ly/lWIp304qZEo

Source: www.youtube.com

The World Economic Forum noted that some spatial research that was originally published in Nature, shows how geneticists took DNA samples from people of different cultures in different parts of the world to track their dispersal throughout the globe.  The video uses climatic data, combined with the genetic data, to create a model showing how the human race spread across the globe over a 125,000 year period.

 

Tagsdiffusiondemographicsmappingmigration, populationhistorical, video, visualization.

Population, Sustainability, and Malthus

In which John Green teaches you about population. So, how many people can reasonably live on the Earth? Thomas Malthus got it totally wrong in the 19th century, but for some reason, he keeps coming up when we talk about population. In 1800, the human population of the Earth passed 1 billion, and Thomas Malthus posited that growth had hit its ceiling, and the population would level off and stop growing. He was totally right. Just kidding, he was totally wrong! There are like 7 billion people on the planet now! John will teach a little about how Malthus made his calculations, and explain how Malthus came up with the wrong answer. As is often the case, it has to do with making projections based on faulty assumptions. Man, people do that a lot.

Source: www.youtube.com

This is a succinct summary of Malthusian ideas on population.  What do you think of his ideas?  Any specific parts of his theory that you agree with?  Do you disagree with some of his ideas?  What did history have to say about it?  

 

Tags: Demographics, population, models, APHGunit 2 population

Scottish baby box pilot scheme launched

“All newborn children in Scotland will receive the boxes by the summer following a three-month pilot. The boxes include clothing, bedding and toys and are based on a project that has been running in Finland since 1938 to give all children an equal start.”

Source: www.bbc.com

Just before World War II, the Finnish government provided boxes filled with material goods to expectant mothers with the hopes of improving infant mortality rates, pre-natal care, and promoting good parenting.  The baby box was born and not surprisingly, Finland has the best infant mortality rates in the world.  Now Scotland is implementing a similar program as this idea is has diffusing around the world.       

 

Tags: FinlandUK medical, population, demographic transition model, unit 2 population.

Is being childless a taboo in Nigeria?

“Childlessness affects millions of women and couples around the world. Infertility in the man or woman is sometimes the cause, as can be the presence of a medical condition or untreated illness. Women across Africa report that not having a child is often frowned upon, and sometimes carries a stigma. Market-goers in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, share their views with BBC Africa’s Bola Mosuro.”

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

Nigeria’s population is growing–there are economic as well as cultural explanations for this and in these two videos, the BBC explores some of the cultural factors that impact family size in West Africa.  Some African couples who now live in the U.K. still face some of these cultural pressures to have large families.  

 

Tags: Nigeria, population, demographics.

 

Human Population Through Time

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?

Source: www.youtube.com

As stated in a Vox article, “The video above, from the American Museum of Natural History, shows essentially all of human history in just six minutes. It shows humanity spreading across the world over a few hundred thousand years — even as our population remained under 1 million. After that came the rise and fall of many empires and civilizations, plagues, wars, and so on — all the way to our current population of around 7 billion.”  Admittedly, the video is a bit “slow” in the middle, but that is a major part of the story of human population growth, and only serves to show how dramatic the population growth is at the end.  This video brings up more questions than it has answers.

 

Tags: demographicsmappingmigration, populationhistorical, unit 2 population 

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