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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

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unit 2 population

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. 

10 countries that desperately want people to have more sex

Roughly half the countries around the world experience low fertility rates, and some get pretty creative in how they encourage procreation.

Source: www.businessinsider.com

While many countries have anti-natalist policies (policies to discourage more births), other countries with declining populations have pro-natalist policies in an attempt to increase fertility rates.  While not an exhaustive list, this list gives a few more examples that teachers can use to show how countries in stage 4 of the demographic transition are dealing with declining fertility rates.  

 

 

Tags: declining populations, population, demographic transition model, modelsunit 2 population. 

Why do women live longer than men?

Despite the social inequality women experience, they live longer than men. This is the case without a single exception, in all countries.

Source: www.weforum.org

The question “why do women live longer than men?” is both biological and cultural.  This means that 1) gender as a cultural construct that influences behavior is a mitigating factor and 2) sex, as a biochemical issue, is a separate set of determining factors.  Estrogen benefits women because it lowers “bad” cholesterol) and “good” cholesterol, but testosterone does the opposite.  Women are more likely to have chronic diseases, but non-fatal chronic disease, but men are more prone to the more fatal chronic illnesses.  For the cultural reasons, men are less likely to seek treatment, adhere to the prescribed treatment, commit suicide, and engage in more risky behavior.  While these may read like a list of gendered stereotypes that don’t apply to all, when looking at the global data sets, these trends hold  and are more likely to be true.  How masculinity and femininity is constructed certainly shapes many of these factors and deserves some discussion. 

 

Tags: culture, population, mortality, development, cultural norms, statisticsgender

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.

Mapping the World’s Migration Flows

Visualizing the flow of the world’s migrants from country to country.

 

Based on data from the U.N. Population Division, this map shows the estimated net migration (inflows minus outflows) by origin and destination country between 2010 and 2015.

Blue circles = positive net migration (more inflows). Red circles = negative net migration (more outflows). Each yellow dot represents 1,000 people.

Hover over a circle to see that country’s total net migration between 2010 and 2015. Click a circle to view only the migration flows in and out of that country.

For more info about this map, read the article, All the World’s Immigration Visualized in 1 Map.

 

Tags: migration, USA, mapping, population, unit 2 population.

Source: metrocosm.com

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 

Why Malthus Is Still Wrong

Why Malthus makes for bad science policy

Source: www.scientificamerican.com

The ideas of Thomas Malthus have always loomed large; the scope includes some of the biggest issues facing humanity’s continued existence on this planet.  His controversial ideas have been debated and inspired some policies that were especially damaging.  This anti-Malthusian op-ed was written by the Publisher of Skeptic Magazine; I typically pair this with the neo-Malthusian op-ed written by the  President of the Canada’s Population institute.  Comparing and contrasting the merits of these articles provides a way to get student to assess the strengths of an argument and to identify the bias/perspective of the author.  

 

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

 

Tagsop-ed, demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

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