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The Population Bomb Has Been Defused

The Population Bomb Has Been Defused | Geography Education | Scoop.it

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.

Seth Dixon's insight:

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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Why Malthus Is Still Wrong

Why Malthus Is Still Wrong | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Why Malthus makes for bad science policy
Seth Dixon's insight:

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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Alex Smiga's curator insight, August 6, 2017 8:05 AM
What did Malthus get right? and what did he get wrong?
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The science of slums - Geographical

The science of slums - Geographical | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In an edited extract from his new book, Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield, argues that the idea of the population bomb is a fallacy and that the human population is checking its rise without the need for a grand plan
Seth Dixon's insight:

This essay is written by a critic of Thomas Malthus and could serve as a bridge to discuss issues in a population unit and an urban unit.  In a nutshell, Dorling feels that that Malthusian-like fears and assumptions about the proliferation of slums are unfounded; this is a good reading that can spark some conversation in a college seminar. 


Tags: declining populations, population, demographic transition model, urban, megacities, squatter.

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Jose Soto's curator insight, August 5, 2015 9:39 PM

This essay is written by a critic of Thomas Malthus and could serve as a bridge to discuss issues in a population unit and an urban unit.  In a nutshell, Dorling feels that that Malthusian-like fears and assumptions about the proliferation of slums are unfounded; this is a good reading that can spark some conversation in a college seminar. 

 

Tags: declining populations, population, demographic transition model, urban, megacities, squatter.

geographynerd's curator insight, August 9, 2015 2:26 AM

This essay is written by a critic of Thomas Malthus and could serve as a bridge to discuss issues in a population unit and an urban unit.  In a nutshell, Dorling feels that that Malthusian-like fears and assumptions about the proliferation of slums are unfounded; this is a good reading that can spark some conversation in a college seminar. 

 

Tags: declining populations, population, demographic transition model, urban, megacities, squatter.

L.Long's curator insight, August 28, 2015 6:07 AM

mega cities 

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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.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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

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Opinion: Sadly, Malthus was right. Now what?

Opinion: Sadly, Malthus was right. Now what? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
We seem bound to learn the hard way that there really is a limit to how many people the Earth can support.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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 for centuries and the way we frame the debate is oftentimes in terms that are derived from Malthusian ideas (for example the terms overpopulation, carrying capacity, and sustainability).  This op-ed written by the President of the Canada's Population institute 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? 


Tags: Demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population

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Ivan Ius's curator insight, February 26, 2016 8:23 AM

Well stated!

From Seth Dixon - His insight:

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 for centuries and the way we frame the debate is oftentimes in terms that are derived from Malthusian ideas (for example the terms overpopulation, carrying capacity, and sustainability).  This op-ed written by the President of the Canada's Population institute 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? 

 

Tags: Demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population. 

Deanna Metz's curator insight, March 1, 2016 8:01 PM

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 for centuries and the way we frame the debate is oftentimes in terms that are derived from Malthusian ideas (for example the terms overpopulation, carrying capacity, and sustainability).  This op-ed written by the President of the Canada's Population institute 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? 


Tags: Demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population. 

Danielle Yen's curator insight, March 10, 2016 9:23 AM

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 for centuries and the way we frame the debate is oftentimes in terms that are derived from Malthusian ideas (for example the terms overpopulation, carrying capacity, and sustainability).  This op-ed written by the President of the Canada's Population institute 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? 

 

Tags: Demographics, population, APHG, unit 2 population. 

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Thomas Malthus and Population Growth

Learn more: http://www.khanacademy.org/video?v=r1ywppAJ1xs Thomas Malthus's views on population. Malthusian limits.


This is a succinct (but not perfect) 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

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Sarah Ann Glesenkamp's curator insight, September 17, 2014 7:56 PM

Unit 2

Sarah Ann Glesenkamp's curator insight, September 21, 2014 11:27 PM

 

unit 2

MissPatel's curator insight, December 16, 2014 3:24 AM

A little overview of Malthus's theory on population.