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Thread: Population and development: the debate

  1. #1
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    Population and development: the debate

    I am writing a paper which should probably end up as a chapter in a civic education text book. The title of the paper is: Population and Development - The Debate.

    Are there any materials (books, articles, projects) that I could learn from?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    That's a rather broad brush stroke! Could you narrow the topic down a bit? Are you taking a particular position on it? There is so much out there. Amory Lovins, Paul Hawkins, Malthus, Kunstler are some of the authors that come immediately to mind.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  3. #3
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    Narrowing it down

    Thanks for that suggestion boilerplater. The way I intend to approach this topic is: give a brief background of global population growth trends e.g. since 1950; brief background of development since the Industrial Revolution; show the link between the two, especially how our consumption patterns are putting a huge strain on natural capital - what Rees & Wackernagel (1996) have termed 'The Ecological Footprint'. I will then give a brief discussion on global warming as a direct result of development. I will look at the Kyoto and the politics therein and finally propose a way forward.

    I hope this gives an idea of how i intend to discuss this topic.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    global urbanization

    Another thing you might consider is the global shift towards a post-industrial/post-agricultural society. Look at the growth of agribusiness, the failure of family farms, and the dynamic of small farmers moving to "the city". In many developed and developing nation this is an ongoing phenomenon. In many areas people can no longer sustain themselves or their families unless they own hundreds or thousands of acres of land. These people then sell their land (often to commercial or housing developers) and move to the urbanized area.

    The global population is more urbanized than ever - partially because of better healthcare and lower death rates and partially because of the shift from rural agricultural life to an industrial/post-industrial urban lifestyle.

    Oh...btw, it looks like your writing a book and not a chapter - good luck

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Population growth is not the problem: consumption patterns are!

    Another "by the way" - remember that with the increasing urbanisation (over 50% of the world's population now lives in urban centers) much of it is occurring in the coastal zone - which is most exposed to the effects of global warming's impact on sea level rise. If (maybe when?) sea levels rise 5 meters (approx 16 feet) almost a third of Florida will be under water.

    All this means loss of some of the most productive agricultural land in the world (think deltas) and a much higher density of population on what's left... assuming the majority of people are able to move.

    One thing to remember though, is that even if you stopped population growth today, total consumption would not level off - we all want more of what we have (and even MORE what we don't have), and now 10% of the population consumes 0ver 75% of the "in-use resources" so if the other 90% wants its fair share we really will need several earths. So ultimately it's not a population problem but a consumption one! Our economies depend on production for consumption. We need a whole new economic paradigm!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Here's some debate....

    Good point, Monamogolo. Locally, nationally, and globally, we measure success in terms of growth - increased production, increased profits, increased lifespan...How do you measure success if not through growth? Especially in the planning world - Improvements in comfort/quality of life almost always lead to growth. Can an area (city, county, town or otherwise) be successful if it is not growing? Can a city be vibrant and maintain a constant level of population? Can a city’s population decline at the same time the city becomes better (very objective term here)?

    What should the new paradigm be? How do we frame it?

    Post WWI, architects and artists tried to define a new paradigm. Modernism's anthem of "less is more" never really caught on in the hearts and minds of the general public. Most planners agree that the majority of modernist architecture does not not help create an active, lively cityscape. The buildings themselves and their surrounding sites often do not communicate well with their surroundings and many times they act as barriers. Modernism has become a symbol of affluence - it is a "holier than thou" asthetic. It has become an academic exercise meant to stretch the limits of the architectural genius and the building materials. Rather than trying to incorporate into the existing cityscape, Modernism strives to exist on a seperate plane.

    More recently, New Urbanists have proposed a "less is more" paradigm. Smaller houses on smaller lots. Narrower streets. Less traffic, shorter distances to home, work and play. However, many of the communities built in this fashion become high-priced havens for trendy suburbanites. In many parts of the country, this building style is new enough that the cost may eventually taper off, but could it be another case of academics and elites taking over an idea that was meant to improve quality of life for all the masses?

    Both Modernism and New Urbanism focus on less: in the case of Modernism, less ornamentation, and in the case of New Urbanism - smaller scales. However, the manifestation of both of these paradigms lean towards high pricetags and elite patrons. It appears that there are some people who want less, but only because they can afford to have less.

    That was long-winded of me, and probably too many questions with no answer. But it would be an interesting discussion

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Monamogolo View post
    So ultimately it's not a population problem but a consumption one! Our economies depend on production for consumption. We need a whole new economic paradigm!
    Quote Originally posted by anf View post
    Good point, Monamogolo. Locally, nationally, and globally, we measure success in terms of growth - increased production, increased profits, increased lifespan...How do you measure success if not through growth?
    A few thoughts, from someone who doesn't live like other people:
    As a general rule, first things get bigger, then they get more complex, more diversified, more streamlined, and generally more intelligent in design. Americans are particularly bad about measuring "success" in terms of growth. Other (older) cultures are often not as bad about that or they would have fallen apart a long time ago (Japan and Europe come to mind, but I am sure that is also true of other cultures I am less familar with).

    I spent 3 years or so methodically getting rid of everything I had ever owned in order to get well from health problems that doctors said could not be healed. My oldest son has the same diagnosis and my youngest son is a carrier. I sleep on a towel on the floor. I own no upholstered furniture. I have very little furniture at all. We all sit on the floor or stand, there are no chairs or couches or other seating of any kind in my apartment. (For that matter, the best party I ever attended was in a nearly unfurnished apartment. ) My sons, who used to be packrats like their father, have become even more fanatical than I am about living with less. Still, they have a Wii and 2 ds-lites and we have a laptop. We are bigtime geeks and I run five websites. We don't feel deprived.

    For me, having less stuff means having more health, having more time to do things I want to do (instead of cleaning it all), and in other ways having a far higher quality of life than I have ever had. Other people with my diagnosis mostly react to me like I am a crazy lady. I sometimes wonder why I bother to try to share the good news that it is possible to get well with this diagnosis. They all want a "normal life" and I guess are horrified at the idea of living the way I live. That's okay. I'm horrified at the idea of living the way they live. Their "normal" lives include up to 3 hours a day of breathing medication from a machine (think "Darth Vader") and other therapies, being hospitalized on a routine basis, being generally doped to the gills (btdt, got the t-shirt -- it's part of why I am happy to sleep on the floor), and also accepting that it is inevitable that their lung function will deteriorate -- people with my diagnosis get 1/3 of all lung transplants in the U.S. (Meanwhile, the hole in my left lung closed up, something else doctors think cannot happen.)

    I think more and more about the fact that images of monks with ascetic lifestyles are that they live to a ripe old age and are healthy and spry up until the end and, in contrast, we have images from the Victorian era of wives in their lovely upscale beds surrounded by their houseful of upscale crapola, too sick to do much. The more stuff my husband and I accumulated, the sicker I got until I was very like one of those sickly Victorian women.

    I used to be one of those women who read decorating magazines and aspired to have more. But I look at the world very differently these days and have completely different interests than I once had. Some people are beginning to take an interest in what I have to say -- people who are desperate to get well and who have been given no hope by conventional approaches and conventional paradigms. So it seems to me if "growth" is your only measure of success, you may soon be dead. And those folks who have on eye on quality of life will outlive you and spread the word.

  8. #8
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    Thanks

    Thank you all of you people for those valuable insights you have given me about this topic. They are very helpful. Anf your thoughts are really interesting; Monamogolo I will have a look at that coastal location issue; Michele Zone your story is touching. Thanks for sharing it with us. We really have to find other ways of measuring growth apart from GDP as if the economy exists in its on cyber world completely detached from the earth!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Sources

    Diba, there are in fact some good sources on alternative economic paradigms. It only takes a short searching on the Web.

    Michele, thank you. I share many of your values of simplicity in the home - but for other reasons. There are other riches than material ones, and often the material ones keep us from appreciating the deeper ones.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    You are both welcome, I guess. But it's not like I haven't talked about it in this forum before. (What, y'all didn't read all 6000 and something of my posts as soon you joined??? )

    Quote Originally posted by Monamogolo View post
    I share many of your values of simplicity in the home - but for other reasons. There are other riches than material ones, and often the material ones keep us from appreciating the deeper ones.
    I always wanted to "travel lighter" but my husband was able to fill every nook and cranny with his junk. I began buying in self-defense at some point, so that I would get some of the money and so that I could kind of carve out a corner of our home for me by filling it with some of my junk. As long as I lived frugally, it never got me the financial security I wanted it to achieve. Instead, it just helped finance his extravagance. He never seemed to see that. And when I began running up the credit card bills along with him as a means to get something out of the marriage, that also taught him nothing. The accusation then became that our financial problems were equally my fault because I was spending too. Damned if I did, damned if I didn't. I finally divorced him.

  11. #11
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    Ecological Economics

    I am currently applying to grad school and have been immersed in narrowing down my choices. Obviously one is planning. In my search I have come across Herman Daly - a public policy prof at University of Maryland. Diba - you should check him out. He was fairly high up in the World Bank and left, as far as I can tell, in disgust over the economic world's refusal to acknowledge that the human economy (population + per capita resource use) cannot grow forever as it is contained within a finite ecosystem (that provides input raw materials and absorbs output waste). Anyway - read some Daly. He rocks!

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