Population growth & sustainable development

Written by  //  April 1, 2015  //  Population  //  Comments Off on Population growth & sustainable development

Overpopulation, overconsumption – in pictures

Mexico City overpopulation, overconsumption
Sprawling Mexico City rolls across the landscape, displacing every scrap of natural habitat
‘If our species had started with just two people at the time of the earliest agricultural practices some 10,000 years ago, and increased by one percent per year, today humanity would be a solid ball of flesh many thousand light years in diameter, and expanding with a radial velocity that, neglecting relativity, would be many times faster than the speed of light.’ Gabor Zovanyi


28 January
Mali’s 2.5 Percent Problem
The real reason the Sahel is awash with terrorists? Rapid population growth.
(Foreign Policy) … a drastic rate of population growth rate has profound implications. In particular it means that, in an undeveloped and largely barren land, too many people are competing for too few local resources and opportunities. Young men have limited hopes of finding employment or even sustenance and are therefore deeply susceptible to the temptation of armed criminality and insurgency, and to the lure of radical preachers who seem to offer them both a sense of purpose and scapegoats who they can blame for their woes.


14 November
The hidden consequences of helping rural communities in Africa
Rural to Urban Migration Is an Unforeseen Impact of Development Intervention in Ethiopia
(PLOS ONE via Eureka) Improving water supplies in rural African villages may have negative knock-on effects and contribute to increased poverty, new research published today [14 November] has found.
Rural development initiatives across the developing world are designed to improve community wellbeing and livelihoods but a study of Ethiopian villages by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Addis Ababa in Africa has shown that this can lead to unforeseen consequences caused by an increase in the birth rate in the absence of family planning. …
By looking at longitudinal survey data collected from 1,280 households before and after the installation of water taps in five Ethiopian villages, researchers were able to show that family size increased due to the reduced time and energy women spent carrying water on their backs and a dramatic reduction in child mortality. This increase has placed greater pressure on the household’s resources, namely food and land, leading to higher rates of childhood malnutrition and inequalities in access to education.
14 June
The Ecology of Human Populations: Thomas Malthus
Population growth vs. the food supply
Malthus’ most famous work, which he published in 1798, was An Essay on the Principle of Population as it affects the Future Improvement of Society. In it, Malthus raised doubts about whether a nation could ever reach a point where laws would no longer be required, and in which everyone lived prosperously and harmoniously. There was, he argued, a built-in agony to human existence, in that the growth of a population will always outrun its ability to feed itself. … If a country’s population did explode this way, Malthus warned that there was no hope that the world’s food supply could keep up. Clearing new land for farming or improving the yields of crops might produce a bigger harvest, but it could only increase arithmetically, not geometrically. Unchecked population growth inevitably brought famine and misery.
31 January
The High-level Panel on Global Sustainability presents its report to the Secretary-General on 30 January 2012 in Addis Ababa.
The 22-member Panel, established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity, was co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma. The Panel’s final report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.


Rio+20 Earth summit: scientists call for action on population
Joint report by 105 institutions urges negotiators to drop political inhibitions and confront rising global population and consumption
(The Guardian) The Rio+20 Earth summit must take decisive action on population and consumption regardless of political taboos or it will struggle to tackle the alarming decline of the global environment, the world’s leading scientific academies warned on Thursday.
Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.

UN unveils blueprint for global sustainability
A UN report on sustainable development estimates that the world will require at least 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water by 2030 if it is to keep pace with population growth, projected to reach nearly 9 billion by 2040. “We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet,” Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, said Monday during the release of the report by a special 22-member international panel. AlertNet/Reuters (1/30), The Guardian (London) (1/30)

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