G. B kq4: What has been the impact of population growth upon the resources of countries at contrasting levels of economic development?

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G. B KQ4: What has been the impact of population growth upon the resources of countries at contrasting levels of economic development?

  1. Population resources and carrying capacity: the population models of

a.) Malthus: In the 18th century an economist called Thomas Robert Malthus wrote an essay outlining his response to the problem. The work, entitled ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’, set out Malthus’s theory of population growth: a theory of how and why the size of the population would change. Malthus thought that if the human population continued to grow, food production would not be able to keep up with demand and there would not be enough food to go around. The result, he warned, would be a terrible famine that would kill many people. Malthus was arguing that the human population was at risk of outgrowing its carrying capacity. There are examples of this happening to particular populations of animals and insects, such as the reindeer on St Matthew Island. Malthus reasoned that this disastrous outcome could only be avoided if the population stopped growing. He described two types of ‘checks’ that could stop population growth: a negative check that would cause a drop in the birth rate (e.g. increased use of contraceptives) and a positive check that would increase the death rate (e.g. disease or war). These checks, he argued, were more likely to take effect as the population got closer to its carrying capacity, either because governments would take steps to stop the population getting any bigger or because of increased competition and hardship within the population. This, Malthus thought, was what would save us from large-scale starvation.

b.) Boserup: Ester Boserup was a Danish economist who specialised in the economics and development of agriculture. She worked for the United Nations and her experience working in low- and middle-income countries such as India helped to shape her theory of the relationship between human population growth and food production.

In her work ‘The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The economics of agrarian change under population pressure’, Boserup challenged Malthus’s conclusion that the size of the human population is limited by the amount of food it can produce. She suggested that food production can, and will, increase to match the needs of the population. Drawing on her knowledge of farming in the developing world, where populations were growing quickly, Boserup argued that the threat of starvation and the challenge of feeding more mouths motivates people to improve their farming methods and invent new technologies in order to produce more food. Boserup described this change as ‘agricultural intensification’. For example, a farmer who has four fields to produce food for his family might grow crops in three of the fields, but leave the fourth field empty as the ground is dry and his crop will not grow there. However if the farmer has two more children, the pressure to produce more food might drive him to build irrigation canals to bring water to the fourth field or to buy a different type of seed that will grow in drier ground. He would change the way he farms to make sure that he has enough food to support a larger family.

2. The concepts of:

a.) Overpopulation: Overpopulation refers to excessive population of an area to the point of overcrowding, depletion of natural resources, or environmental deterioration. The combination of a continuing high birth rate and a low death rate is creating a rapid population increase in many countries. Overpopulation is defined as the condition of having more people that can live on the earth in comfort, happiness and health and still leave the world a fit place for future generations. Both death rates and birth rates have fallen, but death rates have fallen faster than birth rates. There are about 3 births for each death with 1.6 in more developed countries and 3.3 births for each death in less developed countries. Politicians call for countries to increase their population size to maintain their economic growth and military security but also critics denote that one out of five people living here today is not properly supported and believe that the world is already limited in resources. Population grow fastest in the world’s poorest countries. High fertility rates have historically been strongly correlated with poverty, and high childhood mortality rates. Fertility rates usually fall with improved standards of living, increased life expectancy and lowered infant mortality. Most of the world’s population live in less developed countries. Rich and poor population alike are affected by population growth, though the industrial countries grow more slowly that developing ones.

. b.) Under population: Under population exists when a population is too small, therefore unable to fully utilize the available resource endowments. It is also characterized by a situation where the available resources are capable of supporting a much larger population with no reduction in living standards. This situation is found in regions of low technical development such as equatorial Congo, the Amazon River basin or the rich Prairie region of North America. Relative under population is more common than absolute under population. Relative under population occurs due to insufficient resource development. Absolute under population is rarely seen and may be found in completely secluded societies. In developed economies, rural under population is more visible, whereas in backward countries, under population is linked to high mortality rate. Australia has the problem of under population. There are 20.6 million living there. Agriculture involves the production of wheat, barley, sugarcane, cattle, and sheep. Industry involves mining, food processing, production of steels and chemicals. Australia is about the same size as the United States (300 million people) but much of its land is not used. Population has gone up from 3.7 million in 1901. Problems caused by under population: small workforce, bad economy, ageing population, not full use of natural resources. Solutions: benefits to those who have children, more people moving there for job opportunities. Environmental impact: Not really negative as there are less humans interfering with the natural environment, no one is killing as much as they could if there was an overpopulation of people.

c.) Optimum population: Optimum population has been defined as that size of population enabling per capita output of the maximum orders accompanied by the highest possible standards of living under a given set of economic and technological conditions. Therefore, optimum population lies between two extremes. Optimum population is good for the environment as it isn’t too little or too much human activity. It is just the right amount for sustainability of life in that given area. —The optimum population is also influenced by developments in technology, demographic structure changes, as trade opportunities develop/falter, and as new raw materials are discovered to replace old ones which are exhausted or whose values change over time. —If the size of the population should increase or decrease from the optimum, the output per capita and standard of living will fall.

d.) A study of the population models followed by contrasting case studies e.g. Mauritius, india, UK. examples can include China, UK or another European country and Canada or Australia.
Mauritius: Has one of the highest population densities of any sovereign territory in the world at 1.3 million people. The study of the relationship between population and land use change is the existence of a strong direct relationship between land use and number of people supported by the agricultural production if area. Profitable land use such as sugar cane, which is their primary product of the economy, caused deforestation at rapid rates, which began to transform the landscape.

India: Has a population of 1.2 billion people and still growing at rapid rates. Both population and economic development in the country are degrading the environment through the uncontrolled growth of urbanization and industrialization, expansion and intensification of agriculture and the destruction of natural habitats. The great deal of pressure that is being put on its natural resources are causing water shortages, soil exhaustion, deforestation, air and water pollution afflicts many areas.

UK: Has a population of 64.1 million and not necessarily growing at a significant level. The UK population growth is environmentally unsustainable from a national and international point of view. Without ecologically healthy in our economy will not be able to support its own people without causing damage to the environment of other nations. A rising issue is the amount of land available; to provide for our ecological needs and to absorb the waste products of our consumption the land available has shrunk to nearly a tenth of that available in 1750.

China: The most populous country in the world with 1.4 billion people. Due to the high rate of birth and booming population China's government implemented family planning, favoring boys over girls. With a growing economy more people move to the city for jobs and buy cars. This means a greater use of fossil fuels, making China the world's largest source of carbon emissions and the air quality of many major cities fails to meet international health standards. Beijing experienced a prolonged bout of smog so severe that citizens called it an “airpocalypse”. The concentration of hazardous particles was forty times the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization.

Canada: Has a population of 35 million people and growing but the impact on the environment is mild compared to a country such as China. The only noteworthy impact of population growth on Canada’s environment is the expansion in the number of vehicles and road networks. More pollutants are going into the air and more wildlife is being killed as well as their habitat being destroyed for the construction of roads.

Australia: With a population of 23 million people, Australia is similar to Canada in the regards that the amount of land is seemingly proportionate to the number of inhabitants. However according to the population issues committee of the National Population Council, “there is a serious mismatch between distributions of available water supply and the population, water supply is subject to high levels of seasonal and year to year variability, the land is severely degraded, the soils thin and vulnerable to depletion". Many species in Australia have become extinct or are threatened by the expansion of human activities in their habitats.

3. Policies aimed at resolving these issues include:

a.) sustainable and more productive farming methods in LEDCs and MEDCs. (agricultural improvements can be illustrated through the Green revolution, biotechnology etc.)

Farming in LEDCs are typically smaller and mainly focused on subsistence agriculture. That means that these farms are typically only for growing crops for the farmer and their family. In MEDCs farms tend to be larger and grow for profit and grow in huge amount by corporations. LEDCs don’t have as much access to machinery as MEDCs resulting in less production abilities. LEDCs are farmed less sustainably due to year round use and farmers that don’t have much understanding for overgrazing which leads to soil that is used at such a high rate it loses the ability to grow due to loss of nutrients. Biotechnology can be seen where MEDCs have genetically altered many crops in which now grow in more advanced ways such as needing less water or nutrients, yielding more of crop, growing at faster rates, being more rodent resistant, more sturdy, etc. LEDCs don’t have the same access to these genetically modified crops so the crops they grow yield less and are more capable of being harmed or wilting. The Green revolution is an example of this when in the 1960s scientists created high yielding varieties of different crops which in turn was predicted to have saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation. There are more modern genetic modifications of plants that only MEDCs are seeing while most LEDCs have less advanced agriculture.

b.) economic and social development. (More general economic and social development through case studies including a MEDC and a LEDC)

Economic development is an effort to use economic growth to improve living standards.

Social development is about putting people at the center of development. This means a commitment that development processes need to benefit people, particularly but not only the poor, but also a recognition that people, and the way they interact in groups and society, and the norms that facilitates such interaction.
LEDC(India): Has the world’s fourth largest economy and a thriving and rapidly growing middle class of more than 50 million people. The country also faces serious poverty, malnutrition, and environmental problems that could worsen as its population continues to grow rapidly. ¼ of India’s urban populations lives in slums. Progress and prosperity still has not reached 2/3 of India’s population. Half of the country is unemployed and roughly ¾ of the people struggle to live on $2.25 per day and many times even less than that. In India factors that result in large families are the lack of uses of contraceptives, and birth control. 9 out of 10 families have access to birth control, but only 48% actually use it. The reason why they don’t use the birth control is because they either don’t care or they’re looking for more than 1 boy child since in India boys are a stronger cultural preference, so this causes families to be really big because families keep trying to get more than 1 boy.India uses economic development which is an effort to use economic growth to improve living standards, as they have the world’s 4th largest economy and a great portion of the country is starving, and struggling to survive due to the lack of money or lack of resources as India only has 2.3% of the lands resources and 2% of its forests.
MEDC(China): China is the world’s most populous country with 1.3 billion people in the population, and if the trend continues it may go up to 1.5 billion by 2025, and end up having a decline of to about 1.4 billion by 2050. China has done the most to reduce its population growth because in 1960 the growth of the population was so overwhelming that there was a threat of mass starvation. What the Chinese government did to avoid this is that they came up with the world’s strictest family planning and birth control program. The Chinese government has been reaching its goal by promoting one child families. To do this the Chinese government provides contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions for married couples. If a family pledges to only have one child and upholds to the pledge they will receive better housing, more food, free healthcare, salary bonuses, and preferential job opportunities fro their child. Couples who break the pledge no longer receive such benefits. China is an example of social development which is putting people at the center of development. This means a commitment that development processes need to benefit people, particularly but not only the poor, but also a recognition that people, and the way they interact in groups and society, and the norms that facilitates such interaction. Chinese government is using the social development method to slow down their population by setting ‘restrictions’, and bonuses as to if you follow their ‘restrictions’ you will get all the bonuses they promised.
c.) the sustainable provision of energy and industrial raw materials.

Much investment has been made in sustainable energy such as solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, hydro power, etc. Solar energy can be gained through the installation of solar panels which receive energy from the solar energy. Wind energy is obtained through wind turbines being moved from winds and such creating energy. Hydro power is gained from currents moving water turbines to create energy. All these sources of energy are renewable sources in which are sustainable. These are mainly used in MEDCs because they are expensive to start up and LEDCs don’t have the money to set up these sustainable systems. Examples of this can be seen where solar panels, wind turbines, and hydro turbines are seen all throughout the United States while in countries for example such as Kenya who doesn’t have funds to set up these systems while the US does. A lot of countries are still using unsustainable resources but LEDCs use them at higher percentage due to MEDCs having access to other sources for energy. Raw materials have also been geared more towards being used sustainably. In most cases though these raw materials are being used up at alarming rates especially since corporations are profiting from the extractions of these raw materials.

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