Lecture 12 - Human and Environmental Impacts

author: Robert Wyman, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: May 14, 2010,   recorded: February 2009,   views: 4094
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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Until recently, the world population has been growing faster than exponentially. Although the growth rate has slowed somewhat, there are about 80 million more people each year and about 3 billion more will be added by 2050 (a 50% increase). Population will probably increase more beyond that. Such growth is unprecedented and we cannot predict its long-term effects. The environmental impact of this population increase is bound to be astronomic. Large populations engender two problems: over-consumption in the rich countries which leads to environmental misery, and under-consumption in the poor countries which leads to human misery. People living in abject poverty ($1 per day) don't limit their fertility. Factory jobs in poor countries pay double that, approximately $2 per day. For population to stabilize, income must rise. If population is to increase by 50%, income needs to double -- we are looking at a tripling of the world economy. The environment is currently overstressed. Can it survive a tripling of the economy?

Reading assignment:

Weeks, John R. Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, pp. xix-xx, 1 and 4-6

Sengupta, Somini. "In Bombay, Public Indignity Is Poverty's Partner." The New York Times, 10 February 2002

Ying, Hong. Daughter of the River

LaFraniere, Sharon. "Another School Barrier for African Girls: No Toilet." The New York Times, 23 December 2005

Deutsch, Claudia. "A Not-So-Simple Plan to Keep African Girls in School." The New York Times, 12 November 2007

Bumiller, Elizabeth. May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey among the Women of India, chapter 5

Resources: Notes - Lecture 12 [PDF]

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