This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Age of Humans

As an antidote to all of the Republican presidential candidates who have been pretending that global climate change doesn't exist, The Economist this week has a lengthy story on the "Anthropocene"--the modern era in which humans shape the planet, rather than the other way around. Today's New York Times puts the dot on that "i" with a story about the detection from space of human-induced groundwater depletion:
Scientists have been using small variations in the Earth’s gravity to identify trouble spots around the globe where people are making unsustainable demands on groundwater, one of the planet’s main sources of fresh water.
They found problems in places as disparate as North Africa, northern India, northeastern China and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley in California, heartland of that state’s $30 billion agricultural industry.
Jay S. Famiglietti, director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling here, said the center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, known as Grace, relies on the interplay of two nine-year-old twin satellites that monitor each other while orbiting the Earth, thereby producing some of the most precise data ever on the planet’s gravitational variations. The results are redefining the field of hydrology, which itself has grown more critical as climate change and population growth draw down the world’s fresh water supplies.
However, as the article notes, lawmakers don't really want to know about this, because the solutions are expensive and politically sensitive. I'm sure you know the old adage that the two things that are hardest to get out of water are salt and politics...

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