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).

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Building Momentum for 7 Billion

Even if no one knows for sure when we will (or did) hit 7 billion people, the United Nations has done an excellent job of getting the attention of journalists. The Economist from last Friday has a lengthy article discussing the challenges that the world faces with a larger population, noting in particular that countries in sub-Saharan Africa tend to have the highest levels of fertility in the world and will experience the most rapid growth as we move beyond seven billion. This is followed by an Op-Ed in the New York Times by Helen Epstein discussing various ways by which women in northern Ghana have been encouraged to have smaller families by, of all things, the preachers at evangelical Christian churches. This was followed the next day by another NY Times Op-Ed piece, this one by Joel Cohen, who makes an impassioned plea for taking very seriously the need to keep putting the brakes on both population growth and resource consumption. In a concluding paragraph that could have been penned in the 19th century by John Stuart Mill, Cohen writes:
Henceforth we need to measure our growth in prosperity: not by the sheer number of people who inhabit the earth, and not by flawed measurements like G.D.P., but by how well we satisfy basic human needs; by how well we foster dignity, creativity, community and cooperation; by how well we care for our biological and physical environment, our only home.
This is not a new thought, but with each new addition to the global population, it becomes that much more important. 

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