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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day 2014

April 22nd is Earth Day--a time to contemplate whether we can sustain population growth and an increase in the level of living for everyone, given the limited resources on the planet. I gave a talk at the very first one in 1970, as I've noted before. Looking at any of the world population clocks that exist on the internet, like Worldometers, you can see that in 1970 we had not yet reached the 4 billion mark in terms of population. Now we exceed 7 billion and we are using resources at an even higher rate per person than we were doing back then. 

Whether or not by coincidence, this week's Economist has a story about urbanization in China that speaks to the heart of earth day concerns.
Within China, public resentment of its deteriorating environment, particularly the noxious haze over its cities, is growing, and abroad the country is being criticised for its contribution to global warming. In 2006 China became the world’s biggest emitter of carbon from energy, overtaking America; it is now spewing out nearly double America’s level (see chart 5). The spread of Chinese smog across the region is worrying neighbours such as South Korea and Japan.

That chart is global wake-up call in my mind--as worrying as anything I've seen since the very first Earth Day... and there are a LOT of worrying things in the world when it comes to sustainability.

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