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.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Populations at Risk in San Diego

One of the key reasons for switching the environmental discussion from global warming to the more general global climate change is that increasingly it is evident that weather extremes, not just warming, are being produced by the ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide and methane we are pumping into the air. Last year, for example, was the driest year on record in California, and we certainly felt that here in San Diego. Dryness, of course, means that vegetation is even more flammable than usual, and just a few days ago, the San Diego County government news center reported that, given the forecast for hot weather (30 degrees above average) and dry winds (pushing humidity down to 3 percent), everyone should be ready to protect themselves from fires. The county has, in fact, been hit very hard by at least nine different fires yesterday and today. Thousands of acres have been burned, thousands of people evacuated from homes and schools (including California State University at San Marcos in the northern part of San Diego County), and many homes have been lost. Fortunately, there have so far been no deaths or serious injuries.

Each of these fires is currently being treated as a crime scene, because it is not clear why any of them started. Nonetheless, the combination of local population growth and the global rise in standard of living are intersecting in a situation like this. As the population in any area grows, people build on increasingly higher risk properties--low-lying areas near the beach and densely vegetated but not too densely populated areas along the urban perimeter. When the more volatile weather gets added into the mix, we find an increasing fraction of people at risk of losing property and or their life. I don't claim to have any easy answers, but the first step toward restructuring how we do things is to recognize the problem--and it's us.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Professor. Here is a brief article on Armenia. One phrase is about Armenia being deserted. This leads to the question, what happens to a country that become more or less deserted? Is there a point when a population gets too low to maintain a nation state? Or is this something demographers don't know about or haven't considered?

    Hope you are well.