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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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Population Overshoot Well Illustrated

Bill Marsh at the NYTimes just put out a very nice set of graphics under the title of "Overpopulation and Underfed: Countries Near a Breaking Point." The data go beyond that, though, to illustrate the fact that the world is in Overshoot mode, whether we want to admit it or not (and most people are overshoot deniers, let's face it). 
Mass migration, starvation, civil unrest: Overpopulation unites all of these. Many nations’ threadbare economies, unable to cope with soaring births, could produce even greater waves of refugees beyond the millions already on the move to neighboring countries or the more prosperous havens of Europe. The population crisis is especially acute in Africa, as Eugene Linden writes in the accompanying article, but it spans the globe, from Central America to Asia.
Curbing poverty in some countries would require unheard of economic growth. Even maintaining the economic status quo, a very low bar, is beyond reach.

In many countries, the population of desperately impoverished has grown to far exceed their total population as of 1970. When conditions worsen, the numbers stricken are staggering, and Malthusian concerns come back with a vengeance.
Take a careful look at this graphic. It shows a set of the world's most impoverished countries by their population in 1970, their population in 2015, and the number (in millions) of the most impoverished in that total population as of 2015. In every case, the number of impoverished people is a very high percentage of a population that has grown typically about three times its size since 1970. This can't be sustained.

The point above about even maintaining the economic status quo in some countries being "beyond reach" is what we mean by overshoot, as I noted a couple of years ago.

1 comment:

  1. So, has Russia recovered from its demographic collapse?