“Too many people means too much consumption, depletion and/or pollution and this threatens the carrying capacity of a naturally resource-limited collection of global ecologies.”
What did we learn from Cronon that might modify this?
Population: What’s the Problem?
More people – no real problem perspective – Julian Simon
People-versus-resources perspective – Ehrlich, Hardin, Brown
The social perspective – social relations and institutions are key
The power-structures perspective
A Power-Structures Perspective
“Our thesis is that antidemocratic power structures create and perpetuate conditions keeping fertility high.” (Lappe and Schurmann 18)
Power becomes the crucial variable… [w]ithout it, it is possible to describe conditions like poverty associated with high fertility, but not to understand them or to arrive at workable solutions.” (20)
Usual Approach, prev. Table, is Usually Tied to Graph like this one:
Explanation of Graph
The Industrial North has made the demographic transition
Population/Environment equilibrium + modern Technology/Medicine Economic/Population growth New Population/Environment equilibrium.
The underdeveloped South is still dealing with the early stages of the process… and, if modernization works properly, they’ll get were we are eventually
Consumption continues to rise in the North and technological and economic growth in the south lags far behind population growth rates.
Integrated raw material supplier to Northern merchant/trade businesses.
Far less class/land polarization, and low monetization of the rural economy
It was a Dutch colony that sought to keep US/UK indsutrial goods out, and organized internal development grounded around subsistence.
The key to determining the likelihood of environmental degradation/starvation, as we saw with Cronon, is the organization of society as much as it is the relatively high or low population in a certain area.
Clearly, this is what makes it possible for New Jersey to be so densely settled w/ comparatively little hunger and ecodestruction (unless you’ve been there).
Lets look at the equilibrium assumption:
In the context of the slave-mercantile-industrial triangle between Africa-The Americas-Europe
The population of Africa was decimated (90 to 9 million 1500-1650)
As was that of the Americas (50 to 0.5 million 1500-1999)
That’s a loss of 126 million people in Africa and the Americas from disease and war alone.
What does this seem to indicate about Third World urbanization recently?
But what about consumption?
How many folks in the North determine their needs, much less the available means of need satisfaction…
Or even the range of options within one’s available means?
Would you prefer more efficient appliances, homes, better food, entertainment, longer lasting goods?
What about the urban or rural poor, what are their options?
If we overconsume, what is it that we overconsume and why?
If our cars/homes/lifestyles are less efficient/pollute more than we’d like, why?
Because we are wastrels?
Could poverty be inefficient?
If poverty is inefficient is it economically so? fiscally so? ecologically so?
If these things are different, how so?
Lets consume less –
Julia Butterfly Hill
What would the first thing that would happen were there to be a radical decrease in consumption in the U.S?
What does business do under conditions of declining consumption?
What happens to the coffers of the state under conditions of declining economy?
What happens then?
Note that ALL the traditional responses to over-population/consumption fail to address North-South, rich-poor, male-female hierarchies.
In fact they usually blame those with less power and less power to productively affect change.
U.S. and International Population Policy
Population concerns w/in broader development policies – 40s-50s
Security/cold war, development, famine and population – 60s-70s
Development, anti-abortion, domestic politics and population – 80s
Population, development and women’s empowerment – 90s/21st C?
But aren’t people hungry?
If it isn’t over-population or over-consumption that cause hunger and/or environmental degradation, what is the problem?
Let’s look at hunger…
Myth One: There is not enough food and not enough land.
Untrue: Measured globally, there is enough to feed everyone. For example there is enough grain being produced today to provide everybody in the world with enough protein and about 3000 calories a day, which is what the average American consumes. But the world's food supply is not evenly distributed.
Myth Two: There are too many people to feed.
It's usually the other way around: hunger is one of the real causes of overpopulation. The more children a poor family has the more likely some will survive to work in the fields or in the city to add to the family's small income and, later, to care for the parents in their old age.
All this points to the disease that is at the root of both hunger and overpopulation: High birth rates are symptoms of the failures of a social system - inadequate family income, inadequate nutrition and health care and old-age security.
Myth Three: Growing more food will mean less hunger.
But it doesn't seem to work that way. "More food" is what the last 30 years' War on Hunger has been about. Farming methods have been "modernized", ambitious irrigation plans carried out, "miracle" seeds, new pesticides, fertilizers and machinery have become available.
But who has come out better off? Farmers who already have land. money and the ability to buy on credit - not the desperately poor and hungry.
Myth Four: Hunger is contest between rich and poor countries.
Rich or poor we are all part of the same global food system which is gradually coming under the control of a few huge corporations.
Poor people in the Third World market pay food prices that are determined by what people in rich countries are willing to pay. This is direct cause of hunger in many poor countries.
Myth Five: Hunger can be solved by redistributing food to the hungry.
Neither "one less hamburger a week“ nor massive food aid programs will eventually solve widespread starvation and poverty in the poorest nation.
People will only cease to be poor when they control the means of providing and /or producing food for themselves.
Myth Six: A strong military defense helps provides food security.
The security of countries both great and small, depends first of all in a population that has enough food, enough jobs, adequate energy and safe, comfortable housing. When a society cannot provide these basics, all the guns and bombs in the world cannot maintain peace.