Inventing Overpopulation Case Study Summarize (point form) key ideas of each

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Global Geography 12

Chapter 8 Inventing Overpopulation Case Study

Summarize (point form) key ideas of each:

Malthus (1700’s)

Ehrlich (1970’s)


  • Exponential population growth will eventually result in population exceeding food supply (because food supply grows linearly)

  • Death through disease, famine and war (preventative and positive checks) will return the population to sustainable levels.

  • Ideas were unpopular (pessimistic) and technological advances in food production proved him wrong.

  • World is already overpopulated. We are not just running out of food, but other natural resources (forests) and destroying the environment.

  • Human activity may disrupt global cycles to the point that Earth has NO ability to support human life.

  • Actions: MDCs must reduce consumption, create more efficient technology, understand and protect Earth’s systems

  • Invented the idea of carrying capacity.

  • People developed a misguided view of the Earth as having limitless resources, and we DO NOT HAVE the ability to solve all problems with technology.

  • Economic and environmental catastrophe will control population in future.

Page 198 #23-24

  1. “Considering the Effects of Overpopulation”

    1. Possible consequences of overpopulation include:

      1. Permanent harm to natural resources

      2. Climate change due to global warming

      3. Permanent harm to the ozone layer

      4. Pollution

      5. Chronic food shortages and famine

      6. Huge migrations from the less developed countries (environmental refugees)

      7. Rising infant and maternal death rates

      8. Increased international conflict

    2. Population growth has been most dramatic since the 1900s due to improvements in medical knowledge/care (disease prevention, vaccinations), as well as improvements in diet. This is especially true in LDCs where the death rate has dropped but birth rates continue to be high. Populations there are in the third stage of the demographic transition, where population explosion occurs.

    3. Overpopulation in MDCs has minimal effects that are directly felt by people, since government can pay for material or technological solutions, whereas in LDCs people suffer from hunger, medical and environmental problems.

    4. The increase in population of MDCs has a greater impact on the planet’s health because more affluent people consume a much greater amount of resources and contribute a greater amount of pollution.

    5. Overpopulation is also a N-S problem because the environmental degradation occurs due to choices and actions made by people in the North, while the consequences occur in the South. Poverty in the south and the demand for improved standard of living through income causes people to sacrifice their local natural environment for development or simply to survive.

  2. “Earth 88”

    1. Ehrlich relates overpopulation to the long term sustainability of Earth’s cycles and the threat to all of humanity, while Cope deals more with the North-South issues and the struggles of people in less developed nations.

    2. Ehrlich’s article is more scientific and scholarly, which fits with the audience of National Geographic magazine, and encourages people to understand the responsibility of developed nations. Cope’s article seems to lead us to the need to ensure population control in less developed countries, but makes it seem like overpopulation doesn’t have any impact here.

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