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Overpopulation Myth and Reality

VIEWS: 27 PAGES: 20

  • pg 1
									Overpopulation:
Myth and Reality
                Gloomy Predictions

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s
hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash
programs embarked upon now. At this late date, nothing can prevent
substantial increase in the world death rate”

                              Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968
               Gloomy Predictions

“If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization,
pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged,
the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime in the next
100 years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and
uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.”

                             The Club of Rome, Limits to Growth, 1972
               Gloomy Predictions
“The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the
earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked,
increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an
arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the
immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population
from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere
and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind”

       Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798
               Gloomy Predictions
Population Bomb:
• Rampant pollution cuts food supplies
• Major food shortages and starvation in 1980’s, even in developed
  countries

Limits to Growth:
• Estimated exhaustion dates for:
   Aluminum:              2003           Natural Gas:        1994
   Coal:                  2083           Oil                 1992
   Copper:                1993           Tin:                1987
   Lead:                  1993           Zinc:               1990
• Peak year for global:
   Population:                    2040
   Food per capita:               2000
   Industrial output per capita: 2000
                                               Food
              Total Cereal Production, Millions of Tons
   2,500,000,000
                                 World
                                 Developed Countries
   2,000,000,000
                                 Developing Countries

   1,500,000,000


   1,000,000,000


    500,000,000


              0
                   1961
                          1964
                                 1967
                                        1970
                                               1973
                                                      1976
                                                             1979
                                                                    1982
                                                                           1985
                                                                                  1988
                                                                                         1991
                                                                                                1994
                                                                                                       1997
                                                                                                              2000
                                                                                                                     2003
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization database,
               http://faostat.fao.org/
                                    Food
                           Global Per Capita Production,
                     120
                               (Net of livestock feed)

                     100
   Index, 2000=100




                     80


                     60

                     40

                                           Cereals
                     20
                                           Total Crops

                      0
                        61

                        64

                        67

                        70

                        73

                        76

                        79

                        82

                        85

                        88

                        91

                        94

                        97

                        00

                        03
                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     19

                     20

                     20
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization database,
               http://faostat.fao.org/
                                        Food
                     Cereal Yields, 100s of grams/hectare
45,000
40,000
35,000
30,000
25,000
20,000
15,000                                                         World
10,000                                                         Developed Countries
 5,000                                                         Developing Countries
    0
    61

          64

                67

                      70

                            73

                                  76

                                        79

                                              82

                                                   85

                                                         88

                                                               91

                                                                     94

                                                                           97

                                                                                 00

                                                                                       03
  19

         19

               19

                     19

                           19

                                 19

                                       19

                                             19

                                                  19

                                                        19

                                                              19

                                                                    19

                                                                          19

                                                                                20

                                                                                      20
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization database,
               http://faostat.fao.org/
      Food – What’s Going On?
There are different kinds of resource/environmental issues:
1) Traded goods
2) Externalities

1)   Traded goods
•    Examples: food, energy, water, minerals
•    Demand increases, perhaps due to rising population
•    Higher demand increases price
•    Higher price has two effects:
     • Consumers find ways to conserve/switch to alternatives
     • Producers have incentive and $ to produce more
•    We’ll never “run out” of these, as long as people
     are willing to pay for them
•    Forms may change (switch from oil to wind as last
     oil becomes too expensive to extract)
        Food – What’s Going On?
    Think of a population           When the number of wolves
of chickens (a traded good!):   increases, there are fewer chickens:
        Food – What’s Going On?
When the number of humans increases, there are more chickens:
                Stuff We Should
              Actually Worry About
2) Externalities
• I enjoy the full benefit from some activity,
   but only pay part of the cost!
• Other people who share my road/river/atmosphere also
   pay a cost b/c of my action
• Examples: traffic, traditional air/water pollution,
   global warming, collapse of ecological systems
• When the decision-maker doesn’t bear the full cost of
   decisions, wrong decisions get made
• Unlike providing food & energy, nobody gets money from
   reducing greenhouse gasses. So global warming might be a
   huge problem.
• Medium-term solution solution beloved by economists: raise
   gasoline tax!! Reduce global warming and the Federal deficit
   simultaneously 
                                    Population
        UN Population Division Growth Rate Projections,
                   Medium Variant, Made In:

0.12                                                                  Source: UN Population Division,
                                                                      World Population Prosects:
0.11                                                                  The 2004 Revision Population
                                                                      Database,
 0.1                                                                  http://esa.un.org/unpp/


0.09                                                           1957
                                                               1963
                                                               1968
                                                               1973
0.08
                                                               1980


0.07



0.06



0.05
       1955- 1960- 1965- 1970- 1975- 1980- 1985- 1990- 1995-
       1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000
                                    Population
               Growth Rate Projections with Actual

0.12                                                                    Source: UN Population Division,
                                                                        World Population Prosects:
0.11                                                                    The 2004 Revision Population
                                                                        Database,
 0.1                                                                    http://esa.un.org/unpp/
                                                               Actual
                                                               1957
0.09
                                                               1963
                                                               1968
                                                               1973
0.08                                                           1980



0.07



0.06



0.05
       1955- 1960- 1965- 1970- 1975- 1980- 1985- 1990- 1995-
       1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000
                                             Population
                           Total World Population
                                                                                  Source: UN Population Division,
12,000,000,000                                                                    World Population Prosects:
                                                                                  The 2004 Revision Population
10,000,000,000
                                                                                  Database,
                                                                                  http://esa.un.org/unpp/
 8,000,000,000


 6,000,000,000
                                                              Historical
 4,000,000,000
                                                              Medium Variant
                                                              Projection
 2,000,000,000
                                                              High Variant
                                                              Projection
           -
                50

                      60

                            70

                                  80

                                        90

                                              00

                                                    10

                                                          20

                                                                 30

                                                                       40

                                                                             50
               19

                     19

                           19

                                 19

                                       19

                                             20

                                                   20

                                                         20

                                                               20

                                                                      20

                                                                            20
                                             Population
                              GDP per capita and TFR, 1962
                      9                                                   Source: World Bank,
                      8
TFR, children/woman




                                                                          World Development Indicators
                      7                                                   Database,
                      6
                                                                          http://devdata.worldbank.org/data
                      5                                                   online/
                      4
                      3
                      2
                      1
                      0
                          0     10,000      20,000      30,000   40,000
                                    GDP per capita, 2000 $
                                             Population
                              GDP per capita and TFR, 2002
                      9                                                  Source: World Bank,
                      8
                                                                         World Development Indicators
TFR, children/woman




                      7                                                  Database,
                      6
                                                                         http://devdata.worldbank.org/data
                      5                                                  online/
                      4
                      3
                      2
                      1
                      0
                          0    10,000      20,000      30,000   40,000
                                   GDP Per Capita, 2000 $
                                                   Population
                              Trends in Per Capita Income and TFR
                      9
                                                                                       Source: World Bank,
                      8
                                                                                       World Development Indicators
TFR, children/woman




                      7
                                                                                       Database,
                      6                                                1962            http://devdata.worldbank.org/data
                      5                                                2002            online/
                      4
                      3
                      2
                      1
                      0
                          0         10,000       20,000       30,000          40,000
                                         GDP per capita, 2000 $
                                                 Population
                               Per Capita Income Vs. TFR,
                              selected countries, 1962-2002                              Source: World Bank,
                      8
                                                                Brazil                   World Development Indicators
                      7                                                                  Database,
                                                                Hong Kong
                                                                Ireland
TFR, children/woman




                      6                                                                  http://devdata.worldbank.org/data
                                                                S. Korea                 online/
                      5
                                                                Mexico
                      4                                         Singapore
                                                                Thailand
                      3
                                                                United States
                      2

                      1

                      0
                          0       10,000      20,000        30,000              40,000
                                       Per Capita GDP, 2000 $
                               Resources
UN Population Division
• World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Population Database
• http://esa.un.org/unpp/

UN Food and Agriculture Organization
• http://faostat.fao.org/

World Bank Group
• World Development Indicators
• http://devdata.worldbank.org/dataonline/

Bjorn Lomborg, “The Skeptical Environmentalist” 2001
• Written by a former Greenpeace activist, who set out to challeng Julian Simon (below),
   but was startled by the facts
• Comprehensively de-bunks many claims of the modern environmental movement
• Argues that non-problems are emphasized while real problems are ignored
• Was the target of a smear campaign by European environmental groups

Julian Simon, “The Ultimate Resource II” 1998
• Shows that virtually every resource of interest to humans is infinitely renewable
• Argues that human beings are “the ultimate resource”
• Less discussion of externalities like global warming

								
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