The Present and Future The growth of the world s population is a problem that many people see as being addressed at some point in the future. While we live in a country that is reaping the benefits of a superpower, most of the United States is disconnected from the problems of population growth. In this paper, I intend to address three major issues. How long will we be able to support our planets food needs How can we deal with population growth in the present day And How come certain areas tend to have larger population growth than other areas But first in this paper, I will see how the theories of sociologists and demographers fit into the Earth s population problem.
THEORIES MARX 1818-1883 Karl Marx viewed a capitalist society as an economic system that was bound to fail. In Marx s opinion this eminent failure was based in the design of the system. According to Marx, In the capitalist economy there are two major groups; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are those who own the means of production, have the power. The proletariat are those that work for the bourgeoisie and are at their mercy. At the economy develops, the gap between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat grows wider and eventually all the capital is controlled by a small percentage of the population and the proletariat is forced into poverty.
To someone with little or no sociological background, the above paragraph has nothing to do with population as a social problem. But if you fit population into Marx s description of the capitalist system, it is more relevant than at first glance. The best way to make this point clear is to provide two hypothetical situations. Family X is a middle class family that is doing well financially and they tend to have more children than if they are not making so much money But as the bourgeoisie gains more and more control, families like X have their income driven down and ultimately have fewer children. Families must have enough money, food, etc. to survive.
If they don t have these goods and they can t control their wages, they must control they must control an aspect of their lives that would allow them to survive, whether or not to have children. Family Z is an extremely wealthy family that more or less monopolizes an aspect of their economy. As the economy progresses, family Z is able to drive down the wages of their workers thereby increasing their profit. Since a family like Z is only a small percent of the population, there is no worry whether or not they have many children. So in our society, according to Marx, we have nothing to worry about. As long as we continue with our economic trend, population will fix itself.
Now if you look at Marx s theory on the whole, it makes a lot of sense. MALTHUS 1766-1834 Malthus was a sociologist that was the author of Population: the first essay. This essay is about the perfection of mankind. Malthus describes the different stages that man has gone through and he provides theory to control population. Malthus was sure that we can control population if we are able to use moral restraint. If we can fight against our natural urges to have children, it will keep population growth in check.
One of the reasons that we have to control our natural urges is that there will not be enough food to support our population. Malthus feels this way because population grows at a geometric rate, while food can only be grown at an arithmetic rate. So we are in effect sealing our own fate by having children. Malthus says that by thinking about all of the hardships that our children will have to face, we will be motivated not to have them. So while Marz s theory more or less happens on it s own, if we are to listen to Malthus some work is to needed by us. WELD Weld is a contemporary Canadian sociologist that deals with population problems from an aspect that can be more easily understood by people of our time.
In one article Confronting the Population Crisis the twenty one most commonly used arguments to confound the issue. In this article, Weld is able to respond to those that don t view population as a social problem. Although I would like to go into each of Weld s responses, this is not a paper on her, so I will only choose a few. Her response to argument 2 is probably the most interesting.
The argument is Technology can make it possible to accommodate an indefinitely expanding population. and Weld s response is a valid one. Weld explains that when Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb about thirty years ago, there were about one billion people living at a level above poverty and that there were about 2. 5 billion people living in poverty.
But now, after some great technological advances there are only 1. 2 billion people that are living above poverty and 4. 1 billion people living in poverty. Weld opens her response to the argument with the following sentence that sums up this issue, Those who have the greatest hopes for technology are those who understand it least. I never really though about that aspect, but Weld really gave me a new perspective on the issue of technology. Argument 6 is another great response by Weld.
The argument is, Those who express concern about global population are racist I think that many people feel this way about efforts to control the world s population. Perhaps people are scared of this issue because that they fear a eugenics campaign. But Weld makes a great point in her response, she says that about 95% of global population growth occurs among non-white people. But Weld says that many people shy away from this issue because they fear being labeled as a racist. She says that those who are population deniers, blame other factors than population for third world misery.
Weld raises many points that I was able to really look at in a few different ways. Weld goes into detail on all twenty-one arguments and explains almost every aspect of population problems in her responses. The article was very helpful for this paper. MEADOWS Meadows is the author of a book called Beyond the Limits, which talks about the future of our planet in respect to such things as pollution, oil production, life expectancy, etc. Meadows provides several scenarios of what can happen to the Earth if the current trends continue, and they are not good. Here is an example of one of Meadows scenario in graph form: In Meadows eyes, we as a planet have some bleak times in front of us if we don t change our ways soon.
ISSUE 1 HOW LONG CAN WE SUPPORT THE PLANET S FOOD NEEDS Ecologists at Cornell University have come up with some very interesting findings on this issue. They say that the Earth s optimum population would be anything less than 2 billion people (200 million in the US). With the projections of the world population breaking 12 billion in 50 years, that is pretty scary. They say that if people cannot control the world s population, it will be done through starvation and disease.
One of the trends that they looked at for this information was the declining productivity of cropland and the availability of clean drinking water. The ecologists say that some of the effects can already be seen in China today. (Pimentel 1) I think that we as a society have gotten to the point where numbers don t scare us any more. The above paragraph said that in 50 years, the world population is going to be over 12 billion people.
Are we really aware of how much this is The United States Census bureau has a population counter that they call the POP Clock, it calculates the world population and gives monthly estimations on them. On April 1, 1999 the world population was 5, 976, 870, 741 (U. S. Census Bureau). So in fifty years, when today s college students are old and gray, the world s population will have doubled.
I don t think that people understand that the Earth is finite. There is only so much land to live on and to farm and there is only so far that you can drill for natural resources before coming up empty. ISSUE 2 HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH POPULATION GROWTH IN THE PRESENT DAY I think that when we look at population today, you have to remember that drastic measures won t work. We should make subtle changes, which don t resemble eugenics campaign that may start to change the momentum of population growth. Here is a list of possible changes in the United States; 1) Take away tax write-offs for having children.
2) Raise life and health insurance rates for people with children. 3) Give tax breaks to people without children. 4) Raise child support for divorced parents It would be great for the United States to slow its population growth but we can do little or nothing about other countries where much of the population growth is going on. So even if a superpower can change their ways, no one can tell poor countries what to do.
ISSUE 3 HOW COME CERTAIN ARES HAVE GREATER POPULATION GROWTH THAN OTHERS DO If you look at the population break down in the world, you will see that there are some areas that grow much faster than others. An interesting aspect to look at is the time estimated for a country s population to double. It will take the United States 116 years to double their population, Japan will take 330 years to double, and the United Kingdom will take 433 years to double. When I saw these numbers, I thought that population wasn t much of a problem. But if you look at country s doubling time, you see a different story. For example, it will take El Salvador only 28 years, Somalia is 22, and Pakistan is 25.
These are poor counties that have population growing faster than the rest of the world. With the population growing as fast as they are, the farmland and clean drinking water are going to become scarce. Plus in countries like those mentioned, children may be seen as a sign of status, and they are definitely cheap labor. Also, families may have many children with the hope that one of the children will make it in the world. I don t really know how to treat the people of other countries. But there must be a tremendous change in the standard of living in these countries and their population growth doesn t slow, migration into countries like the United States will increase.
So we must not sit back and only worry about ourselves, and there must be some change. CONCLUSION The world s population should be viewed as a bigger problem than it is. The grim fact remains that we may already be too late to save a lot of misery to Earth s inhabited. If I had to choose a particular theory that best describes my view, it would be Karl Marx s theory.
I think that money is a very powerful thing and I think that in the end, greed will seal our fate.