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lecture geog 270 fall 2007 october 5 2007 n.
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Lecture GEOG 270 Fall 2007 October 5, 2007 PowerPoint Presentation
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Lecture GEOG 270 Fall 2007 October 5, 2007

Lecture GEOG 270 Fall 2007 October 5, 2007

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Lecture GEOG 270 Fall 2007 October 5, 2007

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  1. Lecture GEOG 270 Fall 2007 October 5, 2007

  2. GEOG 270Geography of Development and Environmental Change Malthus Grandfather of Overpopulation Theories

  3. Recap Last Lecture • Naming and Framing – the politics of defining the “problem” • Film: Future in the Cradle – the factual and the rhetorical messages

  4. Today: Malthus’ Influence on the Population Question • Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1823) • Anglican “country parson” • Political economist, demographer (?) • Essay on the Principle of Population, (1798)

  5. The Problems as he saw them • Malthus was concerned about declining living conditions. • He blamed this decline on three elements: • the overproduction of young; • the inability of resources to keep up with the rising human population; • and the irresponsibility of the lower classes

  6. Debates of his Time • Does the number of people determine the amount of resources or vice-verse? • Can any number of additional people in a population produce their own subsistence (or equivalent)? • Adam Smith and other economists of the time: population followed increased productivity (law of supply and demand)

  7. Malthus’ Main Premise inEssay on the Principle of Population Unchecked population growth always exceeds the growth of means of subsistence:

  8. Quotes: “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race…” Vice, war and epidemics will probably control population, but “Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”

  9. Population (geometric) Malthusian Catastrophe Food Production (arithmetic) Malthusian Theory in a Nutshell / Food Production Population Time

  10. To Avoid the Catastrophe, Need to Check Population Growth • preventive checks • “moral restraint,” and late marriage • “vice,” such as homosexuality, contraception, adultery, abortion • “positive checks” would supplement them: • wars, • epidemics • or ultimately, if the system broke down, famine.

  11. Malthusian thought • Still influential today. • For instance, it underpins/reinforces “spaceship earth” & “Population Bomb” • Malthusian arguments sometimes used to counter modernization theory. • Clearly hear echoes of the Malthusian argument in contexts other than limits to food production: What other resources are used to predict collapse in similar Malthusian terms?

  12. Example:

  13. Current Debates • Robbins chapter: “Some economists argue that population growth is a positive factor in economic development; some environmentalists claim that environmental destruction is a result of rapid industrialization and capitalist consumption patterns, not population growth…” Sound like debates from Malthus’ own time…

  14. 1994 Conference: Unexamined Assumptions • Pop. Growth contributes to economic decline, poverty, hunger, environmental destruction, political unrest; • Population increase in poor countries is historically due to medical advances, decreased infant mortality, better nutrition, better sanitation • Population stability in 18th century was solely due to high mortality balanced with high fertility rate

  15. Assumptions, cont. • Efforts to control population in poor countries are hampered mostly by religious objections to contraception and to a lack of education among women • The only way to control population in poor countries is through birth control and education programs designed and developed in the West.

  16. Blaming the Victim • Robbins states that this constellation of assumptions is actually part of the ideology of capitalism, which asserts/assumes that population growth is a problem of the periphery. This drives public opinion and policy of gov’ts and international development agencies. • “Blame the victim” – people who are suffering from poverty, hunger, etc., are the cause of their own grief