Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Did the population bombers drive China into cultural crisis?

Posted 05 Nov 2015 / 0
2015-11-05aImage courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Los Angeles TimesChina drops its ‘one-child’ policy, now let’s ban the ‘population bomb’

Great op-ed that makes it really clear that impact is a function of not just the number of people on the earth but also the resources those people consume (affluence) and technologies used to produce those resources (technological impact). I do a fun activity in my Ecology for Architects class where I ask students to adopt one of four perspectives on becoming sustainable:

  1. Population bombers;
  2. Neo-luddites;
  3. Deep ecologists; and
  4. Technological optimists.

For whatever reason, students often seem to most intuitively grasp the population control approach to sustainability even though — as this op-ed nicely points out — directly attacking population growth is unlikely to make us sustainable. It is critical that we familiarize students with the science: if we want to maintain civilization as we know it, we need to switch to lower-impact technologies and spread basic affluence (access to food, water, education, and medicine) much more evenly across the globe. When poverty is eliminated, people just naturally tend to produce a sustainable number of offspring.

I am always surprised by the regressive and ignorant attitudes that many students harbor about population. Blaming our sustainability problems on population is the affluent person’s way of ignoring our way of life and its true impact.

A Minor Post, Activism, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Carrying Capacity, Cultural Evolution, Memetic Fitness, MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects, Population Growth, Population Pressure, Prediction, Public Policy, Web

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