Pop & res
pop & res
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pop & res
Population & Resources
The ‘carrying capacity’ is the
potential of an area to support life long-
term. The area must be able to
• Food and water
• Space for living and shelter
• Essential resources for life
• Able to absorb waste and pollution
If a population rises above
the ‘carrying capacity’ of
an environment – it will
struggle to survive. There
is much debate about
what the carrying capacity
of Planet Earth is.
If a population rises above the carrying
capacity of its environment, it can cause
the environment to deteriorate so that it
even less able to sustain a population.
Desertification on the margins of the
Sahara due to deforestation, over-
cultivation of the soil and over-grazing of
grasslands means that fewer people can
be fed now in many regions than 30
years ago – the carrying capacity has
How does the concept of the
carrying capacity of the natural
environment relate to a country
and its population?
The world aside, do you think
Singapore is at…
Underground Science City which would house as many as 4,200
scientists and researchers. (JTC Corporation)
The world aside, do you think
Singapore is at…
Why might there be a need to
control population numbers if
population can bring benefits?
Thomas Malthus : Essay on the
Principles of Population 1798
Malthus was the first to notice the
impending issue of there being
more people than could be
supported by the food supply.
He noticed farming improvements
could raise food production by a
certain amount each year – in an
arithmetic rate of increase..1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6…… Whereas population
tends to increase at a ‘geometric
rate’ with each generation…1, 2, 4,
8, 16, 32……. So he concluded
there must come a point when
there are too many people for the
available food supply
Malthus believed that when the
population level rose above the
food supply – then nature would
cause it to decline due to:
Malthus suggested that population growth
should be limited by people marrying later –
and abstaining from sex before and outside
of marriage. (he basically wanted to cut the
birth rate of the poorer classes)
These were very radical things for a vicar to
Neo-Malthusians would say that
the frequent famines in Ethiopia
and Sudan are evidence of
Malthus’ basic theories being right
….too many people out-weighing
the available food resources
….but how come Britain never had
the ‘famine’ that Malthus predicted
– and we now suffer from too
much food with an obesity
Whilst Malthus’ prediction for Britain
were not to come about in his
lifetime, by the 1970s
demographers felt there was no
putting off his predictions any
longer. The Club of Rome was a
gathering of scientists who said in
1972 that unless the population of
the earth was restricted by
population control policies, then
humanity faced a disastrous future
with food shortages a certainty
within 100 years. These theorists
are known as Neo-Malthusians
(‘new Malthusians’ – using his
Their book ‘Limits to Growth’ is the
best selling book on the
environment – ever.
Esther Boserup (1965) / Julian Simons (1981) : The
belief in human ingenuity to come up with solutions at
times of crisis.
These two theorists claim that rising
populations are not a problem. In fact,
Boserup suggested that it was at times
when there were food shortages following
periods of population growth, that people
were forced to come up with better ways of
producing food in order to survive.
Summed up best by the phrase :
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Julian Simons supported this approach and suggested
that governments should NOT try to influence
populations. As resources become scarce, humans
use their brain power to develop new technologies,
substitute materials, or more efficient ways of using
resources – so they don’t run out. As a result, mankind
is better off after periods of resource shortage as we
develop better ways – or ‘innovation’.
When Mao-Zedong, the Chinese leader
was asked in the 1960s how the country
could cope with the increasing number
of mouths to feed, he replied….
“With every stomach….comes a pair
of hands ! “
His priorities for China were:
Defence – building a big army
Industrialisation – to modernise China
He saw ‘more people’ as the best way
to achieve both these.
Population Policies : Managing Population and Resources
Carrying Capacity : The ability of an area to ‘support’ its population
by providing the essentials of life – food, water, living space, waste
disposal. As countries develop they move away from being Self-
Sufficient in food (and possibly water) and resources – and develop
Wealth-Creating Industry (factories, banking or tourism) to be able to
import the food and resources they need. This is why the UK didn’t
have the famines that Malthus predicted in the 1790s.
Overpopulation : When the people in the country would be better off
if there were fewer of them. There may be insufficient food, water,
resources or living space. Policies may aim to encourage people to
emigrate, prevent immigration, and encourage people to have fewer
children. E.g China
Underpopulation : When the people in the country would be better
off if there were more of them. More people to exploit the country’s
resources, be consumers for industry, pay taxes and give
political/military strength e.g Australia, Canada, Brazil.
Optimum Population : Where the population size is ‘just right’ for
the resources available to the country. It’s very difficult to know what
a country’s ‘optimum is. Some people argue that the UK would be
better if it only had 35m people (on environmental grounds) whereas
other suggest we could compete better with Germany and Japan if
we had 80m (on economic grounds)
See BBC report on
Optimum Population Trust
Population Policies : Historical Evidence of when Population gets out of
balance with Resources
Easter Island :
• Isolated island in the Pacific
• Evidence of a thriving culture in the 1600s-1700s
• Population grew, cultivated more land and thrived.
• By 1800 the population had declined considerably and was in a state of
poor diet, poor health and much deprivation.
• It is believed that as the population grew, more land was cleared of
forest for farmland.
• As all the land was used up, the soil was over-used and then exhausted.
• Deforestation caused soil erosion and reduced the food production
• As resources declined, tribal groups went to war with each other for
• The loss of trees meant no more boats could be built to allow people to
escape the islands.
• By the 1800s the population was declining through warfare, inadequate
food, and deteriorating soil conditions. Malthus’s theory exactly.
Population Policies : Modern Evidence of when Population gets out of
balance with Resources
• Isolated island in the Indian ocean
• Population was growing rapidly in the 1950s leading to over-
• The island was rapidly approaching over-population
• The government and religious faiths came together to.,,,
a) Reduce the population growth rate by introducing contraceptives.
The fertility rate fell from 4.2 to 2.8 in a decade as women embraced
the opportunity to limit the number of children they gave birth to
b) Increase the food production of the island by (i) de-rocking the fields
to increase the land that could be cultivated (ii) dual-cropping –
growing bush/tree crops in strips alongside food crops. The taller
trees shade the lower ones and stop the soil drying out.
c) The island moved away from trying to be self-sufficient in food, and
encouraged foreign firms to relocate there – making use of the
island’s well-educated workforce and low tax rates. The money
raised from taxes on the businesses has been used to import food.
• Evaluation : by reducing population growth, increasing food
production, and increasing wealth to import food from abroad,
Mauritius used its creativity and ingenuity to prevent the island
getting out of balance with its resources. Boserup’s theory, with a bit
of Malthus too (the ‘reducing the population’ bit)
Anti-Natalist Policies : Reducing the Birth Rate
Theory : Neo-Malthusians
Belief : Population is growing faster and the world is
running out of finite resources. Unless governments limit
the growth of their populations, the world will face a
crisis of resource-shortage leading to conflict and war
Evidence : Oil wars (Iraq invading Kuwait 1990). USA
invading Iraq (1991 and 2001). Water conflict between
Israel and Palestine. Easter Island – 1800s.
Policy : Reduce Birth Rates by introducing free
contraception, improving education of poor women,
encouraging people to have fewer children
Examples : Mauritius, China.
Use this link for the s-cool
website revision guide on
Use this link for a BBC
report on the one-child
And this one….check the
dates on them both
Pro-Natalist Policies : Increasing the Birth Rate
Theory : Boserup , Mao-Ze-Dung
Belief : Population is a country’s greatest asset. People
can work, are productive, and can be inventive. The
more people you have, the more workers, the greater
the number of consumers for industrial goods, the more
taxes can be paid, the more trade can take place.
Evidence : When countries face starvation – it’s usually
due to civil war or climate change – not too many
people to feed. As the world’s population has grown –
there have been fewer famines – not more. The most
successful economies of the 21st century are the ones
with larger populations (USA, China, Brazil, India, UK,
Policy : Increase Birth Rates by introducing incentives
for women to have more children (paid maternity leave,
free child-care, increased child-allowance for 3rd child).
Or increase immigration by encouraging new settlers.
Examples : Under-populated countries with large land
areas and sparse population – Canada, Australia,
Brazil, New Zealand. Countries in Stage 5 of the DTM
with increasing elderly populations and few young
people – Japan, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany.
French government eyes 'le baby boom' In the latest
in our series about motherhood and the role of the
state in encouraging couples to have more children,
Hugh Schofield in Paris reflects on efforts made by
successive French governments to ensure women
give birth to more and more children.
When people ask why I decided to settle in France six
years ago, one of my answers is that it is easier to bring
up a family here. Because it's true.
The Schofields - the more children you have, the less
income tax you pay
On the purely financial side, there are several ways in
which government policy helps those of us who choose
to breed. The most important of these is a calibrated
income-tax rate which means that the more children you
have, the less you pay.
See the rest of this BBC
report on France’s pro-
And this BBC report on
Japan’s problems of an
…and what the Japanese
women are being told to
do about it!
Pro-Natalist Policies in
Stage 5 countries with
Singapore’s Population Policies
Why has Singapore implemented
different population policies
over the years?