Human population growth is a serious biospheric problem yet is largely overlooked. Because of the neglect of demography, environmental policies — while well-intentioned – are unlikely to succeed.
This book gives a concise review of world fertility rates and population growth, and offers a valuable summary of studies of the impact of over-population on the biosphere. In addition, the book explains key demographic variables to consider when formulating law and government policy relevant to childbearing, and it summarizes findings of social science research – findings that contradict popular assumptions about the impact of government interventions addressing the frequency of childbearing and immigration.
The chapter points out that the disciplines of ecology and sociology both rely on the concept of a system and thus have a basis for collaboration even though the phenomena they study are substantively dissimilar. The character of a system is explained, and the implications of a system are discussed for human societies, for law and government, and for the consequences of government undertakings to alter the incidence of key social activities such as fertility. The chapter proposes that, because childbearing has been found to decrease as population density increases, urban planning may be able to reduce human fertility by promoting high-density housing.
The chapter returns to the absence of human-population size and growth from the paradigm that is currently dominant among environmentalists. This paradigmatic flaw is underscored by a discussion of (1) the melting of polar glaciers and (2) levels of human mortality from outbreaks of disease, both of which are affected by the size and growth of the human population. The chapter recommends that, in attempting to curb population growth, law and government policy should be used cautiously and formulated with inputs from a wide range of disciplines.
The chapter offers insights into the demography of human-population growth in the world as a whole and in nations grouped by income level. Graphs are used to examine trends since the middle of the twentieth century in age-specific fertility rates, mean age of childbearing among women, and total fertility rates. The chapter also discusses childlessness and the importance of the extent of childlessness to population growth.
The chapter discusses some methodological pitfalls in assessments of the effectiveness of law and government policy that address society-important social activities. A summary and analysis of quantitative research indicates that law and policy, including policy promoting family-planning services, have had just a limited impact on the frequency of childbearing. Research also indicates that law and policy have not had a large effect on the incidence of abortion or on the volume of immigration.
The chapter identifies primary and secondary negative environmental impacts of the numerical size and growth of the human population. Findings of scientific studies, especially findings of multivariate analyses of quantitative data, are summarized on the effects that human population size, density, and/or increase have had on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, on human death rates generally, and on the climate of the planet. Through climate change, population size and growth have had secondary effects: Research indicates that climate change has increased wildfires, damaged agriculture, hurt economic activity, intensified hurricanes and typhoons, caused flooding and droughts, and diminished biodiversity.
The chapter points out that the current paradigm of environmentalists ignores the negative impact that human population size has on the biosphere. To counter this lack of concern with population size and growth, the chapter uses graphs to show that the ecological footprint of the global human population has appreciably expanded since the 1960s; that the numerical increase of the global population remains substantial even though the rate of population growth and the total fertility rate have fallen; and that large numbers of human beings are projected to be added each decade to the global population until at least the year 2050.
The city of Bristol, UK, set out to pursue a just transition to climate change in 2020. This paper explores what happened next. We set out to study how just transition is unfolding politically on the ground, focusing on procedural justice. Over the course of a year, we conducted interviews and observations to study decision making at three levels – public sector, private sector and civil society. We found that not only is it difficult to define what just transition means, even for experts, but that the process of deciding how to pursue such a transition is highly exclusionary, especially to women and ethnic minorities. We therefore argue there is an urgency to revise decision-making procedures and ensure that there is ample opportunity to feed into decision-making processes by those who are typically excluded. Inclusive decision making must be embedded into the process of just transition from the beginning and throughout its implementation – it is not a step that can be ‘ticked off’ and then abandoned, but rather an ongoing process that must be consistently returned to. Finally, we conclude that cities have the unique opportunity to pilot bottom-up participatory approaches and to feed into the process of how a just transition might be pursued at the global level – for example, through their participation in the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) processes.
The legacies of eugenics in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their connections to global colonialism remain uncharted. Therefore, it is worth pondering over this relationship, which requires a historical perspective and a repositioning of the recent postcolonial ‘turn’ in CEE to include the history of eugenics. For the most part of the 20th century, eugenics took shape within both colonial and nation-building projects. Eugenic strategies devised to preserve the colonial system outside Europe have always coexisted with programmes designed to improve the well-being of nations within Europe. This convergence between colonial, racial and national dimensions of eugenics requires a critical rethought. While this key line of inquiry has been a major focus in Western Europe and the US, it remains under-theorised in CEE. By highlighting the colonial implications of nation-building in the region, we attempt to destabilise the all-too-pervasive historiographic misconception that CEE nations are largely untouched by the global circulation of eugenics and scientific racism.
In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.