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.
In early 2022, over 30 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report on the challenges posed by climate change and four subsequent Assessment Reports later, the word ‘colonialism’ finally entered its official lexicon. The sixth report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ references colonialism, not only as a historical driver of the climate crisis, but also as something that continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of communities to it (). As argues, this comes in the wake of long-standing arguments made by Indigenous groups and others on the frontline of climate change about the centrality of colonialism to comprehending and responding to the crisis. The last decade has also seen a significant increase in scholarly literature that draws explicit links between colonialism and climate change – much of which is referenced in the latest IPCC report. While formal acknowledgement of this relationship is long overdue, in this article we argue for caution and precision in the invocation of colonialism within these debates. Following classic article setting out why ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, we argue relatedly that colonialism needs to be understood as more than a metaphor in climate change debates.
The global fight against the victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth has led to a prolific backlash. The LGBTQ+ “safe schools” movement has gotten violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as a problem by the United Nations (UN). However, this victory has resulted in the greater availability of anti-LGBTQ+ tropes for use as political fodder by bad-faith actors seeking to undermine progress toward the rights of LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, and democratic values, more generally. We are specifically concerned in this chapter with how opportunistic anti-LGBTQ+ state regimes clash with the UN vision for LGBTQ+-inclusive sustainable development, with resulting harm to LGBTQ+ youth. In this first section, we describe the safe schools movement, explain its connection to the UN’s commitment to education justice, and point to how countermovements around the globe endeavor to quash the hard-won achievements of LGBTQ+ rights movements by targeting sexual and gender minority youth. Following the lead of sexual and gender minority youth who have begun to demand safety and dignity around the world, the global safe schools movement is an informal network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active on nearly every continent. It is concerned with the prevalence and effects of bias-based violence and discrimination against primary and secondary school students who do not conform to socially dominant or expected sexuality and gender norms. The transnational movement is united by two shared goals: to document LGBTQ+ youth experiences through research; and to promote affirming school climates through advocacy.
School segregation—the uneven distribution of students across schools, based on their socioeconomic status (SES), sex, race/ethnicity, or other ascribed characteristics—has important implications for educational inequality, social cohesion, and intergenerational mobility (Bonal and Bellei, 2019). While this topic has drawn special attention in the US, due, in part, to the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court case, between-school segregation is a concern to policymakers and researchers worldwide. School segregation by race dominates much of the research on this topic in the US, but studies of school segregation by SES predominate internationally. This chapter summarizes what we know about betweenschool segregation by SES, describing the strongest international evidence we have, drawing attention to the consequences of segregation and the benefits of integration, and concluding with a discussion of solutions. Residential segregation, migration movements, economic inequalities, and even education policies themselves have shaped a growing process of school segregation between the world’s most disadvantaged students and the wealthiest. School composition matters, and it impacts students’ short- and long-term academic and social-emotional outcomes. Student performance is more strongly related to SES than to other school compositional characteristics, such as gender, immigrant status, or race/ethnicity. Indeed, research indicates that disadvantaged students who attend schools with more affluent peers see a range of positive effects, including increased achievement, motivation, and resiliency (Van Ewijk and Sleegers, 2010; Agasisti et al, 2021). A school’s average SES is highly predictive of its academic climate and instructional quality, both factors associated with educational outcomes.