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Our Human Geography list tackles the big issues, from equality to population growth to sustainability, publishing in cultural and social geography, development geography, political geography, qualitative and quantitative research methods and urban geography.
The list includes internationally renowned names such as Danny Dorling, Loretta Lees and Anne Power. We publish a range of formats including research books that bridge theory and apply it to practice.
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.
Despite a growing consciousness of the social and environmental problems at an international scale, the creation of economic value and short-term profitability tend to remain the central objectives of private and public decision makers. Based on this initial observation, the social cooperative enterprise BASIC (Bureau d’Analyse Sociétale pour une Information Citoyenne) was created in the belief that a lever for change lied in greater awareness and understanding of the link between economic activities and social-environmental issues. BASIC was set up in 2013 as a shared platform to mutualise expertise between academic researchers, civil society organisations and public bodies in order to analyse and question the relevance of current business models, whether at the level of a business sector, a company, a territory or a project, and initiate changes at the level of the societal stakes faced today.
The chapter analyses how BASIC achieves such goals via the generation and dissemination of information, knowledge and tools to understand and measure the impacts of economic activities on society and the planet, so as to stimulate the public debate and foster policy decisions towards an ecological and social transition. BASIC has developed a specific methodological approach in collaboration with academic researchers to analyse value chains, assess their societal impacts and estimate related hidden costs at different scales, from international commodities to local products. So far, the framework has been applied to a number of food value chains (banana, cocoa, tea, rice, shrimps, dairy, beef, fruits and vegetables) as well as textiles (sport brands), publishing and mining products.1
The chapter explores the approach adopted by CORE (renamed the Corporate Justice Coalition in April 2021), the civil society coalition on corporate accountability established in the UK in 1998, with regard to recently introduced and proposed laws which require (or would require) companies to identify, and take steps to manage and mitigate, the human rights risks and impacts in their corporate group and supply chains, and considers the prospects for this emerging trend. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011 introduced the concept of human rights due diligence (HRDD), a process by which businesses can assess and manage their impacts on human rights. Since then, references to HRDD have begun to be included in legislative instruments in Europe, at both EU and domestic level.
The chapter addresses the early evolution of these requirements, from measures intended to improve corporate transparency (the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive and the UK Modern Slavery Act) to laws and legislative proposals which create, or seek to create, specific legal duties for companies with associated civil or criminal sanctions for management failures that give rise to human rights abuses. This latter category of laws includes the ground-breaking 2017 French ‘Devoir de Vigilance’ law. The chapter provides an overview of these instruments and the ways in which CORE is assessing the political and social dynamics behind their development and adoption, including the corporate response. It also considers the prospects for similar legislation in Europe and beyond, including the possibility of the inclusion of an HRDD requirement in a future EU directive.
As the final touches are being put to this book, entire populations are submitted to compulsory confinement and curfew, a situation not experienced in many countries since the Second World War. The centralisation of governmental decisions is reaching new thresholds, together with the rarefaction of public spaces where pluralist views may be formed and expressed on our social, economic and political futures. Are we entering the ‘new normal’ of a digital age fed by GVCs and enforced through state repression? How can value chains be reshaped by social and political forces for a more sustainable ‘world after’?
The research and activist perspectives collected in this book date from the ‘world before’, but they contain signals and analytical insights which can usefully inform such questions. Indeed, the rise of state authoritarianism and the mechanics of inequalities that GVCs have engendered or continue to build upon are becoming increasingly visible, while sustainability discourses are increasingly captured by lead players. While the citadels of political, financial and economic power which govern the GVCs may seem impregnable, a mosaic of bottom-up initiatives are stirring empowerment and emancipation, holding potential to reshape the social, economic and political forms of value chains.
Much has been said on the disruptions that the COVID-19 crisis would induce in our ways of operating in – and thinking about – the world economy. Some argue that the crisis is leading to greater awareness of the unsustainability of global growth, and that there is now an urgent need to revitalise local economies so as to meet the basic needs of their population in more reliable ways.