Detroit’s Population Problems

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Wow, so I (and the rest of the country) have had a week to recover from the massive scare that we all got on Sunday night.  New Zealand hung onto a one point lead until the end to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final against France.  The result was greeted mainly with relief, we have seen the French knock New Zealand out of the 1999 and 2007 World Cups already, so we all knew that they had form when it comes to spoiling an All Blacks party!! So well done France and New Zealand for a fantastically gripping final and well done to the organisers for a brilliantly managed tournament.

So, what do I do with my life now?  I suppose the only thing to keep me occupied now is Detroit. Yes, Detroit. Incredibly, the latest US Census shows that in the last ten years, Detroit has lost 25% of its population. This… click here to read whole article and make comments



The oldest society the world has ever known

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The recent print edition of The Economist included an interesting summary of the world’s demographic issues.  It points out that much of the effect of population growth depends on where that growth occurs and on various other factors such as the number of working age people in a particular country.  On the whole the countries which still have fertility rates above replacement level are the countries that are causing only a tiny fraction of world pollution, and about half of the 2.3 billion increase in the world’s population over the next 40 years will in fact be in Africa: does not automatically follow that the more people there are, the worse the damage. In 2007 Americans and Australians emitted almost 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide each. In contrast, more than 60 countries—including the vast majority of African ones—emitted less than 1 tonne per person...Most of the world’s population… click here to read whole article and make comments



Russia and the Belt of the Mother of God

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Today is the last Friday of the Rugby World Cup down here in New Zealand and the weather has turned it on! It is a beautiful spring day, just perfect for the end of year party going on outside my window here at Law School and for the third place final tonight between Wales and Australia.  Hopefully the great weather will continue until Sunday night and we see a great final between New Zealand and France.  (Interestingly, the semi-final and final match ups are all the same this year as they were the last time NZ hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1987.  Let’s hope that the coincidental nature continues until the final on Sunday…)

In non-rugby news (apparently there is some) St Petersburg and Vladimir Putin have welcomed the Belt of the Mother of God, an Orthodox relic that is believed to be the belt of the Virgin Mary.  The relic… click here to read whole article and make comments



How to Feed 7 (Plus) Billion People

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One of the common concerns that is about our expanding world population : is that our planet will not be able to feed this growing population.  (As an aside, here is an interesting and visually appealing video on the continuing rise in the world’s population despite the slowing growth rate):

This is a reasonable concern – according to the UN, there are 1 billion people who are currently malnourished, a growing global population will surely only add to this problem.  What can we do about this?  Well, technology is one touted solution – it worked before with the massive increase in productivity during the green revolution in the years following the Second World War, will GM crops and other technological and scientific aids help us again as our population grows?  Perhaps, but the authors of a recent report in Nature… click here to read whole article and make comments



Odds and Ends

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Hi everyone, a fantastic result last night in the Rugby World Cup (NZ took out Australia 20-6 in the semi-final) so I’ve decided to serve up a bit of a mishmash of issues to celebrate.  

After Shannon’s interesting post last Friday on Jewish community’s celebration at their surge in birth rates, and the front page piece on the religious unrest in Egypt by Anthony Billingsley, I thought that this fact sheet from the BBC is fitting. It gives an overview of the Christian population in the Middle East, providing some interesting information on Christianity’s size and political status in each country.  Christianity was of course born in the Middle East, but according to the BBC, the proportion of Christians in most of the countries in the area is declining, through dropping birth rates, emigration and persecution. 

Secondly, from The Hindu, we hear that the central Union… click here to read whole article and make comments



Jewish people celebrate positive birth rate

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Interestingly, in a world generally trying to drive down population rates, the Jewish community are still celebrating a surge in their birth rate.  Yoram Ettinger, a member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), happily records that on the eve of the 5772nd Jewish New Year, September 2011, the Jewish fertility rate is 2.97 births per woman and trending upward.  His article notes that from 80,400 births in 1995, the number of Jewish births surged by 56% to 125,500 in 2010.

It is not difficult to understand that the reason for this happiness is that the Jewish people wish to secure Jewish demography – something that they have been trying to do for a long time:

From a minority of 8% and 33% - west of the Jordan River - in 1900 and 1947 respectively, the six million Jews in Israel have become a solid majority of 66% in 2011, in the combined area of Judea and Samaria… click here to read whole article and make comments



7 Milestones (One for every billion)

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On a lighter note today, has published a piece on “seven population milestones” to mark “seven billion people” in the world.  This piece included seven interesting snapshots at the (estimated) time that the world welcomed each successive billionth person into the world.  I thought that I’d reproduce the snapshots here and add a couple of my own:

1805 – 1 Billion

“The birth year of the world's billionth baby will never be certain, but it's likely he or she came into the world around 1805. Beethoven was big that year, and already going deaf. Lewis and Clark made it to the Pacific Ocean. Napoleon was on a roll in Europe, 10 years from his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo. With the exception of a few coastal outposts, most of Africa was a complete mystery to Europeans. In China, the Qing Dynasty had just put down the White Lotus… click here to read whole article and make comments



Population Growth Needed in Green Scheme?

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Last week, we talked about the imminent arrival of the seventh billion person on Earth (at one time).  Naturally, when we hear these sorts of numbers, we can get a bit nervous.  How are we going to support all those people?  How will the environment cope?  On the other hand, how are our economies (especially in the West) going to survive without more people?  These competing demands have prompted some original thinking at the Sustainability Policy institute at Curtin University in Australia.  There, PhD Candidate Vanessa Rauland and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Peter Newman have tried to cut through the Gordian knot:

The debate is dominated by two approaches that appear diametrically opposed,” Professor Newman told Curtin News.

“One involves increasing population to stimulate the economy and generate more skilled jobs, while the other advocates decreasing the number of people in order to cope with environmental pressures such… click here to read whole article and make comments



UN Population Fund funding faces axe in US

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Interesting news has come out of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee this week, and it’s not every day that you can say that!  The Republican dominated committee has voted to support a bill that eliminates the funding that was requested by President Obama for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).  The amount that has been cut by the committee is $50million (I assume per annum?) and has only recently been restored by Obama after the Bush administration – typically Republican administrations have withheld funds from the group.  The Committee divided along party lines and voted 23-17 in favour of the cut.

The reasons for the move given by the Committee are two-fold.  First, an economic argument:

"Why, when Americans face a struggling economy, skyrocketing deficits and crushing debt should our taxpayer dollars got to an organization that supports coercive abortion and is flush with cash?" asked Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Seven Billion People

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As I’m sure you are all aware,(and if not, see here) the world is set to welcome its seven billionth person this year. Or perhaps next year. Or perhaps it has already happened. Or maybe not. Anyway, the population is around the seven billion person mark and the comforting thought that the world’s population is around the six billion range has been disturbed. This has produced a fair amount of angst and some debate about how many more people the Earth can support in the future.  Are the population bomb predictions about to (finally) come true? As the Financial Times comments:

“…the central concerns still revolve around the earth’s human “carrying capacity”. How many people can live sustainably on this planet? Can we feed a global population that is growing by 76m per year and will exceed 9bn by 2050, according to median demographic estimates? And will the growing human… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 

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