Discussion: Population

Take a look at pages 28 and 29. Just by looking at these two pages, toss out three things that you find interesting and why.

The similarities between the four most populous regions interested me because I like to see how all of are really looking for the same things: food, good weather, transportation and communication. It also is a good example of environmental determinism. We *can* live almost everywhere, but we gravitate towards certain areas that make life easier.

The fact that few (Europeans) have moved into the wetlands of Brazil (and other wet areas) because of the poor agriculture makes me wonder what would happen if we figure out a way to easily live without farming.

The distinct lines between highly populated and almost no population at all in parts of Asia and Africa. You can see the mountains, national borders and rivers that underlie the reason for the population levels in those areas. (examples: Nile River, Tibetan Plateau, Himalayas, and the China/Russia border)

Look at figures 2.2.1, 2.2.3, 2.3.2, 2.4.1., 2.4.2, 2.4.3, 2.4.4, and 2.4.5. Make a list of the things that surprise you on each figure and pick an item from your list to toss into this discussion.

In figure 2.4.5 (% of population under the age of 15), The United States is quite a bit darker than the other MDCs, indicating that it isn't quite as far along in the demographic transition as some other countries.

Take a look at this seven-minute video, World Population Growth. What surprised you the most about what you saw in the video?

Even though I've seen the graphs and charts, I was surprised at how little the population really changed between the 1AD and the beginning of the industrial era. I guess this shows that the way you tell a statistic can have a huge effect on how that statistic is perceived.

Regarding the demographic transition: What effect did both the industrial and medical revolutions have on the world's population? What are some of the differences between these two revolutions? What is keeping some countries now in stage 2 from moving to stage 3?

The medical and industrial revolutions cut the CDR through advances in technology and scientific understanding of where disease comes from. The industrial revolution came about through an advancement in the thinking of the current MDCs, where the medical revolution has been given to LDCs by the current MDCs. Since the LDCs have not developed their own solution to their stage one issues (epidemics, famine, etc) they have also not developed the cultural shifts necessary to take full advantage of this change in their fortunes. Only time will tell if having a low CDR will spark a mental shift moving these countries into stage 3 where the CBR declines or if they will keep their original cultural norms and continue to reproduce, elevating the world population by staying in stage 2.

Watch this seven minute video, Fighting Poverty with Education, the story of one man's passion to bring education to one of the poorest countries in South America. Consider what life must be like in an LDC. What routines do you participate in in your daily life that a person your age living in an LDC doesn't participate in?

I work hard: I go to school full time and I have a full time job. But, my working does not determine whether I live or die. My country's government has decided that it will not let its citizens die just because they can't (or wont) work. Most LDCs cannot afford to make such a promise, and people there must work hard or starve. In America we value hard work, and we have a belief that if you work hard then you will be successful, we also have a belief that if you are not successful, then you just aren't working hard enough. This is sad when we apply this ideal to LDCs whose inhabitants work a heck of a lot harder than most of us do, for greater stakes and with less certainty of success.

One (sort of) routine I participate in - I live alone. Most young people my age in a LDC would not be able to afford to live alone, and many would not even consider it. I have been reading about individualism vs collectivism in my psychology class, and I see that most LDCs are collectivist in culture. The idea that someone would even want to live alone is an individualist idea. If I were in an LDC, I would probably be married, have kids and be taking care of the house and working rather than living alone, earning a paycheck that I keep for myself and going to school.

View this short video, It Only Takes A Girl. Give an example of a country anywhere in the world that practices harmful traditions against young women and explain why the practices occur.

The easy answer is India, where they give young girls away as child brides ( http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/child-brides/gorney-text ).

I'm going to go with a tougher point though and use our own country as an example. Through the use of advertising, entertainment, and social norms enforced at schools, young women are taught

  • to value being beautiful over being smart (I saw a billboard promoting reading, and it had a guy holding a book on math, history and geology and a girl (blond, in a pink dress) holding one book on beauty - this is just one example),
  • to value getting a guy over pretty much anything else ( The Bechdel test http://bechdeltest.com/ is a fun place to start, it's a test that few blockbuster movies pass: are there two named females in the movie who talk about something other than a man? ),
  • that females aren't that great at math / science ( http://bitchmagazine.org/post/are-girls-bad-at-math-are-we-still-having-this-discussion ) even though there is no biological basis to that "fact" ( http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/13/girls-are-just-as-good-at-math-study-in-86-countries-suggests-856512/),
  • through toys and video games that are simplistic and teach girls to be mothers, caregivers or fashion models rather than engineers, soldiers, adventurers / explorers, builders or other active "male" roles, and so on. This might not physically harm the young girls in question, and the United States is not the greatest offender, but it is the closest to home. It's easy to point our finger at LDCs and say how horrible they are, but we forget to look at ourselves and realize that we are still holding onto ideals that are harming our society as a whole. Making sure everyone WANTS an education is just as important as making sure everyone has the opportunity.

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