Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aging Nations

News articles like Philip Bowring’s “Aging Nations”, on the negative effects of decreasing birth rates in Shanghai are meant to be factual and informative. For the most part his article is but some phrases are unclear and are in need of conceptual analysis.
Although most of the article is on the factual side conceptual analysis aids in understanding the phrase “In an era in which one frequently hears dire warnings that overpopulation will one day overwhelm the planet, this [low births rates] may not seem like an insurmountable problem. ” (Bowring, 2009)
There are many ambiguous terms in this sentence, each making the true meaning more unclear. Firstly the word “frequently” means a different amount of time to different people. The author probably intended for it to mean that the general public knows that overpopulation is an issue because it is in the media and is a talked about subject. But it could be taken to mean that you are told it a vast majority of the time and it is found everywhere in conversation.
Dire warnings could be taken to be a range of consequences anywhere from the end of the world to the need to halt population growth or the dwindling amount of resources our planet has left due to overpopulation. I believe Bowring intended for it to imply that overpopulation is a serious problem that is in need of a solution soon, no matter what the consequences of taking no action are.
Overwhelming the plant may mean a variety of things as well and is much like the meaning of dire warning. I took it to imply that the planet is running out of space for so many humans, but it could also mean that overpopulation increases the effects of global warming thus overwhelming the planet and its atmosphere.
So with the various meanings of these three words it makes the whole sentence need conceptual analysis as well. I believe that the implication the author intended was that almost everyone knows that overpopulation is a problem in our world today, but they may not have known that under population or decreasing birth rates is an equally prevailing problem. But if the worst case scenarios of each separate word were used the sentence could be taken to mean that all we hear about in the world today is how overpopulation will cause the end of the world so why are low birth rates a problem. I still believe that Bowring intended for the sentence not to be taken as dramatically as my second example but conceptual analysis was still needed to understand all elements involved.
Bowring, P. (2009, August 7). Aging nations. Retrieved from

Overpopulation: A Persistent Myth Rescheduled Many Times

There are always statements or phrases in literature that lead to misconceptions, confusion and perplexity. Authors often don’t realise the gravity of such implications that can misconstrue the thoughts and intentions of the reader and sometimes bemuse them as a repercussion. While reading articles, blogs, statements and any piece of writing, readers gain the perspective that the author lays out for them, however sometimes, if misled, the reader attains a perspective that the author was not intending on implying. In the article “Overpopulation: A Persistent Myth Rescheduled Many Times” the author conveys many statements where ambiguity may be caused. This post will analyse one statement to shed light on the assumed meaning of the author.

The opinion given by the author in this article is that overpopulation is a myth and there is more then enough room for the entire human population to live on earth, comfortably with all the resources needed. One comment in the article that I found needed to be analysed was “What of famines? True there are shortages in the world here and there. We have plenty of food here in America…”(Charles Pope, 2009). This is a bold statement that could be interpreted in a number of ways. If read incorrectly, the reader would gain from the statement that there are food shortages around the world, but in America, there is plenty of food and we should not be worried. This is the literal meaning of the statement. If we look deeper into the statement we will see that it becomes much more elaborate.

Ending extreme hunger around the world is a very complex subject. Without taking into consideration major factors which affect the ability to grow food environmentally; whether or not people are educated to grow food, and whether or not people have the tools required and mindset needed to work together to harvest food sustainably. We will never come close to finding a solution to the hunger epidemic.

When reading the statement chosen from the article “Overpopulation: A Persistent Myth Rescheduled Many Times” the reader might assume that the person writing the article has not taken into account these important factors. The author states “What of famines?” as if they are not a problem, and “True there are shortages in the world here and there. We have plenty of food here in America”(Charles Pope, 2009), blowing the subject off as if it is not of importance. Rather then assuming the author has not taken into account the factors listed above, if you read further into the article we see it is quite the contrary. What the author is trying to imply is that we have plenty of food here in America; shortage is not a problem. Distributing food equally around the world is our problem, and is one we need to face to have equal opportunities on our globe.

The author is not saying forget about all the starving people around the world. He is simply saying do not worry about having to produce more food, focus on finding a method to distribute food around the world so no one has to suffer from starvation or malnutrition. In conclusion, we find that there are many different viewpoints that can drawn from this statement. By taking the statement out of context or without analysing the statement the reader may not realize the true meaning behind it. To avoid ambiguity, conceptual analysis was needed to clarify the authors point.


C Pope, (2009) Overpopulation: A Persistent Myth Rescheduled Many Times. Archdiocese of Washington. Sept 23, 2009. Accessed 25 Oct 2009.

The Polemics of Carrying Capacity

The ‘what’ of Carrying Capacity? I have never had to use as much as I did to understand what Frank Joseph Smecker was talking about throughout the article. If you are interested read the article I chose and leave a comment whether you are able to understand it or not. His advance vocabulary he uses may be good for the common university professor to understand but not the common student. Conceptual Analysis is highly needed throughout the article because of the high level of vocabulary that some (including myself) find too advanced to understand his main points completely. Conceptual analysis is the understanding of a phrase or term that one may misunderstand.

The quote “With regard to a contemporary program, for instance (neo)-Malthusian measures, to solve the “population problem,” such propositional theory put into wholesale praxis would essentially expand and accelerate the genocidal effects of the civilizing process” (Smecker, 2009) can be interpreted in many different ways because of the language that may be misunderstood. The author is explaining that the Malthusian approach to reducing the overpopulation problem is to increase the rate of people dying. He is also stating that the ideas that Malthus came up with were key to a successful world even though his beliefs may be morally wrong. Some ambiguity that one might come across is the understanding of the wholesale praxis. He believed that inequality was natural and good, helping solve the issues with overpopulation.

Malthus also put down early marriages and soup kitchens while promoting smallpox, child murder, and slavery. It took me a couple times of reading that sentence over to understand what Malthus was trying to say. He is saying that the promotion of negative problems such as smallpox should be kept while life sustaining charities such as soup kitchens should be reduced. The word denounced means to negatively talk about. That word alone can cause some ambiguity about what the author is trying to say because it is not a word that is easily understood without looking it up with a dictionary. Some may disagree with his statement but in his world the key to a sustainable world is to basically try and not fix issues that cannot easily be changed.

In conclusion, Smecker’s article is in need of some more simple vocabulary to get his points across more quickly. Also, it is to avoid people being turned off by his article because it is too difficult to understand him.


Smecker, Frank. Accessed October 28, 2009

Another Look at Infinite Growth

Issues surrounding the environment are generally very complex, and are often thoroughly debated. Overpopulation is a very broad issue that has been covered by many people in different subjects of study. When subjects are so broad and complex, claims can be taken out of context or misunderstood. Jeff Abell, the author of “Don’t eat up farmland with solar panels” argues that “it makes absolutely zero sense to allow anymore development of any more land to accommodate human overpopulation”(Abell 2009). Conceptual analysis is needed to evaluate these complexities, to avoid the reader misunderstanding the author’s claims. This approach is used to separate select words or phrases and analyze them to acquire a better understanding of what the author is writing. Throughout his article, Abell uses phrases and terms, which have ambiguity and could be misunderstood by the reader.

As Abell writes he refers to an “Infinite growth industry” when he makes the claim “We’re making just another infinite growth industry for the sake of money rather than the sake of sustainability.” (Abell 2009) . These few words could be misunderstood and taken out of context. Readers may think that this phrase is describing the solar panel industry. They may think that the author is claiming that the solar industry is a forever growing industry that is more concentrated on the money rather than the efficiencies. This interpretation of the phrase is not farfetched either, because solar panels are becoming very popular as people are trying to conserve resources. The author however links infinite growth to the forever growing population. What he means is that the industry surrounding human population is more concentrated on the profit rather than trying to save resources.

Ambiguity can also be seen in the phrase “Leave the land that barely keeps us alive alone, and keep the greed contained within our concrete wasteland” (Abell 2009). There could be a misunderstanding with what Abell means by the land that barely keeps us alive. Readers may think that he is talking about any land in general: the problem with this explanation is that we get the majority of our resources from the land, and it helps keep us alive. The other possible explanation to the sentence is that Abell is talking about infertile land that cannot be farmed because it does not have the necessary nutrients; in this case it would be an ideal location to put a solar farm, because the land is otherwise useless. I believe that the author was trying to use bold words to push his claim that we should not accommodate overpopulation and keep the solar panels on roofs, rather than developing natural land to hold these farms. The only problem readers could get lost in the translation.

Conceptual analysis is a good way of achieving a better understanding of what the author is arguing. By isolating and rereading the reader can better decipher what the author is writing. With subjects as open ended as overpopulation, conceptual analysis is needed to fully understand the argument.

Abell, J. (2009, October 18). Don't eat up farmland with solar panels. Toronto Star, Retrieved from

Blog #5

Clear as Mud.

When writing an article or a blog post, the intent in most cases is to share information with others through one’s work, why then do some authors choose to make this so difficult? In the blog post, “Re: Overpopulation Solutions” the author, Graciela uses some words and concepts that are not properly explained in her post. One of such phrases is: “We found a way around nature's model for the betterment of our own species but the consequences are that we don't have enough resources readily available for our successful species.”(Graciela, 2009), this sentence is not fully clear and understandable; there are many different ways it could be interpreted and therefore conceptual analysis is necessary.

Possibly, it may just mean that humans are overcoming the laws of nature in order to have benefits for our own species and unfortunately we do not have enough resources to sustain this newly large species. The author uses “nature’s model” and this can be interpreted as a natural standard. If Graciela is referring to the laws of nature she may be trying to communicate that humans are not following these “laws” in order to have benefits of some kind to our species. She also mentions “consequences” that could result from defying nature to benefit our species in some way; she may be trying to claim that we are depleting our resources. Although it is not obvious what Graciela is trying to communicate, it is possible that this analysis is correct.

It could imply that we, humans, are not following the natural path of most species and the consequences of trying to become successful are that we will run out of food and water. She does not fully explain the extent of the consequences when she says that resources will not be readily available for our successful species. The analysis above may be more extreme than the author intended but it is still a possible interpretation.

Another interpretation, although not as likely, is that Graciela and her co-workers are performing unnatural experiments that are intended to benefit the human species, but the funds to perform such experiments have been revoked because of uncertainty with ethics and such. This version may be a little less likely than the other explanations but is still a possible meaning of Graciela’s sentence. The author is not thorough in writing her blog in a way that she does not properly explain what her intentions are for each sentence. When phrases are not explained in Graciela’s posts, the readers may misunderstand them and that is unfortunate for the author.

In conclusion, conceptual analysis is needed in the blog post, “Re: Overpopulation Solutions” because the author’s claim is easily misinterpreted. The use of the words: “We,” “Nature’s Model” and “Consequences” make the intention of Graciela’s sentence ambiguous and difficult to interpret. The most likely interpretation is that humans are overcoming the laws of nature for their own benefit and the consequence is that there are not enough resources to sustain such a large population.


Graciela. “Re: Overpopulation Solutions.” Treehugger and Green Planet. Page 3, Oct. 14, 2009. Accessed: Oct. 26, 2009.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blog #4:China Sticking With One-Child Policy

This article demonstrates the use of the precautionary principal within the government of China. The topic considers the enforcement of the ‘One Child Policy’ to China’s population. The following blog post will explain how the precautionary principal was used, and critique the way it was put into effect.

Studies have shown that that the population of China was growing by up to 17 million people a year. To ensure stable and balanced population growth the ‘one-child-per-family’ plan has been put into action. “Given such a large population base, there would be major fluctuations in population growth if we abandoned the one-child rule now…it would cause serious problems and add extra pressure on social and economic development.” (Zhang Weiqing, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission 2008) It is not certain that population growth is the direct cause of pressures on social and economic development however the one-child-per family policy has been in effect for the last three decades to assure control over unwanted volatility to the birthrate.

The policy mentioned above will in fact prevent an increase in the birthrate of China, however there are negative consequences to the precautionary measure. The policy results in an excess of boys. Most families are keen on having a boy to carry on the family name, and to aid in financial support. As a result, the one-child-per-family policy has been linked to female infanticide, forced abortions, and selective abortion of female fetuses. Not only are these practices un-safe, they also demonstrate great gender inequality in the population of China. If there is not a mutual respect and desire for both male and female children, China will have an unstable population in the future, and male chauvinist population in the present.

In conclusion, the one-child-per-family policy will not only result in the perilous medical procedures to women and children, but also to the lack of gender equality in the population of China. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure equality and safety to the nation; therefore the precautionary principal should be kept but re-examined to better society as a whole.


(2009) China Sticking With One-Child Policy, Jim Yardley. The New York Times, October 19th, 2009.

Toilets Help Reduce Overpopulation

In some third world countries, each person is limited to as little as 13 liters of water per day. Here in Canada, every time we use the toilet here, we flush 13 liters of water in one sitting! Imagine limiting yourself to going to the washroom once per day as well as not drink any water or wash your hands for the rest of the day. The article Toilets Help Stop Overpopulation uses the precautionary principle by stating how an issue such as overpopulation can be reduced by simply adding more accessible toilets in schools in developing countries. The implementation of these toilets is perceived to be harmless thus is a fine example of precautionary thinking. In the targeted country that Adam Shake, the author, concentrated his research on, Kenya, men and women had to share the washroom. Women were being harassed by men because of their menstrual period and defecation and they were likely to drop out of school. Statistics show that women that drop out of school are twice as likely to have children compared to women enrolled in school.
The increase in these sanitary areas will definitely help keep women enrolled in school which helps contribute to their self esteem and their ability to care for themselves. Now in contrast to what I believe some may say that the increase of these hygienic areas will cost too much and maybe be unrealistic because toilets cannot just be placed anywhere. Sewers must be in place, running water and proper resources must be available. I am going to have to agree that this strategy may be a little bit too ambitious unless these developing countries begin to start improve their way of life. In conclusion, the addition of toilets is a good starting point for developing countries to reduce their population rates because out of the whole world it is estimated that at least 90% of the world’s population growth will be in developing countries.


Shake, Adam, Accessed October 20, 2009

Limits Limits Limits

Overpopulation is a major problem facing the world. The author Frosty Wooldridge claims that as a result of overpopulation there has been a reduction of natural resources and increased pollution of water supplies in the United States. In the article “Sometimes it smells like a barn coming out of the faucet: overpopulation in America” Wooldridge argues that if limits are not put on immigration rates, the lack of resources and water pollution will only get worse.

According to the precautionary principle, the lack of scientific proof should not be a reason to delay taking action. Wooldridge uses the precautionary principle, and urges that the government “must enact a ‘U.S. Sustainable Immigration Policy’ of less than 100,000 annually.” (Wooldridge 2009) He argues that if we don’t take action now, overpopulation will grow “worse as we add 3.4 million people to the U.S. annually, predominantly by immigration.” (Wooldridge 2009) He claims that the extra population increases waste that could pollute our waters, and our resources are being used at a faster rate.

The argument could be made that instead of limiting immigration we should adopt new water filtration methods to ensure that our water is clean. This method would require an unrealistic about of money to introduce nationwide. Others may say that those immigrants are escaping harsh lives, and they deserve to have equal life quality. We will not be able to offer them a “new life” if we have polluted waters, excess waste, and minute amounts of resources. North America will become just as bad as the nation they are escaping.

There is no scientific evidence to prove that overpopulation causes these negative effects, but it can be seen more and more as the years pass and our population grows. This evidence is reason enough to take action before it is too late.


Wooldridge, F (2009, September 21). Sometimes it smells like a barn coming out of the faucet: overpopulation in America. Retrieved from

Population Growth Driving Climate Change and Poverty

In David’s article Population growth driving climate change, poverty: experts, wingspread precautionary principle is used. He believes that the population of the earth will grow to an unstable level and birth rates need to be lowed through voluntary family planning and contraceptives. Meaning that, threats of overpopulation are present so we need to take action even if we are unsure of how dire the consequences of taking action or not may be. I agree with his reasoning, and unlike some proposed solutions to overpopulation such as the one child policy in China David’s proposition is less drastic. He states that “Ninety-eight percent of the expected population growth will occur in developing countries, especially in Africa, where numbers are set to double to almost two billion by 2050.” (David 2009) I believe that informing the public of their options, especially in the previously mentioned countries will be an effective way to significantly lower the world’s birth rate because some woman have children because they have no other options available. Critiques may say that family planning and contraceptives will not help people in developing countries because it is an economic necessity to have a large number of children. But without restricting the number of children people can have there is little that can be done other than inform them of their options. So other than financially there can be no harm done by David’s proposition making it an acceptable solution. The article is explicit in its use of the precautionary principle by stating that “Unless birth rates are lowered sharply through voluntary family-planning programmes and easy access to contraceptives, the tally of humans on Earth could swell to an unsustainable 11 billion by 2050, they warned.” (David 2009) I agree that something needs to be done soon to cease overpopulation and I believe that David’s solution would be a logical start.
"Population Growth Driving Climate Change, Poverty: Experts." New Heaven New Earth 21 Sep 2009: n. pag. Web. 19 Oct 2009. .

Blog #4

Will it be Necessary to Get Our Resources from Space?

The answer, as said by some scientists, is yes, “In future, there would probably be need to search for resources outside the planet.” According to the article, “RATIONAL USE OF SPACE RESOURCES TO PROTECT EARTH'S BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY” from the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, it states that if action is not taken to prevent further human overpopulation the diversity of Earth will suffer irreversible damage. This therefore is an example of explicit precautionary thinking.

Although some may argue about its effects or even its existence, I believe that the United Nations is justified in saying that irreversible damage will result from our lack of action against overpopulation. The article describes the possible harm that could arise from overpopulation as irreversible damage by the loss of biodiversity and resources; I agree that these consequences are very plausible. It is possible that these consequences can be avoided in other ways however, by using the precautionary principle now and preventing overpopulation, these consequences may be avoided all together.

The precautionary thinking in this case is used to promote action against overpopulation because the consequences are severe and irreversible. Since the article contains the fundamental properties of an argument that uses precaution in an effort to avoid future harm, the article therefore uses the precautionary principle in an effective way.

In Conclusion, the Precautionary Principle is an effective way to approach the issue of overpopulation in this case. The effects of overpopulation are not entirely known but the loss of biodiversity is expected and that is an example of severe, irreversible damage. By taking action now, as suggested in the article, the possibility of harm to our planet and our own species may be avoidable. With this in mind, precautionary thinking is an effective approach in this case.


Author, Unknown. “RATIONAL USE OF SPACE RESOURCES TO PROTECT EARTH'S BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.” The Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. UNISPACE III, Space Vol. 6. July 21, 1999.
Accessed, Oct.-19-09.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

World Population Growing by over 2,300,000,000 by 2050.

World population is now reaching epic proportions. This July, the world population reached 6,800,000,000. The United Nations World Population Prospect states that by 2050 the world population will surpass 9,000,000,000 inhabitants all of whom will have rejected positive population growth in favor of below-replacement fertility rates.

The growing population will mainly affect developing countries, where 82% of the 6,800,000,000 people reside. Food has a direct correlation to population growth and where there is a multitude of people, a copious amount of food is needed. Where there is poverty, there is a lack of food, and where there is a lack of food for a growing population, there will be famine and war. The “world population will grow by some 2,300,000,000 between now and 2050…” according to the UN. At this growth rate, which is roughly equal to the combined current population of both China and India the situation will call to be one of the most pressing environmental issues in the world since 1970.

“We need to achieve a sizable reduction in high population growth rates, especially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America “ says Paul Ehrlich, author of best seller The Population Bomb. “The battle to feed humanity is over, and hundreds of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs undertaken upon now…” he says. Ehrlich models the gloomy political economist Thomas Malthus whose belief is that the race between population growth and human survival is never ending.

As it may, population is highly dependent on fertility rate. The UN’s recent study shows that if fertility rates fall from 2.56 children per woman, to 2.02 children per woman, the world population will fall to 9,000,000,000, however if this rate is only one half above this current figure, the world population will exceed the predicted number by over one billion inhabitants by 2050. “If we can control the fertility rate, the population would remain stable…” states Ehrlich. “This average number is what we need to focus on.”

If there is any reason to believe that the population will ever decline, the time is now. Fertility rates are already underway mostly in developed nations. These developed nations will need to accept a large number of immigrants into their countries, and developing countries will need to model these developed nations; use tangible tactics to achieve sustainability in their own communities and stabilize their fertility rates as a result.

It seems as though we are lucky as the UN predicts the fertility rate will actually decline after 2050. Even so, it might take years afterwards before the global population begins to diminish.

THE WORLD TODAY; James W. Thomson, June 2009, Accessed October 11, 2009:

World population, world health and security: 20th century trends

Overpopulation is a growing problem that has come to the attention of the media and government in recent years. This seems like a true statement, but in fact overpopulation has been a pressing issue throughout history. In A. Bashford’s report entitled “World population, world health and security: 20th century trends” from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health the author uses population statistics from the last century to support his claim that overpopulation, and its connection to security, resource management and world health has been a problem for many years that needs to be properly addressed in modern politics.

The author’s states that in 1928 “The common argument that linked population to security and international relations was that nations would become, simply, too crowded, and that standards of living would drop in a way that created unstable social environments.”(Bashford, 2008) Throughout the first and second world wars overpopulation was an economic security problem and less of a health one. People of that time believed that more people increased the chance of wars and communism. This concerns Bashford and his belief that world health is of the utmost importance instead of world security.

After the wars the concentrated efforts of the world leaders tended towards the fear of our planet’s limited resources and space. “Rather like the current urgency of climate change debate, earlier generations discussed world overpopulation in catastrophic terms: not just war or peace, but incapacity of the planet to sustain the species.” (Bashford, 2008) People were finally starting to realize the effects of overpopulation on the planet as a whole instead of just security to the human race. This was a turning point for the subject but work still needed to be done to reverse and stop the effects of overpopulation.

The view of overpopulation as a cause to dwindling resources stayed present but solutions began to be proposed. “And in 1968 the World Health Assembly endorsed family planning as a basic component of primary health care” (Bashford, 2008) This was implemented when birth control was a new product and awareness around the subject was on the rise. Thus by the 1970’s the security and resource management concerns of overpopulation had changed to a woman’s rights movement that advocated informing the public to keep them and their world secure. This was the first time when serious action had been taken. By the late 1960’s: “It was a standard argument to link developments in public health and infectious disease control to increasing rates of population growth for the world as a whole.” (Bashford, 2008) Even now the effect of this statement can be seen with the H1N1 flu.

So the questions that begs so be asked is if for decades the effects and trends of overpopulation have been studied and analysed why has so little been done to change it? Maybe the largest problem with today’s society is not the fact that we are overpopulated but the lack of awareness and action for solution to this problem.

Bashford, A. (2008). World population, world health and security: 20th century trends. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health , 62(3), Retrieved from doi: 10.1136/jech.2006.055608

Blog 3

Trading Children; a decent proposal?

For decades overpopulation has been an issue, similarly under population in certain areas can be just as detrimental. It is easy to see the problems that arise from overpopulation if you look at the situation in China, the overcrowding is so intense that a “One-child policy” (Greenhalgh, 2003) was put in place. Under population becomes a problem when cultures have low fertility rates and have “the need to be numerous enough to support an endangered cultural identity.”(De La Croix and Gosseries, 2009). In many areas, if it is not cultural identity, it’s a pension plan or the health care system that is at risk. The solution to both problems of over and under population is simple; child trade.

Although this method of population control may seem crude, in actual fact it could quite possibly become the standard procedure for managing population issues according to David De La Croix and Axel Gosseries co-authors of “Population Policy through Tradable Procreation Entitlements.”(2009). First of all, let it be made clear that this article is not promoting child trafficking or unlawful adoptions, simply the revolutionary idea to manage population size by coupons. Yes, coupons also referred to as “procreation entitlements” that share the same function as any ticket or coupon and would be given the value of a percentage of a child. Procreation entitlements can cause increase, decrease, or just maintain a population size, and by doing so becomes a very effective way of managing any population.

How Procreation Entitlements work:

Procreation Entitlements would be used to manage population size by creating a quota for the production of children. Since these entitlements are only worth a fraction of a child the owner would therefore need to collect a number of these in order to be permitted to have one. The study proposes that each mature female would be given one certificate and must inherit or buy the remaining entitlements until a child can be obtained.

“The unit of these certificates might be the “deci-child,” and accumulation of ten of these units by purchase, inheritance, or gift would permit a woman in maturity to have one legal child.”(De La Croix et. al., 2009)

Although this system seems complicated and difficult it will not only be beneficial in controlling population size it will also ensure that every child is wanted and taken care of. De La Croix and Gosseries determine their numbers by using equations that take into account the fertility rates, education, wealth, and the target population of the population in their interest.

Quotas provide optimal population size:

The benefits of quotas are all around us, milk production, fishing, and hunting are all maintained by quotas; it is not unreasonable to believe that our own population can also benefit from it. If all populations can be controlled by procreation entitlements then the problem of over and under population can be easily solved. A tradable procreation policy is our answer to the world’s population problem.

De La Croix, David. Gosseries, Axel. “Population Policy through Tradable Procreation Entitlements.” Inernational Economic Review Vol. 50, No. 2, May 2009. Accessed Oct. 8, 2009

Greenhalgh, S., “Science, Modernity, and the Making of China’s One-child Policy,” Population
and Development Review 29 (2003), 163–96.

Is Family Planning the Key for proper Population Sustainability and Environmental Preservation?

Malcolm Potts says the need for family planning is the key for the control of our population leading to the conservation of the world. Currently there are about 7 billion humans living on this earth. Ideally, with that many people and the amount of resources we consume, we would need 1.3 earths to support us comfortably. By year 2035 it is estimated that we will need two earths to sustain adequately the amount of population growth. Also by 2050 it is estimated that the population will rise to an astounding 9.075 billion people, an increase of roughly 2 billion people from the present time (Potts, 2007).

A solution to the problem, The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), at Cairo recommended that governments ‘‘meet the family-planning needs of the populations as soon as possible and should, in all cases by the year 2015, seek to provide universal access to a full range of safe and reliable family-planning methods.’’ . Funding for the program was supposed to be around 5.2 billion dollars however around 500 million or less was made available. This program was designed for developing countries which it is estimated that 99% of the population growth seen between 2005 and 2050 will be concentrated in developing countries, and 90% will be in the least developed. These underdeveloped countries consume an unbalanced amount of the world’s resources as well as produce more greenhouse gases.

The poorest of countries have no access to medical services, leading to no or very little access to contraceptives. Also, some religions restrict the use of contraceptives in developing and developed countries.
Let us compare India and Canada. The population of India is approximately 1.147 billion people and the land area 3.28 million square kilometers (Ads by Google) That results in 323 people per square kilometer. Now Canada consists of about 33.2 million people and 9 984 670 square kilometres which results in 3.32 people per square kilometer (Unknown, 2009). Therefore Canada is approximately one tenth less dense than India. India is also considered a developing country and one of the leading pollution producing countries in the world. So Can we afford 90% of the world’s future population growth go to a country that already is overcrowded and limited on their resources? What about the environment? The more people the more wastes produced.

Some of the most prestigious scientific academies such as the American Society of Sciences state that humanities ability to deal successfully with its social, economic, and environmental problem will require the achievement a zero population growth with the lifetime of a generation. A crisis point is upon us with respects to population, environment, and development (Potts, 2007)


Unknown, Significant Canadian Facts, Accessed Oct. 13th/09\ Accessed Oct. 13th/09

(Potts, Malcolm) (2007) Accessed Oct.13/09

Save the World: Don’t Have Children

Not only are children a huge responsibility, but they contribute to a huge carbon legacy on the planet. A study conducted by Oregon State University, entitled Reproduction and Carbon Legacies of Individuals, tested the effect that reproduction has on the environment.

No matter how much you try to change your lifestyle to be more environmentally conscious, having children hinders this goal. You can drive hybrids, change all your light bulbs, and all windows, but according to the study, you would only save 486 tons of CO2 emission in a life time. However as soon as an average woman gives birth to two children her carbon emissions hit 40 times what she usually would create (18,882 ton over her life time). By replacing light bulbs you save 36 tons of emission, increasing fuel economy saves 148, and if you choose to save by only having one child instead of two you can save up to 9,441 tons. Even though the small saving doesn’t seem like much, it adds up on a large scale. True environmentalist would rethink the amount of children they wish to conceive.

These statistics also depend on where you live, “the average emissions added by having a single child range from 56 t (Bangladesh) to 9441 t (United States)” (Murtaugh 2009). The reason for this large statistical gap is because of the difference in quality of life, day to day activity and even the fact that everything in North America is extremely spaced out. In Europe you can drive for two hours and be in a different country, while in North America it takes two hours just to get to the next city. Day to day life is also extremely different around the world “the constant-emission scenario, an extra child born to a woman in the United States ultimately increases her carbon legacy by an amount (9441 metric tons) that is nearly seven times the analogous quantity for a woman in China (1384 tons), but because of China’s enormous population size, its total carbon emissions currently exceed those of the United States” (Murtaugh 2009); People in North America rely on many things that people elsewhere would never think was a necessity. North Americans drive everywhere because everything is so spaced out, in China an entire family will pile onto a small bike to get from place to place, image the emissions they are saving over time. Also the things we take for granted everyday like air conditioning and indoor plumbing adds to our high CO2 emission production.

According to the study a parent is also responsible for their offspring’s and that of the further generations’ emissions. “A mother and father are each responsible for one half of the emissions of their offspring and ¼ of the emissions of their grandchildren” (Murtaugh 2009). No matter how hard you try you are always responsible for your children’s negative effects on the world.

As much as these facts deter you from wanting to have children, you are going to have a family or you already do. These are the facts of life, and the consequences that come with it. Do what you can to save, because even though it seems small it’s a big help in the long run. If you are expecting, keep in mind how your life choices affect the world and the place we all call home.


Murtaugh, P. A. (2009). Reproduction and the Carbon Legacies of Individuals. Global Environmental Change, 19(1), Retrieved from

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Global Over-population a Myth- New Report

Primary Journal Article:

Secondary Journal Article:

A study on Global Overpopulation was conducted July 11, 2007. The results showed that there is no causative link between population density and poverty. Listed above are links to both primary and secondary articles of this study. This post will concentrate on comparing and contrasting the primary and secondary article in regards to content/claims, structure, and style/language. It will also focus on examining the limitations of each topic mentioned in both pieces of work.

Content/Claims Made:

To begin, if you look at the physical amount of pages in both sources, the primary article is much longer than the secondary article. I was expecting this, as the secondary article is a summary of the important information present in the primary article. The secondary article is short and only touches on the most critical points of the topic. It starts off with a very brief introduction stating the main idea of the article: “ There is no causative link between population density and poverty.” (Global Population a Myth-New report 2009). Because this introduction is so clear and to the point, the reader will immediately know what this article is about. If we now look at the primary article we will see that there is a drastic change. Instead of a concise statement, the secondary source has one and a half pages introducing the topic to the reader, and educating them about the topic as well. This introduction would be helpful to get a better understanding of the roots of the topic ‘overpopulation’ and gives a more detailed description of what the article is about. The primary article states in the introduction: The quest to “stabilise human population” (or to “stabilise world population”, was formally launched on the global stage in 1994 by the United Nations at its Cairo Conference on Population and Development.” (Too Many People? 2007) The primary article gives a background of the issue and makes the topic more clear for the reader, where as the secondary article states: “the UN Population Fund’s believes that we must stabilise and decrease world population in order to save the planet and promote economic growth.” (Global Overpopulation a Myth- New Report, 2009). The secondary source gives the same information, however it is much more vague.

As we read further through the articles a number of claims are made. In the primary article the claims are backed with data, charts, calculations and graphs, whereas in the secondary article the claims are made with no evidence to support them.

Taken from secondary article: “Over the last century, global life expectancy has increased from 30 years to over 60 years, maize, rice and wheat have become far more abundant and other natural resources have become more easily available.” (Global Overpopulation a Myth- New Report, 2009). There is no evidence cited that supports this claim and therefore the reader is expected to trust that the author is making a true statement. If we look at the primary article, we note that every statement claimed has some form of evidence to prove it to be true. “There was no discernable international relationship between overall national population density and a country’s per capita GDP in the year 2003” (Too Many People?, 2007). Above this statement is a graph containing the information needed to come to this conclusion and displaying this result.

After taking a good look at both articles, it is clear that the primary article make more valid and sound claims, whereas the secondary article does not contain data, graphs, calculations and actual statistical figures to help demonstrate its findings. It must be noted though, that the secondary article does provide a link directly to the primary source, therefore both articles can be treated as creditable.


Structure is always a key component in article writing. The way you present your information will directly affect how the reader understands your topic and findings. If you look at the secondary source you will see that the article is very short, and broken up into four small paragraphs; an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Moving to the primary source we note that there is Background Information, Data collected, Results and Findings, Conclusion, and Key terms. The primary article is broken into a variation of sections, which break up the article and organize it for the reader. We see that one topic flows nicely into the data presented, which emphasizes the excellent job the primary article does in arranging its ideas and findings. The secondary does not have this organization, however there is less material presented to the reader that is easier to process and gets to the basis faster.

Writing Style/Language

There is an explicit difference as to the language and words used in secondary and primary sources. The sources are directed to difference target demographics therefore the language used varies from article to article. Secondary articles are intended for the general public, assuming that not all people have a scientific background, or great understanding for the topic presented, where as the primary article is primarily intended for other scientists. This is why primary articles have much more complex terminology, such as scientific terms such as “fertility rate”, and secondary articles have simple more simple ways of explaining things such as “the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime”.

In the primary article there are countless amounts of information, data, facts and results presented to the reader. This information is confusing and hard to grasp for an audience that does not have a strong grounding on the topic. “According to the World Bank’s figures, the adult literacy rate in 2006 was almost 15 percentage points higher in Malawi than Morocco (54 per cent vs. 40 per cent) – but the fertility level in Malawi was also over twice as high in 2005 (5.8 births vs. 2.4 births).” (Too Many People?. 2009); this information might be important to someone examining literacy rates, however for the general public this would be hard and unnecessary to understand. Evidence and scientific terminology is crucial in both primary and secondary articles to validate claims, however the extent to which they are needed vary from one source to the other.


The primary article states: “The idea that global population levels are too high and therefore must be stabilized has been embraces by policymakers and opinion formers from all over the world from the UN and Al Gore but there is no evidence to support this” (Too Many People, 2007). In both articles this idea that overpopulation is not a crisis is conveyed. The way in which each source presents its information differs from one another and each article has its advantages and disadvantages. We found that primary sources are more in-depth with the subject matter, including lots of data, graphs, calculations and terminology, which is directed to a more specific audience (science-based backgrounds). The secondary article was short, concise and used wording that was easier for the general public even though it lacked credibility due to limited citation and data. Both articles conveyed the same message and, if used in the proper way by the proper audience, were both well written.


Cudjoe, F. “Global Over-population a Myth- New Report.” International Policy Network. 2009. (October 8th 2009)

Eberstadt, N. “Too Many People?” Sustainable Development Network. (July 11, 2007) 1-21.

The article “Having Children Brings High Carbon Impact” by Kate Galbraith gains its information from the study “Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals” by Paul A. Murtaugh and Michael G. Schlax. The secondary article does not go into as much detail, or quote enough of the primary to be as credible and makes conclusions that differ from the journal.
Galbraith’s article has many similarities with the original source, but as expected with a secondary article does not go into nearly as much detail as the primary article. The article is supported with quotes of findings from the study, thus making it a reliable source to receive the information without have to read the whole study. The article was originally published in the Globe and Mail, so being a newspaper article it was also supported with a quote from Paul Murtaugh one of the authors of the study. This gives the reader his personal opinion on the value of his work making the study seem more worthwhile. As a result the information seems to be more believable as the source is reliable. So compared to many secondary sources this article backs up the claim, but in order to truly convey her point more quotes should have been added.
A major difference between the article and study is that the article does not go into details of the methods used to acquire the data. The study uses genetic units, which represent the amount of relatedness to the original ancestor and their descendants. They then compared many countries and used their average fertility rates to calculate the amount of carbon emissions that is being added to the atmosphere per child per generation. The article did not discuss the effects of the study in any other country other than the United States. This gives it a biased opinion and makes the study appear to have done less research and been narrow minded in the investigation. But after reading the study it is known that 11 different countries were compared.
At the beginning of the article it states that “The study found that having a child has an impact that far outweighs that of other energy-saving behaviours.”(Galbraith 2009) This gives the impression that energy saving behaviours are insignificant compared to the cost of having a child. But the study clearly refutes this claim “This is not to say that lifestyle changes are unimportant; in fact, they are essential, since immediate reductions in emissions worldwide are needed to limit the damaging effects of climate change that are already being documented” (Paul A. Murtaugh and Michael G. Schlax 2009) Although Galbraith’s ideas are correct about the nature of the study she was incorrect in stating that, which limits the knowledge that can be gained from her article. This gives impressionable readers the notion that they should disregard things like fuel efficiency and replacing old appliances, when in reality ever little bit helps.
So as can be expected there are similarities and difference between the primary and secondary article. And although the secondary source is a fast convenient way to receive the information from the study it is not always accurate and reliable so in order to gain true knowledge the primary study must be read.

Primary and Secondary Articles

After hours of searching for articles I finally was able to find two articles, one primary and one secondary that related to the topic of overpopulation. The primary article is found here and the secondary article is The primary article is from the United Nations website and is a global report titled Planning Sustainable Cities and the secondary article is titled UN: Cities not adequately equipped to tackle global challenges of rapid urbanization, consequences of climate change. The secondary article highly represents the research presented in the primary article however there are some differences in the secondary source such as some of the grammar and the organization of the article. The primary source has a much more organized structure with a table of contents while the secondary source is just an opinionated article.

The primary article brings upon the problems of urbanization and overpopulation that our large cities will have to encounter. Other aspects that are related to environmental sustainability such as the impact of climate change on our cities are also researched in the global report. Some of the key findings in the primary article that also relates to the topic of overpopulation are the consumption of fossil fuels in these urban areas leading to an increase of pollution. The expansion of these urban areas is leading to such environmental impacts such as carbon dioxide emissions. Some poorer areas with less income that are unable to support proper urban planning may be victim to natural disasters such as flooding while other areas that plan ahead for disasters like flooding avoid such tragedies. Some statistics given in the article include: Between 2007 and 2025, the annual urban population increase in developing regions is expected to be 53 million (or 2.27 per cent), compared to a mere 3 million (or 0.49 per cent) in developed regions and 32 percent of the world’s current urban population call insufficient areas that are prone to disaster home.

The secondary article used a lot of quotes taken from the primary article to prove their point about how cities might not be able to withstand the challenges of urbanization and such. An example of a quote used to justify the author’s opinion is "Urbanization modifies the environment and generates new hazards, including deforestation and slope instability thus resulting in landslides and flash flooding,” (UN: Cities not adequately equipped to tackle global challenges of rapid urbanization, consequences of climate change, 2009) The quotes in the article however were not properly cited therefore can be considered invalid. The article also states how urbanization is promoted through the dependence of oil as an energy source. It is then explained that the emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels will result in greater air pollution.

In conclusion, the points brought out in the secondary article are points directly found in the primary research article. The primary research is a valid source from the United Nations. Secondary research is usually easier to access but sometimes facts and elements of the article may be false if not properly referenced. Personally, It is hard to say whether primary or secondary resources are more beneficial. It all depends what you are studying. Primary resources may be more accurate because of the hands on work but using journal articles to answer questions needed to write a paper may be inefficient. Therefore, secondary resources are a little less accurate but can allow for more efficient work.

Secondary Source

Xinhua, UN: Cities not adequately equipped to tackle global challenges of rapid urbanization, consequences of climate change, Oct. 6/2009., Accessed Oct. 6/09

Primary Source

Planning Sustainable Cities . Accessed Oct.6/09

Whered the Resources GO!

Primary Source:
Secondary Source:

With higher population, come more resources being used: where will we get those resources if they can’t be renewed? The article titled Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil was written by John W. Day, Jr., and was published Apr 24 2009. The author argues that overpopulation is a pressing issue and the world leaders are not giving it the attention it deserves, and with higher population there are fewer resources to be distributed. Day has retrieved his information from a journal under the same title by Charles A. S. Hall, which was published just months before in May 2009. The overall idea of both articles is very similar but the way in which the information is delivered is different. Differences can be seen in content, argument structure and the vocabulary that the authors choose to use.

The content difference is easily seen when comparing the two articles. The first aspect the reader notices is that the primary article is much longer, which gives the impression that it will be more in depth. The secondary article is nearly an eighth the length of the primary. As you read further into the articles it’s seen that the primary article further dissects and explains each point. The high detail can be seen, when Hall writes “These various perspectives on the limits to growth seemed to be fulfilled in 1973 when, during the first energy crisis, the price of oil increased from $3.50 to more than $12 a barrel. Gasoline increased from less than $0.30 to $0.65 per gallon in a few weeks while available supplies declined” (Hall 2009). Hall explains that as the resources diminish the cost to get those same resources will increase drastically; history can be seen repeating itself now with the same gas price hikes. In addition to the statistical data Hall includes graphs and diagrams to prove his points. In the secondary however, the author is much more vague with the information he includes. Day is able to prove a point without any data when he writes “the limits-to-growth model was a colossal failure, since obviously its predictions of extreme pollution and population decline have not come true” (Day 2009). He is able to prove his point by being very direct and not leaving any room for speculation. Hall’s article covers all angles of the argument and is more in depth, while Day’s article is to the point and includes just enough information to prove his point.

The two articles have a very different format in which they are written. The reasoning behind this is because it will attract different groups of readers. The secondary article flows nicely between claims while the primary, sections and isolates a group of claims. In order to get the reader interested the secondary article is written like a story that floats from claim to claim. On the other hand the primary source is extremely organized to give it a professional appearance. The primary article is sectioned to make it easy for the reader to know what the author is explaining. Both articles use a format that applies to the group of readers it’s written for. Closely related to the format, the writing style also helps attract a particular audience.

The writing style that the author chooses is directly partnered, with the readers who the article is anticipated to be read by. There is a large difference between the writing style of the primary and secondary article. Hall’s article has a very sophisticated writing style; it is meant to attract readers who are very knowledgeable in the subject. He uses a large vocabulary that a person who is uneducated in the subject most likely would not understand. He also is very thorough in his explanations, so that he does not put himself at risk of being criticized during peer-editing. Hall’s work is very factual to ensure that his claims are well proven and will not be questioned. The secondary article is written differently. Day’s writing style consists of a smaller vocabulary, with catchy lines in order to catch the reader’s attention. Day’s audiences are readers who may not have great background knowledge about the subject, but are interested by it. With a small vocabulary the readers are less likely to be confused, and more likely to stay interested. Day uses appealing words to spike the interest of the reader, this can be seen when Day writes “Thus a key issue for the future is the degree to which fossil and other fuels will continue to be abundant and cheap” (Day 2009). By uses word like cheap and abundant it keeps the mind from wondering, because in trying times like this people are always trying to save money. If Day can use words to allure the reader they will continue to be interested in the article. He is also very direct and convincing so that the readers will not question what he claims. Both author’s use different styles of writing in their articles, and they both have strengths and weakens that are unavoidable.

Both articles have weaknesses and strengths that limit and strengthen the authors’ argument. The primary article is extremely in depth covering all angles of the argument, making it a lot more credible. The primary however has the weaknesses that it is much longer then the secondary and uses big words that could confuse some readers. The secondary article is not perfect either, it is shorter making it a quicker read and it uses small catchy phrases that keep the reader interested. Yet it fails to include as much factual evidence to back up what the author claims. Both articles have strengths and weaknesses, but it all depends who it is meant to be read by.

Primary and secondary articles are much different from each other. They differ in a number of ways including writing style, content and word choice. This is because they are meant to be read by two different audiences. Both articles prove a common claim; the only difference is how the information is delivered.


· Day, J.W. (2009, April 24). Revisiting the Limits to Growth after peak oil. Retrieved from
· Hall, C. A. S. (2009). Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil. American Scientist, 97. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blog #2:

Contraception is Greenest Strategy for Climate Change



In the article, “Contraception is Greenest Strategy for Climate Change” (9 September 2009) by Optimum Population Trust, the author claims that contraception is the best way to combat climate change that humans have caused due to overpopulation. This is a secondary article based on the primary source, “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost- Reducing Future Carbon Emissions by Investing in Family Planning”(August 2009) by Thomas Wire from the London School of Economics, Operational Research. These sources share many similarities throughout the secondary article and the conclusion in the actual study or the primary source.

One major similarity in both sources is that both sources use the following information to support their conclusions:

“Each $7 (£4) spent on basic family planning over the next four decades would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a tonne. To achieve the same result with low-carbon technologies would cost a minimum of $32 (£19). (Optimum Population Trust, 2009)

Although the secondary article is very similar with its findings, it is not as precise or thorough as the actual study. The secondary article is not expected to be exactly the same as the primary source because it includes opinions and should be easier for the general public to access and understand. This standard makes the secondary source more objective and therefore less reliable but it is still a valuable resource. In this article, the author mentions a few different sources, one in particular is a quote from a member of the OPT (the sponsoring organization):

“Roger Martin, chair of OPT, said the findings vindicated OPT’s stance that population growth must be included in the climate change debate. “It’s always been obvious that total emissions depend on the number of emitters as well as their individual emissions – the carbon tonnage can’t shoot down, as we want, while the population keeps shooting up. The taboo on mentioning this fact has made the whole climate change debate so far somewhat unreal. Stabilising population levels has always been essential ecologically, and this study shows it’s economically sensible too.” (Optimum Population Trust, 2009)

This section in the article shows that the secondary article has a bit more freedom to add quotations that may not be directly in the study. The primary source uses facts from data that the scientists collected and all evidence dealing with their conclusions is in the report. Also a detailed method section was created to show exactly how the conclusions were met. In the secondary source this is not necessary to do because the results are displayed and the conclusions are then drawn. The strengths of the claims differ among primary and secondary sources; primary sources use statistics, and secondary sources use the results of the primary sources. Therefore secondary articles cannot be as reliable, but are very similar.

The limitations of the work in each source are a bit different. Primary sources are limited by using actual fact, the statistics the scientists have put together, and they may also use quotes but are unable to make generalized statements. Secondary sources on the other hand, are able to use the results from primary sources, quotes from others, and the author can make generalized statements that are easier for readers to understand, this allows for more freedom in the writing.

Secondary resources are very effective for distributing the findings of research because the average person may not read research papers but would most likely read news papers and magazines. This is a large difference between the two sources; popularity. Other than that, secondary sources are not as limited as primary, and are also not as reliable or strong with evidence. In conclusion, I think that although secondary articles are more easily accessible, primary sources are more trust-worthy. Therefore we should all be careful of what we choose to believe, further research is always necessary when searching for actual facts.

Wire, Thomas.(2009)"Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost- Reducing Future Carbon Emissions by Investing in Family Planning". Optimum Population Trust. August 2009. Accessed: Oct. 4 2009.

Author unknown. (2009)"Contraception is Greenest Strategy for Climate Change”. September 9, 2009. Accessed: Oct. 4, 2009.