Paul Enrich and the Population Bomb
“ Urbanization is a process of population concentration” . The process of urbanization is two-dimensional; this is to mean that it proceeds in two directions. One includes the multiplication of the existing points of population concentration. The other involves the multiplication of population in the already existing points of concentration. Another driving force of urbanization is population increase. Urbanization is also enhanced by industrialization and modernization. Immigration has also contributed greatly to urbanization. Urbanization has a profound effect on the economy and the environment. The economy is affected by factors such as inflation whereas the environment is exhausted in terms of natural resources and space.
Urbanization requires proper planning. Planning involves interconnectedness and complexity. Interconnectedness ensures that only a few acres of urban land are used. Ehrilch promotes the idea of planning the urban centers of the United States, as well as other nations, in order to control land use and population demographics of the US and other countries .
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The Trends in the growth of population and urban areas in the recent past
The industrial revolution that took place between the 18th and 19th centuries led to an increase in urban areas, and an increase in the populations of such urban areas. Urban areas developed around coal mines and other factors of development. The various coal mines saw many urban areas come up. Besides that, the urban areas became densely populated, as a result of economic activities. People moved from the rural areas into the urban areas to seek employment. The practice of capitalism had left many landless and poor. Before that, population was more concentrated around fertile lands in the 17th century. That was during the beginning of the agrarian revolution when rich farm owners used to employ hundreds of workers and slaves.
During the 1800, New York had a population of less than 100, 000 inhabitants. With the processes of industrialization and increased scientific innovations, human mortality declined which led to rapid population increase. The 19th century saw population densities increase in urban areas because of enhanced technology. The decentralization of technology was introduced whereby it only favored the metropolitan areas. This saw the suburban populations continue to grow in the US since the 1900’s. The end of the WW II was marked by a change in the regional distribution of the existing populations. Many people moved to the places where the climate was more favorable. By the end of the 20th century, half of the US population had settled within 50 miles of the coast. This was as a result of recreational and climatic reasons. The competition for resources and jobs grew, and many people who were living in the urban areas ended up being economically unstable. The statistics of the poor in the densely populated suburban areas rose up between the 1950’s and the 1980’s.
Is the rate of population increase and urbanization unsustainable?
According to Paul Ehrlich, population is the root of all human problems. Ehrlich views humanity as a cancer on the phase of the earth. The reasons he gives include the possibility of depleting natural resources in an attempt to sustain the population growth. In reality, unchecked population growth will eventually get to the point where the earth cannot sustain humankind. If that happens, mortality rate will rise, and the population would decrease.
What are the debates that emanate from the video on this question?
According to Enrich, human population is going out of control. The debate on the video discusses the impact of the population explosion – “ The source of all the problems of humankind” . However, some of the strategies proposed by the book are genocidal. For instance, the suggestion that the overpopulated developing nations should be triaged is genocidal. This means that they do not receive aid of any form. Enrich proposed that there be a science court that controls scientific and technological advancements. Enrich views science as a cause of the disorder of the world. The debate focuses on the practicability of the population control strategies set out by Ehrlich.
According to the video, urbanization results in untold numbers of people living in urban areas. The discussion looks into the importance of depopulation as well as its practicability, which seems impossible. The participants view the policies of compulsory abortion and compulsory sterilization as “ hard-to-implement” policies. From the debate, we gather that as much as it is a reality that natural resources can be depleted by uncontrolled population growth, it is humane to try and provide the resources required by the growing populations. For example, instead of instigating compulsory abortion so as to preserve natural resources such as trees, it is more practical to plant more trees to meet the needs of the increased population. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles are perfect examples of rapid urbanization in the US.
The effects of the growing population on Los Angeles
Los Angeles was the first US County to hit a population of 10 million people. The county hit the demographic milestone at the beginning of 2013. In fact, the population is expected to rise as a result of the economic growth of the county. In 2006, 935 acres of farmland were converted for buildings in Antelope Valley alone. The agriculture that is still practiced ends up being strained as a result of the scarce water resources. The county has problems satisfying the population’s need for water among other necessities .
The urbanization of Los Angeles saw constructions set up along Los Angeles River. This resulted in a massive loss of jobs for people who worked in the vineyards that were there initially. It also resulted in food scarcity for the county. Another problem that emanates from the urbanization of Los Angeles and the conversion of agricultural land to commercial land is the strain of America’s farmlands. This is because the population of the county has to be fed. This makes Los Angeles dependent on the surrounding counties for agricultural produce. This is because the food that the remaining land was producing could not support the continually increasing population.
Buildings were constructed on flood prone areas. Their construction made flooding become a reality to the county of Los Angeles. Conflicts have also come up between the people who want to invest in real estate, and the people who want to invest in urbanization. Clashes have been known to arise between the residents,
Considering the climatic condition of Los Angeles, the city tends to be suitable for agriculture. However, agriculture has been in competition with urban development whereby the population boom of the 1980’s resulted in the use of agricultural land for commercial use . The economic and demographic growth has also resulted in environmental degradation. The land that was initially set aside for farming and cattle ranches was replaced by buildings and factories as a result of the demographic growth. It is estimated that 40% of the population of Los Angeles did not originate from the US. Rather, it is composed of immigrants. The urbanization of Los Angeles has resulted in both geographic and social conditions of the county.
Exponential growth is uncontrollable by humankind alone. This is because it is a fact of nature, separate from other natural factors that human beings can control such as planting of trees and proper land use. However, the fact is that it is possible for the world’s population to grow beyond the earth’s capacity to sustain it. This is especially so if measures to use the space and resources available efficiently are not implemented. Measures such as determining the number of children a family should have or the need to have a license to give birth are almost impractical. If the world expects to experience sustainable development and population growth, preservation measures should be applied when dealing with the environment. Otherwise, there will be many developed urban areas without enough food and water to sustain its population . As a result, people will migrate to greener pastures, leaving the urban areas deserted and unproductive.
Ehrlich, P. R. (1968). The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books.
Gazzar, B. (2013, December 13th). Los Angeles County First in US to reach 10 Million People. Retrieved June 11th, 2014, from Huff Post Los Angeles:
Johnson, D. (2005). In Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Los Angeles. Pollution and public policy at the turn of the twentieth century, 78-94.
Suzuki, D. D. (Director). (n. d.). Paul Ehrlich and the Population Explosion [Motion Picture].
Tidsale, H. (1942). The Process of Urbanization. Social Forces 20(3), 311.