Something New Under the Sun - $13 Mamie/cc Sewer/1min New...

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Unformatted text preview: $13. Mamie/cc, Sewer/1min New eta/nee 7,71,; sew. My; Roma, 7 A/ . l 1-: r _.__.... . 1 _ f A, , I / fl 5" “MON/75W 26% H SHE/£7 5/, //tb 77¢‘fi:/L"7/2:77—/ , l' H .t I’ 'i F. It [BMW/fly Mia/<13) mrerlapping, (Iiii‘l :ilimiifo influx. Crawl theories that ply a sim- plc answer (entropy, capitalism, overpopulation, patriarchy, market failure, afllaence, pocertg ,1 are of little help. My simplest answer is that in the twentieth century, ta‘o Q trends—conLiens-ion. to a fossil fuel—based energy system and ten} rapid population growth—spread nearly-around the world, while a third—ideological and political connnitment to economic growth and military power—which was already widespread, consolidated. One has to chop up the seamless reel) of history to write it. Here I will divide a tangled subject into seven main parts, grouped into three chapters: population and urbanization lCl‘iapter 9}; energy, technologies, andT economics (Chapter IOi; and ideas and politics ("Chapter 11 ). The cliaptersclienie is a matter of convenience as much as oflogic. The connection between population, which coniesflrst, and politics, which comes last, icas often real and influentialfiir en viron mental history as lliope thefi'nal pages demonstrate All of‘tliese themes. moreoirer, (lancerl together in a (roe-colatioiian/ cotil- lion. ‘ More People, Bigger Cities It was dixine nature which gave. us the country. and man's skill that built the cities, —_\-larcus Terentius Varro. De Re Rustica Among the greatest distinctitinis of the twentieth century were its pow- erful twin surges of population growth and urbanization. These trends re- flect billions of human choices, conscious and unconscious, made for countless reasons. Some ofthese choices were individual, such as whether to marry or where to live. Some were. political, such as the Australian choice to build a capital city at Canberra in the 19205 and the decision of South Africas Natimial Party to implement apaitheid in the 19405. All these decisions collectively generated the global trends of population growth and urbanization. They affected everything in human affairs, to greater or lesser degrees, from high culture to child nurture to corporate structure. They affected much that was not human too. SHMEIIIING NEW I'Niiiflli THE SI'N l 270 Population Gnnrth Most discussion ofthe social forces behind emironmental changes is politically charged, and none more so than the issue of population. De- bate often boils domi to arguments that other people must change their ways to save the earth: Indians and Africans usually argue that population grouth matters little; Americans and Europeans that it matters greatly. My \‘l6\Y is that it mattered for some varieties of ent-iron mental change but not others. and that migration was often more consequential than sheer growth. The issue is anything but straightforward. The bizarre population history of the twentieth century was the climax {to date) of a long frenzy of reproduction and sunival. Chapter 1 consid- ered the very long term; here I will focus on the past 500 years. The glob- alization brought about by European mariners at the end of the fifteenth century incubated two biological changes significant for subsequent pop- ulation history. First, their globe-girdling voyages spread diseases among populations that had previously been long isolated from one another. In the short run, this led to catastrophic losses, notably in the Americas and Oceania. Eventually this swirl of infection produced more seasoned im- mune systems. closer symbiosis between pathogens and hosts. and still later. public health systems, so that the toll from epidemics subsided. Secondly, maritime voyagers distributed food crops far and wide, even- tually allowing (nithin limits imposed by politics and tradition) every re- gion of the world to concentrate on the crops best suited to its ecological and market conditions. Maize spread from its home in the American tropics to East Asia, southern Africa, and the Mediterranean basin. Trop- ical Africa acquired manioc (cassava) from Brazil, while the Americas got wheat. In sum, the. world’s food supply improved. By about 1650 these two factors provoked a long-term rise in world population. still in train. On top of this surge. itself unprecedented in human histmy. came. a tidal wave of population growth. It drew on further improvements in food supply and disease prevention (some described in Chapter 7) and reached a crescendo after 1950. These improvements first caused de- clines in mortality, to which some societies later responded by restricting their fertility. In between, when mortality had declined but fertility had not, population grew very quickly. Demograpliers call the whole process Main; l‘iini'ir. lilsura f-[TIES ‘ 271 “the demographic transition."1 The rate of growth peaked in the late 19605 tat 21% per annumi. It so appalled observers that a careful and sensitive one. Kenneth Bonlding. seriously suggested establishing trad- able permits for haying children.a Growth slowly slackened after 1970. mainli‘ because women acquired more say in many societies and limited their fertility. By 1996 the total annual increment of population had peaked at about 92 million to 95 million more births than deaths'peryear. Population growth quickeued and slowed at different times in differ— ent places. The demographic transition began first in Europe, where it took more than a century to complete. In East Asia it came only after 1950, but took less than half a century. In Africa, it remained unfinished, for fertilitv bv the late 1990s had only recently and spottily begun to sub- side. Table 9.1 gives a rough idea of the pace of population growth by world region. ‘ ‘ In the period 1850 to 1950 the populations of Africa. Asia, and Europe roughly doubled. Meanwhile numbers in the Americas, Australia. and W TABLE 9,-1 REGIONAL POPULATION, 1750—1996 - Million People 1 750 1800 1850 1900 1 950 1996 Asia 450 602 749 937 1.386 3,50 1 Europe 140 1 87 266 40 1 576 728 Africa 95 go 95 120 206 732 North America 1 6 26 8 1 167 295 South and Central America 1 1 19 33 53 162 486 Australia and Oceania 2 2 2 6 13 29 Sources Reinhard et al. 1968:680—1. Population Reference Bureau 51996). Vote The flururcs for Afrita and to a lr'sscr extent Asia are \peculatiye prior to 1900: llEliI'C‘: $011“:— . . C, _ \\ hat lower for Africa and somewhat higher for Asia appear in McEyedy and Jones 1978. * . . — . - .- . 3. Wire transmon brings birth and death rates down lrom around 30—35 per thousand l‘per year, to around 10—12 per thousand. 1] 2Boulding 196413543. Bouldingr ' igimigggj. an economist and Quaker. was not norma } given to recommending sharp restrictions on freedoms. SHMEI'HING NEW I’Nlillli THE SI'N 1 373 Oceani1 are“ 11111111 faster fiy e- or sixfold in 100 years. This reflected both 111111111t1or1 patterns and differences 111 natural 1111'1e1ise. After 1950 the locus offast growth chanced In the ensuing half century Asian num— bers more than doubled. Latin American population tripled, and African population nearly quadrupled. Mean“ 1111c Eniope and North America grew much more slowly. haying completed the demographic transition by 19503 By the 1990s humankind accounted for about 0.01 percent of earth’s total biomass. and about 5 percent of its animal biomass. ranking with cat- tle and far outstripping any other mammal.“ This croyming success of the human species coincided with intense eruironmental change. D111 it cause that change? I will try to answer this with both arithmetic and anec- dote. First the arithmetic. Consider the relationship between global population growth and some global air pollutants. Between 1890111111 1990 world population increased by a factor of 3 0 while emissions of carbon dioxide the main «Treen- house gas, climbed more than 17-fold: 1A superficial calculation“ sug- gests that population then accounted for only about a fifth of that rise. In the same span= global emissions of sulfur dioxide, a major component of acid rain increased about 13—fold. Population increase accounted for slightly more than a quarter of the growth 111 sulfur emissions. If one does the arithmetic for the United States alone, population growth ac- counted for 31 percent of the growth in carbon dioxide emissions; 111 what is now OECD (that is. the rich countries of} Europe, 41 percent; in japan and the USSR (and successor states). only 2 percent; in Africa, less than 1. percent.T Abandoning this primitive arithmetic for the moment, ‘Thc data would look different if presented not by continent but by religion or GNP per capita. However. these iridices have changed so much in the 20th century that it is impracti- (‘111 to do so. "Turco 1997:105. Ants out-weigh 11s about 4:1. "These data are from RIYM 1997. T111 11.11c11111tion 1s snpe rtrci1lil101 sew. 1 '11 reasons. It deals uith global aggregates. and neglects the possibility that population growth occurred in places Where carbon dioxide emissions did not and that the two were unrelated. It assumes a linear relationship between the two, whereas in reality there might well be thresholds below which population increase makes little differ- ence. or above which it does. Regrettablyr no precise mathematical relationship between these variables can logically be constmcted. TThc reason these figures vary so much is that in western Europe and the USA, population grouth after 1890 was slow -by world standards] and carbon dioxide emissions were. already icomparativelyl high. In ]11pan and Russia, while. population growth was also comparatively slow1 carbon emissions were very low in 1890 because the countries had just begun to indus— an: P1111111. 8111111211 (‘irns 273 one may safely suppose that population growth had 11 minimal role 111 re- leasin‘cr 1-11111rotluorocarbons :(IFCsl into the stratosphere. For some important forms of 1111' pollution. then. population growth 111 the twentieth century was a significant but by no means preponderant driying force. This stands to 1'1 11son: combustion 0rcnerated most of the air pollution and the quantity of combustion and the intensity- of its pollu- tion were only loosely linked to the number of people. In rich societies such as the United States and Lermam additional perlip e did 511 bstan- tialh raise air pollution leyels from 1900 to 1970 or so. because they drove cars, heated “1th oil or coal. and 111 general increased total com- bustion. After 1970, new technology. encouraged by regulation, lawsriits, and a decade ofhigh energy prices. loosened the link: cleaner production and cleaner cars 111eant additional people caused much smaller incre- ments iri air pollution than they had in the 19505 or 19603. In poor soci— eties additional people had even less impact on air pollution because they caused negligible increases in combustion. Ex en where population growth and pollution coincided as in China after 1970. it is hard to com clude that the for mer caused the latter. Fast and careless industrialization and urbanization probably mattered more than the rate of population growth." . In general, population grouth provoked additional pollution of air and water primarily where and when the economy was already industrialized trialize. Harrison 1 19921 docs similar an'thnietic for 19614988 and concludes that population accounted for 4497: of the growth in carbon emissions. Takingr these years, when population growth was at 11 maximum and when eriiissiorr increase rates declined iafter 1975.1 accounts for the. higher figure. Ogawa 1991 and Darrnstadter and Fri 1992 examine the years 1973—1987 and rate the role. of population growth even higher. In those years. irnproyed energy effi— ciency and reduced carbon emissions per unit of energy consumption combined to lower care hon emissions by 1% per year. but this was more than counteracted by the impact of population :.+1.8‘7r per year! and economic growth 1+1C."c per year). These 15 years were ones of very fast population growth and i by post 194,5 standards at least) slow economic grthh. so. like Harrison's figures they are helpful on their own terms but not useful for the century as a whole. Other arithmetic exercises along these lines include itaskin 119951, who finds popula- tion growth responsible for 32% of carbon dioxide emission growth for the period 195m1990; 11 fine summary of the weaknesses of all such calculations is found in McKellar ct al. 1998121335. “China‘s extraordinary demographic trends are summarized in Lee and Feng 1999. Popula- tion policies since 1978 kept Chinese population 250 million below what it otherwise would have been in 1999. Growth rates in the 19605 approached 3% per annum, but in the 19705 dropped to under 2%. In 1996‘ China's annual population growth rate. was 1.1%. 811111 1993 considers pollution and population 111 the recent Chinese context. SOMETHING NEW I'NDl‘iIi Till} MW 274 and where society (and state) did not value environmental amenities. This was true in the United States, Japan, and western Europe from roughly 1890 to 1970. in Russia from 1960 onward. Population growth in societies without significant industry had much less impact on pollution levels except for human wastes and domestic smoke. In societies under- going industrialization, such as South Korea (1960+1990l or the USSR, (1930—1960), the rate ofpopulation growth mattered much less than the rate and type of industrialization. The nexus between population and pollution in the twentieth century is hazy enough. But the relationships between population growth and other forms of environmental change are cloaked in still thicker confir- sion. Population pressure both caused and prevented soil erosion. In places where it drove farmers up steep hillsides, as in Java or northern Morocco. it quickened erosion. Elsewhere it provided enough labor to build and maintain soil conservation schemes, as in the Machakos Hills of Kenya. Moreover, in mountain eniironments the loss of population sometimes brought on. faster soil erosion, as too few people remained to maintain terraces and other soil conservation stratagems. Soil salinization sometimes derived (indirectly \ia expanded irrigation) from population pressure. but more often from the temptations of commercial or centrally planned agriculture. Population growth and density were only partial de- terminants in these equations: natural. political, and economic condi- tions frequently carried greater weight. The best conclusionfia rough one—is that population growth often heightened erosion rates. but dense populations, if stable, could lower them.9 Population growth probably accounted for much of the worlds in- creased water use and intensified problems of water scarcity (see Chap- ters 5 and 6). A superficial calculation suggests 44 percent of it: water use increased ninefold and population fourfold in the years 1900 to 1990, so four-ninths of the century's increment derived from the existence of more people. This. however, is only a rough measure. Changes in water-use ef- ficiency, as well as in pricing and subsidies, blur the picture. In the United States after 1980. as noted in Chapter 5, water use declined while popu- “(in Java. see Hepetto 1986. who reports a sixfold increase in erosion rates 1' 1911~1983l at— tributable to population pressure. On northern Morocco. see Maurer 1.968; on labor shortage and erosion. see Barker 1995. McNeiIl 1992b, and Mignon i981. The tale of the Machakos Hills was given in Chapter 2. Interestingly: in the 19305, Jacks and \Vhyte 1939:286—7 argued that a dense population was the best insurance against soil erosion. offering Japan and Java as evidence sand admitting India and China as exceptions Ii W‘s—.h. ...-...4__, W.M-M._._a.__..u._~. ............._.....m. MM. Mimi Prams. BIGGER (‘iilrs 275 lation Grew. In almost every society considerable slack existed in the \i'ziter-dse systems. such as inefficiencies and waste, so changes in tech— nology and policy could. and sometimes did. alter matters more sharply than could population growth.m . . - -f M Population growth surely played a large role in driving the main 0 changes to the biota in the twentieth century. Food demand drove most ofthe century’s doubling of cropland. helped fuel the Green Revolution, and multiplied the world’s fishing effort. Population growth did Holt pro- duce these changes alone. but in matters directly related to £00( pro- duction it loomed largest. . - Some of the important biotic changes, however. had little connectiop to population or demand for food. \Vhaling, unlike. fishing, did nolt Sig- nificantly reflect expanding food needs. Biological inV'aSlO-H‘S had a most nothing to do with human population growth. The vast shiftsin human- microbial relations had a lot to do with it. but here the causation was re- versed: the environmental shift drove population growth. 1 . Deforestation admirably illustrates the murky conundrum of env1r0n- merit and population. In some cases, such as rural Ethiopia, recent stud- ies conclude that population growth was the main driving force. But historical studies extending back to the nineteenth century show scant forest even when Ethiopia’s rural population was only a fraction of what it became and when its growth rate was also much lower. Deforestation. in Ethiopia and around the world, occurred in conditions of population growth, population stagnation, and even population deplline ie.g., Russia in the 19905 or Madagascar in the period 1900-1940). A meta—analysrs {that is, a statistical study of numerous independent studies) of the rela- tionship between population and deforestation. concluded that while population pressure is an important force leading to deforestation. it rarely acts alone to produce the outcome. Other determinants apppar to be necessary as mediation and contingencies for population grout i ior “'See dekeiiriiark 1996 for a discussion of contemporary population and water issues, :Jie seems to regard population as a stronger driving force than my rough L'tllClill‘dfltln sugggijtiike: (liSCrEPi-iIIC}’. ifit is that, may derive from the. fact that population grouthkin t ie .1999: , fgmnce mark's implicit reference, pointi is greater than the average for the 20th century [my e . , ' l. . , [William Ethiopia. see Campbell 199i. (’lrepperud 1996. and NIcUann 1997. hiairtijaggscpr lost 4 million ha of forest I. 1900—1940t while. population stagnated or possibly declined . ‘ Iris 1 crops, notably coffee. replaced the fort-st iJarosz 1993,]. Kuinrner 1991:149—9 conclii1 ehsttliat popu— lation growth played a scant role in deforestation in the Philippines in recent c eta es. SIIME'IHINI'i NEW I'NDER TllF. SUV 2?“ dcnsityl to have a discernible impact. . . . [thantitativii- analysis suggested that even if the effects of populatit'm growth are statistically significant. their magnitude is quite modest,” Such a vague conclusion. regrettably. is just about right. In sum. population growth accounted for a modest share of air pollu- tion—related environmental changes and a larger share of those pertaini ing to water and the biota. especially those involving food production. Big, environmental change resulted more often from combinations of motif- allv reinforcing factors than from population growth alone. The latter probably mattered more late in the century than earlier. mainly because growth climavcd after 1960.13 I Migration Migration often mattered even more than growth. although the two are often hard to separate because growth sometimes caused. or at least helped cause, migration. From 1500 to about 1870 most of the worlds in- tercontinental migrants were slaves or “coolies.” Then, around 1845 to 1920 the spontaneous migration from Europe to the Americas came to overshadow other currents around the world. After 1925, international migration receded for several decades, and when it gathered pace again by 1...
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