Week 1 Lecture Notes – Starting Points Ch. 2

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Cities, Populations, and Environments

Teppy: people start talking about these at the very end of the course BUT NOT ME! There’s a good reason.

All human beings die. D:
Society has to cope with death
so social institutions need to cope with death
and they need to deal with people being born
the study of flow of people and births and deaths and migration is demography.

I’m gonna teach you demography today.

Teppy: In truth I have studied demography and demography geeks are the worst. They only think about three things. Births, deaths, and migrations.
But it’s much more quantifiable. So much more scientific. People are either dead or alive, either here or there, and that’s all demographers talk about!

Important generalizations:

-SIZE MATTERS: BIG social units work differently
e.g. con hall
-RAPIDLY CHANGING social units work differently
e.g. a class with 5 new students entering and 5 old students leaving every day.
-HETEROGENEOUS social units work differently
e.g. class with all asians vs. class with people from all over the place.
(not only ethnicity, but can also be social background, economic status, etc.)

Cooperation becomes more difficult for the above adjectives.

Demographers talk about:
-change affects size and composition

6% of all the people who were ever born, over the entire course of human history, are alive today.
“A large share of them are in Convocation hall.” — Teppy

-negative: large population puts more pressure on the natural
how do you quantify the carrying capacity of the world?
but there is a sense that there could come a time where there really would be TOO MUCH people.

-positive: large population is more likely to invent new technologies
Statistically, there’d be more genius.

“You understand what I’m saying? Is it complicated? Not complicated? Not complicated. I took a vote! I took an instantaneous vote!” — Teppy

RAPID population growth is an issue. It’s more difficult to adjust to meet the demands of rapidly increasing population.

Populations with the highest growth rate tend also to be poor and uneducated. If you couple that with economic underdevelopment, lack of infrastructure, etc., that’d just be BAD!
There are shortages of resources.
“There’s real population pressure.” – Teppy

-Aging of the population
– non retirement of old workers
– young men LIKE ME will be unemployed
“There are people like me who will keep on working until someone puts a bullet in me. JUST KIDDING.” – Teppy
“There will be young people just waiting for me to die!” – Teppy
“Especially young men. They will tend to cause a lot more trouble than young women would.” – Teppy

-Selection and assimilation of immigrants
– Low fertility rate in Canada. So we need immigrants.
– And we need immigrants to produce 1) labour 2) children.
– Which immigrants? What skills? How many? How do you assimilate?
“In Canada we haven’t figured it out.” – Teppy

-Shortage of marriage partners
“Which is sort of an amusing thing if you think about it. But it probably won’t be so funny if you find yourself in a shortage of marriage partners. šŸ˜¦ ” – Teppy

THOMAS MALTHUS (1766 – 1834)
The first population theorist
His father was a utopian socialist. Very interested in social change + reform + redistribution. To solve poverty. Concern in England. Effects of industrial revolution.
Malthus, according to Teppy, wants to prove his father wrong.

-The relationship between population increase (geometric) and food increase (linear)
-Population is too large; will exceed food supply and deaths will result.
-A natural limit to how much the population can expand
-Need to be careful with utopian dreams

1.Human beings love to eat.
2.Human beings love to have sex.
3.When people get married they have sex like all day every day.

If uncontrolled, population tends to increase geometrically.
Food available is a function of available land. Eventually we’d run out! (He didn’t know about genetic engineering and new seeds and etc.)

Any geometric series will outgrow any arithmetic series. Inevitably.
“Which means that people will starve. Invariably.” – Teppy

Redistribution of wealth? Poor people can now procreate! And so you’d simply have taken all the money, redistributed them, and consumed it up in the production of children!
Positive and preventive checks
Positive checks: disease, famine, or war
Preventive checks: delayed marriage, abstinence (PREFERRED BY MALTHUS)

Malthus did not believe in contraception. According to Malthus, as soon as people get married they have sex and make babies. So the only way is to reduce marriage. And you reduce marriage by reducing people’s income.


In industrial societies, the growth rate slows down dramatically until population starts to shrink.
The GNP per capita increases due to
-voluntary birth control

Birth rates and death rates decline

“Demographic transition”: decline in death rate and then decline in birth rate
Public health measures, nutrition, etc. (didn’t have to do with doctors, etc., it’s about the bigger things)

Once death rate falls you’re more sure that your children will survive so you don’t have to create so many children anymore.

People are less incentivized to produce children because they become costs. Doesn’t help with household. Need costs for education, etc. “Children are a pain in the ass! Why would you have a bunch of them?” – Teppy

Until 1750 population relatively unchanging.
only 800 mill in 1750 but 7 billion today.

A major shift in world population
Will continue to rise but less quickly than before.
More people will live in the South than the North.
Just by virtue of the amount of people, world power balance may shift.

Where the growth will occur
In developed countries natural growth will decline below 0.
Most of world’s population growth during this century will happen in developing nations.

Population and power
A question that demographers don’t think about very much. So I invite anyone here who doesn’t know what to do with their lives yet to think about trying to answer this question.

Population change affects population composition
Births deaths and migrations change composition.

There will be continued need for immigrants to maintain the workforce. There will be more elderly people – health care.
So it’s an important question.

Population pyramids tell the tale
The most distinctive visual aids in demography.
Some say you can read the history of humanity through population pyramids.

Different societies have different structures [shapes of pyramids]. e.g. Fort McMurray in Alberta – where they dig out oil. So lots of young men.
“Frontiertown. Men go there.” – Teppy, with a gorilla pose.

U.S. – a more “rectangular” distribution. Roughly the same proportion for every one of every age. How?

Germany – inverse pyramid.
“People live to a thousand years old but no one makes babies.” – Teppy

How would you produce a rectangular distribution?
-have exactly the same number of births and deaths. And no one dies until age 80. And at age 80 everyone dies.

Canada’s population structure
It’s more like a diamond. With a bulge for baby boomers.
“Eventually they’ll finally all die off and we’ll have a rectangular distribution.” – Teppy
“quite an incredible human invention” – Teppy
Every time we solve problems we create new ones.

Ulrich Beck: Risk Society: Toward a New Modernity
-Beck labelled contemporary society a “risk society”
-in advanced modernity, society dominated by man-made risks
-modern people have begun to question the benefits from technology

“My wife has been reading about that there’s been a 50% decline in male fertility.” – Teppy

The natural environment
-Everything is competing to survive
-That’s how nature works.
-humans compete too (with nature, with each other, etc.)

Where do natural disasters occur?
-The most common and harmful disasters seem to occur in less-developed countries.
-So poorest people in least developed countries are doubly disadvantaged.

What causes the rise in carbon emissions?
-The growth in world population and total carbon emissions since 1825 is nearly identical
-Causal relationship

Water shortage
-world is starting to feel the pinch
-people are dying from lack of water
-Canada is okay. But US wants our water and US usually gets what it wants.
-so water might be violently sought. Because if you don’t have water, you die.
-new technology: desalination, etc. But should they fail, we die.

Classic Study: The Limits to Growth
“This is probably the more depressing part of this lecture. If you are optimistic you’ll probably end up depressed. If you are depressed you’ll probably end up suicidal.” – Teppy

Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, et al (MIT)
Commissioned by the Club of Rome
Using computer simulation. With lots of data. Lots of theories. Smart people at MIT. To track future of human race.

Interested in the interactions between
1.rapid population growth
2.deteriorating environment
3.depletion of non-renewable resources
4.accelerating industrialization
5.spreading malnutrition

The canvas is the entire world. Huge advance from Malthus.

-most of the variables including population increases exponentially
-ability of technology to increase available resources grew linearly

CONCLUSION: we’re screwed.
If everything continues at the current (1970s) rateā€¦
Humanity will reach “limit to growth” on this planet sometime in the next 100 years.

2004 conclusions of this simulation.
An updated 2004 edition of this book claimed IT IS NOW TOO LATE for sustainable development.
In 1972 we still had a chance. But you didn’t listen to us did you?! So now suck on it you snobs. You deserved it. You should’ve listened to us. You’ve had your chance.

“Saving the world is actually incredibly hard. Easier is the task of pretending to save the world. So I urge you to spend your life pretending to save the world.” -Teppy

Where people settle will influence the location of population and environmental problems and costs of imports,etc.

Cities: a universalizing invention
-Humans are constantly finding new ways to build a protective artificial environment
-City life is similar from one to another and different from non-city lives.
e.g. you don’t find gay bars at countrysides.

Cities as built environments
Cities are human-made environments that interact with and intervene in the relation between humans and the natural environment
-developed gradually, without planning
-rise of cities coincided with rise of markets and states
– growth possible due to excess food

As long as you have commerce and political administration, you have cities. They need a food surplus because there’s nothing in city that produces food.

The historic growth of cities
-alternative to feudal, agricultural relationships.
-historically, cities have been self-governing places
-provides economies of scale – facilities

“In cities, nobody owned you!” – Teppy
People fled to cities because they wanted to be free!

Cities and city-life
After 1750 human life became increasingly urban.
Growth of industrialization implies growth of industrial cities.
-division of labour
-production of wealth
-social inequality

“Living in cities is really hard if you don’t know how to do it.” -Teppy

Mechanical vs. Organic Solidarity
-large city and small village cannot be any more different
-“mechanical solidarity” applies only to small homogeneous communities

Rural: strong social ties, weak interdependence
Urban: weak social ties, strong interdependence

DURKHEIM argued that interdependence is a necessary consequence to the functionality of cities, due to its weak social ties
“People need to be glued together by their differences instead of their similarities.” – Teppy
Organic solidarity.

As cities become larger and larger, with great diversity and rapid turnover, the city’s built environment conflicts with the natural environment in many harmful ways
Urbanization process more profound consequences (to the environment, etc.) than any other form of demographic change

Cities as rich neighbours
-often been richer, more powerful, more “immoral” than their rural neighbours

Teppy argues: hostility between Alberta and Ontario, the Harper government (based in Alberta) and the rest of Canada, is a form of this tension.

Urban living and public health
-in early times cities often have massive health problems

Cities have advantages

-urbanization increasing throughout the world
-increasing number of megacities (e.g. Mexico city)
-it’s not about megacities, but then most people live in cities of 500 000 people or fewer

Traffic issues and commuting
-growing number live in Greater Metropolitan Area
-Many residents of a GMA live in surrounding rural areas

The concentric ring theory
-when people look at a lot of data they attempt to simply it
-people tend to commute into from outside suburbs
-the concentric ring theory attributable to Burgess applies to many cities, especially to chicago and cities like Chicago
-Doesn’t apply as well to non-American cities, where more people live downtown

This model holds for most American cities. Not true for Canadian or European cities.

Loop 1: downtown
Loop 2: Factory
Loop 3: Zone of transition
Loop 4: Working class zone
Loop 5: residential zone
Loop 6: commuter zone
(with one being the most inward)

“What process would create a city like this? I’ll ask you to think about that.” -Teppy



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