Global Population Issues, Concerns & Politics Video

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  • 0:01 Population Growth as a…
  • 1:07 Global Population Differences
  • 4:11 Controlling the Global…
  • 5:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk
The following lesson will cover the issue of global population trends and the resulting concerns. We'll explore concepts like carrying capacity, how developed and developing countries differ, and how some cultures and governments affect this issue.

Population Growth as a Global Issue

Imagine for a moment that you are the youngest child in a family of ten people. By any country's standards, that's an awfully big family. Further, imagine that the size of the house you live in can only comfortably fit eight people because your parents don't have enough money to buy a bigger house. Where then are you going to sleep? How will your family ration food to feed everyone?

Unfortunately, this is an analogy that is playing out on a global level. The too-small-of-a-house problem is actually the same one our planet Earth is now facing, and our growing family is our global population. In other words, our planet is becoming too small to take care of the growing number of people living in it.

At the center of population growth is the extent to which the global population growth threatens the Earth's carrying capacity, which refers to the maximum number of humans or animals that can survive within a given area. Overpopulation, too many people living in an area that has inadequate resources to support them, has been a global concern for centuries. The growing global population is also affecting some groups of people more than others.

Global Population Differences

In our previous analogy, if you are part of a family of ten but live in a house that only fits eight, that carries with it serious implications. You may not have a place to sleep nor have enough food with which to feed yourself. Thus, population problems must be seen in the context of consumption. The population of the developed world, which consumes a lot, is seen as a big problem for the world's resources. What is also problematic is that on the whole, even though the developed world has relatively stable or declining populations, and while the developing world has rapidly increasing populations, developed countries often control and use more of our global resources than the developing world does.

This disparity of resource consumption has deep historical roots. For example, compared with the developing world, Europe has always had a smaller population. However, the Industrial Revolution and the scientific advances in agriculture, science, and weaponry made Europeans prosperous and allowed these countries to not only support themselves, but also allowed them to conquer and colonize other parts of what is now the developing world. As a result, the developing world was left at a distinct disadvantage in being able to develop once the European powers left. The developing nations had most of their resources taken away, and they didn't have the long history of being able to develop, like the Europeans had.

The greatest impact of this economic, political, and social domination by less-populated developed countries is that it has created a lasting state of inequality within more heavily populated developing countries. Due to a historical lack of resources, developing countries have inadequate education systems, low rates of contraception usage, and subsistence-based economies that require large labor forces. All of these factors lead to rapid population growth.

This state of inequality is only made worse because many developing countries abide by cultural norms that value large families or that value beliefs that large families are needed, so children can support the parents. Even though overpopulation in the developing world often leads to high rates of poverty overall, countries such as China and India are slowly shifting economic and political power as emerging market economy countries.

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