An expansion of the demographic transition model: the dynamic link between agricultural productivity and population

| January 10, 2015 | Leave a Comment

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Date of Publication: October 22, 2014

Year of Publication: 2014

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group

Author(s): Russell Hopfenberg

Journal: Biodiversity

Volume: 15: 4

Pages: 246-254

Categories: ,

Russell Hopfenberg expands on the traditional demographic transition model by considering a longer time frame and incorporating the critical factor of agricultural productivity.

ABSTRACT: The classic demographic transition model illustrates the pattern of birth and death rates over time, shifting from high and equivalent to low and equivalent, with population increasing sharply during this transition as a society industrialises. However, the model has a limited temporal frame and cultural scope. It also overlooks that human population trends follow agricultural productivity. Because food is an essential carrying capacity variable and a fundamental economic driver, as food availability is increased the population increases leading to severe biodiversity loss. The current analysis expands the classic model, taking into account all of human history, and highlighting the basic carrying capacity foundations of fertility changes. This comprehensive model shows birth and death rates in Stage A as low and equivalent before the advent of the agricultural revolution. Stage A is followed by Stages B and C, in which the increasing birth rate precedes the increasing death rate, causing a rise in population. The stages then progress as in the classic demographic transition model.

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  • Steven Earl Salmony

    “So as the next generation steps forward, I am tempted to think that the only thing my generation can say to them is: we’re sorry. Sorry for the mess you’re inheriting. Sorry we broke the trust.” — Bill Moyers
    Can we agree that at least one of the most tragic mistakes of our lifetime has been a failure to understand well enough ‘why human population numbers continue to grow’ worldwide and by so doing to widely share the erroneous belief and consensually validate the specious idea that food must be continuously produced to meet the needs of a growing human population? In the relationship between human population numbers and its food supply, please consider that food is the independent variable not the dependent variable as is ubiquitously accepted in our time. Extant but ignored science indicates with remarkable simplicity that human population overshoot (now 7.2+ billion) is determined by the overproduction of food for human consumption. Until we openly acknowledge and adequately understand the ecological science of human population dynamics, I see little reason for the expectation that the converging human-induced global crises that loom in the offing will be sensibly addressed and overcome.
    The ecological science of human population dynamics that has been willfully suppressed by ‘talking heads’ in the mass media is to be expected. But for established environmentalists and top rank scientists to collude with talking heads by remaining silent is saddening…and sad to say. Small groups of people and individual ‘voices in the wilderness’ are providing a reality-oriented basis for necessary human behavioral change while there is still time to make a difference. They need support from people in public positions of influence, from thoughtful leaders, opinion makers and top rank scientists capable of speaking their truth to the rich and powerful, rather than effectively killing science with selective mutism.
    Most of the ‘brightest and the best’ economists, demographers and politicians among us have allowed an ideological sham to be perpetrated on the human community and, as a result, have helped to ravage the world we inhabit as well as turn its environs into a shambles. The idea that our descendants would make the same ruinous mistakes so many are making on our watch, simply because knowledgeable elders in science chose to remain hysterically blind, deaf and electively mute rather than acknowledge extant science, is shameful, anathema and absolutely unacceptable. If such a collective failure of nerve continues to occur, would a conscious determination not to fulfill both a responsibility to science and a duty to warn humanity be tantamount to the greatest sin of omission by my generation? If aware and responsible elders were to have the opportunity “to will one thing”, let it be that we share widely an understanding of all scientific research that discloses the population dynamics of the human species to the family of humanity, so those who come after us do not take the “primrose path” we trod now: an ultimately destructive path that has been adamantly advocated and relentlessly pursued many too many economists, demographers and politicians at the behest of the most arrogant, avaricious, foolhardy, wealthy and powerful movers and shakers in my generation, a path to global ecological wreckage and perdition, I suppose. The human family deserves more from today’s leadership; established managers of public perception can do better; and all of us can choose to do something that moves humankind onto a path to sustainability before it is too late.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      The virtual mountains of scientific evidence presented now here, and elsewhere ubiquitously, of a human-driven global predicament are overwhelming. The relentless overproduction of necessary stuff; the reckless per capita overconsumption, hoarding and dissipation of limited resources; as well as the refractory growth of absolute global human population numbers are occurring synergistically at an accelerating rate. The gigantic scale and growth of these distinctly human activities, ones that are happening worldwide on our watch, can be readily identified as primary causes of some kind of impending ecological wreckage, the likes of which only Ozymandias has seen……. unless we do something that is different from the way we are doing things now. When a plan of action is determined, it needs to be a good one, the right one for task at hand. Any predicament human beings can produce is amenable to human actions in a different direction. Human knots can be untied, I suppose.