Mankind’s global population density problem was exposed in the 1960s and 1970s from heavily saturated media coverage. Attention was put on demographic behavior which includes changes in population size, composition, and distribution as well as the significant affects it has in policymaking at all levels, local, state, national, and international. The term demography comes from the Greek words demos and graphia. The word “demos” translates to population and “graphia” means writing. Therefore demography literally means “writings about populations.” This research takes a look at the American experience of growing populations, the special rules that emerge as a result from the problems they face, and how different classes of the populace deal with their challenges. Without observing the human agent, consequences can be disastrous. Demographic studies can help determine the factors that affect changes in the environment and its inhabitants.
The social science of demography focuses on the following components: (a) the size, composition, and distribution of the human population in a given area at a specific point in time; (b) the changes populations experience (like fertility, mortality, and migration); and (c) the consequences from changes in relation to population size, composition, and distribution, or in the components themselves (Poston & Bouvier, 2010). By studying the demographics of a population scientists and policy makers can determine different aspects of change both ecologically and economically to help predict future needs and problems a civilization may face.
According to the US Census Bureau, the current world population has reached 7 billion with 315 million situated the US (Commerce, 2013). As the global population continues to increase analysts are working on solutions on how to meet growing consumer needs. In nature, when the demands of the masses are not dealt with, migration and starvation problems ensue. When critical mass is reached, and the population has stripped the land of vegetation and healthy soil, entire civilizations are inclined to fall as archeological evidence suggests transpired on Easter Island in the South Pacific.
Yaukey and Douglas (2007) purport that observing the size and constitution of a population is not enough to understand and predict change. A look at the diverse range of criteria including the age, sex, marital status, educational attainment and spatial distribution are significant components that can help a society interact with each other as well as the physical environment in which they exist (Yaukey & Anderton, 2007). This is necessary to make assessments to adjust and help maintain the delicate balance of the planet’s natural resources, like food and water which may become disturbed by consumption without replenishment.
Take for example, the hardship of the early settlers and pilgrims at Plymouth Rock whose existence differed from that of the pioneers that later headed westward during the great American expansion era. The Plymouth Rock settlers faced decreased population due to their lack of knowledge in surviving the harsh conditions of the new wilderness. Local neighboring Native Americans from nearby tribes educated the settlers in farming, hunting and other survival techniques. This crucial component allowed the population to thrive which ushered the expansion age of the Westward Pioneers. By observing the rise and fall of various cultures, demographers can make predictions as to how a civilization can evolve and thrive.
Trends also play an integral role in the evolution of a society with special rules that can emerge as a result of various changes. Demographers can work with policy makers to create new systems and adaptations as solutions to problems a populace may face in areas like education, clean air and safe water reforms, as well as environmental reforms. For example, by observing the trend of globalization in fast food corporations, an exposé revealed in the mid-1980s that fast food giant Burger King, in an effort to meet growing consumer demands, engaged in practices that led to the deforestation of an enormous portion of the Amazon rainforest to raise cattle for beef import.
US environmentalists were outraged. Armed with scientific evidence that supports the important role rain forests have on our ecosystem (like keeping carbon from being released into the atmosphere, and the oxygenation of our planet), they formed movements to actively boycott the corporation. Their efforts succeeded. Burger King suffered great losses from the negative press reflecting a 12% decrease in revenue. A change emerged in the company’s attitude. They cancelled their $35 million contract with Costa Rican beef suppliers and agreed to use US domestic cattle only (Aronoff, 2011). Although Burger King no longer is engaged in this practice, according to a report released by Greenpeace, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon continued with 7000 km of the rainforest destroyed in just a five month period due to the rising demand of beef and soy products (Amazon, 2008).
Observing the demographics of different classes, or social statuses of populations can help us better understand the needs of a particular part of the human agency. For example, in areas of developing nations where birth rates are rising, the effects of rapid population results in higher levels of consumption of resources. Research suggests less affluent less educated groups, expand their population and utilize the labor force of their offspring as a means to sustain the family, tribe or community. Societies that consist of a populace with higher education on the other hand, are less likely to confront the same overcrowding issues and make choices based on the importance and inter-connectedness of their surroundings. Their conscious adaptations reflect a society that consists of families who produce less children. In addition, women are supported and empowered to experience their own careers. Their contributions helps balance the family unit which adds to a more fulfilling life of comfort and joy.
Demography is an essential component for understanding and predicting changes and trends that help direct us to a better future. Without these studies, which includes the observation of present conditions, as well as from clues left behind from extinct civilizations, more events like Easter Island will occur. People who are conscious of the consequences that lead to climate change, make adjustments to allow inhabitants to continue thriving. In conclusion, as we continue to develop technologies, demographic studies and further advancements in education can help regulate population density and predict future trends.
Amazon deforestation on the rise again. (2008, January 25). Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Greenpeace International: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/amazon-deforestation-increase-250108/
Aronoff, K. (2011, September 18). US activists stop Burger King from importanting rainforest beef. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Global nonviolent action database: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/us-activists-stop-burger-king-importing-rainforest-beef-1984-1987
Commerce, U. D. (2013, December 03). US and world population clocks. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from Us Department of Commerce: United States census bureau: http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
Poston, D., & Bouvier, L. (2010). Population and society: An introduction to demography. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Yaukey, D., & Anderton, D. (2007). Demography: The study of human population. Long Grove IL: Waveland Press, Inc.