Hans Rosling on global population growth
July 11, 2010 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Hans Rosling, who helped usher in TED talks way back when using stunning visuals, envisions how the world will look in 50 years as global population grows to 9 billion. To check further population growth, which might have disastrous consequences, he exhorts us to raise the living standards of the poorest.

The Asian century calls for a rethink on growth - "What is really needed, though, is a new approach to growth. Noeleen Heyzer, head of the UN's economic and social commission for Asia and the Pacific, says the impact of trying to maintain the existing growth pattern over the next 15 years would be environmentally and socially devastating."

It is time for Asia to rewrite the rules of capitalism - "The western economic model, which defines success as consumption-driven growth, must be challenged."

Marx Awakes as China Rises - "Something like 800 million Chinese will be moving from the country to the city in coming decades... Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ironically, were the first to analyze the phenomenon. Peasants, they said, were hard to organize. (Marx compared them to potatoes, who could only be organized by putting them into a sack.) Factory workers are different. They work together, rather than each on his or her own tiny plot of land. Their interests are distinct from the factory owners, and easy to recognize. They have many opportunities to build trust and to organize on and off the job. They also have power; when peasants quit farming, they starve. When workers lay down their tools (especially in a tight labor market), the factory lies idle, costing the owner." [1,2]

Sweet Spot for China's Blue-Collar Revolution - "Manufacturers are strong enough to pay higher wages, but will other players adjust to China's new labor environment?"

China Fears Warming Effects of Consumer Wants - "Experts worry that as China's 1.3 billion people clamor for more cars and creature comforts, international efforts to limit global warming could be doomed."

Can China cope with its massive urban population growth? - "How can China meet its energy-efficiency targets as it faces the huge demand growth expected to meet the requirements of 700 million urbanites by 2015?"
posted by kliuless (14 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Kliuless, I frigging love your posts - also, I love how the "bonuses" are just as great as the meat of the post.
posted by smoke at 8:18 PM on July 11, 2010

"One-in-a-million" means less and less every year.
posted by fuq at 8:21 PM on July 11, 2010

Great post.
posted by dobie at 8:55 PM on July 11, 2010

Excellent post, and it follows perfectly from the "China buys cars" one directly below it.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:59 PM on July 11, 2010

How about if we all stop reproducing for about 50 years? The way I see it, that alone would solve plenty of problems.
posted by yoga at 4:37 AM on July 12, 2010

The solution is obvious: tasty, tasty soylent green. If we'd only get over the hangups we have about recycling ourselves instead of these archaic customs of "burial"or "cremation"...
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:40 AM on July 12, 2010

How about if we all stop reproducing for about 50 years? The way I see it, that alone would solve plenty of problems.

um, that's actually kinda what rosling is saying! that if you're not poor as fuck... wait a minute :P
posted by kliuless at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2010

Hooray, I get to tell a relevant story!

I used to work directly under Hans Rosling. I had just gotten out of high school, was jobless and rather inexperienced. The dad of an old friend of mine worked in the department at Karolinska Institutet then headed by Rosling. After some inquiries back n forth I was recommended to come in and re-build the department's website which was badly outdated.

I was nervous in the beginning, not only because it was my first real job, but also because Rosling was kind of an intimidating figure at first (yes, he is as grand a personality as he is during presentations).

The first thing he wanted done was getting the publications list updated. Having had no experience with academics, serious papers, or standardized systems of publication it was a learning experience and he gladly instructed me. One problem I had was getting people in the department to send me their list of published works. When I mentioned this to Hans, his eyes lit up and exclaimed: "Go for their ego! Just publish what you have, and once people start seeing that their work is missing from the list, you'll be inundated with replies! You have to know what yanks an academic's chain." And it worked.

Another time I remember he got back from a presentation and someone had stolen his laptop when he was on stage. He didn't mind the material laptop being stolen so much as the book he was writing on it. He made a plea to whoever stole the computer that all he wanted was the contents of the hard drive, the laptop was the thief's to keep. As a result of the theft, and Hans not having any data backups, I asked if he had any printouts saved. Of course!, he exclaimed, and I was given the task of OCR-scanning every page he had from an earlier printout. Boring, but his wonderfully disproportional joy when I handed him the CD made it worth it.

He was a great first boss to have.
posted by pyrex at 6:23 AM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]

Each white dot is one million people.

Something about the last couple of seconds of that population growth map don't seem right. Is central Asia really growing that much? They have its population density on part with the most congested parts of India, which seems extremely unlikely to me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:12 AM on July 12, 2010

The animated chart Hans Rosling displays to demonstrate the development of fertility and child survival rates is from Gapminder, a site which Hans Rosling is apparently associated with. It's a lot of fun if you like to mess around with statistics.

As for the challenges with increasing the standard of living of the poorest in the world, Jeffrey Sachs wrote a book with a very convincing argument for developed countries to honor their UN commitment to give 0.7% of GNP, and with strategies on how to employ that aid.
posted by Aiwen at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2010

There is another school of thought that we are heading for population decline.

Haven't read it, neither defending nor attacking, just widening the discussion
posted by IndigoJones at 4:58 PM on July 12, 2010

Is the population bomb ever going to explode? - A debate over the the impact of population growth on climate change.

China: Shaking the World - How has China's rise to superpower status been accelerated by the world recession? Michael Robinson examines the political, economic and cultural mechanisms of Beijing's growing global influence.
posted by kliuless at 10:10 AM on July 17, 2010

China Becomes Top Energy Consumer - China is now the world's biggest energy consumer, knocking the U.S. off a perch it held for more than a century, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.

Rethinking the Measure of Growth - In considering the toll that rapid economic development is taking on Asia's environment, economists want governments to reconsider the use of gross domestic product as a measure.
posted by kliuless at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2010

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