Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The Population Fizzle", "The Population Surprise", "US Population Drop", and "Chapter Two: Population"

Conner Lewis
September 29

"Against this backdrop, it becomes clear that Haiti’s population growth is a symptom, not a cause, of its poverty." - RH Reality Check

The Haitian people wanted to rise from poverty and improve their nation, but wealthy landlords and foreign investors continued to use Haitians and treat them poorly, so the Haitians were unable to create a strong developed nation which would provide healthcare, family planning, and infrastructure and had to remain as low income subsistence farmers, then the Haitian population exploded as the poor subsistence farmers needed children to work on their land.



The Population Fizzle

The Population Surprise

Human Geography: Chapter Two

US Population Drop

Essay Question: What do The Population Surprise, Human Geography: Chapter Two, and the US Population Drop have to say about how a lower population will affect the economy both locally and globally? 
     "You can't legislate demographics. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't worry about it." While its affects may not be as obvious as war, disease, famine, or natural disasters, the decline of populations across the developed world is one of the largest economic crises which the modern world has ever had the displeasure of facing. To many, the problem is too large and too frightening for them to even acknowledge it is happening, and for this reason most politicians and media sites would prefer to talk about how there are too many people in the world, rather than look at how there are beginning to be too less and less in many nations. The Population Surprise acts as a case which prove that the claims that population could never shrink is very misinformed, while Human Geography: Chapter Two shows the processes by which demographers can identify, quantify, and analyze changes in population across the globe to gather this information. The article US Population Drop shows an inkling of how a drop in population could effect a nation in the long wrong.
     As has been said before, the first step in fixing a problem is accepting that there is one, however despite this fact many people still refuse to believe that population could ever drop, and refuse to look at the repercussions this could have in the long run both globally and regionally. The Population Surprise acts to inform people that the problem is real, and that it is pertinent even now. Both readings point out how average total fertility rates across the globe, at least in developed countries, are plummeting to record lows. While 2.1 is considered the required birth rate to replace those that die, some rates are dropping to as low as 1.2 in Italy. This means that some nations are already in the final phase shown on demographic transition models, in which the population's birth rates fall below its own death rates. Now this does not account for immigration and emigration throughout the population, but it does show that there is a fall overall, and although immigration may solve a nation's problem initially, after a while immigration will stop and the continuous fall in birth rates mean that the trend in a nation will be a decline. The reason for this decline in the number of children a family life expectancy goes up in nations such as Germany, the need for the smaller younger generations to support the larger older ones simply increases as well. To many, after being told so many times of the population explosion which has been occurring since the Industrial Revolution, the concept that any country could have a population that is shrinking is very foreign, even as they accept that developed nations have fewer and fewer children. Another reason this is foreign is that often times people are told of the overpopulation of areas such as central China and northern India, but never does one look to areas like Italy or Sweden to see how their population is plummeting, as the effects of a smaller population are much more subtle, yet just as alarming.
has is due to the fact that in a developed, urban environment children are an economic burden, not an asset. In a developing nation the population will mainly consist of labor intensive industries such as agriculture, in which each child acts as an economic benefit, as they are another hand which can work in the field. Along with this, children can also take care of their parents after they grow old, especially in an economy which does not provide welfare and retirement benefits. After this, the old become the burden. In a developed, urban environment this is situation is flipped in a sense, as each child is a drain who cannot work in any industry as they are neither trained, and in some countries not allowed, to work. As each child requires more space, food, and other necessities to live, families in urban countries are deciding not to have as many kids as to avoid such a burden. Developed nations also have many more rights for women, who usually get professional careers as well as marry later and thus often choose to have children later, meaning they simply won't have as many. This is why nations like Germany are having such a large problem with their population, as their citizens are simply not having enough kids to support their population, and as the older population begins to die off, the overall population drops.
     While many try to refute the falling populations of the world, Human Geography: Chapter Two explains the processes through which demographers know that the population is truly falling. Through models such as the demographic transition model, demographers can clearly see the global trend in crude death rates and crude birth rates are both headed downwards, and while the birth rates may seem to be above the death rates, the models show that eventually, as with places like Sweden and Germany, the deaths will balance out while the births will continue to plummet. Demographers can also use a nation's census to examine how the makeup of a population changes and can examine the number of immigrants to a nation. While a census is never perfect, it can give demographers a general idea on how much a nation is relying on immigrants to sustain their own population. In nations such as the United States, the population is able to remain steady due to immigrants, while nations such as Germany and Japan are finding this much more difficult. Through the use of the census and the compiling of dot maps and demographic transitional models, which allow for a visual representation of population density in the world, demographers can compare current models to those taken from the years before and see that the total fertility rate as well as the natural increase around the globe is on a trend so that it may soon head downwards. Many demographers predict that the world will soon peak in terms of population in about fifty years,
nearing eight billion people, before then falling again. While it is true that many nations, most on the African continent and still developing, are not falling and are actually rising in population rather rapidly, many predict that after these developing nations urbanize, the trend will reoccur there, with the population pyramid of the nation flipping from a normal pyramid which gets thinner at the top to one with a large top than bottom. Population pyramids show the number of individuals in a population based on gender and age. The age is split into increments of five years, with the males on the left and the females on the right of the pyramid. An average developing nation, the standard for 99% of human history, will have a wide based which gradually shrinks to a point at the top. Modern developed nations have found that their pyramids have flipped due to less children and longer life expectancy for the older generations. This is another tool that allows demographers to see that the old population in developed nations are not having enough kids to replace themselves. Through all of these methods it is clear that demographers can say without a doubt that population will begin to fall.
     The reading US Population Drop describes the negative impact a smaller population will have on a nation as a whole. It describes how much of a families spending goes to their children, for housing, food, and other necessities, and how upon removing this staple from the economy, much of the focus will shift. This will also mean that much less of the money which goes to families will be spent, as young children are the primary reason that families need to spend money, which is needed to stimulate the economy. Children require much more, and these needs only grow exponentially as a
family has more and more children. Without children for families to spend their money, much of it will simply remain in the bank, causing the economy to lose a lot of capital it would have otherwise been able to use to grow and thrive. This will also many that many companies will lose their target demographic, as fast food chains as well as many other companies rely on young consumers to come and buy their products. The toy industry and many other industries reliant on young consumers will be forced to shrink, as there is simply not as large a demographic interested in their products and services. As the aging population continues to grow over the younger ones, more and more money will be spent on the elderly rather than the young. This will mean a major shift in the economy towards industries which favor the larger and older population, however while this may seem like a smart choice at the time, in the long run it could be harmful. While the aging demographic may seem like an intelligent choice for a business to attempt to market to, as they would be the largest, after this demographic dies off, what the industry would be left with is as small a demographic as they had found in the kids. Unless the ideals of many people change, the population would continue to fall, meaning that as each demographic shrank so would the economy as a whole, as there would simply be less people who are spending less than they would before due to less children. Other industries would have to change as well, such as the housing market, for as the world population shrinks, so will the need for such a large real estate industry. Houses would become cheaper as many would be empty and ready to be bought, and for that reason land itself would most likely become very cheap, at least comparatively, as much more room would be open due to both the less need for housing as well as the fact that many people in developing nations would move to the city as their nation developed as well, meaning even more land would open up for other uses. The agricultural industry would see a major shift as it would begin to over saturate the market even more in many places if it continued selling as much food as it did now, leading to a collapse in food prices. Many other industries would collapse, such as airlines and other travel services, and overall the world would see an economic shrink.
     All in all the population drop will be the cause of a large economic implosion if no steps are taken, for as the demand falls, the supply must fall with it, and currently the world's economy is not poised to handle this implosion. Demographers have and continue to prove that the population will fall, it is simply a matter of time, and so with this knowledge the real question is, what will the world do about it.
East Asia is both the most populated region in the world as well as an area which has several perfect examples of nations controlling their population through laws and control as well as an economy which is trying to come to grips with an aging population without immigration.

The "demographic transition model" (DTM), was developed in 1929 by American demographer Warren Thompson to help give a visual representation of the five stages in which all populations go through. The first stage, also called the initial phase, usually representing a pre-industrial society, is marked by both high birth rates and high death rates, leading to a stable and small population. The death is usually caused by disease and famine, as there is poor medical knowledge, leading to high child and infant mortality which can be seen when death spikes to above 40 per thousand. The second phase, usually called the early expanding stage, is marked by the industrial revolution and the second agricultural revolution, resulting in lower death rates due to improved housing and medical knowledge. The third stage, or late expanding stage, has lower birth rates and lower death rates, resulting in a much smaller increase in population. The fourth/lower stationary stage, where many developed nations are now, has a very little population growth as birth rates and death rates become very close, and leads to a stationary population. Throughout the third and fourth stages it can be observed how death and birthrates fall rather steadily together, with birth rates remaining at about ten births higher than the deaths per thousand. The fifth stage, or the declining phase, is when birth rates fall below death rates, leading to a huge problem culturally, politically, and especially economically. It can be observed that birth drops below ten per thousand, meaning that after the aging population dies, there would be a very tiny population remaining. Through this model demographers can easily track where a population should be in the future, based on the conditions of that populations environment and their medical and agricultural success.
Extra Credit:
Haitian women are beginning to use birth control despite taboos due to the lack of opportunity, overpopulation, and lack of medical knowledge which leads to hundreds of births during childbirth as well as a high infant and child mortality rate.

A video on how aging populations effect how a person thinks of their nation and how nations are reacting.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"The Tipping Point", "Globalization in a Bottle", and "Chapter 1: Introduction to Human Geography"

Conner Lewis
September 5
"Hip-hop culture emerged out of an atmosphere of disappointment and disillusionment." - Paleycenter.org

            Poor African Americans in the ghetto wanted to express their dissatisfaction with their situation and the conditions in which they lived, but the middle and upper class avoided dealing with their issues so the younger generations in the ghetto started to rap about their lives and problems, then it caught on to the mainstream through the success of groups such as N.W.A. and diffused to other parts of society.


Crocs were initially sold to sailors in Florida, until it diffused to sailors along the eastern coast of the United States.



The Tipping Point

Globalization in a Bottle

Human Geography: Chapter One

     Essay Question: What do The Tipping Point, Globalization in a Bottle, and Human Geography: Chapter One have to say on how epidemics spread?

     “It is that the best way to understand the emergence of [trends] is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” This theory is one that drives much of how and why human geographers study. It is the belief that change can be observed, tracked, and predicted like the spread of disease which makes the field of human geography so important and interesting. As this is the case, many geographers have attempted to classify and explain how epidemics spread to become epidemics. The Tipping Point breaks down characteristics of their spread, while Human Geography: Chapter One attempts to classify and explain of how epidemics can diffuse through society. Globalization in a Bottle shows how all these principles can come together through an example.
     The Tipping Point states that all epidemics have three characteristics in common with how they spread; one, contagiousness; two, that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment. The first principle, contagiousness, is the fact that ideas, movements, and products can spread from person to person, is described by Human Geography: Chapter One through several different processes, all under the idea of expansion diffusion, which is when an idea, product, or message will be developed and used independently at an area called a hearth and from their spread to nearby areas.. The main two ideas behind expansion diffusion are contagious diffusion and hierarchical diffusion. Contagious diffusion is the idea that when the epidemic in question is being used by one area or group of people, and then spreads out equally in every direction as every newly affected person then spreads it to those with which they have contact and so on. Hierarchical diffusion is when an idea or product spreads selectively out of a
hearth to those that are more susceptible to it, much like how some diseases only spread to those with specific traits or genes. For example Crocs footwear was initially designed to be targeted at sailors, and thus was quickly adopted by sailors. Crocs were then found to be useful for gardeners as well, as the resin material used was beneficial to that occupation as well, and so it spread to gardeners. Thus the hierarchical use of Crocs was sailors, to gardeners, and from there it diffused contagiously through society as these two initial users became the hearth from which Crocs began to spread. As this example shows, through contagious and hierarchical diffusion, human geographers can easily track the growth of not just diseases, but other aspects of human life as well.
     The Tipping Point’s second principle, that little causes can have big effects, can be compared to what has been previously called a hearth, also known as a cultural hearth. It is the concept that small changes in one area to an already established concept can spread to have large effects on the culture as a whole. Through the different forms of diffusion previously described, a very small tweak in a product can spread to have much larger effects. By making Crocs more suitable for sailors, it was inadvertently changed to also be useful for gardeners. Then came the introduction of Jibbitz, or small jewelry-like decorations made for Crocs. These small decorative pieces of plastic made little change to the function of Crocs as footwear, however had a very large effect in sales to children, as even the slight change in appearance allowed children to customize and personalize their Crocs. Through the introduction of this small product to the larger one, Crocs became one of the most popular forms of footwear throughout the nation. Small changes such as this in hearths can allow for further hierarchical diffusion, as the cultural trait is changed to accommodate more and more people.
     The Tipping Point’s third principle states that change happens not gradually, but in one dramatic moment. This can be further tied into the ideas of contagious diffusion as it is when a situation reaches its boiling point. It can be argued that this is also the moment when the hierarchical diffusion spreads much more rapidly due to specific conditions being met. The Tipping Point states that its title was first used to discuss how whites would move out of a neighborhood when the number of African Americans would reach a critical mass. This is a different form of hierarchical diffusion, for this is the point when a certain group’s required prerequisites are met for the epidemic to spread to them. In this case, white communities had a specific ratio of whites to African Americans which when met, made them eligible to affected by the “moving-away” epidemic. The Tipping Point itself is that moment when the prerequisites are met and the group finally becomes susceptible to the epidemic itself. This can also be seen again in the spread of Crocs, as when the prerequisite for children was met, that it be fit for play through its durability as well as be decorative and personalized, the Tipping Point was hit and the epidemic spread. The reason change often occurs very quickly is that all groups have certain needs and desires, and upon these being reached and satisfied by an idea or product, these groups are then open to the use of that idea or product.
     Human Geography: Chapter One also makes the point to discuss how several factors can impede epidemics. Time-distance decay is the concept that hearths can only spread ideas so far. If two areas take too much time for ideas to travel between them, say for example there is an impassable mountain range, then ideas will not diffuse their way across to the people on the other side due to the time and effort that would be required. The same effect occurs when the hearth or nearest area using the idea is too far from another group of people, then the idea will not spread to the far away lands as it would simply take too long. Cultural barriers can also stop the spread of epidemics, as they are simply when a concept cannot be accepted by a different culture due to currently in place taboos, beliefs, or ideas.
     Globalization in a Bottle successfully combines all three concepts laid out in The Tipping Point and explained in Human Geography: Chapter One by using the rise of Coca-Cola as a perfect example. The first characteristic, contagiousness, is discussed when Coca-Cola spread to American military bases across every continent except Antartica. By creating these small factories in each base, which acted as a hearth of American culture and Coca-Cola consumption, Coca-Cola was able to diffuse contagiously throughout societies across the world, especially during reconstruction, as the American soldiers brought it everywhere they went and diffused it into the native population. The second characteristic, that small causes can have big effects, can also be seen in the production of Coca-Cola on site in military bases. By choosing to produce Coca-Cola in bases rather than ship it from America, these factories were already established at the end of the war, allowing for the epidemic of Coca-Cola to diffuse quickly from these already established hearths. It was the small change of creating the Coke closer to the buyers that allowed it to quickly fill the gap of established drinking brands and factories during the period of reconstruction which followed the war. The third characteristic, that change happens very quickly, can also be seen in the spread of Coca Cola. It is important to note how scale is a factor here. Where as with the previous example of the Tipping Point showing how white people would quickly move out of neighborhoods, here the Tipping Point is being discussed on a global scale, and thus “very quick change” is referring to the span of about five years, which is very fast for any brand to spread across the entire globe. Coca-Cola managed to spread itself across the entire world in under a decade, becoming one of the very first brands to spread across every continent, except Antarctica, and be bought in every part of the world. Through all of these characteristics, Globalization in a Bottle manages to show a perfect example of an epidemic which is still relevant today.
     All of these readings combine to show how useful human geography can be in analyzing and understanding human behavior and trends. By thinking about human behavior in the same analytical way that scientists look at disease, humans can be more easily understood and predicted. All of these readings show exactly how epidemics of ideas can spread exactly the same as diseases, and thus prove how relevant human geography can truly be in mapping all parts of human culture and behavior.


Extra Credit:
A video furthering the idea of hip-hop's diffusion throughout many cultures