Population and Migration

Population and Migration

by Ritchie Cunningham
Population and Migration

Population and Migration

by Ritchie Cunningham



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Population and Migration are Social Science topics which can attract a lot of media attention. Indeed, the media, through careless headlines and oversimplifications are capable of generating many myths based on a very crude understanding of the issues. The politicisation of these topics by both the right and left in politics can make it difficult to separate fact from fiction.

I will attempt to explain some basic concepts and terminology used in these topics and by examining the data available, plot a course through the myths and "fake news".

There is no doubt the population increase since 1800 and the scale of the current world population - circa 7.7 billion – poses problems for governments and the natural environment. It took our species around 200,000 years to reach the population total of one billion but only a further 200 years to surpass seven billion and in 2020 we are adding around 80 million to the human population each year.

The rapid population growth does have consequences, as a larger population will have a larger resource requirement. The most noticeable pressure is on freshwater resources but the requirement to provide food has in recent years been the cause of tropical forest loss and overfishing in many of the world's oceans. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which fuels climate change, has a direct relationship with world population size.

One of the myths which result in complacency is that "The population is going to stop growing soon" so why take any action. The UN has been doing population projections for many years and they have proved to be very accurate over the last 50 or so. Currently, the median projection from the UN, which does seem the most likely, predicts a peaking of the world population at 10.9 billion in 2100. Some scientists believe this size of population will place such strain on both renewable and non-renewable resources that the earth is heading for both an ecological and societal disaster. In 2017, thousands of scientists from around the world called attention to "widespread misery and biodiversity loss" unless humanity can reduce fertility rates and governments aim for a population which is more sustainable.

Some lobbies argue the real issue is about consumption, not population but it is clear that population is directly related to consumption and as affluence and access to technology increases, in what were once developing countries and are now considered to be newly industrialised countries (NIC's), consumption will increase even faster than population.

We have in our lifetimes got used to a particular set of societal circumstances, for example retiring in our 60's and having slightly smaller families. However, we take it hard when the retirement age is raised, and this perception of the norm is challenged. As countries around the world face a growing ageing population there is perhaps a need to reimagine the contribution that a fit, healthy and older population can contribute to society and also examine the belief that we need a large youthful population to support this ageing population.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940162426813
Publisher: Ritchie Cunningham
Publication date: 05/08/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Robert Ritchie Cunningham


Ritchie Cunningham was born in Stirling and attended seven schools in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, completing his schooling for the final two years at Lenzie Academy. Graduating from the University of Glasgow with Honours in Geography.

Career History
Teacher of Geography, Economics and Geology at Cumbernauld High School from 1977-1980
Principal Teacher of Geography and Modern Studies at John Neilson High School in Paisley 1980-1984
Field Development Officer – Geography – Scottish Examination Board 1984-1986
Adviser in Social Subjects, Highland Region 1986 -1991
Rector (headteacher) Inverness High School 1991-2014

From the start of his career, he has been involved in writing educational materials, articles and staff training materials. The first written during his first appointment in Cumbernauld High School between 1977-1980.
Provided in-service training on curriculum development assessment and innovation at a national level and also to several Local Authorities over the years.
Written/co-written over 25 publications including:
"Diagnostic Assessment - A teachers view" in Programmed Learning and Educational Technology; Journal of AETT
-Co-author of "Core Themes in Geography"- two books for Higher Grade Geography.
-Co-author of Core Topics in Geography - four copymaster sets for senior school geography
-Co-author of Credit Geography - a textbook for Standard Grade
-Co-author of People and Place - a textbook for 5-14 Geography
Also three Radiovision programmes for BBC Radio Scotland.
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