Joel Cohen: Top 10 key population trends on Earth with 7 billion

Joel Cohen is the author of the 1996’s bestseller on Population studies titled “How Many People Can the Earth Support?“. I remember some of its content and that it was one of the first book acquisitions I did from Barnes & Noble (from those times in which you actually went to the bookstore!).  Now, 15 years later we are confronted with his favorite topic: overpopulation and his fetish with calculations for possible saturation points.  Here’s what he thinks even though so many people has been born since he wrote his book doing numbers of saturation points of the world:

Humanity took until year 1800 to reach its first billion people. We added 1 billion people in just the past 12 years. October 31, 2011 marks a milestone in global population: 7 billion humans. That’s according to projections by the United Nations. EarthSky interviewed demographer Joel Cohen, professor of populations and head of the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York. He explained the top 10 population trends in a world with 7 billion inhabitants.

1. One billion people are hungry, and 1 billion are obese. Cohen said this is the most important thing people should know about the population milestone of 7 billion. Too too many people on Earth today live without knowing where their next meal will come from.

A billion people are chronically hungry. That means they wake up every day hungry. They don’t get enough calories to get through the day and do a day’s work like you and me. And many of them have been hungry since they were born. And their brains aren’t fully nourished, fully developed. And they’re having a very hard time learning and coping with life’s problems.

At the other extreme there are about a billion people that are really, seriously obese. And that’s partly a matter of not getting a good food supply also — not a food supply that’s balanced for their needs. Roughly two or three billion people — we don’t know precisely — are malnourished as opposed to undernourished. That means they’re not getting the trace vitamins that they need to have a balanced diet.

For world's seven billion, one billion hungry, one billion obese. (UN)

In a world with 7 billion, 1 billion are hungry, 1 billion are obese. (UN)

2. Three billion people live on two dollars a day. Cohen said:

That is abject poverty. You try to live on two dollars a day for long and you’ll start losing weight pretty fast. So roughly half the world is in desperate poverty.

3. One billion people live in slums. Cohen said:

Right now, about half the world lives in cities — let’s say 3.5 billion, slightly more. And of those, a billion are living in slums without adequate sanitation, electricity, water, security, legal protection, transport, and inadequate housing conditions. When it rains, it leaks. Maybe a mud floor. So we, the world, have not provided home or food, have not reached minimum standards that we ought to be providing for people.

One billion people today live in slums. (UN)

One billion people today live in slums. Image Credit: United Nations

4. Over 200 million woman have unmet needs for contraception. He said:

That means that they don’t want to have an additional child, and yet they’re not able to use modern means of contraception. These problems are not only abroad. We have, I would say, a very serious population problem in the United States. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, in 2001, approximately half of the pregnancies in the United States were unintended. That means that the woman, or the couple either did not want a pregnancy at that time or did not want a pregnancy at any time. And that is a very serious problem of human well-being related to the lack of control over people’s own reproduction.

5. Today, 1.5 billion people live in rich countries.
 Cohen explained:

That’s Europe, Western Europe mainly, the United States and Canada, the overseas English-speaking countries of Australia and New Zealand, Japan, and some of the Asian tigers.

6. Four billion people live in middle-income countries. Said Cohen:

These are the countries that have recently emerged from poverty with fast-growing economies. And I would put China, India, Brazil, many countries in Latin America in that realm of the middle-income. And that means on the order of Chile — let’s say 5,000 dollars a year income. That’s tremendous progress when you remember how recently China and India were really in desperate poverty. And many in those countries still are.

Four billion people live in middle-income countries like China. Image Credit: weirdchina

7. Economically at the bottom are 1.5 billion people. Cohen said:

Those people are living largely in sub-Saharan Africa, but in the new world also in Haiti, and in many of the provinces of South Asia in both Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh. There are hundreds of millions of people in dire poverty — the bottom billion as one Oxford economist calls them. So that gives you sort of a geographical picture of where these 7 billion people are.

Seniors now outnumber toddlers.

Seniors now outnumber toddlers.

8. Seniors now outnumber toddlers, and this trend will continue to increase. Cohen explained:

In the last decade, the world passed a very major milestone. And that is that for the first time in history, the number of people 60 years old or more exceeded the number of people 0-4 years old. Basically, for the first time, the grandparents outnumber the grandchildren. In the year 2000, there were about 10 percent of the world’s people were age 0-4, and about 10 percent were age 60+.

What we’re going into now is the era of aging. And by 2050, we anticipate that the number of people 60+ will be about 3.5 times the number of people age 0-4.

In the richer countries, like the United States and Europe, this process of aging is already pretty far advanced and will pose some serious questions and challenges for our retirement systems. In the poorer countries, which have a younger population because they’ve been growing faster — that means more children, so higher proportion of young people — aging will increase even faster than in the richer countries, which have already made a transition in part, the beginning of a transition to aging. So aging is one big thing that’s happened.

Two-thirds of people worldwide will live in cities by 2030, experts predict.

Two-thirds of people worldwide will live in cities by 2030, experts predict.

9. More than half of Earth’s inhabitants today live in cities, and two-thirds will live in cities by 2050. Cohen said:

In 2000, a little less than half of the world’s people lived in cities. Somewhere around 2007-2008, it became about 50-50. And by 2050, we expect about two-thirds of the world’s people to be living in cities. Now the increase in the number of city dwellers, between 2000 and 2050 is expected to be about three billion people, which was the total population of the Earth in 1960.

Virtually all of that additional three billion people will be added in the cities of the developing countries, not the rich countries. The rich cities will grow somewhat, but the really rapid growth will be in the poor or developing countries.

And if you do the arithmetic, 50 years between 2000 and 2050, roughly 50 weeks per year, 50 times 50 is 2500 weeks in that half century. And yet we’re going to add three billion people in the cities. Three billion is 3,000 million. It means that developing countries have to add urban infrastructure for a million people every five days from now to 2050. Now if that isn’t a building job, I don’t know what is. And hardly anybody is thinking about the design of the cities so that they can accommodate those additional three billion people in a constructive and useful way.

More than half of women today have fewer children needed to replace themselves. (UN)More than half of women today have fewer children than the number needed to replace themselves and their partner. Image Credit: United Nations

10. More than half of women today have fewer children than the number needed to replace themselves and their partner. Cohen said:

In 2003, for the first time in human history, more than half the women in the world lived in countries or provinces where the rate of reproduction was below the replacement level. That is, they were having fewer children than required to replace themselves in the next generation. This represents a tremendous change over the previous half century. The rate of growth of the world population fell by almost half, from 2.1 percent per year in 1950 to 1.1 percent per year in 2000. And we expect it to continue to decline if we continue to educate women, to provide modern contraception, and to improve the status of nutrition and education.

Bottom Line: Humanity took until year 1800 to reach its first billion people. We added 1 billion people in just the past 12 years. October 31, 2011 marks a milestone in global population: 7 billion humans. That’s according to projections by the United Nations. EarthSky interviewed demographer Joel Cohen, professor of populations and head of the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York. He explained the top 10 population trends in a world with 7 billion inhabitants. Many continue to face issues of dire poverty. The population is aging. For the first time, more than half the world’s women live in countries or provinces where the rate of reproduction was below the replacement level.

professor of populations and head of the Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York.

via: Joel Cohen: Top 10 key population trends on Earth with 7 billion

New M.A. in History at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala.

Envio Web Maestria Historia.jpgI am very happy to learn that Universidad Francisco Marroquín has a new MA in History (official website in Spanish).

It seems that the program will be leaded by the Sociologist Carlos Sabino and the Institute of Political Studies and International Relations – link in Spanish (from where I got my BA).  The focus of the MA is in the teaching of methodological methods to research history topics and current historiography.

Some of the courses they will offer are:

Some of its faculty are:

The MA seems to be focused on the methodological research skills in History. I am certainly not a huge fan of Methodologies in Research and would have many things to question in regard to the focus of this M.A.  Also, the Euro-centric structure of the Program is something I really do not like.

This is a great step for UFM and Guatemala.  I am certain that in the following years we’ll see a change of how the M.A. programs of Social Sciences and History will evolve from such Methodology centered and Eurocentric studies into new fields of Global History, Migration Studies, Transnational Politics, International Commerce & Globalization.

I celebrate this new M.A. program in a country that needs the knowledge of Researchers and Postgraduate students urgently.

Concorde’s last day in Global History

Video: Concorde’s last flight.

There are moments in history in which the World Order changed and historians are always trying to get them accepted and applauded by their colleagues. Those specific moments in history may be not seen immediately but until enough time has passed to understand the direct and indirect effects that shaped the course of History.

Many of these moments are the product of technological innovations that changed the way humans lived. One of them could be October 24, 2003 when three BA Concordes made the last commercial flights in history: G-BOAG flew from New York to London; G-BOAE made a return flight to Edinburgh; and G-BOAF flew around the Bay of Biscay. All three circled over London before landing within minutes of each other at Heathrow Airport.

The relevance of this event may not yet be so evident. However, we can be certain that the impact that had the catastrophe of a Concorde near Paris in July 2000 is going to determine the future of space flights. Specially after the last flight of Atlantis (the last Space Shuttle of the United States) in July 21, 2011.

The blog The Modern Historian posted a great/short overview of Concorde’s history and here is it:

During the late 1950s, aircraft manufacturers around the world started working on designs for supersonic passenger jets. The costs for such projects were so prohibitive that few of them progressed beyond the design stage. In the early 1960s, the British Aircraft Corporation, which had inherited the Type 223 supersonic transport (SST) project from the Bristol Aeroplane approached the French Sud Aviation, who were working on the Super-Caravelle SST, with an offer to co-operate on a joint project.The result of this co-operation was Concorde, which made its maiden flight in 1969. By this time, Concorde only had one compettitor, the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, but cold war tensions and the crash of a Tu-144 at the 1973 Paris Air show meant that it was Concorde that attracted orders from the major airlines. Nevertheless, the oil crisis of late 1973, environmental concerns about nervousness about sonic booms (the noise the aircraft made as it broke the sound barrier) resulted in the cancellation of all the orders except those from the national airlines of France and the United Kingdom. These orders for ten aircraft each still required substantial government subsidies to keep the project alive.In spite of these setbacks, Air Franceand British Airways (BA) started scheduled flights using Concorde in 1976. Although other airlines occasionally leased the aircraft, the high operation costs meant that supersonic travel was only feasible for the most profitible routes. Nevertheless, to continue running the services required high ticket prices, the continued government funding in the case of Air France and the sale of the British fleet of aircraft to BA at a knock-down price.All this changed following the crash of a Concorde near Paris in July 2000. The year long grounding of all the Concordes contributed to the decision taken by both airlines to withdraw the aircraft. On 27th June 2003, an Air France Concorde flew for the last time and on 24th October that same year three BA Concordes made the last commercial flights by the aircraft: G-BOAG flew from New York to London; G-BOAE made a return flight to Edinburgh; G-BOAF flew around the Bay of Biscay. All three circled over London before landing within minutes of each other at Heathrow Airport.

What is Capitalism?

Before defining what is Capitalism I have decided to provide you with five videos that explain the philosophical foundations of Capitalism as a social system. By listening to these videos, you’ll get a wonderfully elaborated explanation of What Capitalism is and of what it consists of.

Video – What Is Capitalism (1/5)

“Capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships.”1

Published in 1966 this abstract from Ayn Rand‘s work on Capitalism explains in a clear and unequivocal way the true concept and definition of a system based on reason and in the recognition of the rights of free and responsible men.

Capitalism in the previous quote means a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated social system known as “Capitalism Laissez-faire“. It is a system that works as a set of interacting or interdependent moral, political and economical principles that are incorporated into legal systems, institutions and governments. This moral, economical and political principles are contingent to the identification that the members of the system do in order to understand the nature of man and are applied to the rational understanding of man’s psycho-epistemology (man’s mode of functioning in acquiring knowledge).

In human history there hasn’t yet existed a capitalist laissez-faire social system that fulfills the previous requirements; and only glimpses of its potentiality have been achieved through history. However, since the 15th Century “economies organizing themselves on capitalist lines have experienced greater economic dynamism: increasing productivity, increasing employment, and generating more rapid advances in economic wealth, living standards, and improved health of the population.”2  It is because of many of the principles of Capitalism Laissez-faire that Globalization and all the different forms of Capitalism have managed to benefit humanity and achieved our current conditions. Unfortunately, it has been because of the philosophical contradictions and irrational actions of man that also many adverse results have come into being from these mixed forms of capitalism and economic crisis, inequalities in the distribution of wealth and environmental degradation are still existing.

The Board of the Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University explains what are some of these forms of Capitalism that currently exist and also explain which are some of its capitalist characteristics,

In the 21st century capitalism exists in several forms. These include 1) free market or market-led capitalism such as we are accustomed to in the U.S.; 2) corporatist or state-led capitalism where the government exerts significant guidance, leadership, and influence over the deployment of private capital (e.g. France, Japan in the 1980s); and 3) managed capitalism, in which worker groups and broad social welfare issues exert significant influence on private corporate behavior (e.g. Sweden, Germany).3 Whereas some evidence suggests that market-led capitalist economies experience greater economic dynamism and higher rates of per capita income growth than economies with other forms of capitalism,4 other evidence points to less volatility and fewer inequities in other forms of capitalism than in market-led economies.5

This blog was created to study how and when Capitalism and its philosophical principles played a role in Global History.  It is my goal to demonstrate with a narration of past events how the roots of Wealth enabled for the interconnection of the World and how we could learn from the past to build more rational and objective societies.


1 Rand, Ayn. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Signet; Fitst Signet Printing, 1967 edition (July 15, 1986)

2 About Capitalism. BB&T Center for The Study of Capitalism.

3 D. Coates, 2000, Models of Capitalism, Blackwell: Malden MA.

4 R. L. Heilbroner & W. Milberg, 2006, The Making of Economic Society, Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River NJ; E. Phelps, 1999, “Lessons from the Corporatist Crisis in Some Asian Nations”, Journal of Policy Modeling, 21 (3), 331-339. E. Phelps, 2007, “The Economic Performance of Nations: Prosperity Depends on Dynamism, Dynamism on Institutions”, in E. Sheshinski, et al, ed., Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Growth Mechanism of Free Enterprise Economies, 342-356, Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ.

5 M. Walker & R. Thurow, 2009, “U.S., Europe are an Oceans Apart on Human Toll of Joblessness”, Wall Street Journal, May 7, A1.

Why Globalization Matters?

“It was by making myself a Catholic that I won the war of the Vendee [the war of counter-revolution in western  France], by making myself a Muslim that I established myself in Egypt, in making myself Ultramontane [a devotee of the papacy] that I won men’s hearts in Italy. If I were to govern a Jewish people, I would re-establish Solomon’s Temple.” Napoleon Bonaparte

It is with Napoleon’s astonishing remark that I decided to give you some light of what Globalization refers to and why I choose to write about it as one of the two pillars of my research.

The term Globalization (also referred to as Globalisation) refers to what many different historians considered a process of interrelation (or unification) of the world. It was a process of cultural, political and economic relations that for the first time in history united all mankind.

It has been the aim of historians to identify When does Globalization begun and How it begun.  But also, it has been their aim to question if Globalization as a process has already concluded or if it is an ongoing process in the 21st. Century.  As well, historians are still trying to explain if Globalization should be judged (or not) as the result of only positive (good) results in regard to increasing the wealth, culture and technology of the world; while other historians argue that Globalization has also resulted in poverty, losses, conquest and cannibalization.

Globalization has been studied from different approaches in Social Sciences. Sociologists and Anthropologists have focused on the cultural effects that the transfer of technology, mass migrations, institutions and products has had in different regions of the world. Political Theorists studied how Globalization affects the institutions, norms and hierarchical authorities in specific regions and how changes in other regions may have had altered the status quo. Economists study how globalization increased the commerce and transactions between regions and territories through trade, investments, and flows of capital just to mention a few.

In this blog I’ll aim to discuss Globalization as a process and a result of the interconnectedness of human’s psycho-epistemology in specific contexts and periods of history.  My mission is to study how human behavior is not determined by nature and how human free will (action that results from rational or irrational reasonings chosen between opportunity costs) has shaped the course of history until the present.

Continue reading “Why Globalization Matters?”