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David Suzuki speaks about overpopulation

Secondary

Description

David Suzuki argues that in any discusson of population, we must recognize the principle of exponential growth (when the growth rate of the value of a mathematical fuction is proportional to the function's current value). To illustrate the impact of exponential population growth, Suzuki uses the analogy of baterial growth in a test tube. The test tube represents the planet and its food supply; the bateria, human population; the growth rate such that the test tube will be full in 60 minutes. At 55 minutes, the test tube is only 3% full; at 59 minutes it is half full. According to Suzuki we are at the 59 minute mark.

The lessons to be learned from the analogy

  • the capacity of the biosphere like the test tube is fixed/ finite
  • the soluton is not to be found in other test tubes -planets
  • growth cannot be equated with progress 

 

 

 

 

General Assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The video serves as a useful introduction to the Malthusian theory that argues that because population increases exponentially and food/resources grow arithmetically,  population size will ultimately exceed  the ability to support itself. Suzuki's use of the growth of bateria in a test tube is a dramatic illustration of this theory.

Once students have been introduced to the Malthusian/Suzuki thesis, they may be required to investigate the arguments made by those that have challenged this thesis.

Any discussion of  sustainable development, carrying capacity, resource exploitation should include consideration of current and future population growth. 

The issue has relevance for a number of subject areas.

  • History - the collapse of a number of historical societies such as Easter Island has been linked to population growth that degraded and destroyed the local resource base.
  • Geography - units of study that focus on human-environmental interaction or resource management include consideration of the impact of population growth.
  • Economics - those who challenge the practice of measuring economic growth by reference to GNP suggest that such a measurement fails to consider the ability of the resource base to sustain growing population and growing consumpton. The connection between socio-economic factors and birth rates is also essential for an understanding of populaton patterns.
  • Environmental Science- units on ecological footprints at the national and international level require reference to the respective  population pressures 
  • Math - the debate over population trends and their possible impact requires an analysis of the data available and its implications for sustainable development

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 30: World Patterns of Population and Settlement
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 12:Resources and Environmental Sustainability
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Population: Characteristics, Distribution, and Growth
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 120: An Overview of Environmental Science
      • Geography
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        • Canadian Geography 120:A Geographic Perspective on a Current Canadian Issue
      • Social Studies
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        • World Issues 120: Issues Facing the Global Village
        • World Issues 120: The Future of the Global Community
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Human Population Issues in Canadian Geography
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Population Distribution and Growth
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography of Canada 11: Canadian Ecumene
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography: Population
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
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      • Geography
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        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Interactions in the Physical Environment
    • Grade 11
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      • Geography
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        • Physical Geography: Patterns, Processes, and Interactions(Univ./College Prep.) Human-Environment Interactions
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
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        • Global Connections
        • Canada & World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.): Human-Environment Interactions
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.): Global Connections
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Human-Environment Interactions
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Prfeparation)
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography of Canada 421A: Canada’s Global Connections
        • Geography of Canada 421A: Cultural Connections
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Human Population and Carrying Capacity
      • Geography
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        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
        • Geography 631A: What are the issues?
  • Quebec
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science & Technology
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        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Living World
        • Science & Technology:The Living World
  • Yukon Territory
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    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 12: Resources and Environmental Sustainability

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (2)

    • Ecological Footprint
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Carrying Capacity
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Human Population Dynamics

Sustainability Education Principles

Pedagogical Approaches