GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment



This week, we will focus on debates about two key topics - global population growth and natural resource scarcity. These concepts are very important in shaping our understanding of environmental change and our fears about environmental crises. This week, we will begin to critically examine these important concepts by questioning how we think about the availability and use of resources and population pressures. We will compare how they have been used in political debates about the environment in centuries past and in contemporary times, and we will engage perspectives that strongly disagree with one another.

Assignments Due in Week 4:

  • Take the Week 4 Quiz (by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time).
  • Post in the Week 4 Question & Reactions discussion (by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time).
  • Respond to 2 of your classmates' Q&R posts (by Thursday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time).
  • Submit your Topic and Thesis Statement for the final essay by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Respond to two of your classmates about his/her topic and thesis statement by Thursday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Materials for Week 4

  • Ellis, E. C. (2013, September 13). Overpopulation Is Not the Problem! The New York Times. New York, NY. (IN CANVAS)
  • Malthus, T. 1978. Chapters 1 & 5 Excerpts. In An Essay on the Principle of Population.
  • Population Research Institute’s videos on "Overpopulation is a Myth", episodes 1-6 
  • Tim de Chant, Per Square Mile, 2012 and Peter Menzel 2005 "Hungry Planet Family Food Portraits"


You are expected to include the full citations for these materials in your assignments, as detailed in our Quick Guide. You should look up the missing information not provided with the materials, which, if it is not to be found in the document or opening film credits, can easily be located through a quick online search.

Week 4 Objectives

At the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • describe the causes and consequences of overpopulation, poverty, hunger, and scarcity from different perspectives;
  • explain your views on overpopulation and scarcity and how your lifestyle and livelihood is related to these issues;
  • discuss the impact of different ideas of overpopulation and scarcity on human use of the environment, including different justifications for the domination of nature; and
  • respectfully and thoughtfully compare your attitudes about overpopulation and scarcity with the assigned materials and your classmates' perspectives.

Let's dive in!