GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Week 1 Overview

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Please make sure that you have completed the Course Orientation before going any further. The course orientation will introduce you to the instructor for the course, all the steps you need to take in order to be up to speed on the logistics of the course, and more. You need to be familiar with the course expectations and deadlines before moving on with the material.

Global Environmental Change and Planetary Boundaries:

We start the course this week by thinking about the major environmental problems facing our planet and the historical development of our thinking about the factors that drive global environmental degradation and change. You will start by reading about Thomas Malthus and his theories about overpopulation. You will then read about ideas that counter this argument, including arguments that consumption and technological innovation are equally important to how many people and environment or the planet can support. This material will set you up to engage critically with the Course Material for the week.

Consider these questions as you go through the material for this week as well as when completing your assignment:

  • How many people is too many?
  • Have we exceeded the tipping point of global environmental change and can we ever revert back to previous environmental conditions?

  • Are socio-economic disparities the main contributing factor to overpopulation issues? Or are there other factors we need to consider?

Materials:

  • Reading: Pearce, F. (2018) Is the way we think about overpopulation racist? The Guardian Newspaper.
  • Reading: Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin Iii, F. S., Lambin, E. F., . . . Foley, J. A. (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature, 461, 472. doi:10.1038/461472a.
  • Film: Stevens, Fisher (Director) and Leonardo DiCaprio et al. (2016). Before the Flood, [Motion Picture Written by Mark Monroe]. RatPac Documentary Films, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Assignments Due:

  • Take the Week 1 Quiz in Canvas by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Complete Week 1 Activity and Discussion in Canvas by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Please see the calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.