The Anthropocene
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SpringerBriefs in
Environment, Security, Development and Peace (ESDP)

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Hans Günter Brauch,

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Free University of Berlin (Ret.)


Larry D. Barnett: Demography and the Anthropocene . Springer Briefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace, vol. 35 (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2021).

ISBN (Print): 978-3-030-69427-2
ISBN (MyCopy): 978-3-030-69429-6

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  • Emphasizes the growth of the human population, in the world as well as in the USA, and its impact on the biosphere
  • Attempts to reverse the change in approach by environmentalists, including environmental law scholars, who were concerned during the 1960s and 1970s with human population growth but today generally neglect population as a cause of environmental deterioration
  • Uses data from the US General Social Survey to determine whether, among American adults, concern with the environment is related to concern with population growth

Environmentalists devote little attention at the moment to the size and growth of the human population. To counter this neglect, the monograph (i) includes original graphs showing population size and growth since 1920 in the world as a whole and the United States; (ii) assembles evidence tying the increasing number of people to ecosystem deterioration and its societal consequences; and (iii) analyzes sample-survey data to ascertain whether the current disregard of population pressures by U.S. environmentalists reflects the thinking of Americans generally. However, even if a nation took steps primarily intended to lower childbearing and immigration, the findings of social science research indicate that the steps would not have a substantial, lasting impact. The discussion, which suggests an indirect way by which government may reduce fertility, underlines for environmental scholars the importance of studying their subject in a multidisciplinary, collaborative setting.

Keywords: Anthropocene, Attitudes toward the environment, Attitudes toward population growth, Effectiveness of law and government policy, Regulation of fertility and immigration, U.S. General Social Survey, Sociological theory