EESS talk on "An earth-scientist’s view of human population dynamics"


Event details

Date and time 07.04.2020 12:1513:00  
Place and room
Speaker Dr Stephen Warren, Professor, Dpt of Atmospheric Sciences, and Department of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Category Conferences - Seminars
During the 20th century, the world’s population grew by the factor 3.5.  What permitted this growth was the agricultural advances of the 20th century; without those advances the population would not have grown as it did, from 1.7 billion in 1900 to 6 billion in 2000.  Now in the 21st century, the ability to secure adequate food and water worldwide is threatened by continued rapid population growth, which has been steady at ~80 million per year for each of the last 50 years.
Today’s fertility rates and population sizes are examined in the context of past and future centuries, considering these questions:
Why is a climate scientist studying demography?
How will agricultural developments affect population sizes?
How was fertility limited in pre-agricultural societies?
What are the consequences of regional diversity in fertility rates?
Why can the global average fertility rate rise even if each country’s fertility rate is falling?
Why has political and academic interest in problems of overpopulation fluctuated so wildly (high in the 1920s and 1960s; low following the 1994 Cairo conference)?
Can there be economic benefits to reducing fertility?
Was it inevitable that the world population would eventually at some time reach today’s 7.7 billion, or could policies have been instituted a century ago to limit it to 2 or 3 billion?
What will stop world population growth?

Short biography:
Stephen Warren is Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. He teaches courses on climate, atmospheric radiation, glaciology, and scientific writing, and has won two awards for excellence in teaching. His research concerns the interaction of solar radiation with snow, clouds, and sea ice, and their role in climate, including fieldwork in the Arctic and Antarctic. He has about 135 publications, which have been cited about 16,000 times. He is a Fellow of AMS, AGU, and AAAS. His interest in population problems developed from teaching a course on climate change; he has published two journal articles and one book chapter about human population dynamics.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free
  • This event is internal


  • EESS - IIE


  • Prof. Anders Meibom, LGB and Dr Paolo Benettin, ECHO


human populations agriculture fertility rates UN projections