Introduction: Population, Poverty, and Ecology

  • Alex de SherbininEmail author


This section includes chapters addressing population growth, migration, and ­urbanization as they relate to the ecology–poverty nexus. The work in the field of population–environment studies has been the province of demographers, geographers, sociologists, economists, and, perhaps pre-eminently, ecologists, through the seminal works of Duncan (1964), Hardin (1968), and Ehrlich and Holdren (1971). In the ecological contributions to this literature, population size, density, growth, and re-distribution (in the form of urbanization) are often presented as primary drivers of environmental problems, and the solution proposed is to reduce or reverse growth rates, or to set aside ecologically sensitive areas in parks. In the extreme, Garrett Hardin (1974a, b) proposed that poverty be allowed to run its course, unfettered by foreign aid, so that rapidly growing developing countries would better experience the “positive checks” on population growth of famine, misery, plague, and war postulated by Malthus 200 years ago. This he termed “life boat ethics.”


Poverty Reduction Slum Settlement Longe Term Degradation Human Domination Positive Check 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Duncan, Otis Dudley. 1964, From Social System to Ecosystem. Sociological Inquiry 31: 140–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ehrlich, Paul R., and John P. Holdren. 1971. Impact of Population Growth. Science 171: 1212–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hardin, Garrett. 1974a. Living on a lifeboat. Bioscience, 24(10): 561–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hardin, Garrett. 1974b. Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor. Psychology Today 8: 38–43.Google Scholar
  5. Hardin, Garrett. 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons. Science 162: 1243–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)The Earth Institute at Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations