Are There Ecological Limits to Population?

Keyfitz, N. (1993). Are There Ecological Limits to Population? IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-93-016

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On a question everywhere recognized as important, sustainable development, social and natural scientists have very different approaches, adduce different kinds of data, offer different policy recommendations. Persistence of these differences has the awkward result of puzzling the conscientious policy maker, in effect asking him or her to solve a problem that is too difficult for the scientists concerned. On the other hand it allows the policy maker who is less conscientious to act as suits his or her interests for extraneous reasons; there will always be some intellectual support for whatever he or she wants to do.

The paper shows differences between social and natural sciences, specifically between those most closely involved, economics and biology, that help to account for the very different conclusions. These include the longer term perspective and the sense of contingency on the part of biologists, along with the view that mankind has arrived where it now is by adapting to the natural world, as against the shorter term interests, the intervention of the consciousness of participants, and the view that mankind is creative and not merely adaptive on the part of economists. For economists growth is now the normal condition; for biologists it is an aberration -- an admirable one up to a point -- of the last century or two.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Institute Scholars (INS)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:02
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:14

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