Conclusions: Toward comprehensive P-E studies

Lutz, W. ORCID:, Sanderson, W.C., & Wils, A.B. (2002). Conclusions: Toward comprehensive P-E studies. In: Population and Environment: Methods of Analysis. Eds. W.C., W. Lutz, A. Prskawetz, & Sanderson, New York: Population Council.

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This volume began with the premise that the scientific analysis of population and environment interactions constitutes an emerging distinct field of studies, which like any other scientific field requires its own set of methodologies. This field of studies, however, is more complex than many other fields because it touches upon a large number of interlinked issues from the natural sciences and social sciences, involving contributions from several disciplines with differing research paradigms and different standard tools and methods of analysis. This inherent complexity of the new field so far has resulted in a high degree of methodological confusion. This is in contrast to the relatively simple research question that constitutes the field: What are the effects of changes in the human population on the natural environment (P-E)? This question has a complement, which closes the cycle of interaction: What are the effects of changes in the natural environment on the human population (E-P)?

In the introductory chapter to this volume, the field was described as a chair with four legs: population dynamics (P) and environmental dynamics (E) in addition to the two directions of influence, namely P-E and E-P. It was stressed that a full study that aims at drawing a comprehensive picture should address these four aspects jointly. While many of the preceding chapters have zoomed in on specific mechanisms by which P affects E, it is important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. As important as it is to better understand the functioning of the specific mechanisms of influence, an evaluation of the overall contribution of any particular mechanism to the complex real-world P-E interactions and its possible relevance for targeted policies can only be made if this specific mechanism is given its proper place in a more comprehensive picture. Such comprehensive analysis can be done in the context of a dynamic model that allows for changes in the population, changes in different relevant parts of the natural environment, and the influences as well as feedbacks in both directions. A static framework cannot do justice to these dynamic interactions. The previous chapter on the PEDA model introduced such a dynamic model, but the focus was only on one circle of causation, namely the one operating through agricultural production and food security. In the following section we present a series of fully comprehensive P-E meso-level (that is, national or sub-national) case studies that try to systematically consider all the most relevant factors that are expected to shape the future P-E interactions in the chosen study region. This survey of five comprehensive in-depth case studies is followed by more general considerations and criteria for future studies in the field.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Bibliographic Reference: In: W. Lutz, A. Prskawetz, W.C. and Sanderson (eds); Population and Environment: Methods of Analysis; Population Council, New York, NY, USA pp.225-250 (2002)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:14
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 05:00

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