FERTILITY rates are falling across the globe – even in places, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where they remain high. This is good for women, families, societies and the environment. So why do we keep hearing that the world needs babies, with angst in the media about maternity wards closing in Italy and ghost cities in China…?
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 8 July 2021. To continue reading, click here.
YOU have probably seen the annual rankings of the world’s cities by “liveability” or “quality of life”. It is intriguing to discover which come out top – and which bottom. After all, most of us have skin in this game: more than half of people around the world live in urban environments, and that number is growing. But you may also have wondered what “quality of life” really means. Which qualities? Whose life…?
This article first appeared in New Scientist on 9 June 2021. To continue reading, click here (paywall).
IN 2011, when the global population hit 7 billion, economist David Lam and demographer Stan Becker made a bet. Lam predicted food would get cheaper over the next decade, despite continuing population growth. Becker predicted that food prices would go up, because of the damage humans were doing to the planet, which meant that population growth would outstrip food supply. Becker won and, following his wishes, Lam has just written out a cheque for $194 to the Vermont-based nonprofit Population Media Center, which promotes population stabilisation internationally…
This article first appeared in The Observer on 8 May 2021. To continue reading, click here.
TO prevent future pandemics, we must stop deforestation and end the illegal wildlife trade. Do you agree? Of course you do, because what’s not to like? The buck stops with the evil other. The question is, will doing those things solve the problem? And the answer is, probably not. They will help, but there’s another, potentially bigger problem closer to home: the global north’s use of natural resources, especially its reliance on livestock…
This article was first published in The Guardian on 21 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.
EIGHT thousand years ago small bands of seminomadic hunter-gatherers were the only human beings roaming Europe’s lush, green forests. Archaeological digs in caves and elsewhere have turned up evidence of their Mesolithic technology: flint-tipped tools with which they fished, hunted deer and aurochs (a now extinct species of ox), and gathered wild plants. Many had dark hair and blue eyes, recent genetic studies suggest, and the few skeletons unearthed so far indicate that they were quite tall and muscular. Their languages remain mysterious to this day…
This article first appeared in the July 2020 issue of Scientific American. To continue reading, click here.