By John Barratt, Michael Louw
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Extra info for International Aspects of Overpopulation: Proceedings of a Conference held by the South African Institute of International Affairs at Johannesburg
The earth's surface consists roughly of 30 per cent land (135 million km 2 ) and 70 per cent water (seas and oceans: 375 million km2 ). A few years ago, it was reckoned 2 that about half of the world population was concentrated on 5 per cent of the earth's surface, while 57 per cent of the land supported only 5 per cent of the people. This pattern is probably still true today. Due to topography, climate and soil, population is bound to be unevenly distributed over our planet. Because of severe cold, insufficient rainfall and infertile soils only an estimated 20 per cent of the earth is considered habitable.
Most resources are not free and can only be acquired through the application of man's brain and brawn. As a first approximation of the distribution of world resources, the division of the world national product between the various continents comes to mind. The national product is hereby seen as a comprehensive index for measuring the level of development, which reflects at the time man's mastery over nature and the manner in which resources are allocated. 1 below shows the distribution of world population and world national product between the various continents (divided into rich and poor) and national proproduct per head in 1960 and 1970.
His reasoning may seem to have been defective, and his ideas have had to be modified in the light of the experience of more than one and a half centuries. Nevertheless, his intuition is still full of significance for us. Here we shall mention only some lines of thought which remain essential for our study. The classification of populations into those 'with incipient decline', those 'with transitory increase' and those 'with a high development potential' is well known. 1 1. INCIPIENT DECLINE Falling within the first category are the populations of the north, west and centre of Europe, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand.
International Aspects of Overpopulation: Proceedings of a Conference held by the South African Institute of International Affairs at Johannesburg by John Barratt, Michael Louw