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Population: Time-Bomb or Smoke-Screen?


  • Mario Petrucci


'Overpopulation' is often implicated as a major causative factor of poverty and environmental degradation in the developing world. This review of the population-resource debate focusses on Red, Green and neo-Malthusian ideologies to demonstrate how they have ramified into current economic and development theory. A central hypothesis is that key elements of Marxist analysis, tempered by the best of Green thought, still have much to offer the subject. The contributions of capitalism to 'underdevelopment', and its associated environmental crises, are clarified and reasserted in a contemporary context. The concept of valuation vector is also introduced, and a novel closure of Blaikie's 'Chain of Explanation' is proposed. The Circuit of Capital model thus created is applied to specific case-studies of resource-population conflict so as to overturn the simplistic conventional connection held between population growth and ecological devastation. The model highlights sequential causes of poverty arising from important capital-based factors which might otherwise be overlooked. It can accommodate a variety of Red-Green perspectives and its structural form is suited to the unravelling of complex population-resource pressures in the multi-dimensional space of the modern global political economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Mario Petrucci, 2000. "Population: Time-Bomb or Smoke-Screen?," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 9(3), pages 325-352, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev9:ev914

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    More about this item


    population; environment; Marxism; Green; Circuit of Capital; valuation vector;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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