In October 2014, we had the immense pleasure of welcoming Prof. Joel E. Cohen as a guest lecturer at the College/Graduate School of Arts Sciences of the University of Tokyo, Komaba where he gave a series of lectures and workshops.
Prof. Cohen is currently a researcher and professor at the Rockefeller University located in New York in which he heads the Laboratory of Populations. He holds a simultaneous professorship at Columbia University in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Please have a look at his personal websites:
During his series of lectures, he introduced the GPES/GPEAK/PEAK students to Human Population Dynamics, a research field that tries to “to understand how demographic, economic and cultural changes will interact with Earth’s physical, chemical and biological environments” (quote from official Rockefeller website). He outlined the general history and principles of human population growth and how recent developments affect the world’s natural resources.
Several mathematical models on how to predict human population were highlighted and the how certain factors can influence the outcome of predictions.
Problems of access to food and water for the majority of world population were discussed and whether or not the world will reach a certain population limit at which it is not possible anymore to sustain additional human life on this planet.
Finally the workshop assignments confronted students with the correlation between human population growth and worldwide energy consumption, as energy demand tends to increase when societies’ development level increases. Development is usually accompanied with rising industrialization and urbanization, which again puts even additional pressure on natural resources. Therefore the social impact of unmanaged population growth can have large impact on a country’s capacity to raise its general development level.
Solutions include active natural resource management as human population growth naturally stabilizes as societies reach a critical tipping point of human development.
This was a overall a great set of lectures and workshops, and benefited from motivated students who showed a very high degree of interest and curiosity in the subject matter.
We as GPES Student Group want to extend our thanks to Prof. Cohen for his great introduction into a very complex research field as well as GPES for organizing these lectures and workshops.
The GPES Student Group
(Pitcures ©2014 GPES Student Group & GPES)