Population Growth or Decline?

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Since the 1970s, and earlier with Malthus and eugenics movement, we have been presented with the threat of catastrophic population growth due to fertility rates in the less developed world, then due to ‘immigration‘ from the less developed world when in fact we are facing population decline from mid century; contrary to UN Population Division data which inflates future headline growth?

This ‘misunderstanding’ has been highlighted by science journalist Fred Pearce in ‘The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet’s Surprising Future’; Hans Rosling in ‘Don’t panic the truth about population’; Prof. Wolfgang Lutz of Vienna’s IIASA and Sanjeev Sanyal demographer at Deutsche Bank.

Most belive the world is experiencing high population growth but research debunks this and finds we will be facing population decline.

Global Population Growth or Decline? (Image copyright Pexels.com)

‘Book review: ‘Empty Planet‘ explores the world’s next biggest population threat

Humanity is facing an imminent catastrophe, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson assert in their new book

The central assertion Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson make in Empty Planet is one that readers of the daily news or regular government reports will find deeply counter intuitive. According to all that received wisdom, there is a worldwide population crisis, with humans reproducing at ever-increasing rates, rapidly eating up all the world’s resources and driving the engines of runaway climate change.

Stripped of modern trappings such as greenhouse gases and industrial meat farming, this is fairly close to the old vision of 18th-century scholar and theorist Thomas Malthus. He declared back in 1798 that in conditions of economic and cultural stability, the human population would continue to increase, even to the point where it chokes resources and overburdens the Earth itself.

Such a view has been the standard for centuries, and some of its proponents have made quite tidy sums writing books about the doom it foretells, most notably Paul Ehrlich. His 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb warned of imminent, widespread famines as the result of human overpopulation.

Bricker and Ibbitson say such books and the thinking behind them are “completely and utterly wrong”. They agree with Malthus, Ehrlich and company that humanity is indeed facing an imminent population catastrophe – but the problem won’t be overpopulation. “The great defining event of the 21st century – one of the great defining events in human history – will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population begins to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”

The authors know they’re working against not only popular perception, but also raw numbers. They point out that the United Nations predicts the human population to hit 11 billion in the 21st century, up from the nearly eight billion on Earth today, an increase from five billion since 1950.

But Bricker and Ibbitson say that population growth rates have declined slightly in the 21st century, particularly in what they refer to as the richest places on the planet. Japan, Korea, Spain, Italy, much of Europe – all such places are facing long-term reproduction rates that won’t come close to sustaining their current population levels. And they claim this same levelling and then downward trend will be seen in places such as China, Brazil, Indonesia and even such fertility hot zones as India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The main reason Bricker and Ibbitson cite for their certainty about all this is that the floor of the world’s basic prosperity is steadily rising. Two things happen as a result: an increasing number of women in developing countries are gaining more education and more control over reproduction, and an increasing number of couples are therefore either postponing having children of their own or having far fewer children than their ancestors did.

Empty Planet makes the case that this change is not only inevitable but already well under way, and that it will be permanent: humanity will simply go into terminal decline, no asteroid or other global catastrophe required. As mentioned, readers have heard such alarming claims before – Ehrlich, for instance, was certain the human population would reach its breaking point in the 1970s.’

 

For more articles and blogs on population decline, population growth and immigration click through.

 

Globalisation of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by White Nationalists

In recent years both Islamophobia and antisemitism have come to the fore in US, UK, Australian and European politics, media and social narratives, emanating from white nationalism, conspiracy theories and Nazi ideology.

Following are excerpts from an article by Nafeez Ahmed explaining the co-dependence and shared ideology of Islamophobia and antisemitism in the US white nationalist movement, now in the mainstream and coursing through social narratives including the ‘great replacement’ theory.

From the Foreign Policy in Focus:

Behind Islamophobia Is a Global Movement of Antisemites

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

The global rise of white nationalist violence proves that the threat of fascism is not just
about one community — it threatens all communities: white people, black people,
Muslims, Jews, and beyond.

The spate of mass shootings at the end of July comes head on the heels of an escalating epidemic of U.S. gun violence. Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 257 mass shootings, which have killed 9,080 people. This is nearly triple the number of people that died on 9/1 1 , the terrorist attack which justified U.S.-led wars that have killed at least a million people.

Over the last decade, nearly three quarters of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have been
linked to domestic right-wing extremists, with just a quarter linked to Islamists. And in
201 8, every terrorist murder in the U.S. was linked to the extreme right.

The ideology of extreme white nationalism is now a bigger U.S. national security threat,
and a bigger cause of death, than Islamist terrorism or immigration. Yet millions of white
Americans have been brainwashed into believing the exact opposite….

 

The shared ideology of global white nationalism

In one of these tweets, Hopkins openly endorsed the rise of extreme nationalist
politicians around the world, including Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and leader of the Polish Law and Justice party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

All four politicians have promoted divisive, xenophobic policies….

 

The making of the ‘great replacement’ mythology

It is now widely recognized that at the core of this shared far-right ideology is the so called “great replacement” theory, which posits that a genocide of white people is being achieved through their replacement by migrants, mostly from Muslim countries (or, in the United States, from Latin America).

The overlapping xenophobic agendas of these politicians illustrates how latent Antisemitism remains a driving force in this global movement, which nevertheless masquerades under the guise of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim sentiment as a mechanism to achieve mainstream reach…

…In short, the focus on a “Muslim invasion” through a combination of mass immigration and birth rates allowed far-right groups inspired by neo-Nazi ideas to rehabilitate themselves and conceal their traditional anti-Semitic roots.

It is no surprise then to see that many of the groups that have played the biggest role in
spreading the core tenets of the “great replacement” mythology through the specter of a
global Islamist conspiracy are simultaneously allied with longstanding white nationalist
movements…

 

Widening the net

After 9/1 1 , the U.S. government launched a major multi-agency investigation into
terrorism financing across multiple agencies known as Operation Green Quest, focused
on uncovering Muslim charities operating as “front organizations” for terrorists.
The problem was that U.S. government agencies like the Treasury Department, FBI and
many others had a nebulous and weak understanding of the Muslim world, often leading investigators to see connections and ties which were not there and to read conspiratorial meaning into every association or relationship that might potentially link individuals or organizations to extremism — however tenuous….

 

Far-right penetration of the FBI

Indeed, part of the problem is that for years the FBI has suffered from institutional
Islamophobia.

FBI training manuals obtained by Spencer Ackerman for Wired revealed that after 9/1 1
the agency was teaching its counter terrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American
Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult
leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding
mechanism for combat.” And “combat” can include numerous techniques including
“immigration” and “law suits”. Thus, a Muslim who immigrates to the U.S. or sues the FBI
for harassment is seen as just another agent of the jihad….Rather the “Muslim invasion” narrative is central to the goal of legitimizing a broad, xenophobic agenda rooted in anti-Semitic movements historically aligned with neo Nazism.

The alliance between Islamophobes and anti-Semites

That is why so many of the same groups promoting Islamophobic myths play a lead role
in amplifying white nationalist concepts…..

….I described this alarming phenomenon as a form of “reconstructed-Nazism,” “indicating that the core ideology [of the global far-right] embraces core Nazi principles, but embeds them in a range of cosmetic narrative adjustments which allow those principles to function subliminally in a new post war, anti-Nazi, and post-9/1 1 global cosmopolitan context.”…

Conclusion

…The upshot of this is clear: Jews and Muslims cannot afford to be at loggerheads in the fight against fascism. Both communities are in the firing line of a global far-right agenda advanced by groups and political parties forged in the historic bowels of Nazism.

Whatever their political differences and disagreements, both communities need to forge
bonds of solidarity in the struggle against racism. If they are to survive, our communities
have no choice but to resist being distracted by efforts to divide us and turn us against
each other, which is a deliberate far-right strategy to debilitate both Jewish and Muslim communities. Instead, we need to identify new lines of strategic cooperation to resist and disrupt a global far-right movement which threatens not only our communities, but the very foundations of our democracies.

This means that no matter what our political leanings might be, the struggles against
Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are fundamentally about the same thing: protecting
diverse, inclusive, and free societies.’

For more articles and blogs about the political issues regarding immigration, population growth, white nationalism etc. click through.

Soft Skills for Work and Employment

Soft skills for work and employment to complement technical skills have been recently highlighted, again, by a Deloitte Australia media release, following is a summary.

Soft skills for work and employment have been recently highlighted, again, by a Deloitte media release.

Soft Skills for Work (Image copyright Pexels)

 

While the future of work is human, Australia faces a major skills crisis – The right response can deliver a $36 billion economic bonus

12 June 2019: With skills increasingly becoming the job currency of the future, a new Deloitte report finds that the future of work has a very human face. Yet Australia is challenged by a worsening skills shortage that requires an urgent response from business leaders and policy makers.

The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human, the latest report in the firm’s Building the Lucky Country series:

  • Dispels some commonly held myths around the future of work
  • Uncovers some big shifts in the skills that will be needed by the jobs of the future
  • Reveals that many key skills are already in shortage – and the national skills deficit is set to grow to 29 million by 2030
  • Recommends that businesses embrace, and invest in, on-the-job learning and skills enhancement
  • Finds that getting Australia’s approach to the future of work right could deliver a $36 billion national prosperity dividend.

 

Employment Myths busted

The report dispels three myths that tend to dominate discussions around the future of work.

Myth 1: Robots will take the jobs. Technology-driven change is accelerating around the world, yet unemployment is close to record lows, including in Australia (where it’s around the lowest since 2011).

Myth 2: People will have lots of jobs over their careers. Despite horror headlines, work is becoming more secure, not less, and Australians are staying in their jobs longer than ever.

Myth 3: People will work anywhere but the office. The office isn’t going away any time soon, and city CBDs will remain a focal point for workers.

 

The big skills shift ahead: from hands…to heads…to hearts

 

“That today’s jobs are increasingly likely to require cognitive skills of the head rather than the manual skills of the hands won’t be a surprise,” Rumbens said. “But there’s another factor at play. Employment has been growing fastest among less routine jobs, because these are the ones that are hardest to automate.”

More than 80% of the jobs created between now and 2030 will be for knowledge workers, and two-thirds of jobs will be strongly reliant on soft skills.

 

Critical skills and the multi-million gap

 

As work shifts to skills of the heart, Rumbens said the research reveals that Australia already faces skills shortages across a range of key areas critical to the future of work.

“These new trends are happening so fast they’re catching workers, businesses and governments by surprise,” Rumbens said.

At the start of this decade, the typical worker lacked 1.2 of the critical skills needed by employers seeking to fill a given position. Today, the average worker is missing nearly two of the 18 critical skills advertised for a job, equating to 23 million skills shortages across the economy.

 

The business response?

 

Rumbens said that getting ahead of the game will require concerted action.

The report includes a series of checkpoints business leaders and policy makers, can use to inform, and drive action. These include:

  • Identify the human value – Identify which jobs can be automated, outsourced to technology such as AI, and which are uniquely human. Use technology to improve efficiency, and increase the bounds of what’s possible.
  • Forecast future skills needs – Understand the skills, knowledge, abilities and personal characteristics of your employees.
  • Re-train, re-skill, and re-deploy – People represent competitive advantage. Consider alternatives to redundancy such as re-training, re-skilling or re-deploying as options to support existing workers reach for new opportunities.
  • Involve people – The people who do the work are often the best placed to identify the skills they require to succeed. Find ways to involve employees in the design and implementation of learning programs.
  • Talk about technology honestly – Engage in an honest dialogue about the impacts of technology to support staff and generate new ideas for managing change.
  • Manage the robots – Introduce digital governance roles to evaluate the ethics of AI and machine learning, alongside existing frameworks.
  • Use mentoring and apprenticeships – Micro-credentialing holds the key to unlocking the value of emerging job skills, while apprenticeship models are re-emerging as an effective way for business to develop a future-ready workforce.
  • Recruit and develop social and creative skills – Recognise and reward social skills such as empathy, judgement, and collaboration when recruiting and developing workers.

 

For more articles and blogs about soft skills and adult learning click through.

 

Essay Mills Ghost Writers and University Students

Academic integrity, copying, plagiarism, collusion, ‘ghost writing’ and essay factories have become a fact of life in university or higher education, internationally.  This article endeavours to explain how or why is it an issue but at same time, short on what are the solutions?

While western democracies, and the developing world, have politicians, business and public leaders openly flouting ethical standards through egregious corruption and related unethical behaviour, is it any wonder?

Some solutions are precluded by universities’ corporate or financial needs e.g. rather than (barely modified) assessments that are more efficient to grade (or worse more multiple choice), there maybe a need for a return to in class open book and variety of assessments?

Academic integrity plagiarism essay factories and ghost writing for university students

Academic Integrity at University (Image copyright Pexels).

From The Guardian, Chris Husbands:

Essay mills prey on vulnerable students – let’s stamp them out

Universities alone can’t stop the rise of essay mills. We need support from the government and tech firms to defeat them

In the 1990s, there was enormous optimism around how the internet would connect people and make knowledge available to all. Fast forward twenty years, and identity theft, cybercrime, online bullying and appalling sexual exploitation have become everyday news stories. Increasingly, it’s the perversions of the internet which dominate our thinking.

The business model is simple. You have an essay to write, you are time poor, you pay a fee for the essay to be written. The fee these crooks charge depends on the length, the standard you are looking for, and the deadline you are facing….

For universities, the digital world’s most concerning development is the spread of essay mills. They’re not new: it’s always been tempting for some students to pay someone to do their work for them. But the internet has vastly eased the relationship between customers and suppliers, fuelling the growth of these essay mills….

….Learning is based on integrity and scholarship: showing that students have read, understood and been influenced by the work of others, and can explain how their thinking is new or different. Education is not about getting grades, it’s about being an active participant in learning opportunities. If some of that is difficult, well, difficulty is the point….

….The Secretary of State for Education’s announcement that tech firms should block payments to essay mills and students should report on their peers is a step in the right direction. We need to work together to preserve the integrity of the UK higher education system from these unscrupulous companies, and the way they prey on vulnerable students who don’t fully understand the implications of their actions.’

Chris Husbands is the vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University

For more articles and blogs about academic integrity, copying and student plagiarism click through.

 

 

 

 

Study Advice for Starting University

Following is an article from The Conversation Australia with five tips for starting out at university including support services, time management, reading literature, plagiarism or academic integrity and personal responsibility.

Five top tips to succeed in your first year of university

February 25, 2019 6.15am AEDT

Tips and study advice for first year university students.

How to Study at University (Image copyright copyright Pexels).

This week, thousands of new students from around the country will be starting their first year at university. For many students and their parents, transitioning to university is an exciting but daunting experience. Here are five tips to help students succeed in their first year.

  1. Find support services

All universities offer student counselling, mental health, sexual health, disability services, careers centres, accommodation and financial support.

One of the first places to look for these services is on your university’s website under the heading, Current Students. Students should also attend presentations during orientation week, ask their tutors and course coordinators or contact their student centre to get more information.

 

The best way to get information is to talk to other students….

 

  1. Manage your time well

Learning how to juggle social and academic commitments is one of the most difficult challenges for new students. One of the best ways to manage study workloads is to draw up a semester plan. This can take the form of a timeline or calendar.

Students should start by entering in all assignments and exams on their semester plan and then work backwards to allocate time for researching, draft planning, proofreading and checking references…..

 

  1. Keep up-to-date with readings

One common theme across different faculties is that a good assignment is one where arguments have been debated and claims supported by evidence. In order to do this well, students need to do the weekly readings assigned in their individual courses.

You also need to read beyond the required list. Lecturers are not interested in students’ personal opinions. They’re interested in students’ opinions that are informed by evidence. That is, supported by the readings and research the student has done….

 

  1. How to avoid plagiarism

Learning how to reference reading sources correctly, to avoid plagiarism, is an essential skill. At the start of semester, most students have to complete online modules which explain the complexities of academic integrity.

Students caught plagiarising risk failing a course or being expelled from their degree. What this means for students is everything you read which has informed your thinking must be included in your reference list.

 

  1. Enjoy university life!

If you’re not happy with your course or subjects, you should get advice from your faculty. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning progress, but you should still talk to your lecturers about any concerns.’

 

For more blogs and articles about academic integrity or copying and plagiarism, critical thinking and soft skills click through.