Full text: Expansion, Stagnation und Demokratie - 1982 Heft 2 (2)

are high to one in which both are low is both difficult and slow. The
implications of this demographic transition have been discussed at
length und all that is needed here is to note that it involves heavy
environmental pressures in the poorest societies. Population growth in
the developing countries is about five times as great as in the developed
countries in the second half of this Century. By the end of this Century,
more than three fourths of the world's population of at least 6 billion
people will live in poor countries (compared with about two thirds now).
If present trends continue, world population will not stabilize until a
size of 10 or 11 billion is reached. About 40 per cent oft the population in
these countries is below 15 years old, compared with 30 per cent in the
developed countries. The high dependency ratio implied by such an age
distribution puts a heavy bürden on the working population, on social
services such as education, on the budget and on the ability to mobilize
resources for development.
It is anticipated that between now and the year 2000 one billion people
will be added to the populations of cities, more than the total number in
cities now. The fastest growing cities are in the developing countries,
where the ability to cope with the strains is weakest. Here again, the
literature is large and it must suffice to mention the high costs of urban
services and the threats to the environment from pollution of air and
water, congestion, noise, and disease transmission.
The dangers from atomic energy, on which many developing coun¬
tries are embarking, stem from the threat of proliferation of nuclear
weapon capability, reactor failures, the difficulties of disposing of
radioactive waste, the possibility of diverting plutonium by terrorist
groups and the uncertainty about radiological Standards. Perhaps most
serious is the potential threat to civil liberties that arises from the need
to protect society against terrorists and saboteurs. While all these
Problems exist also in developed countries, the level of technical
competence of dealing with them is lower in developing countries.
Some of these dangers have implications that reach beyond national
boundaries.
The attraction of using cheap and effective pesticides in agriculture in
countries where the pressure to grow more food is very strong is clear,
but there are long-term adverse effects which can be immense.
The urgent advance of industrialization will tend to spread trace
materials of industrial origin: mercury, cadmium, polychlorinated
biphenyls and other substances can have poisoning effects on people.
The destruction of tropical forests with associated adverse effects on
soils is now well documented, though the effects on climate and the
world's atmosphere are more controversial.
A concern for environmental protection for developing countries is
often met with hostility. It is feit that the industrialized countries have
achieved high levels of living and now wish to prevent or slow down the
same process of industrialization in the developing countries, for the
sake of preserving values that are mainly the concern of the rieh.
Sceptics can also say that preserving the environment has many of the
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