Oxford Martin School
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In Origin of Species, Charles Darwin described how a population explosion occurs and called the time of population explosion “ favourable seasons”, he was not to know it, but such circumstances arose for his own species at around the time of his own birth. However, the favourable seasons for human population growth were not experienced favourably, with times of great social dislocation from small scale enclosure to global colonisation. Now those seasons are over, we have experienced the first ever sustained slowdown in the rate of global human population growth. This has been the case for at least one human generation. However, we are not just slowing down in terms of how many children we have, but in almost everything else we do, other than in the rise in global temperatures that we are recording and that we have to live with. It can be argued that there is even a slowdown in such unexpected areas as debt, publishing, and in the total amount useful information being produced.
If this is true – that humanity is slowing down in almost everything that we do – what does this mean? What measurements suggest that slowdown is true? And if so much is still rising, albeit at slower and slower rates – is that such a great change? Finally how might the slowdown impact on economic thought. In many ways economics was the science of the great acceleration; a science that makes most sense when markets are expanding and demand is rising. What kind of an economics is needed in a world where enormous and accelerating growth has stopped being the normality?
Danny Dorling joined the School of Geography and the Environment in September 2013 to take up the Halford Mackinder Professorship in Geography. He was previously a professor of Geography at the University of Sheffield. He has also worked in Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds and New Zealand, went to university in Newcastle upon Tyne, and to school in Oxford.
Much of Danny’s work is available open access (see www.dannydorling.org). With a group of colleagues he helped create the website www.worldmapper.org which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education, wealth and poverty. His recent books include, co-authored texts The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the way we live and Bankrupt Britain: An atlas of social change.
Sole authored books include, So you think you know about Britain; and Fair Play, both in 2011; in 2012 The No-nonsense Guide to Equality, The Visualization of Social Spatial Structure and The Population of the UK Unequal Health, The 32 Stops and Population Ten Billion in 2013; All That is Solid in 2014; and Injustice: Why social inequalities persist revised in 2015. In 2016 with Bethan Thomas he authored People and Places: A 21st century atlas of the UK, A Better Politics: How government can make us happier and with Carl Lee Geography: ideas in profile. In 2017 with Dimitris Ballas and Ben Hennig he produced The Human Atlas of Europe and in 2017 he also wrote the sole authored book The Equality Effect: Improving life for everyone.
Before a career in academia Danny was employed as a play-worker in children’s play-schemes and in pre-school education where the underlying rationale was that playing is learning for living. He tries not to forget this. He is an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences, a former Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers and a current patron of Roadpeace, the national charity for road crash victims.
Oxford Martin School,
University of Oxford