M4 Choice 1: Analyzing Human Population Growth
For this activity you will be analyzing the census data for the place where you live and plotting graphs of the population growth and population structure. You will then use those graphs to make predictions about future population growth locally, and speculate about potential environmental issues associated with that growth. You can visit your local library to find the information needed, or search online. There are various sites where you could collect the information, but the US Census Bureau’s Quick Facts site is probably one of the easier ones to navigate around. This site has information for the US as a whole, and individual states and counties. To find current and historical data for your county click on the link above, select your state name, and click ‘go’. To look up your county’s 2010 census population select your county name in the upper left corner. The 2010 population is listed half way down the page. To find historical data, select ‘Browse data sets for your state name’ in the upper right corner of the table. On the next page, scroll down and click on the ‘Historical population counts’.
- Start by plotting a graph of the population size against decade (1900 to 2000) for your county so you can examine the overall trend for population growth in your county. For comparison, here is the same graph for the whole of New York State:
- Now plot the age distribution (population pyramid) for the population for your county, using the 2000 census data. (I recommend you use this site, American Fact Find, to access the data,http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml). This article from Population Today (pg. 3) gives detailed instructions on how to create a population pyramid using Excel. Here’s the corresponding graph for the whole of New York State.
- What has been the historical pattern of growth for your county for the period 1900 to 2000? Do some research to find explanations for the growth pattern (what may have caused rapid increases or decreases in numbers, for example?).
- Explain the biological, social, cultural, economic, or political factors which may have impacted the growth rate.
- Based on the previous trends in growth, and the current population age distribution, what do you think future growth will be?
- Discuss all the potential environmental impacts of this future growth.
- Write a brief report that includes the two graphs you have plotted and a discussion of the above questions.
(Note: please utilize outside sources and the textbook readings for this module to help you answer these questions)