Search - NOVA - World in the Balance: The Population Paradox on DVD

NOVA - World in the Balance: The Population Paradox
NOVA - World in the Balance The Population Paradox
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2004     2hr 0min

It took all of human history until 1800 for the world?s population to reach its first billion. Now we add a new billion nearly every dozen years. Over the next half century, 98 percent of that growth will take place in ou...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/29/2004
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A watchable, compassionate treatment of economics and people
James Neville | Katy (Houston), TX | 07/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"World in Balance contains two excellent Nova segments: "China Revs Up" and "The Population Paradox". I recommend it for its watchable, compassionate treatments that allow us to see the rest of the world in human terms and to understand our complex economic interdependencies with other countries.

That's the summary. Some things that particularly interested me follow...

First, I'm TIRED of the scare tactics in some modern books about how China will outstrip the U.S. economically and we better watch out. Watch this DVD and you will see PEOPLE and KIDS who are experiencing the SAME THINGS WE ARE, namely, improved food clothing shelter transportation AND the dilemma of dealing with pollution. The Four Wheeler Club film shots are particularly fun to watch as novices learn to drive out of some BIG gullies. Being in love with SUV's is not unique to Americans! It brings it home that dealing with economic growth and ecologic balance is everyone's challenge. For example, China will probably need to import HUGE quantities of food from the United States to free itself up to further improve industrially. That is a constructive, beneficial partnerhip in the making, not a destructive competition. For another example, ALL THE CARS IN CHINA are made by foreign manufacturers INCLUDING the United States. However, the Chinese government DOES need to impose rigorous pollution standards for Chinese-made cars as are imposed in the U.S. and Europe. There is a fascinating opening segment about measuring industrial pollution in California's west coast blown all the way across the Pacific Ocean from China's east coast!

Equally fascinating is the program on "The Population Paradox". I worked on population models in graduate school and have followed them ever since with interest. This segment clearly and watchably addresses the issues of managing (or at least being aware of) population growth including cultural (e.g., sons vs. daughters; women working as well as men) and demographic (e.g., age distribution) issues. A key factor is fertility education and economic liberation of women in developing countries. The more educated the child, the better-paying the job they can achieve... BUT the higher it costs the parents to bring it up. This leads to having FEWER children and taking better care of them (education AND health care). China has managed to control its birthrate to the point where it is stablizing and INDIA will soon be most populous in the world, surpassing China. But a surprise, the UNITED STATES has 3rd largest population! A major reason is immigration of younger folks which keeps us economically viable. Japan has LOST population. One key factor is the average number of children born per woman (2.0 is the magic number to maintain steady population, but Japan is at 1.35 and won't allow immigration).

I like these segments because they treat complex issues understandably, and because they put human faces on the countries that are key in our present and future, such as Japan, China, India, Africa)."
Jose bava - review of¨"world in the balance"
Jose Bava | Pasadena, CA, USA | 01/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The video is good, covers some interesting points about demography in different areas of the world and natality and survival problems related to the increase in welfare and opportunities in some countries (as Japan), and the lack in some others (typically those in Africa and also parts of India). However, the video dos not address the possible consequences of all these situations as related to pollution and environment, and does not mention at all how these problems are connected with the incredible increase in the human population worlwide, what I believe has passed a long time ago the carrying capacity of the planet."
Mark | Santa Monica, CA | 09/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

The staggering power of this CD lies in its conceptual insights -- how diverse and complex the twin problems of population growth and global warming have become.

This complexity is such as to make the outcome near unpredictable and likely catastrophic; any short term "solutions" offered here seem too little too late.


This is predicted to reach 9 billion by mid-century despite declining birth rates in industrial countries. What is unexpected is the potential disastrous consequences of such declining birth rates in (e.g.) Europe and Japan; the older generation vastly outnumbers the young, who will be unable to support them.

A different problem exists in Africa, where AIDS has devastated those in their prime, leaving both elderly and children uncared for.

CHINA has a different dilemma; it is trapped by the rising affluence its huge population resulting from industrialization without pollution controls, and finds it difficult to impose such controls withOUT causing economic collapse and civil unrest.

The paradox posed here is that "backing down" the ladder of population growth is far more difficult than imagined. As is "backing down" from industrialization or even imposing pollution controls on a nation whose population is finding new affluence.

GLOBAL WARMING is the other part of the dilemma; at least partly (even significantly) the result of over population and industrialization.

Here the CD is overcome by current events [also see NOVA's "The Dimming Sun"]. The current TIME (Oct 1 2007)covers the scramble of nations to secure oil and other arctic riches due to dramatic melting of Polar ice; and the NYT reports on investor groups calling for disclosure of effects of global warming on various stocks. Such stories indicate global warming is no longer controversial to the financial world.

Reuters (9/22/07) predicts a catastrophic rise in sea levels by 2050 that will affect coastlines around the world (goodbye New Orleans). New models suggest this is inevitable no matter what we do at this late date.

My impression after seeing this program is that neither population control nor pollution controls on levels significant enough to affect warming seem likely in the near future.

OVERALL: Sad to say, mankind's best hope may be a savage plague that depopulates humanity, but keeps the earth inhabitable for humankind.

Obviously I hope that's not so. It is entirely possible that technology will find ways to clean up the atmosphere no matter how much pollution we emit. I've seen reports of such technology and it looks promising (though expensive on the scale of NASA)..

Still, the sheer enormity and chaotic unpredictability of the problem is such that there are no guarantees.

This program is well worth seeing and pondering...

Population paradox
M. Wolfson | 11/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Population Paradox is a high quality work. It showed the complexities of human population, without oversimplifying. But most importantly this is a moving portrait of the human condition, especially the parts about abuse of women in India, and the HIV crisis in Kenya. The final thing I liked about the DVD is it clearly outlines solutions, leaving plenty of room for optimism and action."