“…Despite many doom-and-gloom predictions, explosive growth in the world’s population isn’t something to panic about says Nicholas Eberstadt…”
So starts a WSJ opinion article from Friday February 23, 2007 discussing overpopulation and how the planet has not reached it’s limits. How all the previous naysayers regarding population expansion have been wrong. How the predictions for the future are dubious at best.
“Mr. Eberstadt says the strains that Malthus and others predicted from a surge in population haven’t materialized. Instead, as population has increased so has most people’s standard of living. The world’s population quadrupled to more than six billion people during the 20th century, a time when per capita gross domestic product almost quintupled. Similarly, while a shortage of resources would be expected to drive up commodity prices, costs actually fell in the 20th century…”
He is correct. Projections for practically all matters into the future are difficult to pin down and really count for something. But here are some statistics you CAN count on.
Currently half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day, almost 3 billion people. (So much for an increased standard of living.) And don’t forget about those books out there like Nickel and Dimed or Morgan Spurlock’s reality series discussing how people try to live on minimum wage in America. They are making a lot more than $2 a day and they are not getting by.
Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are chronically malnourished, while most Americans are severly or grossly overweight.
Almost 11 million children under the age of 5 die every single year from poverty.
From a survey published in 2000, 47% of the world’s agricultural land is considered severely degraded. In China in fact, 900 square miles of land is converted to desert each year. (If our agricultural land is degraded and disappearing how do we feed this endless supply of humans?)
For 6 of the last 7 years the annual grain harvest has fallen below the annual grain demand. And even more scary, that doesn’t even take into account all the demand from the enthanol plants that are coming online. That means less and less of our grain will be exported to other countries for their consumption.
Mr. Eberstadt forgets the one thing that most everyone who isn’t concerned about the population levels of our world forget. Oil. Oil makes the world hum and he is forgetting the bonanza that was the Petroleum century. This stored energy allowed humans to way exceed the carrying capacity of the earth by using millions of years of stored energy to generate more food and feed more people. Oil allowed countries to ship excess food all over the world and allowed many, many countries to dramactically exceed their carrying capactiy. We’re all aware that oil is already running out, and with it our ability to produce copious amounts of food will run out. Oil allowed some countries to subjugate other countries and extract their natural resources and exploit their populations. Oil is the thing that makes it all possible. What happens when there is less oil?
It’s time to start talking and thinking about this forgotten bogeyman hiding in the closet because sooner or later it’s going to rear it’s ugly head.
Cross posted on Groovy Green