Issues of food and population

Global food prices are soaring again as droughts, freezes and floods have affected various crops in many parts of the world. At the same time, demand is rising with living standards in fast-growing countries.
Economists and scientists have identified longer-term changes – from global warming to China’s economic growth to a lack of productive farmland — as the culprits. Is the world producing enough food — specifically grain? Is this a continuation of the 2008 crisis, or something quite different?
Climate change turns this thinking on its head. A shock in one corner of the world now ripples to every other. The economic architecture that promised efficiency has instead made us all more vulnerable. Little has changed in this crucial respect since the last food crisis. But this isn’t simply a rerun of 2008.
While the global recession has turned a corner for some people in some countries, unemployment remains stubbornly high for many, and hunger has trailed it. There are 75 million people more undernourished now than in 2008. At the same time, governments are cutting back on entitlement programs for the poor as part of austerity drives to fight inflation.
Urban families are unable to afford food and fuel, and governments are unresponsive to their plight. Under such circumstances, as Egyptians know too well, food prices and climate change are revolution’s kindling.
But a very major reason for inflation in food prices is overpopulation. We need global policies that limit family size to two children. That means access for birth control free of charge to everybody together with governmental policies that promote its use.
The population of the world has more than trebled. This can’t go on, even if we can keep producing more food through new methods. Unless world population increases can be restrained, in more gentle ways than by starvation and pestilence, big problems lie ahead. But how can we tell people to have fewer children?
With mankind taking hundreds of thousands of years to break the one billion mark in population another three hundred to swell it to 6.5 billion people and the world population expected to continue to grow, there is certainly need for worry. The planet and its resources cannot sustain a population much more than 10-12 billion people which will be on us quickly as shown by current projections. With climate change , food shortages are inevitable. Mankind’s arrogance that they can do as they like — without repercussions– is simply astounding.
In Asian countries the situation is worse. Rice and wheat prices are up, and these are considered as basic foods in most third world poor countries. And let’s not forget that in these countries population growth is far beyond the average in the more developed countries.
Yes, no doubt the culprits for the global price rises is also increased demand from the emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil…, the shortage of food due to drought/climate effects and to this two, we must add, the pumping into the global markets what may be trillions of US dollars whose real effect is but to raise prices or bring about inflation. These three factors alone are a sufficient recipe for political instability everywhere… many now believe the events in the middle east are the direct results of economic pressures (high prices, etc) and not just the desire for politcal freedoms. Solutions? well, none of these three factors seem under the control of the average world citizen and so we just have to wait and see things play themselves out while hoping for the best.
The world is producing enough food except in the war zones of the Middle East. However, as in Egypt, Tunisia and other parts of North Africa and the Middle East, how can one afford the food on a maximum salary of $146 per month? When the price of cocoa, sugar, coffee, grains, fruits and the rest climb sky high look to the commodities speculators who drive the prices up. The speculators should be blacklisted from gambling on that market. Food is a necessity of life while betting on a horse only impacts one game. When the commodities speculators play the oil market on which we all depend, up goes the price of oil, hence the price of gasoline, diesel and bunker fuels. If one complains, we are told this is the way capitalism works. Hooey, capitalism has rules like every other game, but who has the guts to say, “Stop it!”
The corollary to the central question, are we producing enough food? Are there too many people? There can be no rational, long term solution to the problem of food production, or any of the other pressing issues such as climate change, shrinking habitats, energy, etc. without addressing the issue of world population. We live on a finite planet. How many people can we expect this planet to support at an acceptable standard of living? The current economic model is based on ever increasing markets. Ever increasing population demanding an ever increasing standard of living cannot go on forever. If family planning and birth control are not included in any discussion of food production, the discussion is pointless.
Let us add a very simple observation to this issue. There are too many people on the planet and the rate of population growth has already become unsustainable. I understand that this reality flies in the face of some people’s religious beliefs, but religion in a very different time on this planet doesn’t deal with our current reality.


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