Can the world feed 7 billion people?

31/10/2011 at 8:10 am 2 comments

This month, the world’s human population is said to have crossed the 7 billion mark.

This news produced lots of conferences, seminars and articles, on the question that is also the title of this blog post. So we thought it would be helpful to produce a digest of those articles:

  • The UN forecasts that world population will rise to 9.3 billion in 2050 and surpass 10 billion by the end of this century. (See the UN stats on population)
  • Many commentators have stressed that this is good news: around the world people are living longer, healthier, more productive lives. Thanks to the advances in public health, fewer people die prematurely, and we now have a world with 7 billion people with possibilities.
  • The UN’s Population Fund also highlighted that on average, women now have fewer babies than ever before. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR – the average number of live births per woman over her lifetime) in OECD countries stands at around 1.74 (where 2.3 is the level needed to keep a population levels stable). The big news is that countries like China and India, where the TFR was 6.1 and 5.9 respectively in 1950, now have birth rates of 1.8 in China, and 2.6 in India.
    (Look up your country’s population projections here). We should be speaking of “fertility decline”, therefore, in combination with population growth. (Also read this Washington Post article)
  • As this excellent article on the BBC website argues, these statistics tend to fuel Malthusian doom scenarios in people’s minds. Thomas Malthus believed that humans would always reproduce faster than Earth’s capacity to feed them, and that it was better to let the poor starve – a theory the impact of which was felt during the great Irish Famine and bizarrely widespread, still today.

So the key points to take away from this month’s discussions about the growing world population are:

And this is where the main argument of the discussion should be made: While it is true that the biggest population growth happens in poor countries, it is the millions of people in rich countries that pose the biggest problems for the world.

The average person in Ireland impacts 5 times more on the planet’s resources than does the average Ethiopian.

As Paul Ehrlich (author of that Malthusian book, “The Population Bomb”) says in this article, if he were to write his book today,:

“I wouldn’t focus on the poverty-stricken masses. I would focus on there being too many rich people. It’s crystal clear that we can’t support seven billion people in the style of the wealthier Americans.”

Also read:

– Population Bomb? So wrong – How Electricity, Development, and TV Reduce Fertility

– “The 7 Billion Debate

– “A World of 7 Billion

– “Population is not the problem

– “I am the Population Problem

“Six Steps to Food Security in a Seven-Billion World”

– “Is the environmental crisis caused by the 7 billion, or the 1%?

– “Investment in Reproductive Health is key to breaking the cycle of Poverty

Entry filed under: Development Effectiveness. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Development Results: “Irish Aid values hard won change and not just ‘quick wins’.” EU policies still undermining the fight against poverty

2 Comments Add your own

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 211 other followers

Archives

Dóchas on Twitter

The World's Best News - images

“Making corporal punishment history”

#Irish NGO Nurture Africa has teamed up with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) in a project aimed at eradicating corporal punishment in schools in #Uganda.

Read more:http://www.nurtureafrica.ie/#!Working-together-to-eradicate-Corporal-Punishment-one-school-at-a-time/canh/553f7fc10cf23d01645aa90a

Photo: Umar Sekibala - Nurture Afrtica Child Protection Officer disseminating child rights and examples of alternative measures of dicipline (towards elimination of
corporal punishments) to Kyebando UMEA Primary School teachers and guardians How one community is working to overcome the challenges of climate change. "It's dry now, so we are working to be ready for when the rains come. Things have changed a lot in the past years, now that we have the gardens and dykes." http://www.trust.org/item/20150514040044-7uh4r/?source=fiOtherNews2

Photo: Women work on a vegetable garden built with U.N. funds in Djimebougou, Mali. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Chris Arsenault The changing face of #Lagos.

#Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, has had a makeover over the last decade, as this gallery from the BBC's Ayo Bello shows: 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32556640 The changing face of #Lagos.

#Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, has had a makeover over the last decade, as this gallery from the BBC's Ayo Bello shows: 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32556640 The most positive of all statistics:
The number of children dying before their fifth birthday has been reduced by half in twenty years. More #forests in the world’s most populous countries: Forest cover in #India and #China has increased by more than 572,000 km2 since 1990.

http://worldsbestnews.dk/news/more-forest-in-the-worlds-largest-nations/ Girl skaters in #Afghanistan: "Skateistan"! http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/aghani-girls-skateboard-instead-of-bike/

#skateboard “Ever since I was a child, when I saw a bird in the sky, I wanted to fly a plane. Many girls in #Afghanistan have dreams... but a number of problems, threats stand in the way.“ 23-year-old Niloofar Rahmani is the first female fixed-wing aviator in Afghanistan's history and the country's first woman #pilot since the ouster of the #Taliban regime.

Read more at http://www.dawn.com/news/1178900/female-afghan-top-gun-soars-above-gender-barrier The world is winning the fight against #malaria.

Millions of lives have been saved in the past 10 years; lives mostly of children under the age of five.

The World #Health Organization reports that deaths from malaria have been cut by 47 percent worldwide, and by even more - 54 percent - in sub-Saharan #Africa.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/world-malaria-day-2015/en/ Surfing beach vendors of Bangladesh.

A group of 10-12 year old beach vendors in #Bangladesh, most of whom have dropped out of school to help support their families, have taken up #surfing.

24 year old surfer, lifeguard and beach worker Rashed Alam has been teaching the girls at his school/surf club. Like the girls, Alam dropped out of #school and started working on the beach to help support his family at a young age. He started surfing when he was 16. He says that his way of giving back is by ensuring that girls get a good future through surfing.

Read more at http://blog.allisonjoyce.com/?p=486 In #Iran, a female student gets to design and build a spectacular bridge.

Tabiat (“nature”) bridge, the largest of its kind in Iran, was architect Leila Araghian’s first project. She designed it five years ago while a student, winning a local competition for a plan to connect two parks separated by a highway in north Tehran.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/20/bridge-tehran-architect-iran-leila-araghian-tabiat-sanctions-iranian-designers

#Architects #architecture #women #globaldev #sanctions

Visitors Map

Map

Dóchas Photos

1506_77

1506_76

More Photos

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 211 other followers

%d bloggers like this: