Thanks to Bob Walker for bringing my attention to the new (June) issue of National Geographic, which has a compelling special report (“The Global Food Crisis: The End of Plenty”) that looks at the “perpetual food crisis” that is emerging and concludes that:
We don’t want to think about limits. But as we approach nine billion people on the planet, all clamoring for the same opportunities, the same lifestyles, the same hamburgers, we ignore them at our risk.
None of the great classical economists saw the industrial revolution coming, or the transformation of economies and agriculture that it would bring about. The cheap, readily available energy contained in coal—and later in other fossil fuels—unleashed the greatest increase in food, personal wealth, and people the world has ever seen, enabling Earth’s population to increase sevenfold since Malthus’s day. And yet hunger, famine, and malnutrition are with us still, just as Malthus said they would be.
“Years ago I was working with a Chinese demographer,” Dyson says. “One day he pointed out to me the two Chinese characters above his office door that spelled the word ‘population.’ You had the character for a person and the character for an open mouth. It really struck me. Ultimately there has to be a balance between population and resources. And this notion that we can continue to grow forever, well it’s ridiculous.”
Perhaps somewhere deep in his crypt in Bath Abbey, Malthus is quietly wagging a bony finger and saying, “Told you so.”
The full article can be found at:
Please consider writing a letter to the National Geographic commending them on this special report and their recognition that an expanded “green revolution” and the introduction of new hybrid grains may not be enough to head off a catastrophic food crisis.
Letters can be sent to:
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit