Thanks to John Rowley for this posting from People and Planet. See http://www.peopleandplanet.net/?lid=29742§ion=33&topic=27
Rising food prices raise spectre of Malthus
Posted: 16 March 2011
Author: John Bongaarts
As the human family approaches 7 billion and as food prices rise, the spectre of Malthus with his warning of widespread famine has reappeared. Here the distinguished demographer, John Bongaarts, argues that the poor of the world are, indeed, vulnerable unless a greater effort is made to meet women’s needs and slow population growth.
Pessimists have believed that humanity is doomed due to overpopulation and overconsumption ever since economist and scholar Thomas Robert Malthus forecasted this fate over two centuries ago. Conversely, optimists have argued that technological innovation will improve standards of living and that population growth is at most a minor issue.
But, now, rising food costs have once again raised fears that the population is outstripping the planet’s food supplies. Although the recent price spikes are partially the result of short-term factors – droughts, floods, speculative investing, low reserves, and hoarding- food prices are likely to remain high as rising demand runs into supply constraints. While higher food prices will have a negative effect everywhere, they will have a particularly devastating impact on the poor, who already spend a large part of their incomes on sustenance and will be forced to spend more.
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