Seven Billion Souls and Counting: The Issue We Won’t Discuss

July 21, 2011 • Family Planning, Farming Practices, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Fred Stanback for this article. See: http://citiwire.net/post/2798/

Seven Billion Sould and Counting: The Issues We Don’t Discuss

Neal Peirce / Jul 01 2011

For Release Sunday, July 3, 2011
© 2011 Washington Post Writers Group

The population of Planet Earth is now projected to pass the 7 billion mark this October – up from just 2.2 billion in 1950. One study shows that if today’s explosive birthrates in developing nations continues, the African continent alone, by the end of this century, could have 15 billion people – twice the population of the world today.

That won’t happen. As populations age and urbanize, today’s fertility rates – in many poor nations an average of five, even six children for every woman – are bound to recede.

But the speed of the decline depends significantly on whether women have access to family planning and contraception services. Plus legalized abortion. Unwanted pregnancies and abortions are actually declining in countries which have made abortion legal, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Yet it notes that 70,000 women across the world die each year from illegal, often seriously botched abortions.

A closely related issue: food for our expanding billions of people. Popular “Malthusian” concerns – how many people the globe can sustain – were put to rest by the fabled Green Revolution that flowered from the 1960s onward, bringing dramatic gains in new corn, wheat and rice varieties, huge new irrigation systems, synthetic fertilizers and pesticide use.

But more crop gains – especially gains to match the world’s population growth – may be seriously limited. “The great agricultural system that feeds the human race is in trouble,” Justin Gillis reports in a New York Times roundup of global food issues. A special point of concern: demand for four critical staples – wheat, rice, corn and soybeans – has begun to outstrip production. Some grains more than doubled in cost in 2007 and again in the most recent price spikes.

To read the full article, please click here: http://citiwire.net/post/2798/


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