How can we feed 9 billion?

January 16, 2011

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God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [ The Bible - Genesis 1, 27-28 ]

Human Population Growth

In demography, population growth is used to refer specifically to the growth of the human population of the world. Population exceeding the carrying capacity of an area or environment is called overpopulation.
It may be caused by growth in population or by reduction in capacity. Spikes in human population can cause problems such as pollution and traffic congestion, these might be resolved or worsened by technological and economic changes. Conversely, such areas may be considered “underpopulated” if the population is not large enough to maintain an economic system. Between these two extremes sits the notion of the optimum population.

According to projections, the world population will continue to grow until at least 2050, with the population reaching 9 billion in 2040, and some predictions putting the population in 2050 as high as 11 billion.

According to the United Nations’ World Population Prospects report:

  • The world population is currently growing by approximately 74 million people per year. Current United Nations predictions estimate that the world population will reach 9.0 billion around 2050, assuming a decrease in average fertility rate from 2.5 down to 2.0.
  • Almost all growth will take place in the less developed regions, where today’s 5.3 billion population of underdeveloped countries is expected to increase to 7.8 billion in 2050. By contrast, the population of the more developed regions will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion. An exception is the United States population, which is expected to increase 44% from 305 million in 2008 to 439 million in 2050.
  • In 2000-2005, the average world fertility was 2.65 children per woman, about half the level in 1950-1955 (5 children per woman). In the medium variant, global fertility is projected to decline further to 2.05 children per woman.
  • During 2005-2050, nine countries are expected to account for half of the world’s projected population increase: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, United States, Ethiopia, and China, listed according to the size of their contribution to population growth. China would be higher still in this list were it not for its One Child Policy.
  • Global life expectancy at birth, which is estimated to have risen from 46 years in 1950-1955 to 65 years in 2000-2005, is expected to keep rising to reach 75 years in 2045-2050. In the more developed regions, the projected increase is from 75 years today to 82 years by mid-century. Among the least developed countries, where life expectancy today is just under 50 years, it is expected to be 66 years in 2045-2050.
  • The population of 51 countries or areas, including Germany, Italy, Japan and most of the successor States of the former Soviet Union, is expected to be lower in 2050 than in 2005.
  • During 2005-2050, the net number of international migrants to more developed regions is projected to be 98 million. Because deaths are projected to exceed births in the more developed regions by 73 million during 2005-2050, population growth in those regions will largely be due to international migration.
  • In 2000-2005, net migration in 28 countries either prevented population decline or doubled at least the contribution of natural increase (births minus deaths) to population growth. These countries include Austria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.[40]
  • Birth rates are now falling in a small percentage of developing countries, while the actual populations in many developed countries would fall without immigration.
  • By 2050 (Medium variant), India will have 1.6 billion people, China 1.4 billion, United States 439 million, Pakistan 309 million, Indonesia 280 million, Nigeria 259 million, Bangladesh 258 million, Brazil 245 million, Democratic Republic of the Congo 189 million, Ethiopia 185 million, Philippines 141 million, Mexico 132 million, Egypt 125 million, Vietnam 120 million, Russia 109 million, Japan 103 million, Iran 100 million, Turkey 99 million, Uganda 93 million, Tanzania 85 million, Kenya 85 million and United Kingdom 80 million.
  • By 2050 population by region will be: Africa – 1.9 billion, Asia – 5.2 billion, Europe – 674 million, Latin America & Caribbean – 765 million, North America – 448 million
  • Overpopulation Concerns

    Overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth. Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, “Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now.” The world’s population has significantly increased in the last 50 years, mainly due to medical advancements and substantial increases in agricultural productivity.

    The recent rapid increase in human population over the past two centuries has raised concerns that humans are beginning to overpopulate the Earth, and that the planet may not be able to sustain present or larger numbers of inhabitants.

    The population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around the year 1400;at the beginning of the 19th century, it had reached roughly 1,000,000,000 (1 billion). Increases in life expectancy and resource availability during the industrial and green revolutions led to rapid population growth on a worldwide level. By 1960, the world population had reached 3 billion; it doubled to 6 billion over the next four decades. As of 2009, the estimated annual growth rate was 1.10%, down from a peak of 2.2% in 1963, and the world population stood at roughly 6.7 billion. Current projections show a steady decline in the population growth rate, with the population expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050.

    The scientific consensus is that the current population expansion and accompanying increase in usage of resources is linked to threats to the ecosystem.

    Overpopulation does not depend only on the size or density of the population, but on the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. It also depends on the way resources are used and distributed throughout the population. Overpopulation can result from an increase in births, a decline in mortality rates due to medical advances, from an increase in immigration, or from an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. It is possible for very sparsely populated areas to be overpopulated, as the area in question may have a meager or non-existent capability to sustain human life (e.g. a desert).

    The resources to be considered when evaluating whether an ecological niche is overpopulated include clean water, clean air, food, shelter, warmth, and other resources necessary to sustain life. If the quality of human life is addressed, there may be additional resources considered, such as medical care, education, proper sewage treatment and waste disposal. Overpopulation places competitive stress on the basic life sustaining resources, leading to a diminished quality of life.

    Concern about overpopulation is relatively recent in origin. Throughout history, populations have grown slowly despite high birth rates, due to the population-reducing effects of war, plagues and high infant mortality. During the 750 years before the Industrial Revolution, the world’s population hardly increased, remaining under 250 million.

    By the beginning of the 19th century, the world population had grown to a billion individuals, and intellectuals such as Thomas Malthus and physiocratic economists predicted that mankind would outgrow its available resources, since a finite amount of land was incapable of supporting an endlessly increasing population. Mercantillists argued that a large population was a form of wealth, which made it possible to create bigger markets and armies.

    Effects of human overpopulation

    Most biologists and sociologists see overpopulation as a serious threat to the quality of human life.

    Some problems associated with or exacerbated by human overpopulation:

    • Inadequate fresh water for drinking water use as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, use energy-expensive desalination to solve the problem of water shortages.
    • Depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels
    • Increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution. Once a country has industrialized and become wealthy, a combination of government regulation and technological innovation causes pollution to decline substantially, even as the population continues to grow.
    • Deforestation and loss of ecosystems that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance; about eight million hectares of forest are lost each year.
    • Changes in atmospheric composition and consequent global warming
    • Irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification. Deforestation and desertification can be reversed by adopting property rights, and this policy is successful even while the human population continues to grow.
    • Mass species extinctions. From reduced habitat in tropical forests due to slash-and-burn techniques that sometimes are practiced by shifting cultivators, especially in countries with rapidly expanding rural populations; present extinction rates may be as high as 140,000 species lost per year. As of 2008, the IUCN Red List lists a total of 717 animal species having gone extinct during recorded human history.
    • High infant and child mortality. High rates of infant mortality are caused by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities have low rates of infant mortality.
    • Intensive factory farming to support large populations. It results in human threats including the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria diseases, excessive air and water pollution, and new virus that infect humans.
    • Increased chance of the emergence of new epidemics and pandemics. For many environmental and social reasons, including overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition and inadequate, inaccessible, or non-existent health care, the poor are more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.
    • Starvation, malnutrition or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). However, rich countries with high population densities do not have famine.
    • Poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation. Poverty and inflation are aggravated by bad government and bad economic policies. Many countries with high population densities have eliminated absolute poverty and keep their inflation rates very low.
    • Low life expectancy in countries with fastest growing populations
    • Unhygienic living conditions for many based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage and solid waste disposal. However, this problem can be reduced with the adoption of sewers. For example, after Karachi, Pakistan installed sewers, its infant mortality rate fell substantially.
    • Elevated crime rate due to drug cartels and increased theft by people stealing resources to survive
    • Conflict over scarce resources and crowding, leading to increased levels of warfare
    • Less Personal Freedom / More Restrictive Laws. Laws regulate interactions between humans. Law “serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people.” The higher the population density, the more frequent such interactions become, and thus there develops a need for more laws and/or more restrictive laws to regulate these interactions. It is even speculated that democracy is threatened due to overpopulation, and could give rise to totalitarian style governments.

    Some economists, such as Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams  argue that third world poverty and famine are caused in part by bad government and bad economic policies.


    Environmental Impact

    Overpopulation has substantially adversely impacted the environment of Earth starting at least as early as the 20th century. There are also economic consequences of this environmental degradation in the form of ecosystem services attrition. Beyond the scientifically verifiable harm to the environment, some assert the moral right of other species to simply exist rather than become extinct. Environmental author Jeremy Rifkin has said that “our burgeoning population and urban way of life have been purchased at the expense of vast ecosystems and habitats. … It’s no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild.”

    “Where do we stand in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world? Clearly, the past half century has been a traumatic one, as the collective impact of human numbers, affluence (consumption per individual) and our choices of technology continue to exploit rapidly an increasing proportion of the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate. … During a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world’s topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them. Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.” - Says Peter Raven, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in their seminal work AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment

    Further, even in countries which have both large population growth and major ecological problems, it is not necessarily true that curbing the population growth will make a major contribution towards resolving all environmental problems. However, as developing countries with high populations become more industrialized, pollution and consumption will invariably increase.

    The Worldwatch Institute said the booming economies of China and India are planetary powers that are shaping the global biosphere. The report states:

    The world’s ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way.

    It has been estimated that a person added to the population of the United States will have 30 or more times the impact on world resources as will a person added to the population of anunderdeveloped nation. Indeed, resource consumption in North America is roughly the same as resource consumption in the entire rest of the world.
    It said that if China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as United States or Japan in 2030 together they would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs.

    In the long-term these effects can lead to increased conflict over dwindling resources  and in the worst case a Malthusian catastrophe.

    ——-
    A Malthusian catastrophe (also phrased Malthusian check, Malthusian crisis, Malthusian disaster, or Malthusian nightmare) was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. The term is also commonly used in discussions of oil depletion. Based on the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the Iron Law of Wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict what will happen over several generations or centuries, whereas the Iron Law of Wages predicts what will happen in a matter of years and decades.

    In 1798, Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population, describing his theory of quantitative development of human populations:

    I think I may fairly make two postulata. First, that food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, that the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state. These two laws, ever since we have had any knowledge of mankind, appear to have been fixed laws of our nature, and, as we have not hitherto seen any alteration in them, we have no right to conclude that they will ever cease to be what they now are, without an immediate act of power in that Being who first arranged the system of the universe, and for the advantage of his creatures, still executes, according to fixed laws, all its various operations.
    Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.
    —Malthus 1798, Chapter 1, [3]

    If unchecked over a sufficient period of time, and if the ratio between successive sequence members is larger than 1.0, then exponential growth will always outrun linear growth. Malthus saw the difference between population growth and resource growth as being analogous to this difference between exponential and linear growth. Even when a population inhabits a new habitat – such as the American continent at Malthus’ time, or when recovering from wars and epidemic plagues – the growth of population will eventually reach the limit of the resource base. –Malthus 1798, chapter 7: A Probable Cause of Epidemics

    [ Source: Wikipedia ]

    Food Insecurity and Undernourishment

    Every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of hunger.

    In 2001–03, FAO estimates there were still 854 million undernourished people worldwide:
    820 million in the developing countries, 25 million in the transition countries and 9 million in the industrialized countries.

    [ Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0750e/a0750e00.htm ]

    [ Source: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/a0750e/a0750e02.pdf ]

    Factors influencing progress or setbacks in hunger reduction are diverse and depend on the region. In most instances, food insecurity has been a direct consequence of humaninduced disasters – war, conflict and political and economic instability with ensuing problems of refugees and displaced persons.

    The world’s population is set to soar in the coming decades – but food supplies are already under pressure.  Our modern life is finely balanced. Everything works like clockwork until the moment that some unforeseen strain is imposed, and then – to the horror of all – it doesn’t. This is particularly true of the cities where most people in the world now live. If the infrastructure fails – and a report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers this week says that the world’s infrastructure is alarmingly stressed – so does life as we know it, if not life itself.

    Nowhere is this more obvious than in the supply of food. It doesn’t take much – a drought in the Ukraine, floods in Australia – to throw it into disarray. If the food supply is wobbling now, most people prefer not to think about what it could be like in 2050. By then, there will be another 2.5 billion open mouths, as the global population bursts its corset and balloons outwards to over 9 billion. Will they have anything to eat? Can agriculture almost double its capacity? If everybody on the planet farmed as we do in Europe, the answer would probably be no. Europe has been scaremonger-in-chief over climate change, but when faced by the more immediate and quantifiable challenge represented by population growth,  its response is a shrug.

    Food Supply Solution

    As the nutritional foundation for ecological, self-sufficient, extended-family, hemp farms could have a profoundly positive effect on the future of humanity. A diet of Hemp Hearts and vegetables requires very little land, but produces very healthy humans.

    Environmentalists calculate that as our resources are now being utilized, the production from at least five acres of arable land is required for the support of each living human. They claim that there are now more humans on the Earth than can be supported without irreversible environmental degradation. They have converged ideologies to some degree with the previously discredited socialists to gain increasing influence in Western governments which have produced more and more regulation to reflect their shared belief systems: In promoting their programs in support of “the Vulnerable”, they tax and design regulation to otherwise discourage the most productive; In promoting their programs in support of “the Planet”, they similarly tax and design regulation to otherwise discourage the most productive. Because they believe that there are five times as many humans on the Earth as can be supported by the Earth, they do not even pretend to offer a more efficient system for maintaining equal productivity. Instead, “the Red/Green Convergence” overwhelms our consciousness with questionable science and manipulates public opinion to guarantee themselves positions of increasing power, enabling them to reward themselves and select winners from within their belief system. The net effect of their regulation will be to produce less and less necessities with more and more waste. Like communism, this is another top/down regulatory system based on an imperfect ideology. It can only limit the achievements of most of us while producing misery and starvation for millions.
    Although we have already proven that our hemp farming model can provide better nutrition, resulting in much better health, for more than 150 times as many humans as can be supported by the existing system, I do not expect that our self-sufficient, extended-family, hemp farms will be embraced and nurtured by the various regulatory agents that we encounter. In fact, it is only by defining ourselves as “families” and as “farms” rather than as “businesses” that we will have any hope of circumventing the myriad regulations that would otherwise prevent us–from utilizing our unique structures, from utilizing our unique energy systems, from utilizing our unique waste handling systems, from producing food in residential structures, from consuming our own foods, from consuming raw foods, from marketing our foods, from receiving visitors, from feeding visitors, from allowing our children to assist with production, etc., etc…

    When cultivated by hand and shelled with hand powered machines, hemp plants can easily produce over seven hundred kilograms of Hemp Hearts per acre per year. With appropriate pruning and the cultivation of more than one crop per year, multiples of that production will often be possible. We have proven over the past ten years, therefore, that a single acre of land, farmed by hand, can easily produce sufficient Hemp Hearts and vegetables to guarantee superior health and energy for more than thirty individuals–hemp farm residents, visitors and customers. We have also proven that the seed wastes–the shells, the Hemp Heart fragments and the seeds that are too small for shelling–are perfect feeds, by themselves, for fish, poultry and mammals. It is easily calculated that every one-acre, extended-family, hemp farm would be able to use its hemp seed wastes to produce sufficient poultry, eggs, dairy products, fish and meat to enhance the diets of its residents and visitors as well as many customers–sufficient again for at least thirty individuals from a single one-acre farm.

    [  Sources:  http://www.world-mysteries.com/marijuana1b.htm and article by R. Snow http://www.world-mysteries.com/hemp4all.htm ]

    Nature has provided the essential nutrients for restoring and maintaining optimal health in a power-packed seed that is gluten, cholesterol and sugar free. Pure, natural, raw shelled hemp seed – the best single food source of protein, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes on the planet. Health Benefits of Hemp Seed >>

    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Jason January 25, 2014 at 1:41 am

    While this article deserves better like the concerns are valid and thou their are those genuine groups and organizations out there that have made a serious attempt at correcting the wrongs that has placed humanity at the conclusions here and should be respected for efforts and attempts reasons to survive the modern age then into a more healthy abundant way of agriculture which the ancients created within their own society and cultural area if trade and commerce was used to benefit society in a ethical manner on national systems mankind would have far less of concern as they do now within our political spectrum any way time for the pudding.

    Reply

    Lizzy Randolph May 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    While I agree with all that has been said here, I really must add that it is long past time to place the blame squarely where it belongs – on the religions that will not allow birth control, teach about contraceptives, countries that will not either teach or help with child planning. These institutions (The Roman Catholic Church being totally for the overpopulation of South & Central America, Mexico, the Philippines, etc.) need to be held responsible for the damage that their Dark Age policies are having on our planet. Why is it that no one, anywhere, will attack the outmoded church policies?

    Reply

    wishbone May 24, 2013 at 9:12 am

    this has to be the hardest question in the world as well as the biggest problem the human race has ever faced, we have allowed ourselves to be ruled by greedy, war mongering, mass murdering, ego-maniacs for far too long. if all the money and energy that have been put into war and the machinery of war and the rebuilding after war worldwide since 1957 was put into a worldwide space program instead, by now there would be at least a dozen cities on the moon, with big industries mining for oars and helium 3 to power our world, employing many thousands of people living and working there, we could have at least half a dozen cities on mars, also employing and housing thousands of people terraforming mars into a living world, we could have a ring of artificial enviroments in orbit around the earth with a sky-lift system instead of polluting rockets to get us up there, with thousands of square miles of solar panels supplying energy for earth and the ring and its zero-gee industries, also housing and employing thousands of people, plus mining the asteroid belt, housing and employing thousands more, not to mention the thousands more employed in research missions thoughout the solar system, and even more employed building the first exploration missions to other stars. there would be work for everyone left on earth. we could have started to leave the nest. but sadly its unlikely to ever happen and we will probably end up choking on our own shit while we starve to death, all because we left our fate in the hands of the most evil people on earth. our only hope now is some form of intervention from the galactic club…..

    Reply

    Doug Yurchey December 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Ask the few banking families that rule the world to feed the world’s hungry people – they could do it every single day and not dent their pockets!

    Reply

    Jason January 25, 2014 at 1:49 am

    done that now for the payments government because when the bucket rules so does the workers paid with a raid!!!

    Reply

    J.a December 4, 2012 at 6:20 am

    A ha just relized this is a hebrew food aid subject.

    Reply

    Jason apoyan June 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Solutions for this very challenging especialy when the bombs are still dropping,deforestation,oil spills,intense weather,nuclear meltdown,pest invaders,greedy people,digital money,gm food,fertilizer over use,so who”s image is that because it is not the image my god created its just a bad dream HELLS BELLS.

    Reply

    Jason apoyan February 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    So more solutions are required to resolving this crisis of starvation, very sad to see humans suffering,if nations put in more time and effort in there own lands and people for basic requirements iam sure the effects of starvation could be lessend how much is spent on military compared to agricultural.

    Reply

    Yossi January 23, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Can’t agree more with you. The most important now is seeking the new life beyond Earth. I guess it is too much wasting God created billion stars and planet, there’s something useful for us to discover.

    Reply

    Ron O. Cook January 17, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Not that one is, but that whereby Is, is. Few understand what that first line really means but suffice to say we hare involved in an experience of immersion in a massive information float that is highly complex and unless we start thinking about all the repercussions of its issuance, we are going to see a gargantuan perturbing of the system. I always ask myself, what came first, the Moon or a period. Think on that for a while.

    Reply

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