With 1 billion people chronically hungry and Earth’s population expected to increase by 50% before the end of the century, it’s time to get serious about family planning.
At one point, the prevailing wisdom was that nations needed robust birthrates to protect their economic welfare, and that if only we could produce food more efficiently, feeding the Earth’s burgeoning population wouldn’t be a problem. Now, with 1 billion of the world’s people chronically hungry and the population expected to increase by 50% before the end of the century, we know better. Or we ought to.
A recent five-part series by Times reporter Kenneth R. Weiss detailed the multipronged dilemma facing the thinkers and global leaders whose aim is to reduce famine and sickness without devastating the world’s finite resources. There would have been even higher rates of starvation already had it not been for the development of modern agricultural techniques, but the world’s capacity for producing yet more food is limited. The easily arable land has been taken, and it is actually shrinking because of the encroachment of cities and suburbs; water clean enough for agriculture is increasingly tapped out in some key regions. Climate change is expected to put further strains on food production.
No one has a good solution. That’s why family planning assistance is one of the most important forms of humanitarian aid that the United States and other developed nations can provide.
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Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2012.
2 responses to “Los Angeles Times Editorial: Overpopulation is everyone’s problem”
Mathematically, with the amount of food the Earth can produce with depletion and pollution effects by mid-century, family planning isn’t enough. A moratorium on having kids for 25 years followed by one child only for another 25 years might do it. Good luck.
The idea that we are reaching a population crisis, that is as a species humans are overpopulating the planet, is becoming an increasingly held opinion. This would appear not to take into account that global population limits are dictated in large part by our social behaviour. Our world population has grown more since 1950 than it has in the previous four million years.
We must begin to understand the carrying capacity of our planet, but we also need to start making decisions about how we function as a society. The population limit for a society that is focused on an economy of infinite growth and one that is concerned with an intelligent systems approach to providing a high standard of living for our entire human family coupled with biosphere sustainability is two completely different things.