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.
Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2012.