Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Numbers Game

According to Thomas Malthus (An Essay on the Principle of Population)  "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man"

He believed that population grew exponentially while resources grew arithmetically,  and the amount of land was finite.  Therefore, the human species would one day face an enormous catastrophe of more humans than food.

The world expanded its population by a factor of ten in 270 years. 

1750 AD  700 million
1804 AD  1 billion
1850 AD  1.2 billion
1900 AD  1.6 billion

The world population in 2017 7.5 billion humans

The question then is, when will we run out of food?

If humans are a social people, and live mostly together, the amount of land is itself not going to show the effect of overpopulation, from towns and cities.  The number of humans on earth if living in one area would take up a relatively small amount of space.  But when one calculates the amount of resources per person, the world use expands almost beyond comprehension.  That isn't because one group uses too much, necessarily, but the world is facing two very different issues with food.  The world's obesity rate is enormous, and outnumbers those facing starvation.  But starvation still exists in a world where food production could in fact feed the planet.

So one of the factors involved in starvation becomes who gets to eat.  And beyond that, who gets to eat to the point that they have become fat.  The gulf between the cruelty of starvation and the luxury of dying due to being fat and abnormal human intake of calories is enormous.  Half of the world has diabetes and heart disease from the gorging they have done.  And 40% of the world lives in fear of losing food security.  Therefore, there is no human population problem at the moment, there is an economic disparity between the two ends of the problem.  Does it actually happen that by eating more pie the fat take food out of the mouth of the thin?  Not in so many words.  But there is truth in saying that while the various countries of the third world struggle to grow cash crops, the people growing those crops eat far less well than the people buying the cash crops.  Workers on cocoa plantations have been shown on documentaries, never having tasted of chocolate, despite spending their life working in the fields.  The money they make can only afford necessities.

21,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. One person dies every four seconds.

Over 100,000 Gastric bypass surgeries per year are performed in America alone, to aid obese patience in losing weight before they become unable to recover from the long term health impact of obesity.

Sourced by Wikipedia

"Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing rates in adults and children. In 2014, 600 million adults (13%) and 42 million children under the age of five were obese. Obesity is more common in women than men.

Authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Obesity is stigmatized in much of the modern world (particularly in the Western world), though it was seen as a symbol of wealth and fertility at other times in history and still is in some parts of the world.

In 2013, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease."

So is there an answer?  There could be, but the armies of the poor might be numerous, but the armies of the wealthy are well equipped, well fed, and have no incentive to share.

I believe that the answer is compassion, and that until we feel the sorrow equally, the question of hunger and over population will never be addressed.

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