Our hungry planet: A time of want

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How many people can the world support? How many die for the sake of religion and greed? It's not hard to understand why people suffer. We hold onto religious teachings written long ago when there was but a hand full of people aroung with no electricity and a belief system destroyed every once in a while by science. The Pope, mullahs and the Sarah Palin's of the world can wait for a miracle. Me? The miracle would be zero population growth and learning from our ecological mistakes. 9 billion people? Fertlization is not necessary. There are other options.

posted by carpybacon on Dec. 3, 08 at 12:38 AM | 
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Don't we all love to blame someone else? I am not a big supporter of Sarah Palin, but what the heck does she have to do with food shortages in Cambodia? I wish everyone had my values so they would be right. Do have a good point that we need to figure out how to control world population. But most likely the something like bird flu, or Iran with nuclear weapons will help reduce population.

posted by lwk123 on Dec. 3, 08 at 6:20 AM | 
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How about us Humans who believe we can have as many kids as we want - We need to blame our selves for over population - We won't give Birth control to these poor countrys then let them have as many kids as possible - The earth cannot support a explding population of any one species

posted by toolman28 on Dec. 3, 08 at 7:28 AM | 
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Too many people using too few resources is one problem. Look at the policies of the many countries, including America, that do not support family planning. Look at many organizations that promote more health care like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that provided millions of doses of vaccines without thinking of the millions of additional mouths that survive and need food. Look at the comparison of arable land versus the percentage malnourished. Less arable land, more malnourishment. Look at the agribusinesses. Substituting palm oil for soy oil is economics, but that decreases land available to grow other foods. Education, or lack thereof, is a problem. Look at the figures in the article and relationship between educational attainment and the malnourished. Look at the green revolution. When there is an increase in ag output in much of the malnourished world, population increases occur putting a greater strain on available food. Look at the cost of food in general. It does not reflect the true costs of social and environmental damage or the sustainability of the food supply.

posted by millarscor on Dec. 3, 08 at 7:56 AM | 
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Why all the finger pointing in other directions? The good 'ol USofA isn't exactly a saint on these matters. Population control/access to birth control? Education of the disadvantaged? Manipulation of commodities markets by mega-ag corps? USDA's bias toward mono-cultered commodity crops and against locally grown food production? The real difference is the USA is supposed to be smart enough & developed enough to know better. -- BUT really it's arrogant enough and simply big enough to export our market theories to the rest of the world via US controlled World Bank & IMF.

posted by digalvin on Dec. 3, 08 at 8:19 AM | 
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In 1968, Dr. Paul Ehrlich's book "The Population Bomb" was published. That was when there were 2.5 billion people less than what there are today. As a society, we can continue to keep our heads in the sand about this problem, but we can't keep up with the demand for food, clean air, clean water, or goods for the burgeoning population in the US and the world. Apparently, we would rather have disease, wars, and famine correct overpopulation rather than educating ourselves and making intelligent family planning (and material consumption) choices to avert it.

posted by Bruce_Clark on Dec. 3, 08 at 9:11 AM | 
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Producing more food just means that more (useless poor) people will survive to need even more of it? Distributing vaccines just means that more (useless poor) people will survive to tax our resources? Sounds like my husband's "why water the lawn when that just means you'll have to mow it?" argument, carried to a heartless extreme at which even Ebenezer "Let them die and reduce the surplus population!" Scrooge might balk.

posted by Mairin on Dec. 3, 08 at 9:31 AM | 
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The last I knew, humankind produces more than enough food to adequately feed every man, woman, and child on the planet. The world as a whole is not suffering a food shortage. We are suffering a distribution shortage. In many wealthy countries food is over-produced, in poor countries it is under-produced. But because it is not profitable to ship food from wealthy nations to poor nations, the people in poor nations starve while we in the rich nations become obese and let food go to waste.

Further screwing things up, many of the poor nations have corrupt governments -- or no government and shipments of food get siphoned off to support the oppressive rulers while leaving the majority of the populace hungry. Indeed, this lack of honest and effective government often contributes to a nation's inability to grow enough food for itself.

posted by Zarepheth on Dec. 3, 08 at 9:35 AM | 
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In the United States and Europe, when women's rights movements started making progress, population growth slowed. In some places it has even stopped or gone backward.

There is an inverse correlation between the education and career choice levels for women and a societies population growth. Societies that make women slaves to their husbands often have the highest population growth. Societies that grant women equal rights to men in terms of education, property ownership, careers, and political participation tend to have zero (or even negative) population growth. The United States requires not only natural births to citizens but also immigration for the population to grow.

posted by Zarepheth on Dec. 3, 08 at 9:42 AM | 
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In modern democracies, the greatest threat to public health is an over abundance of food. Starvation is a political problem and the reason Cambodians have food shortages is because they are trying to recover their economy from decades of ruinous communist rule. Ehrlich was a fool and demonstrably wrong. World population will peak in my lifetime and food production will far exceed global need as it does now. What kind of "reporter" writes something as patently ridiculous as: "Producing food locally is far more efficient than carting it around the world." The efficiency of food production, like anything, is a complex mix of energy, labor, skills, and other resources. Should we forcibly shutter 75% of the farms in Minnesota because we think it would be more efficient for New Yorkers to grow their own grain? Keep your leftist crap on the opinion pages or in the co-op and let the free market feed the world. The exact opposite is likely true: we in the US should be buying and transporting more food from places like Cambodia and Africa in times of bounty to help grow their economies around a skill set that is indigenous. Then in times of need, they will be able to feed themselves. BTW, Cambodia is beautiful and the people are wonderful. Please visit. We have a moral obligation to feed the hungry, but the solutions are political, not agricultural.

posted by juliethrill on Dec. 3, 08 at 9:56 AM | 
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