November 4, 2011

7 billion people and the resource crunch! Who is the real culprit?

A few days back, the world population touched the 7 billion mark. No wonder the debate has gained momentum about how this growing population would put unprecedented pressure on already scare resources. The riots over food (in Egypt), water crisis and deaths due to curable diseases in developing countries have raised concerns over the population explosion. With the 7 billionth living child hailing from a country like India (and some other nations, symbolically chosen by the UN), the blame of populating the world and causing the global crisis is being shifted back to the developing nations and citizens of the Third World! But then, the moot question is – is the earth really not ready for 7 billion people and is nature really stretched for generating resources for all? Are the citizens of developing nations consuming more and is the population expansion in these countries the real reason behind the growing resource crunch?

Last year in August, Obama blamed India and China for the global food prices hike and commented, “As you see more and more demand placed on our food supplies around the world; as folks in China and folks in India start wanting to eat more meat and commodity prices start going up...” In 2008, a Wall Street Journal article concluded how human population growth will get limited with “the rising consumption trends of large developing nations such as China and India.” On hindsight, the answers to the questions I asked one paragraph above are – as often touted by heads of developed states – yes! But then, the analysis reveals a completely different picture.

The stark truth is that the total food grain consumption of an average American is more than 5 times that of an Indian (per capita Indian consumption of food grain is 178 kg per year, while it is 1,046 kg for an American) – this was revealed by the US Department of Agriculture in 2007. According to the same source, an American’s grain consumption per capita per day is thrice as much as an average Chinese’s!

According to WHO, the per capita per day grain consumption figure for the developing countries is a measly 2681 kcal in 1997-99; estimated to be slightly better in 2015 at 2850 kcal – while the developed countries were way ahead with 3380 kcal as far back as in 1997-99, a figure that’s expected to be 3440 kcal in 2015. The most repugnant situation is in sub-Saharan Africa which has a per capita food consumption as low as 2195 kcal; South Asia has a slightly better figure of 2403 kcal per capita per day! With a per capita per year food grain consumption of only 162 kg, Africa is a land of the hungry and destitute, and a showcase for the world to see the plight of the hungry in harsh contrast to the luxury of the developed world!

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16 comments:

preeti said...

The world must seize the opportunity to invest in the health and education of its youth to reap the full benefits of future economic development or else face a continuation of the sorry state of disparities in which hundreds of millions of people in developing nations lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life," Babatunde Osotimehin spoke at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. He said planning and the right investments in people will empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for a world of seven billion.

simran said...

"Some say our planet is too crowded. I say we are seven billion strong. But we will only be able to use that strength for the benefit of all if our societies are built on mutual respect and understanding," Moon said.

mohit said...

According to demographers, the world's population didn't reach 1 billion until 1804, and it took 123 years to hit the 2 billion mark in 1927. Then the pace accelerated — 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1998 and 7 billion in 2011.

anup said...

Although world population growth is now beginning to slow as a result of social factors associated with the media, increasing education and role of women in society, the exploding population and its consequences in inevitable human impact on all aspects of the biosphere has been described as the most serious crisis ever to face the planet.

Mukesh said...

The population explosion is gradually fizzling out, as population growth rates decline worldwide more rapidly than was anticipated even a few years ago. Since 1965, the world's annual population growth rate has fallen from 2.04 to 1.33%. Declining population growth rates result from a number of factors, including the shift from rural to urban livelihoods, a corresponding decrease in the value of children's labor, the spread of education and social security systems, the rising age of marriage, growing female employment outside the home, and reductions in infant and child mortality.

Brijesh Chaudhuri said...

World population would not be a problem if there were unlimited land, unlimited water, unlimited resources. Unfortunately, with overpopulation, there is the problem of sharing the same sized pie with smaller and smaller portions. People in developed countries who have been accustomed to a better quality of life are reluctant to give it up. This is a difficult subject. Should people have less children or should people use less resources, pollute less? Or both? Should one problem have priority over the other? The world population has doubled in the last forty years. Who has contributed the most to overconsumption and pollution? The more developed nations with a relatively stable population growth, but who use 5-50 times the resources of the poor, or the less developed nations whose populations will double again in 30 years, who will run out of food and water first, and whose pollution due to agricultural burning, coal burning, lack of emission controls, mis-use of pesticides, and toxic waste from under regulated industries, will only worsen with the increase of population?

subhash said...

A World Bank policy research working paper concluded that food prices have risen by 35 to 40 percent between 2002–2008, of which 70 to 75 percent is attributable to biofuels.The "month-by-month" five year analysis disputes that increases in global grain consumption and droughts were responsible for significant price increases, reporting that this had had only a marginal impact. Instead the report argues that the EU and US drive for biofuels has had by far the biggest impact on food supply and prices, as increased production of biofuels in the US and EU were supported by subsidies and tariffs on imports, and considers that without these policies, price increases would have been smaller.

surbhi said...

Everyone knows we have enough land in the world to support seven billion or more people. What we may have to reevaluate are the resources that we would consume if the population is to increase - or even if it stays the same.

Kali Shanker said...

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vijay said...

Due to their huge populations, countries like India and China may appear to consume gigantic amounts of food. But the real elephant in the room that nobody is willing to talk about is how much each person gets to eat. And the answer will shock many. Total foodgrain consumption — wheat, rice, and all coarse grains like rye, barley etc — by each person in the US is over five times that of an Indian, according to figures released by the US Department of Agriculture for 2007. In fact, per capita grain consumption has increased in the US — so actually the Americans are eating more. In 2003, US per capita grain consumption was 946 kg per year which increased to 1046 kg last year. But the story would not be complete without mentioning the plight of Africa, where foodgrain consumption in 2007 was a mere 162 kg per year for each person, or about 445 grams per day. Don't forget they are not getting any meat or milk products out there.

sailaxmi said...

The exploding population isn't only about consumption of water and food -- it's about the sticking point of energy as well! So many wars have been fought, high profile diplomatic endeavours tried, millions made to suffer, regimes overthrown, revolutions fanned - just to satisfy the appetite of wealthy nations' energy needs

pramod singh kandasi said...

Thomas Robert Malthus, British economist and demographer. Born into a prosperous family, he studied at the University of Cambridge and was elected a fellow of Jesus College in 1793. In 1798 he published An Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he argued that population will always tend to outrun the food supply — that the increase of population will take place, if unchecked, in a geometrical progression, while the means of subsistence will increase only in an arithmetical progression. He believed population would expand to the limit of subsistence and would be held there by famine, war, and ill health. He enlarged on his ideas in later editions of his work (to 1826). He argued that relief measures for the poor should be strictly limited since they tended to encourage the growth of excess population. His theories, though largely disproven, had great influence on contemporary social policy.

Harvinder Kumar said...

The story of Baba Musah, a father of 14 children in Wapuli, a community in Saboba district in the Northern Region of the West Africa nation, tells the frustrations and hardships parents go through as a result of uncontrolled birth. In an interview with Xinhua, the 56-year-old man, who was not educated, describes how giving birth to many children with two wives had landed the family in abject poverty. Due to unavailability of land and poor crop yield, the family has one square meal daily. Problems faced by Musah is not different from what other people in other communities in Northern Ghana go through. On the last day of the last month, the world population reached to seven billion, a great milestone but it’s critical to spare a thought about its implications to nations.

Gaurav said...

7 Billionth babies are being celebrated as the world's population is thought to have reached the 7 billion mark. The babies are cute, but the population reaching 7 billion makes this Halloween truly scary. The growing human population raises concerns about just how many people the planet can support.

joy said...

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DIVYA said...

श्री अरिंदम चौधरी का लेख "सात अरब की आबादी और संसाधनों का टोटा! असली मुजरिम कौन?" निश्चित तौर पर ज्ञानवर्धक है जो मंथन हेतु प्रोत्साहित करता है. लेख में साफ़ तौर पर बताया है की दुनिया को खाद्यान्न की कमी की वजह से नहीं, बल्कि उसकी बर्बादी की वजह से खाद्य संकट का सामना करना पड़ रहा है.यह चिंताजनक पहलू है . विकसित देशों को तो सतत विकास के गुर सीखने ही होंगें पर विकासशील देशों को भी इस दिशा मैं पुरजोर प्रयास करने की आवश्यकता है. एक पाठक के रूप इस तरह के सामयिक विषयों पर लिखने हेतु मेरा श्री चौधरी को हार्दिक धन्यवाद !

डॉ. दिव्या सिंघल,
गोवा

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