Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feed the world?

A quick comment on this:
Guardian article on World Population

Monbiot can be an annoying so and so sometimes. Quoting a figure of '134 trillion' as a figure of what the population may reach then saying 'oh ignore that figure' is irresponsible at best and misleading at worst. The world population will stabilise at 10 billion.

His key concern that the rich will be the problem contradicts a well-known pattern: developing countries have less kids. The more developed the country, the less its fertility rate. The problem corrects itself. Why are we worried about the expansion of China and India? Because they are developing countries, while we are not. They will get bigger, we will get smaller.

"Surely there is one respect in which the growing human population constitutes the primary threat? The amount of food the world eats bears a direct relationship to the number of mouths. After years of glut, the storerooms are suddenly empty and grain prices are rocketing. How will another 3 billion be fed?"

The short answer is GM crops. Ah but we can't have them because of the environmental problems, can we? I find it intellectually frustrating to have both the problem and the lack of solution created by the same restricted mindset. George makes not a single mention that technology might solve this seemingly interminable problem.

I agree with his basic point that the poor, the masses, are not the source of the problem. But the idea this is a problem no-one's been talking about or that his analysis is the only true voice out there seems naive.