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40 billion? That’s it? Are you sh!tting me? Feed the world!

 
 
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 12:59 am
So today I surfed my way onto a page called Causes of Poverty. So I'm reading thru the standard shocking, yet not surprising stats comparing the rich and the poor… with the point being that it's getting worse. I get down to stat #25 and it's comparing how much money Americans and Europeans blow on this and that… and then blind sides me with the cost of solving these issues:
http://img154.imageshack.us/img154/1733/costtofeedpoordy0.jpg

$40 Billion in 1998 Dollars would solve all those problems? Really? How much could that be today? $50 Billion? To do all that? If that's true; a 5% increase in our Federal Taxes would end world Hunger and provide basic education, water and sanitation, reproductive health for all women as well as basic health and nutrition for all.

There are 300,000,000 people in this country. That's about $167 per year for each… less than 50 cents a day. Shocked
120,000,000 households… $417 per year or $1.14 per day. Shocked Are you kidding me? Somebody please tell me we're not watching 10,000,000 children under 5 die each year over that easily affordable sum. Is somebody here not willing to kick in $1.14 a day to prevent 30,000 children, 5 and under from dieing every day? A Billion children live in poverty. WTF is wrong with the citizens of these United States?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 5,926 • Replies: 91
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 01:09 am
Well, gee, guy, that is what some of us seem to whine about, the seeming fright of helping people, when the equivalent money flys away in one airplane (etc.) or a fraction of a star war. Totally weird priorities, from my pov.
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 01:21 am
I'm thinking the other way. If we can save everyone, how will we feed them?

We only have x amount of resources.

Natural selection has always maintained the balance of nature.

The imbalance now is crippling our health systems.

The people who are breeding are probably the people who should be neutered.

Call me harsh, but if we want to prosper as a species, how come we aren't encouraging the best of our species to breed up?

Seems like the trailer trash are the ones getting all the encouragement.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 01:45 am
Builder wrote:
Call me harsh,
I'd sooner call you an A-hole, but name calling violates the TOS. :wink:
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 01:48 am
OCCOM BILL wrote:
I'd sooner call you an A-hole, but name calling violates the TOS. :wink:


So tell me, Bill, how would you propose we feed all the people you want to save, and do you believe in survival of the fittest in a rational sense?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 01:50 am
Geez, louise.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:01 am
We spend billions on space stuff and builder whines about breeding? I've heretofore agreed with builder but as one of the easy wipe outs in this case, must protest. I'd hope that I'd protest even if I wasn't in the first wipeout scenario.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:03 am
Assuming OB's numbers are realistic, and the net results of OB's assumptions have the his intended efficacy, it would appear Man's very short-term suffering would decrease consequentially; however the longer risk-perspective would not change, and in fact could well be accelerated as per eco-global annihilation, which I argue can only be achieved within the present technological environ by a dramatic and immediate reduction in population; thus OB's good intentions could within a few decades have the reverse effects, due to the aforementioned acceleration of eco-global annihilation, not to say that OB's conclusions, if true, are not without merit.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:05 am
Builder wrote:
OCCOM BILL wrote:
I'd sooner call you an A-hole, but name calling violates the TOS. :wink:


So tell me, Bill, how would you propose we feed all the people you want to save, and do you believe in survival of the fittest in a rational sense?
The opening post is about feeding the people, genius. Survival of the fittest is natural selection... not A-hole selection. The poorest country's pay $10 towards debt to richer countries for every dollar they are granted. Too frequently, their rulers collect even the welfare money for themselves, along with virtually everything produced. Only ignorant fools and A-holes blame masses for starving to death. How long do you think you'd last with no clean water source, surviving on a dollar a day? I'd wager natural selection would probably select a spoiled A-hole 9 times out 10 before a man who's grown up suffering the disadvantages.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:11 am
Chumly wrote:
Assuming OB's numbers are realistic, and the net results of OB's assumptions have the his intended efficacy, it would appear Man's very short-term suffering would decrease consequentially; however the longer risk-perspective would not change, and in fact could well be accelerated as per eco-global annihilation, which I argue can only be achieved within the present technological environ by a dramatic and immediate reduction in population; thus OB's good intentions could within a few decades have the reverse effects, due to the aforementioned acceleration of eco-global annihilation, not to say that OB's conclusions, if true, are not without merit.
I don't know if the numbers are realistic; that's why I asked. Eco-global annihilation? Within a few decades? If you're going to advocate population reduction (who do you suppose should suffer the next holocaust?) or any such barbaric nonsense; please show some evidence to demonstrate you're not insane. Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:23 am
OCCOM BILL wrote:
The opening post is about feeding the people, genius.


Nope. It's about Occom Bill wanting to make his mark on the forum. What have you personally done in the last year to help underprivelidged people? Like in your backyard, Bill? Let's hear about it, please.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
Survival of the fittest is natural selection... not A-hole selection.


I used both terms in my previous two posts. Your point was?

OCCOM BILL wrote:
The poorest country's pay $10 towards debt to richer countries for every dollar they are granted.


Uh huh. So your blaming corruption? You do realise that mathematically, your equation won't last long?

OCCOM BILL wrote:
Too frequently, their rulers collect even the welfare money for themselves, along with virtually everything produced.


Despotic regimes are nothing new, William. Your gov didn't invent them, but it did create a few. Like Iran in the fifties.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
Only ignorant fools and A-holes blame masses for starving to death.


Hmmm, naaah. I'd blame mismanagement, despotic government, drought, pestilence before I'd look at A-holes.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
How long do you think you'd last with no clean water source, surviving on a dollar a day?


I can survive the Northern Territory heat of Australia for years, William. Try 48 degrees Celsius, with no shade, my friend. Hot enough to fry meat on the bonnet of the car.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
I'd wager natural selection would probably select a spoiled A-hole 9 times out 10 before a man who's grown up suffering the disadvantages.


I didn't mean to fluster you, Bill. You still didn't answer my question. How will you feed all those people that you are hell-bent on saving?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:46 am
The problem isn't giving the money. The problem is getting the goods to the starving people without having them destroyed by warfare or stolen by corrupt governments in the receiving countries.

With these qualifications, my total donations to CARE and Save the Children exceed $10 a week. They've been exceeding this amount 2001 -- the year I quit the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany, didn't have to pay church taxes anymore, and decided to donate the money I saved to charity.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 02:58 am
Concerning the numbers, I don't know if they're accurate or not. But I would be reluctant to take the site's word for it. It ignores war as a cause of poverty and makes at least one glaring apples-to-oranges comparison (countries' GDP to wealth of rich people). This suggests shallow analysis. Their $50 Billion a year may well be in the right ballpark though.

The gold standard of sound data about worldwide poverty is the World Bank Needless to say, some organizations will tell you the World Bank is an evil capitalist predator on the poor of the world, but I'm not buying it.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 03:09 am
OCCOM BILL wrote:
I don't know if the numbers are realistic; that's why I asked.
I would argue that it's dubious if the numbers could be confirmed without actually putting them into practice regardless of what "realistic" models might be put forward.
OCCOM BILL wrote:
Eco-global annihilation?
I would argue that the net result of the present path Man find itself on, is one in which the global environ will and is degrading rapidly and will continue to do so to the point at which our massively burgeoning population will be in large measure be unsustainable.
OCCOM BILL wrote:
Within a few decades?
By that I argue that should your numbers and assumptions be correct and one were to enable the results of said assumptions, that within a few decades an acceleration beyond the present exponential increase in eco-global destruction could take place due to accelerated consumption in and consequent destruction of global resources.
OCCOM BILL wrote:
If you're going to advocate population reduction (who do you suppose should suffer the next holocaust?) or any such barbaric nonsense; please show some evidence to demonstrate you're not insane
If human population reduction is not done willingly and forthwith (through reduction in babies born as one more-hopeful example) then as per your rhetoric of "next holocaust" witness: war, disease, mass starvation, global warming, pollution, resource consumption, etc en mass.

As to my argument that a stable longer-term eco-global situation can only be achieved within the present technological environ by a dramatic and immediate reduction in population you have in no way countered this pragmatically; I'm dubious you can.

As to your drivel about "demonstrate you're not insane" you ask of me to prove a negative; I find that challenge rather puerile at best in this context. That is not to say that one cannot prove a negative, that would be simply "folk logic".

You further go on to employ a logical fallacy called ad hominem i.e. the direct inference as to my lack of sanity.

As to your drivel about "barbaric nonsense", you jump to a conclusion not in evidence; a logical fallacy as per straw man.

It's quite clear what I have argued: there is no greater purpose served by our massively burgeoning exponential population growth and its clear and present risks versus a modest and stable population with its dramatically reduced risks.

As such, your post about "feeding the people" would have dubious long term efficacy if it could be applied as you appear to envision it, and as I discussed that is not to say your conclusions, if true, are not without merit.

Nevertheless the potential merit of your argument is wholly eclipsed by the population question!
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 04:13 am
Builder wrote:
OCCOM BILL wrote:
The opening post is about feeding the people, genius.


Nope. It's about Occom Bill wanting to make his mark on the forum. What have you personally done in the last year to help underprivelidged people? Like in your backyard, Bill? Let's hear about it, please.
Rolling Eyes I see. Your whole purpose here is to make an ass of yourself... got it. I don't know what underprivelidged people are, but I've helped plenty of underprivileged people. Let's see. Donated $25-$50 gift certificates to at least 100 different charities, 50% percent of the proceeds from 2 restaurants, on 3 occasions, cut a check for $4,000 to the family of poor local kid (Cedarburg) who needed a multiple organ transplant, have been doing the Save the Children with the Christian Children's Fund forever and pretty much every other damn thing the kids approach me with. You?

Builder wrote:
You still didn't answer my question. How will you feed all those people that you are hell-bent on saving?
Again, your question was answered by the opening post, genius. Can you read?

Chumly, the evidence I asked for was for your outrageous theories. You needn't reiterate that nonsense for a third time (once was more than enough). Show me one reputable study that thinks as you do.

No wonder the world is in such sorry shape. I start a thread questioning how tough it might be to feed starving children, and half the respondents think we shouldn't. Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 04:16 am
Thanks Thomas. I see that friendly old man from the Christian Children's Fund got to you too. "I know you thought about giving before. Maybe you were just too busy... well you're not busy now?" That guy could sell me anything.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 05:17 am
OCCOM BILL wrote:
[Chumly, the evidence I asked for was for your outrageous theories.
You made the claim as per my so-called "outrageous theories" thus I challenge you to logically demonstrate they are so-called "outrageous theories". If you cannot your assertion is specious.

I note my prior post has been dodged in terms of a fair and equal response, and as such if you are ill-prepared or otherwise disinclined to respond in kind I ask: why should I extend an as-a-rule shared and unpretentious courtesy that is not returned?

OCCOM BILL wrote:
You needn't reiterate that nonsense for a third time (once was more than enough).
More argumentum ad hominem, this does not in any way justly your positions, in fact quite the opposite.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
Show me one reputable study that thinks as you do.
Given your repetitive use of the straw man logical fallacy it appears now you are asserting you are privy to my thoughts. Suffice it to say that you have in no way even made an inkling of an argument, let alone provided any proof whatsoever that "feeding the people" is not wholly eclipsed by the population question, and as such the value of "feeding the people" as per man's survivability has in no way been made by you.

Fact: you have made no case whatsoever as to a long term sustainable overall global benefit as per your assertions.

As to demonstrating the risks of our massively burgeoning exponential population growth and its clear and present risks versus a modest and stable population with its dramatically reduced risks, I will provide links to so-called "reputable studies", but you first need answer some questions to demonstrate you are prepared and disposed to respond in kind as would be expected of a thoughtful discourse.

1) Will you argue that our massively burgeoning exponential population growth and its clear and present risks versus a modest and stable population with its dramatically reduced risks is not a supremely important consideration? If so what is your argument as so far you have presented none.

2) Will you argue against the premise that a stable longer-term eco-global situation can only be achieved within the present technological environ by a dramatic and immediate reduction in population? If so what is your argument as so far you have presented none.

3) Will you argue that if human population reduction if not done willingly and forthwith (through reduction in babies born as one more-hopeful example) then as per your rhetoric of "next holocaust": war, disease, mass starvation, global warming, pollution, resource consumption, etc en mass will not result within the context of the present technological environ. If so what is your argument as so far you have presented none.

4) Will you argue that "feeding the people" would have long term efficacy if it could be applied as you appear to envision it within the context of 1)? If so what is your argument as so far you have presented none.

5) Will you argue that there is a greater purpose served by our massively burgeoning exponential population growth and its clear and present risks versus a modest and stable population with its dramatically reduced risks. If so what is your argument as so far you have presented none.

OCCOM BILL wrote:
No wonder the world is in such sorry shape. I start a thread questioning how tough it might be to feed starving children, and half the respondents think we shouldn't.
If you are addressing me you again provide another straw man, I said no such thing. As such your conclusions are spurious as they relate to this poster.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 05:35 am
http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/sustdev/trends.htm

Quote:
Earth "trends" report sees danger ahead

Unless the "business as usual" development patterns of the last 25 years change, warns a United Nations report, "Critical Trends: Global Change and Sustainable Development", the next quarter-century is likely to be characterized by declining standards of living, rising levels of conflict and environmental stress. Poverty will deepen, especially in the large cities of some developing regions, triggering conflict over dwindling natural resources and a shortage of agriculturally productive land. Fresh water, a crucial component of economic activity as well as of human health, will be scarce in many areas and increasingly polluted in most.

On the positive side, the report on long-term trends cites a continued rise in world food production, an overall increase in life spans, a falloff in the rate of world population growth (from just over 2 per cent per annum in the 1960s to less than 1.5 per cent in the first half of the 1990s) and some regional improvements in environmental quality.

The report is one in a series of United Nations assessments of progress in implementing the agreements made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro--known formally as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

The UNCED agreements consist of Agenda 21, a far-reaching blueprint for sustainable development; the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; two framework conventions, one aimed at curbing climate change, the other on stemming the loss of the world's genetically diverse plant, animal, and microbial species; and a statement of principles on the sustainable use of forests. There have also been two major follow-up agreements since Rio, one regulating high-seas fishing (1995) and the other a framework convention on mitigating the destruction of drylands through desertification (1994).

A companion report, issued by the United Nations Environment Programme, found that the depletion and degradation of natural resources were continuing at potentially disastrous rates. The "Global Environmental Outlook" (GEO-1) cites excessive emissions of greenhouse gases, the accelerating disappearance of biologically diverse forms of life, growing levels of pollution and chronic shortages of clean fresh water.

The Rio review process formally began at the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, 7-25 April 1997. It concludes two months later with a week long Special Session of the General Assembly.

Reviewing data from the past 25 years and using model-based projections and scenarios to look ahead 25 to 50 years, the trends report reviews key issues of sustainable development and suggests the most promising policy approaches, with emphasis on the steps that governments can take.


But "doom scenarios" don't help
One major lesson, the report says, is that "the doom scenarios" of the 1970's--such as the Club of Rome's 1972 report, "The Limits of Growth"--have not only proved unreliable, but politically counter-productive. Some threats identified as potentially catastrophic--nuclear war and fossil fuel exhaustion, for example--have receded, while others--such as population pressure and industrial pollution--have shown themselves susceptible to determined policy intervention.

"Less happily", the report states, "new and unexpected threats have emerged--life-threatening damage to the stratospheric ozone layer, the resurgence of infectious diseases, the rise of AIDS, anticipated changes in the global climate. In sum, while millions of people enjoy lives of safety and comfort unimaginable a few generations ago, hundreds of millions more live in conditions as bad as any endured in the past. "Global catastrophe does not appear to be imminent", but it is clear that "pursuit of business as usual is most unlikely to result in sustainable development in the near future".

The report highlights the close links between economic growth, human development and good management of the natural resource base, and identifies where socio-economic development appears most threatened by environmental degradation.

The availability of food, for example, could be adversely affected by a scarcity of water needed for agriculture. "When you look at the projected demand for food based on population growth over the next 25 years, the volume of irrigation needed to grow that food and the projections for water availability, they often don't add up", says Emily Matthews, who drafted the report for the United Nations Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development.

"What this report says is that in a few areas-- and water quality and supply is one--we are in a potentially critical situation", says Ms. Matthews. "We use the word 'potentially' because the crisis can be averted--it's a question of using government policies, private sector mechanisms and all the technology at our disposal".

Three strategies appear to offer the most promise, Ms. Matthews suggests. They are increased investment in people, especially in basic education and health care, along with empowerment that allows them to creatively address imminent challenges; encouragement of clean and efficient technologies through regulation and economic incentives; and pricing reform which begins to internalize the social and environmental costs of key economic activities.

"Positive developments are evident in each of these areas," the report says, "but the pace of change is slow". Investment in human resources is on the upswing, but is not accorded the priority given to economic production per se. In terms of pollution reduction and production, many efficiency gains this century have been more than offset by the volume of economic growth. Reversing the degradation of natural resources will take decades, so any delay in making necessary changes will greatly increase futures monetary and human costs.

Recognition of the dangers that lie ahead, the report says, should serve as a "wake-up call" for humanity.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 05:37 am
http://www.pattayadailynews.com/shownews.php?IDNEWS=0000002599
Quote:
We tend to think of water as being plentiful and renewable. However, the truth is that water is already scarce, especially drinking water and it stands to get far worse before this century is much more advanced.
The World Commission for Water in the 21st Century paints a dire picture. Over the next twenty years, human usage of water will grow by about 40%, but to grow the world's food supply, more than 17% than that which is available will be required, with around 3 billion people living in water stressed countries by 2035.

Professor Sachs of the Economist has gone on record as saying he regards the water issue as more pressing than climate change, though the two issues are intimately involved.

In 2025, water shortages will be more widespread among poorer countries with limited resources and rapid population growth such as the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. By 2025, large urban and areas will require new infrastructure to provide safe water and adequate sanitation. If this problem is not tackled adequately, growing conflicts with agricultural water users, who currently consume the majority of the water used by humans, is likely to occur.

Generally speaking the more developed countries of North America, Europe and Russia will not see a serious threat to their water supply by the year 2025, because of their relative wealth, and having populations better aligned with available water resources. North Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and Northern China, however, will be confronted with extremely severe water shortages due to physical scarcity and a condition of overpopulation relative to their carrying capacity with respect to water supply.

Most of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern China and India will face water supply shortages by 2025; for these latter regions the causes of scarcity will be economic constraints on developing safe drinking water, in addition to excessive population growth.

The causes for this state of affairs are as follows.

1. The support of increasing populations and industrial and agricultural development has put an incredible strain on the world's fresh water resources.

2. Water resources are over-used in many parts of the world, including the American Southwest, China, the Middle East and parts of the former Soviet Union.

3. War is the likely outcome of having to share scarce water supplies across nations according to Mikhail Gorbachev, now president of Green Cross International. He points specifically to the Middle East where war within the next 10 to 15 years is likely if countries fail to reach an understanding regarding sharing water.

4. The Water Commissioner of Israel, Meir Ben Meir, envisages possible conflict over water issues between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Syria. The water issue could well affect the Middle East peace talks. Israel must release land and water and alter its usage patterns to prevent war according to Palestinian leaders.

5. The recent conflicts in Darfur and Ethiopia's are rooted in water issues.

6. A recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) report estimates that by 2025, 25 African countries will suffer from water stress. Water wars are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared. There is also another potential hot spot in southern Africa involving Botswana, Namibia and Angola who could be involved in a water war.

7. The Murray Darling river system is currently running short of water as Australia experiences the worst drought in living history.

8. The World Commission for Water report concludes that "only rapid and imaginative institutional and technological innovation can avoid the crisis."
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Mar, 2007 05:39 am
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2036598,00.html

Quote:
No one is willing to address the accelerating growth in the world's population

Juliette Jowit
Sunday March 18, 2007
The Observer

In the time it takes you to get to the end of this sentence, seven people have been added to the population of the world. At this rate, the United Nations estimates the number of people on the planet will nearly double by the middle of this century. Even with significant reductions in birth rates, the population is expected to increase from 6.7 billion now to 9.2 billion by 2050.
These figures are staggering. Yet there was hardly a mention of them in a major story last week: the announcement by Britain's two main political parties of how they will tackle what is commonly agreed to be the biggest threat facing the planet, global warming and ensuing climate change.

Labour unveiled their Climate Change Bill promising to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Suggested policies to achieve this ranged from banning standby buttons on electrical equipment and old-fashioned, inefficient light bulbs to 'capture and storage' of pollution from coal-fired power stations. Conservatives grabbed headlines with a plan to limit air travel - a small but fast-growing source of greenhouse gases.
These have been well-intentioned, if not always convincing, ideas. At an Oxford conference, scientists argued against the 'Hollywoodisation' of the problem, that it is being promoted beyond the science. And still, everybody is talking only about one half of the equation: the emissions we generate, not how we generate them. All the standby buttons and low-energy light bulbs are dwarfed by the pressure of a global population rising by the equivalent of Britain every year.

Put simply, if governments want to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent, and the world's population rises to the mid-range forecast of 9.2 billion, each person would in fact have to slash their emissions by 72 per cent. More efficient technology, renewable energy and lifestyle changes will help do that, but growing prosperity and consumption in developing countries will also make it harder. That all our low-energy light bulbs, home insulation, efficient cars, boilers and washing machines have so far failed to stop emissions growing illustrates how difficult cutting them will be to achieve.

Some population activists argue the world can only support a population of two to three billion, even as few as 500 million in future. But even if reducing the world's population is unlikely or distasteful, it is incredible that there is not even a debate about limiting and maybe one day reversing growth. There are many understandable reasons for the prevailing reluctance to talk about population.

Some question whether there is a problem at all. Blair says Britain doesn't need a population policy, and he has a point: Britain's population grows only because of immigration. But greenhouse gas emissions are a global problem, so it should not matter which countries people live in (some say developed countries have higher standards of living so moving people into them increases overall emissions, but it is hard to argue we should deny others our quality of life). At a global level, optimists say advances in science and technology will provide the solution; more aggressive estimates suggest we could double consumption and halve our impact on the planet.

But other evidence suggests it is too soon to relax. Even if huge advances can be made on slashing greenhouse gases, there is an argument that densely populated countries cannot cope with local environmental stresses such as home-building, fresh water use, waste, traffic, light pollution and noise. More worryingly, the evidence that technology can solve the problem is not yet convincing: the recent failure of European car-makers to meet voluntary emissions reductions is a reminder that a decade after the international community made a serious pledge to tackle global warming, emissions are still rising.

Another deterrent to discussing population is the uncomfortable suspicion that environmentalism is a soft cover for more objectionable population agendas to stop or reduce immigration or growth in developing countries. Sometimes it might be. But that doesn't take away the underlying fact: that more people use more resources and create more pollution. This is why some braver voices - Sir David Attenborough, Jonathan Porritt and Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, to name a few - have begun to raise the issue.

The biggest obstacle to debate is the matter of possible solutions. Propositions such as ignoring disease or limiting life-saving medical treatment can be ruled out as unacceptable, and birth control is objectionable to many on moral, religious and libertarian grounds. It is not surprising that green groups and politicians, worried about offending supporters, stay silent.

There remains a fourth barrier to raising the population issue: even when people acknowledge the problem and brave the debate, it seems too big to solve. But there are things that can be done at least to reduce population growth. Last week the UN Population Fund said its latest projections 'underline the urgency of family planning needs'. It says 200 million women in the world don't have access to 'safe and effective' contraceptive services, and calls for a big increase in funding for family planning, especially in developing nations. Britain's Optimum Population Trust also calls for 45 countries to drop policies to increase birthrates - mostly because of worries about paying pensions for an aging population.

Is this enough to tackle such a big issue? Even with the most optimistic assumptions about falling birth rates, the UN forecasts a population increase to 7.8 billion by 2050. But that is still considerably less than a population of 9.2 billion. And the OPT says the success of campaigns in countries such as Iran and Thailand suggests the best family planning services, especially combined with women's education and human rights, could go even further.

It is understandable then that people are worried about discussing population, but fear of misrepresentation, offence or failure are not good enough reasons to ignore one half of the world's biggest problem: the population effect on climate change.
0 Replies
 
 

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