??The United Nations projects that the global population, currently at 6 billion, will peak at about 10 billion in the next century and then stabilize or even decline.??(popindex.Princeton.edu) A question immediately following the statement, can the Earth feed that many people? It is understood that even if food crops increase sufficiently, other renewable resources, including many fisheries and forests, are already under pressure. ??Our food production doubled from 1961 to 1994, but there are still people who go hungry.?? (popindex.Princeton.edu) This is because the human population has increased more rapidly than the food production. One of the well-known economists Thomas Robert Malthus claimed that there was an imbalance between population growth and our ability to produce food. In his famous work, An Essay on the Principle of Population, his principle of population was based on three main points: population cannot increase without the means of subsistence; population invariable increases when the means of subsistence are available; and the superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery or vice. When taking into account Malthus??s principle of population it is evident that his fundamental analysis of population has been proven right.
Since the earth??s resources are finite, when human population increases, it affects human beings. Will there be a problem if population keeps increasing? Rapid population growth and the technical development of society have led to difficulties for farmers worldwide to maintain this dual compatibility. In fact, today farmers face demands for a high productivity as well as environmentally sound, sustainable farming practices. Some economists believe human beings have the ability to produce enough food to feed all the people in the world, but according to Malthus??s theory, this cannot happen. When the number of people keeps increasing while the amount of available food stays the same or even declines, human beings will face a scarcity of resources and overpopulation in the world. This is what happening right now. According to a well known biologist-Paul R. Ehrlich, who said ??The amount of food available restrains the size of any animal population, unless space, disease, predators, or some other factor sets lower limits??(Ehrlich, 66). What he means is that food production is an element that control our population growth, this is because people cannot survive without food. When his idea is observed, it is evident that his idea is similar to Malthus??s principle of population. Malthus stated, ??there is an imbalance between our ability to produce food and our ability to produce children.??(Malthus 80) He said human beings are far better at making babies than are at finding food for survival. This problem, exists in all past and present societies, and must also exist in any future society as well. Therefore Malthus and Paul both agreed that the population could not increase without an increase of food. Without an excessive population, the world??s fertile land can produce enough food, or even excess food. There will be a sufficient amount of natural resources reserve of human beings. Therefore the faster the population increases; the more resources will be used. When population keeps increasing, earth environment will be put into greater danger, the overexploitation of natural resources will continue and poverty will rise in most of the world countries. It is because more people consume more food and more resources to keep their needs. As a result, if there is not enough food, human population will decline.
Malthus stated, ??the power of population to grow was ??indefinitely greater?? than the power of the earth to produce subsistence.?? (Malthus, 70) He also said that there was a difference between population growth and food supply. (msumusik.mursuky.edu/~felwell/http/malthus/index) The difference is that the population increases by a geometric progression but the amount of subsistence increases by arithmetic progression. When Malthus wrote his principle in 1798, he already predicted that in the future, the population would exceed the amount of food. This is because population grows according to the geometric progression (1, 2, 4, 8, 16..), and the means of subsistence grows according to the arithmetic progression (1, 2, 3, 4..) When our population exceeds the amount of food, people who cannot get food will experience hunger. As the human numbers increase, deterioration of water quality and destruction of animal and plant communities increase too. Water pollution has been partly caused by population growth. Humans consumed, stored and diverted water and used it to carry away wastes without regard to health or ecological consequences. Therefore, overpopulation not just threatens food supply, but also water supply. As human numbers continue to rise, they create needs for land for purposes other than the production of food. Among these are urbanization and transportation. Each of these sectors claims cropland in almost every country.
When the world population is examined, it is found that human population is increasing rapidly. Population growth has expanded greatly over the last 500 years, as larger numbers of people needed more food supplies and commodities from natural resources and agricultural activities, more and more people occupied bigger land spaces in big urban areas. Population growth in today??s world, therefore, plays a vital role to changes in the land. It is also found that 90% of the world population growth is occurring in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. ??In the United States, the natural increase is about 0.6 percent a year, while the total population growth is around 1%.??(fao.org.docrep/meeting/) The reason why developing countries like Africa and Latin America have a higher population growth because the majority of their population still under a low standard of living. The quality of life reached by traditional farming systems is low compared with that of modem western agricultural systems – short life span, low level of education, and absence of social services, etc. They need more children to work on the farm and earn extra income. Children are also born for the security of their parent age, as life expectancy is high. According to the1998 report of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United, studies have shown that overall, developing countries experienced higher output growth over 1994 to1998 than the developed countries. ??The developing countries having experienced an increase in per capital food production represent 77% of the developing country population.??(fao.org.docrep/meeting/X1729) However, some developing country regions like Africa South of Sahara, has suffered a decline in per capital terms over the 1994 to 1998 because of high rates of population growth. (fao.org/docrep/meeting/X1729e.htm#P874159) Even though Africa has increased food production, their population grows faster than their food production. The most productive and progressive agricultural systems are those of the industrialized countries, with slow or no population growth. While in many developing countries, agricultural production is kept with the rapid grow of population. What happened in Africa proves Malthus?? theory is correct. He stated that there is a difference between the population growth and the food supply, population increases in geometric progression, and food supply increases in arithmetic progression. As a result, people in Africa starve because they have such a high population.
Rwanda has about 5.9 million people in 1995, has produced 23000 tons of food in that year. Cereal commercial imports about 25000 tons and food aid is about 140 tons??(fao.org/giews/english/basedocs/rwa/rwaaidle.stm)
What happened in Rwanda is that in 1995 the amount of food aid and cereal commercial imports was greater than their food production. As a result, the population growth in Rwanda threatened people??s lives because the food production could not satisfy all the people needs. In addition, food and resources are not often distributed evenly among the human society; this means that poor people are the ones who will be starving. Also, most of the food that grows in developing countries is for the exportation to developed countries, resulting no food left for the people in developing countries. When population increases in those developing countries, people in the risk of hunger increase, and the condition becomes severe. As a result, their death rates are much higher than developed countries, since people in developed countries have the financial ability to purchase food from others. Although developed countries may not able to produce food for themselves, because of inadequate farmlands, they can import food from developing countries in order to satisfy their needs. The reason for developed countries to import food from others is because those countries have such a large population, and they cannot produce enough food for themselves. When the human population in the world exceeds the amount of food supply, food shortage or famine will occur, which is what happened in Rwanda.
I pointed out that before China, only three countries-Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan-were densely populated before they industrialized. Within 30 years, each had lost more than 40 percent of its grain land. And since the huge losses could not be offset by productivity gains, grain output fell in Japan by 32 percent and in both South Korea and Taiwan by 24 percent. Add to this equation the widespread demand by the suddenly affluent populations for greater diversity in their diets, and the three countries went from being largely self-sufficient to collectively importing 71 percent of their grain needs. In no case was the heavy dependence on imports a conscious policy goal, but rather it was the result of industrialization in a region of land scarcity. (techreview.com/articles/nov95/Brown)
Food scarcity not only occurs in developing countries, but also developed country. It occurs in those developed countries because those countries need lands to develop their society. There are less lands for grow crops; therefore those countries have heavy dependence on import food from other countries.
Food aid is provided for the developing countries because food is unevenly distributed in those countries. It is estimated that more than 800 million people, most of them in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. (techreview.com/articles/nov95/Brown) It happens not just because of food shortages, but the fact is that food aid sometimes cannot reach the famine victims. There are many reasons for that, for example, food aid is sent to the military to support soldiers, or to the government who keeps the food for the black market. In order for food donations to reach famine victims, many sides have to work right. Port facilities must be adequate; warehousing must be sufficient to store the food safely until it can be distributed. The entire process must function smoothly in order to help the hungry people. ??In the Ethiopian famines of the mid 1980s in a terrible civil war often used donated food as a weapon, preventing it from reaching starving people.??(Ehrlich 80) Even if food aid is sent to a particular place, the transportation process must run smoothly in order to still help those famine victims.
Global production of staple food declined slightly in 1998, with most of the decline being in cereals, although developing country cereal production increased moderately. Global end cereal stocks for the 1998/99 seasons are forecast to decline slightly. (fao.org/docrep/meeting/X1729e.htm#P874159)
As Malthus said, the imbalance between population growth and food production has lead to misery and vice. Therefore a large numbers of countries continue to face food emergencies and, as a result, civil strife occurs. In Mexico, Zapatista??s struggle to maintain their everyday life because of their civil strife. The elite groups take advantage of poor farmers. They export their food to other countries or sell it locally for an extremely high price. According to the newspaper in Mexico, Antonio was a 45-year-old man with two children and he was afraid solders would kill him if he went to harvest by himself. The elite groups take all the crops, leaving poor people with no money to buy medicine or other daily necessaries. The same situation is occurring in Chiapas right now. The wealthy people take the majority of food that grows in that area either for export or sell it in the black market. Even the food staying in Chiapas, it is not enough to feed the local people. This is because Chiapas have a large population but a small food supply. The people in Chiapas are starving, since they have nothing to lose, they try their best to fight the military, which creates tragedy.
Malthus?? principle is right because all the countries with violent upheavals in the 1980s and 90s were the ones that showed the highest growth rate in the 60??s. Every country where bloody internecine civil wars have occurred in recent years had a huge population preceding conflict.??(npg.org/projects/malthus/geyer_story.)
It is evident that Malthus??s principle of population is right because he said, ??the superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery or vice.?? When the gap between the human population and food production grows larger and larger, it creates big problems for human beings, such as food shortages, malnutrition, famine, civil strife, etc.
When taking this into account, Malthus??s principle of population is evident and his fundamental analysis of population is realistic and possible. In Chiapas and Mexico, civil strife has been brewing for years because the people in Chiapas are starving. High population growth, and the degradation of agricultural land results environmental scarcity and the unfair access to resources by the majority of citizens. Food shortages create lots of problems, such as civil strife, which is happening in Chiapas, and also Sierra Leone, Burundi, Kenya, etc. The majority of hungry people live in developing countries since they are considered less important than people in developed countries. Even though Malthus?? principle was printed about 201 years ago, generally, his principle is proven right today. Studies have shown that countries, which have huge populations, will experience misery. If human beings still ignore the problem of the population growth and the food supply, other problems will follow, such as civil strife and food shortages. Furthermore, rapid population growth may affect poverty by affecting the correlates of poverty: low wages, lack of human capital such as education and health, and lack of income earning assets such as land; income inequality and loss of economic growth. The only way to solve the problem between the population growth and the food supply is to reduce our population by using contraceptive tools. The other way is to distribute our food evenly to all people around the world. If food were distributed evenly to all people, famine will not happen. Now, it is time to face reality. It is time to change our world. It is time to solve our problem.