Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thoughts On Population Growth

Population stresses can act as an "invisible hand" in political conflicts. A high population with low food production can exasperate many conflicts.
Population growth is also nearly absent in the debate over illegal immigration. Certainly, the US has a vested interest in encourage family planning in Mexico.
Most children born are in dire poverty. If they consumed more resources, we would in the West would have more expensive goods. We have been insulated by the full effects of population growth because most people barely consume enough resources to get by.
Now China and India have drastically increased the standard of living and resorce consumption of tens of millions of people. And we are starting to feel the it at the pump. Of course, the US is still the largest per-capita consumer of the Earth’s resources, but for more people to approach our level of consumption is good for the planet.
It is also questionable whether current food production is sustainable. Some environmentalists have suggested we may have a "food bubble" which may soon pop. Many underground aquifers used for irrigation are being drained much faster than they can replenish themselves. Also to consider is the still unknown effects of global warming on crop growth.
And this fact has distorted the debate over population growth. Skeptics argue that food production has kept pace with a growing population, and starvation is caused by political instability. This is mostly true. But, if food were truly distributed equally, would everyone really get enough nutrition for basic health?
And if all the recources were equally distributed, what standard of living would that be? Much lower than the Western world, it could be assumed.
If all 6.5 billion people in the world consumed as many resources as the US did, the ecosystem would be all but ruined.


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