Friday, December 18, 2009

Why Britain faces a bleak future of food shortages

In the article Why Britain faces a bleak future of food shortages The author describes the main drivers for food and water shortages.   They start talking about climate change and mention that increasing populations which will cause increased demands for food and water while the additional people also need land for living space.  These will be complicated by climate change which may destroy crops and force farmers to switch crops.

I remember a high school science fair project where they demonstrated fruit flies living in a bottle with constant space and food.   They would breed until they reached a population peak and keep breeding until waves of starvation or disease brought their numbers back within carrying capacity of their fixed bio system.

I wonder how close mother earth is to her carry capacity for humans?  Perhaps we should start the process of controlling population growth so we can avoid the traumatic die-back events associated with breeding to exceed carrying capacity.   Unlike the fruit flies we have brains and can choose to use them to avoid the problem.  This is well within our existing science capacity but only if all cultures reduce births to give us low or no growth.   It may induce other problems but I believe they will be easier to manage than mass starvation.

I agree with using science and engineering to solve problems.  I spent years designing a system which extracts water from air using solar energy because I felt is was an important part of mitigating the effect of global climate change.    I also invented a system that reduces evaporation from reservoirs and lakes which could save over 450 million gallons per day currently going to waste from  Lake Mead (USA Nevada Around the world it could save trillions of gallons per day.

I disagree that we should try to use technology to allow continued uncontrolled population growth.  It is simply unsustainable and we are beginning to see negative effects of approaching the limit.      My inventions and other great solutions can help but they are unlikely to deliver enough avoid large scale suffering if population growth continues unchecked.

Population control simply will not work if only the some demographics reduce births, it must be adopted world wide and applied equally or it will result in those who do control their births being overran by those who do not.    This should be the major topic at the Summit on Climate change.  The developing countries want subsidies from the developed countries which are already starting to slow their population growth,  to get those subsidies they should agree to slowing their birth rates even if it goes against their historical culture and belief system.  Tax laws should be changed to discourage having more children and to reward parents who have children graduating from college.  Only when we put the right incentives in place can we hope to change behaviors.   It may seem harsh but local aid should be made preferentially available to communities which have demonstrated decreased birth rates and increased educational accomplishments for both sexes.   Local aid funding should be prioritized to accomplish both these goals.

When I mention education and college above, I specifically mean math, science especially physics and chemistry, technical and engineering.   I believe these are the fields most likely to produce people who can contribute innovations that will increase the carrying capacity of mother earth.    

See Why are they not stressing more on the population problem in the climate dialogue?
for another view on the same topic.

  Thanks Joe Ellsworth

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