MALTHUS Two hundred years ago, Thomas Robert Malthus, a British economist , wrote "An Essay on the Principle of Population" in which he argued that the world population would increase faster than the food supply, with disastrous results for the general human welfare. A world population of 250 million at the time of Christ has now grown to 5.7 billion in spite of wars, plagues, famine, and epidemics. World food production has been keeping pace with population growth until recently.
If the world food supply had been distributed equally to each member of society in the mid 1980's, the population of 4.7 billion would have been allocated a weekly diet of 11 pounds of meat, grain and fish per person. In todays world, a billion people have been added to the population and the food supply has decreased to less than 10 pounds per week per person.
The typical weekly diet in the U.S. is about 17 pounds, which means a significant number of the worlds people are eating considerably less than the average of 10 pounds per week. A world population of 10 to 11 billion by mid century will have an individual allocation of 6 to 7 pounds per week, equivalent to the diet of todays members of society living in poverty.
Food projections are extremely uncertain since natural disasters are unpredictable and may increase if the forecasted effects of global warming materialize. Also, environmental degradation is increasing while water allocations are decreasing.
Society will not be suddenly surprised by a "crisis point" at which food supplies are no longer adequate. Todays isolated anarchy and famine (which is politically inspired) in Africa could easily turn into a world wide sustenance inspired problem during the first half of the next century.
Humans are the only creatures...