Bare Bones Biology 259 – Food and Population Growth

Guest editorial contributed by Steven Salmoney, Chapel Hill, NC.  Sentences in green have been edited out of the audio to fit the audio time frame. Thank you, Steven.

 

Recent scientific evidence (Hopfenberg R and Pimentel D. 2001. Human Population Numbers as a Function of Food Supply. EnvironDevSustain, 3, pp. 1-15) suggests that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers is a remarkably straightforward and simple natural phenomenon. Despite all the misleading, intellectually dishonest and deceptively contrived ‘scientific research’ to the contrary, Homo sapiens can be seen as a species that is a part of and definitely not separate from the natural world we inhabit.

 

Experts in politics, economics and demography have willfully fostered and continue obdurately to countenance a perilous disconnect between ecological science and political economy. Their dogmatic adherence to misconceptions are broadcast everywhere and range from politically correct, so-called experts, to unscientific theories regarding fallacious ideas such as the automatic population stabilization around the midpoint of Century XXI and a benign demographic transition to a good life for the human community at large. These false assurances can no longer be accepted by responsible professionals in science. They are  directly contradicted by the best available evidence.

 

Texas060722_DSC0797F.sPerhaps politics, economics and demography are themselves disciplines that are fundamentally disconnected from science. They appear to have more in common with ideology than with science. To suggest, as many too many politicians, economists and demographers have been doing, that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter — or that the human population problem is not about numbers — or that human population dynamics has so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation — is wrongheaded and dangerous. The skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population is recognizable and the cause of it  is knowable.

 

According to emerging scientific research, the size of the human population on Earth is a function of food availability. More food for human consumption equals more people; less food for human existence equals less people; and no food, no people. This is to say, the population dynamics of the human species is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of all living things.

 

Global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and the recent, skyrocketing growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the ruinous misperception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more.

 

Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately 2% per year. All segments of it grow by about two percent. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall as well as more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.

 

Please examine the probability that humans are producing too much, not too little food; it is the super-abundance of stupendous agribusiness harvests that are driving population numbers of the human species to overshoot, or explode beyond, the natural limitations imposed by a relatively small, evidently finite, noticeably frangible planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.

 

The spectacularly successful efforts of humankind to increase food production annually in order to feed a growing population, has resulted and continues to result in even greater human population numbers worldwide. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production and then distributing it cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late.

 
The idea that food production must be increased to meet the needs of growing human population is a prime example upside down thinking.

I think, this is Lynn, that it would be far more humane, and also less expensive, to make birth control available to all who want it so that we can prevent the massive starvation that we are creating and begin the process of helping the Earth to rebalance that she gave us — a system that provides our basic needs — earth, air, fire and water — to all its inhabitants.

Steve Salmony
Chapel Hill, NC

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast may be downloaded at:

 

 

physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/

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