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  1. 1

    Visions of a sustainable world: ethical evaluations or political programmes?

    Chadwick MJ

    In: Population -- the complex reality. A report of the Population Summit of the world's scientific academies, edited by Francis Graham-Smith. London, England, Royal Society, 1994. 349-61.

    Environmental carrying capacity is dependent upon population size and resource demand per capita. Confusion has arisen from mistaking effects for causes in analysis of the links between poverty, population growth, and environmental degradation. Economic growth in and of itself will not alleviate poverty. Income earning capacities for poor households must be increased, and price systems must be favorable to the poor. Economic growth is necessary in developing countries for relief of poverty, and an obstacle to this growth may be the lack of sufficient capital. Limitations on resources restrict economic growth. Studies have suggested that resource conservation subsidies and depletion taxes correct for open access and improve sustainability. Another option is more equitable reallocation of resources. Evidence suggests that income drives population growth. The Malthusian dilemma of balancing growth with food productivity does not account for technological advances. The impact of population growth on food productivity has not been realized yet. Growth of crop yields has slowed, but physical limits have not been reached. Signs of increasing pressure on food supply are famine and malnutrition. Correction for inequalities of distribution and access would relieve the impact on the poor. The risks to resource depletion are dependent on whether the focus is on population numbers or resource demand. Shaw has modeled the links between population, natural resource consumption, poverty, debt, and technology and environmental well-being; the resulting model shows the complexity of interactions that impact on sustainability. Environmental impact is also dependent on waste technologies, which are affected by consumption patterns. There is global economic interdependence, and narrow national self-interests need to be reversed to reflect global cooperation and survival.
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  2. 2

    Population growth and the food supply: conflicting perspectives.

    Bongaarts J

    New York, New York, Population Council, 1993. 37 p. (Research Division Working Papers No. 53)

    This review aims to expose the diversity of existing views on the consequences of rapid population growth for food production and to summarize the opposing views on the state of natural resources. A deteriorating environment is viewed as inevitable and the developing world improves its standard of living and population increases. Population is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050. Food consumption varies by quantity, quality, and country. The developed world has a diet rich enough in calories and animal products to impair health, while Africans have the poorest diets and Latin Americans the best in the developing world. The developing world's 4.1 billion population in 1990 consumes an average of 4000 gross and 2500 net calories of food crops per capita every day. Production needs in 1990 are 0.7 billion hectares of harvested land with an average crop yield of 2.2 tons of grain per hectare (tge/ha), or its equivalent in nongrain crops. Net imports are 5% of the food supply in the developing world. The needs for 2050 and a population of 8.7 billion can be estimated based on the following scenarios: 1) no change in diets, 2) a 50% increase in gross per capita intake to 6000 calories per day, or 3) a 150% increase as represented in diets in developed countries. Production needs for option one would be an increase from 2.2 tge/ha to 4.7 tge/ha in 2050. Option two would require 14 tge/ha, which is an impossibility considering the current US cereal production is 4.2 tge/ha. Harvested land would need to increase by 50% by 2050 and yields would have to increase to 3.1 tge/ha for option one, 5.2 tge/ha for option two, and 9.3 tge/ha for option three. Global weather conditions are likely to change due to greenhouse emissions and global warming, which will both positively and negatively affect agriculture. The question remains as to how to apply new technology for growth in agriculture for increased production and acceptable environmental costs. Progress is unlikely to be uniform, and the poor will suffer the most. Three hunger scenarios are possible: poor countries with no reserves of land or water and reliance on food aid, ample resources and unequal distribution and ineffective policies, and political instability and civil strife.
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  3. 3

    Carrying capacity: earth's bottom line.

    Postel S

    In: State of the world 1994. A Worldwatch Institute report on progress toward a sustainable society, [by] Lester R. Brown, Alan Thein Durning, Christopher Flavin, Hilary F. French, Nicholas Lenssen, Marcia D. Lowe, Ann Misch, Sandra Postel, Michael Renner, Peter Weber. New York, New York, W.W. Norton, 1994. 3-21.

    Human activity which forces the earth to produce more for humans is actually causing the earth to decrease its ability to sustain life. Considerable evidence shows that earth has surpassed its carrying capacity. Population size, consumption patterns, and technology choices are responsible for this phenomenon. More specifically, since the 1950s world population has doubled, global economic output has quadrupled, and the gap between rich and poor has increased, all of which are the driving forces that put the most pressure on the earth's natural systems. Humans have directly destroyed 12% of the earth's net primary productivity and directly use another 27%, leaving about 60% for the millions of other landbased plants and animals. If world population reaches its projected size for 2010, the per capita availability of rangeland will have fallen by 22%, of the fish catch by 10%, of irrigated land by 12%, of cropland by 21%, and of forestland by 30%. We need to use natural resources more efficiently, distribute them more equitably, and reduce overall consumption levels. We need to use technology more wisely and discriminately. Israel leads the way in making water use more efficient. Its advanced water management tools include highly efficient drip irrigation, automated systems that irrigate only when crops need water, and water allocation. Trade can both help and hinder environmental destruction. Trade can spread beneficial technologies and ecological capital. Yet, it also causes a misconception that natural resources are infinite, which encourages unsustainable consumption levels. The most difficult problem to solve may be inequalities in wealth, but the future of both rich and poor depend on reducing poverty. A US State Department counselor is leading the way for a major course correction in US policy to better promote family planning and women's rights and health.
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  4. 4

    Reconciling Texas and Berkeley: the concept of optimum population.

    Grant L

    In: Elephants in the Volkswagen: facing the tough questions about our overcrowded country, [by] Lindsey Grant. New York, New York, W.H. Freeman, 1992. 1-17.

    People in the US are beginning to realize that we are destroying the environment. Population size, per capita consumption, and technology fuel these environmental problems. The nation uses technological fixes and pleas for conservation to address these problems, but ignores population and consumption levels. We tend to have a bigger the better attitude toward consumption and this attitude and subsequent environmental degradation reduce the size of the population the environment can sustain. We must face the issue between personal freedom (a very strong and deeply rooted US sentiment) and social responsibility. Environmentalists have abandoned the maximum population approach and have adopted the concept of sustainability. Sustainability proponents believe that population size should not become so great that it destroys the carrying capacity of the Earth and its ability to support future generations. The US and other developed nations (e.g., the Netherlands) need a population policy. They also need to develop that considers humans as only a part of a functioning ecosystem and identifies an optimum population size, which allows us to achieve our national and social goals within that ecosystem. Macroeconomics and the scientific method are unable to serve as models to determine optimum population and, in fact, hinder the inquiry. We do not have the luxury to wait indefinitely for the systematic intellectual framework needed to study optimum population. Population is linked to air pollution, acid rain, global warming, unemployment, and ghettos. A population policy which limits immigration, has a national goal of a 2-child maximum family size, and shapes social policies to help realize this goal would help the US achieve a lower population size. In addition to the attitude that bigger is better other attitudes which lend themselves to considerable resistance to such a policy include those which revolve around self-interest, the injunction to be fruitful and multiply, and fear of coercion.
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  5. 5

    Dynamics of population growth: implications for environment and quality of life.

    Panandiker VA

    [Unpublished] 1990. Presented at the Population-Environment Dynamics Symposium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 1-3, 1990. 26 p.

    Basic issues and problems involved in India's population growth, the environment, and the quality of life are identified. India is a populous country (16.5% of the world's population). The nature of the population problem is a growth rate of 2.4%/year. The target for India is to reach NRR-1 by 2000 with a birth rate of 21/1000 and a death rate of 7, which is impossible when in 1990 the birth rate was 31 and the death rate 11/1000. Population growth affects 1) agricultural production, 2) the environment, and 3) the quality of life. Agricultural production increased 333% between 1950 and 1990 while population increased 240%, which reduced the need for imported foodgrains. India's share of the world's arable land is 12% and the share of population is 16%. Yields are low compared with China or Southeast Asia. The Indo-Gangetic Plains have the potential for satisfying carrying capacity. Environmental problems result not just from agricultural practices but also from the patterns of consumption of developed countries and domestic development policies. The 1990 development plan supplies a hopeful approach toward development which promotes ecological balance and conservation and regeneration of natural resources. However, increased agricultural production means intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, and soil degradation which impact on the environment, as evidenced in the Punjab and Haryana. Currently estimates of damaged or unusable land amount to 60% of available agricultural land. Loss from flooding affects 795 million people. Water logging and salinity are also affected by agricultural development due to inadequate drainage. The implications of population growth on the environment are dwarfed by the pressing political problems of food and employment. Environmental pressure groups are forming. Poverty is a serious problem particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with >50% of the population below the poverty line. Population pressure strains resources such as education where planned growth still would leave 30% illiterate by the year 2000, and the costs would take a large share of the national budget. Availability of water, health care, housing, and clothing pose similar problems. The concern is whether upheaval will accompany the changes and whether poverty and other problems can be resolved satisfactorily.
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  6. 6

    Sustainability is multi-faceted.

    POPLINE. 1992 May-Jun; 14:1-2.

    The concept of sustainable development has many different sides. It must eliminate the poverty that 1.1 billion people currently live in. It must must meet the aspirations of the middle 3 billion who are neither rich, nor poor. These tasks must be accomplished without eliminating the same opportunities for future generations. World population will grow by 97 million each year until 2000, and our level of per capita consumption continues to rise. To this point, markets have been able to keep pace with population growth, but this trend will not continue. By 2050, UN projection estimate population to be 10 billion. At US consumption levels the world's copper reserves would be gone in 4.5 years as would the oil. Even if substitutes were found the, environmental damage caused by that level production would poison the Earth. Land and food are a greater concern at the level of population. Currently the average person in a developing country has .21 hectares of farmland, less than half that of a person in a developed country. According to present trends this figure will fall to .11 hectares. At that level, an extra 4.5 million square kilometers of wildlife habitat will have to be converted to farmland, roads, and settlements; yet, there is only 6.5 million square kilometers left. Slowing population growth is clearly the best way to reduce pressure on resources of all kinds.
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  7. 7

    Population growth can prevent the development that would slow population growth.

    Keyfitz N

    In: Preserving the global environment: the challenge of shared leadership, edited by Jessica T. Mathews. New York, New York/London, England, W. W. Norton, 1991. 39-77.

    The thesis that human population growth will eventually destroy the equilibrium of the world ecosystem, because environmental strain is a nonlinear effect of the linear growth, is embellished with discussions of technology and resulting pollution, population dynamics, birth and death rates, effects of expanded education, causes of urbanization, time constraints and destabilizing effects of partial development and the debt crisis. It is suggested that the terms renewable and nonrenewable resources are paradoxical, since the nonrenewable resoureces such as minerals will always exist, while renewable ecosystems and species are limited. The competitive economy actually accelerates destruction of biological resoureces because it overvalues rare species when they have crossed the equilibrium threshold and are in decline. Technological outputs are proportional to population numbers: therefore adverse effects of population should be considered in billions, not percent increase even though it is declining. Even the United Nations does not have predictions of the effects of added billions, taking into account improved survival and decreased infant mortality. Rapid urbanization of developing countries and their debt crisis have resulted from political necessity from the point of view of governments in power, rather than mere demographics. Recommendations are suggested for U.S. policy based on these points such as enlightened political leadership, foreign aid, and scientific investment with the health of the world ecosystem in mind rather than spectacle and local political ideology.
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  8. 8

    [Brazil: agricultural modernisation and food production restructuring in the international crisis] Bresil: modernisation agricole et restructuration alimentaire dans la crise internationale.

    Bertrand JP

    Tiers-Monde. 1985 Oct-Dec; 26(104):879-98.

    This study examines the complex relationship of capital accumulation, external debt, and food supply in Brazil, a country which has simultaneously increased its food exports and its unsatisfied demand for food imports in the context of the world economic crisis. In Brazil, the substitution of export cash crops for subsistence crops has been accompanied by a profound but incomplete restructuring of the basic food supply and model of consumption, a restructuring made possible by declining real cost of the new foods. The gap between the extremely rapid evolution of consumption, especially in the urban areas, and the possibilities of concomitant transformation of production is the characteristic feature of the change occuring in Brazil. The current diet of the developed countries evolved over a relatively long period and was based on the declining real cost of basic foodstuffs made possible by increasing labor productivity. Between 1800-1900, the real cost of a kilo of bread was halved, while that of meat remained stable. In France and the US respectively, 80 and 90% of the principal cereals are consumed by animals, while in developing countries most grains are directly consumed. Numerous indices suggest that Brazil has begun to differentiate its food regime in the direction of decreased consumption of cereals, tubers, and legumes, and increased consumption of animal products, with grains increasingly consumed indirectly by animals. Since the early 1970s, Brazil has developed a powerful processed food industry which supports intensive breeding of poultry and, to a lesser extent, pork and milk cattle. However, low income population groups have been forced to reduce their consumption of traditional foodstuffs, whose real prices have undergone relative increases, without achieving a satisfactory level of consumption of the new products. Brazilian food problems result not from insufficient production of food but from the choice of a strongly internationalist model of development in the mid-1960s which required insertion into the world economy, notably through a search for new export sectors. The agricultural sector was assigned 3 functions: producing food as cheaply as possible, increasing the proportion of exportable crops, and substituting some of the foods imported. Brazil evolved in 2 decades from a classic agroexporter to a more complex structure reflecting the semiindustrialized state of the economy. The share of processed agricultural goods increased accordingly. The foods produced for the internal market have been changing at the same time that a new hierarchy of exportable products has evolved. Agricultural policy involved recourse to market mechanisms and cheap credit focused on the south and southeastern regions, large and medium sized producers, and a few products including soy, coffee, sugar cane, and cotton. Just 3% of credits went to the traditional foodstuffs beans and manioc. The most serious consequence of the internationalization of the agricultural economy has been a dangerous increase in the vulnerability of low income groups to world food price fluctuations.
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  9. 9

    [Food dependence and urbanisation in Africa south of the Sahara: a controversial relationship] Dependance alimentaire et urbanisation en Afrique sub-Saharienne: une relation controversee.

    Sudrie O

    Tiers-Monde. 1985 Oct-Dec; 26(104):861-78.

    This article analyzes statistical indicators of urbanization and food dependence in Subsaharan Africa to examine whether urbanization has induced dependence and steady increases in food imports. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural imports to Africa grew at an annual pace of 8.5%, increasing from the index of 100 in 1970 to 227 in 1980, while cereal imports alone reached 21 million tons in 1980 compared to 6 in 1970. The growth of imports has occurred in the context of a relative crisis in agriculture involving a decline in per capita food availability and sustained rural exodus. Crude data on commercial agricultural production, food imports, and urban population seem to corroborate the relationships between urbanization and food dependence. According to the FAO, per capita agricultural production declined continuously between 1970-80 by 1.2%/year, while the population in places of over 5000 inhabitants increased from 40 million in 1970 to 75 million in 1980. The general trends mask the concentration of both food imports and urban population; by 1980, just 6 countries were responsible for half the imports and 55% of the total urban population. The relationship between food imports and urban population appears to be verified a priori for only a few countries, notably Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal. In general, over both the short and long terms, the weak correlation between urbanization and food imports argues against any univocal interpretation of the results: rhythms of growth of imports have no strong relationship with those of urbanization. The average annual rate of growth of the urban population increased from 5.3% between 1960-70 to 5.9% during the 1970s, while the rate of growth of food imports declined from 4.3% between 1960-70 to 3.5% thereafter. The declining growth rate of food imports occurred in the context of declining per capita food availability estimated by the FAO at -1.2%/year for all SubSaharan countries. Per capita production attained an index of 89.7 in 1978 based on a 1970 level of 100. Imports necessary to ensure a constant food supply would have attained an index of 110.3 in 1978, but in fact the index actually achieved was 107.2 based on 100 in 1970. The level of national income played a determining role in compensating for declining local food production, with oil exporting countries able to import food at a rate in excess of the difference and other nations falling considerably short of compensating. Income effects explain in large part the absence of correlation between level of food production, food imports, and urbanization. As in all econometric studies of countries with deficient data, caution must be applied in interpretation of results. The UN data used do no measure clandestine inter-African food exchanges and define urban areas in purely demographic terms.
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  10. 10

    Evolving food gaps in the Middle East/North Africa: prospects and policy implications.

    Khaldi N

    Washington, D.C., International Food Policy Research Institute, 1984 Dec. 74 p. (International Food Policy Research Institute Research Report No. 47)

    Spurred by the rapid rise in oil revenues and the surge in demand for food that has accompanied them, a widening gap between food supply and demand has led to huge increases in imports in the Middle East/North Africa since 1973. At the same time, changing food preferences have altered the composition of the foods consumed. During the overall period 1966-80, consumption of staple foods in the region increased by 3.9% per year, but the annual average for the years after 1973 was greater, 4.8%. Both comsumption and population grew more rapidly in the oil-exporting countries. Although the infusion of income in the poverty-stricken labor-exporting countries fostered a rise in demand, the slowdown in population growth as a result of migration held down the annual growth in the consumption of staples. On the production side, the performance of agriculture in the region as a whole has not kept pace with the increased demand. Differences in the amounts of food the countries produce have become pronounced in recent years. Regional growth in production shifted from increases in area sown to increases in yield in the later period as land became scarcer. To close the projected regional gap in basic staples of 52 million metric tons by the year 2000, staple food production would have to increase 4.7% annually, but its projected growth is only 2.7% per year. Eventual surpluses might lead to a widening of intraregional trade and greater food security for all of the countries in the region.
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  11. 11

    [Hunger and disease in less developed countries and en route to development (the Third World). Proposal for solutions] Hambre y enfermedades en los paises menos adelantados y en vias de desarrollo (Tercer Mundo). Propuesta de soluciones.

    Piedrola Gil G

    Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina. 1984; 101(1):39-96.

    The extent, causes, and possible solutions to problems of hunger, inequality, and disease in developing countries are discussed in this essay. Various frameworks and indicators have been proposed for identifying the poorest of nations; currently, 21 African, 9 Asian, and 1 American nation are regarded as the poorest of the poor. The 31 least developed countries, the 89 developing countries, and the 37 developed countries respectively have populations of 283 million, 3 billion; infant mortality rates of 160, 94, and 19/1000 live births; life expectancies of 45, 60, and 72 years; literacy rates of 28, 55, and 98%; per capita gross national products of $170, and $520, and $6230; and per capita public health expenditures of $1.70, $6.50, and $244. Developing countries in the year 2000 are expected to have 4.87 billion of the world's 6.2 billion inhabitants. The 3rd world contains 70% of the world's population but receives only 17% of world income. 40 million persons die of hunger or its consequences each year. Economic and social development is the only solution to problems of poverty and underdevelopment, and will require mobilization of all present and future human and material resources to achieve maximum possible wellbeing for each human being. Among principal causes of underdevelopment in the 3rd World are drought, illness, exile, socioeconomic disorder, war, and arms expenditures. Current food production and a long list of possible new technologies would be adequate to feed the world's population, but poor distribution condemns the world's people to hunger. Numerous UN agencies, organizations, and programs are dedicated to solving the problems of hunger, underdevelopment, and disease. In 1982, 600 billion dollars were spent in armanents, of $112 for each of the world's inhabitants; diversion of these resources to development goals would go a long way toward solving the problem of underdevelopment. The main problem is not lack of resources, but the need to establish a new and more just economic and distributive order along with genuine solidarity in the struggle against underdevelopment. Several steps should be taken: agricultural production should be increased with the full participation of the developng nations; the industrialized or petroleum-producing nations should aid the poor states with at least .7% and up to 5% of their gross national products for the struggle against drought, disease, illiteracy, and for the green revolution and new agropastoral technologies; prices paid to poor countries for raw materials should be fair; responsible parenthood, education, women's rights, clean drinking water, environmental sanitation and primary health care should be promoted; the arms race should be halted, and the North-South dialogue should be pursued in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
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