Blog of Mass Distraction

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Feed the world

It looks like I was very tired when I wrote my last post. I'm a little surprised it's even as comprehensible as it is... but anyway...
I've had discussions with people about over population and famine across the world. I tell people that I don't think there is any food shortage in the world; that the problem is with difficult and unequal distribution. Some seem to have a hard time believing that. I guess I can understand, when you see so many millions starving in so many countries. But the reality is, there is no problem in producing the number of calories needed by everyone in the world.
I think we could produce enough food to feed maybe 10 billion without too much trouble. But right now, something like 90% of the grains we produce are not used for human consumption. They are considered low grade and are used strictly for animal feed. There was quite a problem this year with many Canadian farmers that had poor harvests and have had little support from the Canadian government. They couldn't sell whatever they did harvest because they produce animal feed grains and the prices they would get on international markets just wouldn't cover their costs.
Now I'm not going to get into the whole 'everyone should be a vegetarian' spiel, because I don't believe that. While I don't believe deforestation in South America to make room for grazing land is a good idea, I do think there are better ways to manage meat production that wouldn't cause a burden on the environment and would free up resources.
But I don't know why people just assume that there isn't enough food in the world for everyone and we need to start controlling population growth more effectively. I find it a rather offensive idea to be honest. The poor countries can't get enough food so they should control their population, while at the same time western countries are worried about the epidemic rates of obesity. Now I know that many people who have low income or are poor may become obese because of low quality food (fast food, etc.); but there is definitely not a shortage of calorie consumption here.
Canada and the United States make up something like 5% of the world's population, but we consume an immense amount of resources. The US is by far the largest consumer of energy in the world. It's the largest producer and importer as well. In per capita timber usage the US is number 2 behind Finland (which has a population around 5 million), Canada is number 3.


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