Many commentators have attempted to isolate the link between population growth, urbanization, and world hunger by alluding to the production limit of the planet. While this is an absolutely logical premise, critics reject this hypothesis on the basis of contradicting data. According to World Bank reports, recent decades have recorded lower levels of hunger and child malnutrition despite experiencing a rapid upsurge in population. This partly disproves the assertion that population growth is solely responsible for the incidence of world hunger. In response, this essay reviews two recent articles to review the link between hunger and population demographics.
The fact that people depend on the environment for survival provides evidence of the connection between population growth and hunger. This is clearly demonstrated by Hwang (2018) in his article “7.5 billion and counting.” The article attempts to explain the mathematics of population growth, ecological implications, and sustainability of the planet. It claims that the link between population and hunger lies in people’s propensity to depend on food for survival. In a world with limited resources, people have fewer chances of survival while in one that has unlimited resources, they are bound to thrive and multiply exponentially. Therefore, the size of the population grows correspondingly with the availability of natural resources. For the last few centuries, the earth has enjoyed an abundance of natural resources, which have pushed population growth to exponential levels. The world’s population is projected to reach eight billion in 2023 (Hwang, 2018). This growth will be curtailed by the unavailability of resources, which is a harsh biological reality to be experienced as the earth approaches its carrying capacity.
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Hwang (2018) says that the ecological implications for a growing population are dire. Citing the current era, he asserts that humans are consuming enormous amounts of resources and polluting the environment at astonishing rates. Forces resulting from these activities have led to an ecological imbalance. Developed countries are particularly notorious for consuming resources out of proportion to the size of their populations. The Worldwatch Institute states that the earth has a reserve of 1.9 hectares of land per person for drawing resources and discarding wastes. An average American citizen uses about 9.7 hectares. Thus, at the American standard of living, the current population is unsustainable (Hwang, 2018). Since doubling food production to feed the current populations would only amount to pushing the harsh reality of the earth’s carrying capacity by a few years ahead, the necessary thing to do according to Hwang (2018) would involve the reduction of birth rates.
On the other hand, Hasell’s article “Does population growth lead to hunger and famine?” approaches the link between demographics through a different perspective. Hasell agrees to the logic behind the carrying capacity of a finite land area. The earth cannot support a population that consumes resources beyond the maximum level at which it can produce them. On investigating whether population growth causes famine, Hasell finds that the correlation between the two is inverse. Although it is difficult to reject the notion that population growth causes hunger based on two statistics on a world scale, data collected since 1800 through 2017 shows that famines and malnutrition-related deaths have decreased with increase in population over the years. The food supply has also grown tremendously. With this, the number of deaths related to insufficient calorie and protein intake has fallen from 500,000 to 300,000 in less than half-a-decade. Even so, Hasell utilizes Global Hunger Index data to prove that regions with higher levels of hunger have been accompanied by high population growth, such as India.
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In conclusion, environmental degradation, pollution, and overutilization of natural resources pose a threat to food security. This is evident with the current population growth and level of environmental degradation. Nevertheless, this represents only one aspect of why people die out of hunger. The present global supply is sufficient for the world’s population, yet select communities die out of hunger. Additionally, the number of famines have reduced over the years, rather than increasing with increased population growth. Granting some regions with high population growth rates experience hunger, this hypothesis is inconclusive in explaining contradicting results in the other regions. For these reasons, the human race should examine the diverse factors that lead to world hunger since population growth is just one factor in a wide matrix of possibilities.
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