A large section of the political right, at least in English-speaking countries, has turned rejection of climate science into a major front in the culture wars that dominate a tribalist approach to politics. I n the meantime, can we feed the people? If we are to feed those who are currently hungry and extend the current average to the extra three billion or so who have yet to join us, we would need to increase global food output by close to 50 per cent over the next 40 years. The required rate of growth in food production is one per cent a year, while the rate of productivity growth in agriculture since has been about two per cent a year.
Food supply per person grew substantially over the 20th century, which implies that production outpaced population growth. Some of this additional output was due to expansion on to marginal land and to increased use of fertilisers. Population growth is slowing, so if productivity continues to improve at the historical rate, the increase in food per person will continue or even accelerate.
In other words, if historical trends continue and other demands remain unchanged, the problem of feeding the world could be solved with our existing arable land and with a continued decline in the number of people working in agriculture. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of continued progress in production or equitable distribution of food. In fact, there are many reasons to think that productivity improvements might have slowed and are likely to slow further.
Solutions to Poverty and Hunger Essay example - Words | Cram
The publicly funded research institutions that drove the Green Revolution have almost been squeezed out of existence in the era of neoliberalism. The private sector replacement has focused on initiatives such as genetically modified GM crops, whose profits are easy to capture.
Unfortunately, while GM technology has proved to be relatively safe and has yielded some productivity improvements, it has fallen far short of the expectations of its proponents and of the gains yielded by earlier innovations. The number of chronically undernourished people in the world has declined from nearly one billion in to million today.
Furthermore, many existing food production systems are not sustainable in their current forms. The problems are most acute with fish, which are the primary source of protein for hundreds of millions of people. Most fisheries in the world are overfished and many have passed the point of inevitable collapse. As Australian experience has shown, it is possible to manage fisheries using quota systems, but such systems typically require a substantial reduction in the number of boats and fishers.
That means they face strong resistance even when compensation is available. Attempts to achieve sustainability while maintaining fishery output, such as the six-country Coral Triangle Initiative, have had some success, but overfishing is still the norm. The situation with meat is less dire but still requires careful management.
Ruminants such as cattle and sheep emit lots of methane mostly in belches and are not very efficient at turning grain into meat. This means that a global diet with First World levels of animal protein consumption would require a shift towards chicken, eggs, and pork. That in turn raises ethical questions, especially regarding the factory production of chicken.
Evidence is limited here but, at least for eggs, the free-range alternative does not require a substantial increase in feed. Free-range eggs now account for 25 per cent of the Australian market and that share is rising. In the UK, that figure is even higher — around half of all eggs sold are free-range. If we act decisively, there are no resource constraints to prevent a world population of 10 billion people from eating well and sustainably by Most of the increase in food production has gone to meet the demands of people in rapidly growing middle-income countries.
Understandably, they want to share the diet of the rich world, eating more meat, fruit and vegetables, and less rice and wheat. And even this process has had beneficial consequences. Over time and across countries, that decline closely tracks reductions in poverty. It is only loosely correlated with food production. But it remains a grim fact that in a global market, food goes to those who can pay for it.
The Food And Agriculture Organization
So, even though the world produces more than enough to feed everybody well and could easily produce more, a little under a billion people still go hungry every day. The mostly undelivered funding commitments made by rich nations towards those goals include giving a mere 0. Remember again that the productive capacity of the global economy, for given inputs of labour, capital and materials, grows by around two per cent every year.
There are well-known political difficulties here. The average American believes that 25 per cent of the US government budget is spent on foreign aid and would like to cut this to 10 per cent. This is a problem that seems insoluble within current political structures. Of course, such an attitude would ultimately lead to disaster, as it does in the novel.
Despite all the difficulties of reaching an international agreement, and the desperate resistance of rightwing culture warriors, the world is gradually moving to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Aid has been grudging and inadequate, yet efforts to rid the world of hunger and diseases such as HIV and malaria are achieving significant successes, with a fair chance that we might reach the UN millennium development goals in advance of the target date.
Most significantly, in the wake of the global financial crisis, the culture of conspicuous consumption that characterised and helped to bring down the preceding gilded age seems finally to be losing its hold. The ultimate barriers to achieving a good life for all, free of the lash of financial necessity, are neither technological nor environmental.
They are in our beliefs, values and social institutions. If we collectively prefer to stay on the treadmill, chasing bigger and better consumption goods, we can do that, at least until we hit the limits of sustainability. But if we choose to use the opportunities given to us by technology to eliminate poverty and drudgery, and to protect and restore the environment, that choice is equally open to us. Yet everyone could have a better life right now with less energy use, more leisure, and drastically lower emissions of greenhouse gases.
Sarah Stein Lubrano. Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits Make a donation. The projected Tianjin Eco City, China.
Solving World Hunger Means Solving World Poverty
Illustration courtesy of Surbana Urban Planning Group. John Quiggin is professor of economics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Aeon for Friends Find out more. Our use of coal, gas and oil could be reduced by 90 per cent, even while living standards increase greatly Of the resource constraints we face, energy is the most critical. View All Blog Posts. This post was last updated October 15, Here are five reasons to care about stopping hunger worldwide: More than million people suffer from hunger.
This is equivalent to one in nine people on the planet. Additionally, about one in three people suffer from malnutrition.
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- UNICEF - Goal: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
While the current situation is dire, we are making significant progress in the effort to end hunger. We all have a right to food.
We have a goal to end hunger in all its forms by Indeed, globally the richest 20 per cent of humanity controls around 85 per cent of all wealth, whilst the poorest 20 per cent control only 1. Peter Rosset, co-director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy , quoted at the top of this page, highlights some of the wider issues around hunger. He argues that it is not just a challenge of producing more and more food, but there are many political and economic issues underscoring the problems:.
Research carried out by our Institute reveals that since , governments have presided over a set of policies that have conspired to undercut peasant, small and family farmers, and farm cooperatives in nations both North and South. These policies have included runaway trade liberalization, pitting family farmers in the Third World against the subsidized corporate farms in the North witness the recent U. Farm Bill , forcing Third World countries to eliminate price supports and subsidies for food producers, the privatization of credit, the excessive promotion of exports to the detriment of food crops, the patenting of crop genetic resources by corporations who charge farmers for their use, and a bias in agricultural research toward expensive and questionable technologies like genetic engineering while virtually ignoring pro-poor alternatives like organic farming and agroecology.
Reporting from the World Food Summit , and highlighting some shocking obstacles to getting a declaration on tackling these issues, Peter Rosset reported on day one:. What was leading the U. First, the U. The Third World nations organized in the Group of 77 wanted mandatory language on the Right to Food, while Europe and Canada held out for the compromise of a voluntary Code of Conduct.
No other nation felt strongly that GM crops should receive prominence. The only positive thing in the official declaration was the proposal for a voluntary code of conduct on the Right to Food to be developed over the next two years. The United States, which had vehemently opposed the right to food in any form, finally accepted this version which is a not mandatory and b not immediate.
Apart from that, the declaration is a disaster as far as ending hunger goes. It repeats the flaws of the Summit declaration which led to the failure to meet hunger reduction goals over the past five years, including an endorsement of free trade, a recommendation of more structural adjustment for the poorest countries, and a call for greater private investment.
It also adds the golden goose that the U. All in all, a bad performance by governments. The U.