Food shortages lead to malnutrition and starvation. Malnutrition means under-feeding, i.e. receiving a diet lacking sufficient energy or other essentials such as vitamins or protein. Starvation means death from lack of food.
Overcrowding leads to an increase in disease, crime, vandalism, drug-taking, etc.
COMPETITION FOR LAND
Competition for land causes increased possibilities of wars and disturbances.
Deforestation as trees are cut down for fuel and to provide more space for agriculture leads to:
1. soil erosion — if trees are cut down on hillsides, the fertile topsoil may be washed away into rivers and crops cannot then be grown on the bare hillsides;
2. less absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis
3. a locally drier climate because trees give off large quantities of water from their leaves.
increasing pollution from the use of pesticides to produce more food and from increased use of fuels to meet increasing demands for energy.
Water shortages occur whenever the population outgrows the local supplies.
PREVENTING FUTURE CRISES
To stabilize world population, the birth rate must be reduced until it equals the death rate. This can be achieved by:
1 educating parents to restrict their families to two or three children at the most;
2 providing cheap, effective, and acceptable methods of contraception and birth control.
INCREASED FOOD PRODUCTION
1 Selective breeding of crops and livestock.
2 Increased uses of fertilizers.
3 Increased use of chemicals to kill weeds (herbicides), fungi (fungicides) insects (insecticides) and pests generally (pesticides).
4 Increased use of resources not currently exploited, e.g. fishing for Antarctic krill (shrimps) and fish farming in lakes, etc.
5 More use of plant proteins, e.g. proteins from soya bean or ‘single cell proteins’ manufactured by single-celled microorganisms such as yeasts. Cheap proteins from plants could replace expensive animal proteins to a much greater extent than at present.
6 Growth of food crops instead of crops grown for cash, e.g. tobacco, which take up valuable space for growing food.
7 Irrigation (providing a supply of water) to desert areas.
Food distribution can also be improved. Efficient farming in North America and Europe has produced huge food surpluses, e.g. the EEC ‘butter mountains’. Poor countries cannot afford to buy these and rich countries do not need them.
Types of fertilizers
|Organic fertilizers, e.g. sludge, compost, manure.||1. To improve structure of light Soils so that they can be worked more easily.2. May also break down slowly to
yield nitrates for plant growth.
|Slow acting; difficult to apply; but cause no pollution problems.|
|Inorganic fertilizers, e.g. nitrates, sulphates, phosphates.||To provide requirements for protein manufacture, i.e. plant growth.||Fast acting; easily applied; but excess use causes pollution.|
CONSERVATION AND RECYCLING
1 Existing supplies of key minerals, e.g. zinc, may soon be exhausted. Solution is to re-cycle scarce materials from scrap and develop substitutes, e.g. plastics.
2 Energy needs to be conserved, e.g. by insulating houses, installing better controls, e.g. thermostats, and generally making more efficient use of existing sources. Also more research into renewable energy sources is required.
3 Recycling i.e. re-use, of paper helps to reduce the need for deforestation.