Population: one planet, too many people?

Two reports argue that not all is gloom and doom:

  • This report from UK Institute of Mechanical Engineers shows how humanity already has all the tools at its disposal to deal with the projected increase in population. “There are no insurmountable technical issues in meeting the needs of 9 billion people (by 2050)…….sustainable engineering solutions largely exist.” Switching to a low-carbon energy, for instance, does not require more research breakthroughs. We need instead to fix “market failures” that prevent the widespread adoption of extant technologies, like concentrated solar energy and nuclear power.
  • A second report from the French national agricultural and development research agencies (INRA & CIRAD) gives the results of a 5-year study to see if the world can feed everyone with 3000 calories per day. They conclude it can be done provided excessive fluctuations in food prices (which inhibit imports) are prevented, the rich consume less (800 calories/person are wasted each day in the rich nations) and solutions are tailored to individual regions.