Actually there is plenty of food in the world. Production of cereals (wheat, rice, millet etc) last year reached 1799.2 million tons, enough to offer everyone in the world well over the recommended minimum of 2.500 calories per adult per day. And that is before you’ve even begun to count the calories in vegetables, nuts, pulses, root crops and grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) meat.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is the distribution of that food, both within countries and between rich and poor worlds. People like us in the developed nations eat much more than we need.
Americans represent only six per cent of the world’s population, yet they consume 35 per cent of the world’s resources - the same as the entire developing world. So is the real world population problem that there are too many Americans?
But Western countries have enough land to support their populations - Third World countries don’t.
Western countries have enough money to support their populations. There’s little relationship between hunger and the availability of land. Holland has 1.117 people per square mile and Bolivia (just 12, yet the Dutch are one of the best-fed people in the world and the Bolivian poor among the world’s most undernourished. We think of India as overpopulated yet it has 568 people per square mile, less than Britain’s 583. And Africa may have the world’s greatest food problem - but it isn’t for the lack of land. At the moment only a quarter of Africa’s potential arable land is being cultivated.
But doesn’t Africa have the world’s fastest population growth?
Yes, and no one is saying they shouldn’t be concerned about that. Contraception should be freely available to everyone who wants it. But people are only likely to use it when their poverty is relieved. When one in four children dies and more hands are needed to help in the fields, children become an economic necessity. The rich world’s population growth slowed when standards of living improved - before the advent of reliable contraception.