The Confluence of Population with Food & Water Access, Safety, and Security

            Currently, the world’s population is at 6,769,189,967 people.[1]  The industrialized world[2] constitutes only one-fifth—or twenty percent—of that number,[3] yet it uses 80% of the earth’s energy.[4]  Humans consume forty percent of the earth’s primary productivity.[5]  Obviously, as population increases, the amount of available resources that are demanded diminishes.[6]  This imbalance results in a scramble for solutions,[7] and the widening chasm between the number of people and the amount of non-renewable resources manifests itself in state-sanctioned population control mechanisms,[8] a perceived scarcity of food,[9] rapid reductions in potable water,[10] and state tax incentives that aggravate each of these outcomes.[11]


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, WorldPOPClock, (last visited March 26, 2009) (registering as 6,769,189,967 at 17:32 GMT).  The world population increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999, a doubling that occurred over 40 years.  The world population is projected to grow to 9 billion by 2042, an increase of 50 percent that will require 41 years.  Population projections must necessarily be coupled with demographic trends.  See Elizabeth Leahy and Sean Peoples, Projecting Population,;; (Diane Rehm Show).

                [2] The term developed country, or advanced country, is used to categorize countries with developed economies in which the tertiary and quaternary sectors of industry dominate.

[3] Government of Canada, G8 Website, (last visited Feb. 6, 2004) (offering population statistics on the G8 nations, totaling 1,229,300,000 people); see also Sea Island Summit 2004 Official Website, (stating that, “[t]he G8 Summit brings together the leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies:  Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the united Kingdom, and the United States…[and the] European Union.…”).  Using the numbers from the U.S. Census bureau and Canada’s G8 information, the world’s industrialized nations comprise one-fifth of the earth’s population.

[4] The People Bomb:  When Will Overpopulation Explode? (Turner/CNN Special Reports 1992); David C. Korten, The Failure of Bretton Woods, in Mander 24 ; Wolfgang Sachs, Neo-Development:  ‘Global Ecological Management,’ in Mander 241.  The United States alone consumes 40 percent of the world’s oil supply on a daily basis.  We are most certainly within the “Age of the Hydrocarbon Man.” Daniel Yergin, The Prize:  The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, 1993.  “Humanity’s Way of Life is on a collision course with geology.”  Tim Appenzeller, Oil, Nat’l Geographic, June 2004, at 80, 88 (products made with oil).  See also [UN Tables, ILO].

[5]  See Richard Manning, The Oil We Eat:  Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq, Harper’s Mag., Feb. 2004, at 37 (the planet’s “primary productivity” is the name for the total amount of plant mass created by the earth in a given year, what Manning calls the “total budget for life.”  The current rate of species extinction is 1,000 times greater than that which existed before humans dominated the earth).

                [6]  See Evan Osnos and Laurie Goering, World’s Giants to Alter Food’s Equation:  As China and India Rise, Diets Change and Demands Soar ,; “Wealthy Nations Buying Up Land For Food,” Marketplace,

[7]  See Paul and Anne Ehrlich, One With Nineveh:  Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future (2004).  The comprehensive practical and ideological dilemmas of population decision-making and control have been well chronicled.  See e.g., Matthew Connelly, Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (2008); Carter J. Dillard, Rethinking the Procreative Right, 10 Yale Hum. Rts. & Dev. L.J. 1 (2007); Diana D.M. Babor, Population Growth and Reproductive Rights in International Human Rights Law, 14 Conn. J. Int’l L. 83 (1999). Cf. Leonard Schlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess:  The Conflict Between Word and Image (1998); Amy Waldman, States in India Take New Steps to Limit Births, N.Y. Times, Nov. 7, 2003, at A1, A6; David Rohde, India Steps Up Effort to Halt Abortions of Female Fetuses, N.Y. Times, Oct. 26, 2003, at A3.

All these recitations similarly beg the question of just who has a “population problem.”  Is it the voracious consuming family with two children in western societies, or is it the impoverished mother with ten children in Zambia whose husband has died from AIDS?  How can the choice be either-or and the solutions proposed by industrialized nations be so quixote as to deny their own responsibilities toward planetary stewardship?

In the text, shortly ahead, I relate other dimensions, which are how western civilizations are confronting human longevity or population ‘shortfalls.’  See Theodore Roszak, Our Demographic Destiny:  Longevity and Gender in the 21st Century, in Lapis: The Inner Meaning of Contemporary Life, Issue 11, Summer 2000; Susan Dominus, Life in the Age of Old, Old Age, N.Y. Times Mag., Feb. 22, 2004, at sec. 6, p. 26; Joseph Kahn, The Most Populous Nation Faces a Population Crisis, N.Y. Times, May 30, 2004, at sec. 4, pp. 1, 5. 

[8]  The People Bomb:  When Will Overpopulation Explode? (Turner/CNN Special Reports 1992).

[9]  See Donald G. McNeil, Jr., Malthus Redux: Is Doomsday Upon Us Again?, NY Times, June 15, 2008, sec. wk, p. 3; Helena Norberg-Hodge, The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize, in The Case Against the Global Economy (Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith eds., 1996).(referring to an “artificial scarcity” of competitive markets at the local level); Hodge argues that the centralizing forces of globalization pull people out of rural areas toward urban centers, which culminates in a scarce job market.  While the rural economy remains, albeit hindered by urban growth, the centralization of the market economy fosters a competitive perception that there is only scarcity, erasing the way rural people defined abundance prior to the market economy.  Hodge’s phrase is also helpful in assessing the world’s food supply:  the perpetual re-definition of what constitutes “enough” food by industrialized standards fosters the perception that there is scarcity where there is still “enough” according to pre-market economy standards.  Corporate Lies:  Busting the Myths of Industrial Agriculture, in Fatal Harvest:  The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture (2002) (highlighting the seven deadly myths of industrial agriculture).  See;

[10]  See generally Maude Barlow, Blue Gold:  The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water Supply, International Forum on Globalization, June 1999, (special report) available at

[11]  See generally Mona Hymel, The Population Crisis:  The Stork, The Plow, and the IRS, 77 N.C. L. Rev. 13 (1998); BBC News, The EU’s Baby Blues, Mar. 27, 2006, available at