Is Green Revolution Over?

From: Brook Brouwer
Subject: Re: overpopulation

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the comments and websites. I too am a student and willing to learn. I have a few contradictory quotes and a website that covers the population problem side quite well. I looked over the articles you suggested, but I'm not convinced. The green revolution certainly increased food production in the short term, but are the benefits going to last? According to Facing The Future (a much less reputable organization than the UN) The 1997's grain harvest was only 6.7 bove 1990 levels, and the 199 8 harvest was slightly smaller. During this same period the population increased by 13 any other organized faith I don't know about this, but didn't God create things the way they are for a reason?

Besides the need for food there is the need for water, every year there is about the same amount of fresh water, every year there are 80 million more people that want to drink that water. More than two dozen countries face severe water shortages. The regions surrounding the Ganges river squabble over water usage all ready who knows what will happen as more people compete for that water. More people also pollute water sources reducing the drinkable amount of water. Dams for more crops for more people divert water that could be used for drinking. Dams producing electricity for more people also threaten fish such as salmon that breed in rivers.

I don't know. I enjoy being faced with your side of the argument. One way to look at it is, we can try to make slow down population growth and maybe there won't be any problem. It is in our power to look for alternative energy, create sustainable economic opportunities, educate women, and we can provide reproductive health care.



Dear Brook,

Thanks for writing and for your research. I would agree with you that if we have reached maximum food production, we would obviously have to do something about population growth - or face starvation or war. But have we reached that point - or are we even near it? We would need to determine first whether the UN or Facing the Future has the correct statistics - and then how they are to be interpreted. If in a given time period grain production does not increase as much as population, does that mean the earth has reached its capacity? Some of the years I was in Peru, food production dropped, but more because of economic reasons than absolute capability. About half the land lay fallow because farmers did not have the economic incentive to plant crops. I understand that is the case worldwide - a huge quantity of arable land is not used for agriculture because prices are so low. In the U.S. and Europe we still pay farmers not to produce so much.

About the Green Revolution: why would it not continue? It seems pretty entrenched after three decades. Overall we are living longer and seem to be healthier - in spite of fears that the food produced is not as nutritional. (Of course, U.S. eating habits are terrible, but you can't blame that on the farmers.)

The same question about capacity to produce food would apply to water. It is true that almost everywhere people fight about water rights. Even in an area like Western Washington, which traditionally has been waterlogged, it has become a hot issue. Part of the reason, as you indicate, is because it is used not only to supply homes and factories, but for hydroelectric power, fish spawning, recreation, etc. While I would agree that increased population puts more pressure on public uses of what is the most essential resourse, would you also agree with me that, besides air, it is the most abundant resource? And that while water pollution is a major problem, at least in principle any water can be recycled?

Another comparison from Peru. When I visited certain villages, we would have to make do with very small amounts of water - a cup to shave and a bowl for a spit bath. However, not too far away was an enormous lake (Lake Titicaca) with 903 million cubic meters of water. (A cubic meter equals one thousand liters.) The problem was not availability, but delivery. Also any water used would be recycled either by evaporating to form rain or by eventually returning to the lake - and if treated correctly would not pollute. Do you see what I am saying?


Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. I do agree that God created things for a reason. But my conclusion is that he is a provident Father and wishes to have many children - and for us to be good stewards of his creation.

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