Re­source crunch

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By NITA BHALLA

WITH the num­ber of peo­ple on earth more than dou­bling over the last half­cen­tury, re­sources are un­der more strain than ever be­fore. First among the short­term wor­ries is how to pro­vide ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties for the additional two to three bil­lion peo­ple ex­pected to be added in the next 50 years.

Water us­age is set to in­crease by 50% be­tween 2007 and 2025 in de­vel­op­ing na­tions and 18% in de­vel­oped ones, with much of the in­creased use in the poor­est coun­tries as ris­ing ru­ral pop­u­la­tions move to towns and cities.

Nutritious food is in short sup­ply in many parts of the globe. The World Bank says 925 mil­lion peo­ple are hun­gry to­day, partly due to ris­ing food prices since 1995, a suc­ces­sion of eco­nomic crises, and the lack of ac­cess to modern farm­ing tech­niques and prod­ucts for poor farm­ers. To feed the two bil­lion more mouths pre­dicted by 2050, food pro­duc­tion will have to in­crease by 70%, the UN’S Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion says.

Cli­mate change could be the great­est im­ped­i­ment to meet­ing the food tar­get, as ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and droughts dry out farm­lands that are then in­un­dated by in­tense floods and storms.

Ex­perts say de­mo­graphic im­bal­ances will also place se­ri­ous strains on towns and cities across the world as mostly bluecol­lar im­mi­grants move from poorer ru­ral ar­eas to richer ur­ban cen­tres. In 1950, about 730 mil­lion peo­ple lived in cities. By 2009, it was nearly 3.5 bil­lion and in four decades it will be 6.3 bil­lion, the UN Depart­ment of Eco­nomic and So­cial Af­fairs said in a March 2010 re­port.

One im­por­tant pol­icy tool to man­age a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion is to give women ac­cess to fam­ily plan­ning, ex­perts say, adding that 215 mil­lion women world­wide want it but do not get it. Ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion is also im­por­tant as it mo­ti­vates women to re­duce their fer­til­ity and im­prove their chil­dren’s health. A lack of such ed­u­ca­tion has meant that while the over­all pop­u­la­tions con­tinue to rise in coun­tries such as China and In­dia, the num­ber of women is fall­ing be­cause of a pref­er­ence for boys lead­ing to de­lib­er­ate abor­tions of fe­male ba­bies.

The world is also see­ing a de­mo­graphic anom­aly: a de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion in some richer coun­tries has led to an im­bal­ance be­tween the work­ing pop­u­la­tion and re­tirees who need ex­pen­sive so­cial safety nets. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.