Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1999 |

A Half Billion: More or Less

I asked an agricultural economist howwe would feed 8 billion by the year 2050. Not to worry, he said. Now data suggest there will be a half billion fewer: war, lower birth rate, the spread of AIDS. It's indecent to count on pestilence, I suggested. That's naive, he retorted. I've led an international conference. We don't rely on a specific disease or maelstrom. We factor in relative rates and trends based on hundreds of events. Please explain then, I argued, how your hypothesis accommodates global warming, the end of communism, a new bubonic plague, the greenhouse effect? Overpopulation control, he said, is a euphemism for what we experts call coercive correc- tions. And it isn't measured by a mere half billion. Assuming continued improvement in farm yield, genetically engineered meat, family size reduction of sixteen percent,it won't occur until 2304, at a population of twenty billion, more or less.

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Horseshoes

By Marc J. Straus

I asked an agricultural economist howwe would feed 8 billion by the year 2050. Not to worry, he said. Now data suggest there will be a half billion fewer: war, […]

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