I would like to give the human race a pat on the back. While humans have collected endless flack for harming the environment, not getting along with each other, and generally just for existing, they have quietly made an accomplishment that I think is worth noting. We have reached 7 billion people some time recently. No, that is not the accomplishment I want to note, although it is an accomplishment. No, the one I want noticed is that we are feeding 7 billion people better than we fed 2 billion.
One word first about the accomplishment of numbers. How do you get 7 billion people? First, you have to not kill each other. While wars are going on all over the world, we are somehow managing to not kill each other en mass. We are killing fewer civilians, and bombing and destroying fewer cities. Second, you have to have a great deal of medical resources. There are a myriad of illness waiting to befall each of us, and the advances in medicine have resulted in fewer being fatal, and some to be pushed back past the point of the childbearing years. Childbirth itself used to be a great source of fatality, but that is no longer true. Third, and point of this article is you have to provide each person with enough food and clean water to survive and reproduce. We have accomplished all the above in stunning fashion. The next time someone decries modern medicine, ask them how many of their children survived to adult hood. I know there are individual deaths, and all death is sad, but as a whole, we are more successful than any point in our history.
Now to the feeding of 7 billion people. I was a teenager when we hit 3.5 billion. The talk then was about population control or mass starvation. Now, at 7 billion, all we can talk about is the collective weight gain. Don’t get me wrong, you know I am usually harping on all the things we need to do to stop it. However, fat will kill you a lot slower than starvation. You can do things to keep your weight down, but if there is no food, there is no food. I often criticize and worry about where our science is going, but much of our success is due to science. Modern agriculture and agribusiness, for all it’s failings, is feeding the world.
Of course there is hunger in the world, I’m not denying that. There is less, proportionally, than ever before. Much of that is due to human folly-that of war or politics. The point is, we can and are feeding ourselves. For all the negatives we can say about the modern diet, and there are many, we are not starving as a whole, which was the fate we predicted 20 years ago. So for that, human race, I salute you.