The lead of the NPR story read as follows:
The world’s population growth is slowing, according to a new United Nations report, but the number of people living on Earth will still approach 10 billion by the year 2050.
But hyperbole aside, it’s still a lot of people, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I’m happy that I’ll probably be dead by then, because I hate crowds. On the other hand, I might not be dead by then, because one of the reasons there will be so many people is that they’re keeping us alive so damned long.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “A lot of those folks are going to be Chinese, right?” Well, that’s a really stupid question, and as soon as we begin reducing the population by passing a law imposing a death sentence for the asking of stupid questions, you will be immediately executed. It’s true that 19% of the world’s population is Chinese now, but India is expected to surpass China in population in just seven years, which is horrible news for my wife, who cannot stand the smell of Indian food.
On the plus side, humans, on average, will be much better spellers.
According to the U.N. report, much of the population growth will come from developing countries, where there are 4.3 births per woman, as opposed to just 1.6 births per woman in Western nations. Obviously, birth control should be promoted more in third world nations, possibly by distributing free condoms or maybe by just showing everyone that snapshot of Chris Christie lounging on the beach.
Of course, 9.8 billion is a lot of mouths to feed, especially since roughly 800 million people already go to bed hungry. The obvious solution to this problem is for people to eat a later dinner, but, even then, experts are questioning whether the planet’s resources will be able to keep up with its population.
Some folks think garbage may be the answer.
The report estimates that one-third of the world’s food is wasted every year. It says that if just a quarter of it could be recovered (preferably the stuff without tofu or quinoa), it would be enough to feed 870 million people.
In other words, by recovering wasted food, we could feed all 800 million hungry people and have enough left over to feed 70 million more, which we won’t need because we’ll have fed everyone who’s hungry, so we can throw the rest of it out, and then recover quarter of that and so on and so forth and–VOILA!–you’ve got an unlimited perpetual food supply*, constantly replenished with somewhat stale but still nourishing food, just like at your local Chinese/Japanese/Thai/ Mongolian/Vietnamese buffet restaurant.
Unfortunately, we’ll have all new people to feed by 2050, which means we should start wasting more food right now to build up the supply.
It will also help if we stop lengthening life spans with those pesky medical treatments. I’m proud to say that America is doing its part with the proposed new health care bill.
See you soon.