Population growth key to widespread hunger in the world
When we read that over-population isn't the cause of hunger ("Sir David is wrong about population", Mailbox, February 2) we should keep in mind the fact that in countries which have controlled their population growth there is little hunger, while in countries that have not there is widespread hunger.
We should also keep in mind the region with the fastest-growing population is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan.
The population of this area was about 300 million in 1950. Since then, the population has increased by 1 billion and we can see in many countries in this region not only hunger, malnutrition and water shortage, but extreme poverty, civil unrest, conflict and the migration of huge numbers of desperate people.
Worse is to come. The population of this region is expected to increase by a second billion in the next 30 to 40 years.
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It need not have been like this. If the people of this region had the same family planning that we have, most of them would now be on their way to prosperity and peace.
Gerald Danaher, Ravenstone.
Francisca Martinez, in her letter ("Sir David is wrong about population", Mailbox, February 2), accuses David Attenborough of being wrong about over-population. She writes from a pro-life standpoint and has written before to oppose what is euphemistically called "termination" but which is, in fact, murder of unborn babies, and for this she deserves credit.
However, it is not wise to try to back up a strong moral viewpoint with spurious arguments.
David Attenborough is undoubtedly right about over-population and correctly states if man does not deal with this, nature will.
Francisca states the world produces enough food for everybody – this I greatly doubt, but even if it is true, there is no way food can be transported to the places where it is needed in sufficient quantities and rapidly enough.
Further, it is not responsible to bring large numbers of children into a situation where they are likely to die of or suffer malnutrition, or to expect other countries to feed them.
Crowding and over-population are facts of life, not open to dispute and they cause psychological damage to those affected.
In this country, think of the next time you sit in a traffic jam or cannot find a space to park and when green fields are commandeered for building more houses, leading to water having nowhere to go.
However, this is nothing compared to the tragedy of the starvation in Africa and other parts of the world.
By all means, let us be pro-life and not succumb to immoral or inhumane measures, but let this not blind us to the problem Sir David highlights.
Mark W. Jacques, Quorn.
Francisca Martinez dismisses the problems of population growth, climate change and food production (Mailbox, February 2).
Our planet does not have infinite resources of land and water to grow food for an ever-increasing population.
In October, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said, "We've not been producing as much food as we are consuming".
We have, apparently, been relying on reserves.
Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, said: "Food supplies are tightening everywhere and land is becoming the most sought-after commodity.
"The overriding threats to this century are climate change, population growth, spreading water shortages and rising food prices."
Although food production has increased over the years, it comes at a cost.
The use of chemical fertilizers has increased nine-fold and the use of pesticides 32-fold in the past 35 years, causing pollution and soil degradation.
Another finite resource required for food production and distribution is oil. The price and availability of this commodity has an obvious effect on the price of food and access to it.
Population growth is also having a devastating effect on ecosystems and wildlife. Forests are felled and wilderness areas are cleared for crops, grazing, housing and roads.
Even the oceans are suffering from over-fishing and pollution.
Unlike politicians, Sir David is bold enough to approach the taboo subject of population growth which is causing so much misery and devastation to both humans and the natural world.
Elizabeth Allison, Aylestone.