Are Greater Cattle and Grains Production the Solution to the Coming Worldwide Hunger Catastrophe?

Professor Edward L. Kick of the ARE Department is conducting research to determine the causes and concrete solutions to what is called global “food insecurity.”  Long ago demographer Thomas Malthus said population grows exponentially while societal production only grows arithmetically.  This difference spurred Malthus to predict population growth would outstrip production leading to mass starvation and death globally.  The World Bank and United Nations say this cataclysm will occur between 2030 and 2050, depending on a range of factors.  Eight hundred million people already live in hunger. The World Bank predicts climate change could cut future crop yields by more than 25%, suggesting far more grain will be required.  The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in turn says 465,000.000 tons of meat will be needed by the year 2050.

However, Professor Kick emphasizes that we must also attend to global waste.  Each year the world produces close to 212 billion tons of waste, extracting the equivalent of 1.7 planet Earths in order to continue the pace of our consumption.  Moreover, since waste contributes to global warming through the release of methane and other toxins, it directly contributes to serious climate events (hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis. flooding, and so on) that further compromise food supplies.  Landfilled waste also contributes to soil pollution, further limiting food production. Thus, the management of waste is another key to producing food security.

Dr. Kick uses structural equation modeling to find cause and effect parameters for food insecurity hypotheses.  These hypotheses are taken from his prior work and reviews of relevant literatures in economics, sociology, geography, political science, and agriculture.  An initial finding is that the biome(s) of a nation affects the nation’s international power (the better the biome the greater the national power) as well as its food security.  Lush environs in general aid available food and overall consumption.  So, too, does a nation’s standing relative to others in the world system.  Nations with power grab more of the distribution of the world’s resources, while weaker nations are unable to control their own resources, which typically are owned and run by outside corporations.

Both circumstances of the biome and global power impact the many domestic capitals countries can draw upon to improve the conditions of their life, including their ability to garner food (e.g., natural capital (Earth’s resources), human capital, social capital, political capital, economic (financial) capital, built capital (infrastructure), and cultural capital.  While each capital tends to impact the others in a favorable direction, several stand out in inducing food security.  Economics aids the state in acquiring outside resources to produce food.  Democratic political systems are a key element in the equitable distribution of food since authoritarian governments may hoard food to maximize their control over financial capital in times of food scarcity.  Built capital permits food to be distributed to distant regions that otherwise would not be served.  Natural capital offers the bounty of the Earth to the population if they are able to acquire it in the face of obstacles, such as outside and inside contenders for resources.

The empirical results of Professor Kick’s study show that  only nations who are globally powerful, surrounding by the most productive biomes, have the strongest economies, are governed by fully democratic systems and have well-developed infrastructures offer their populations food security.  In fact, the production of the most grains and cattle is irrelevant to food security according to the structural equation results.  UNESCO and the World Bank show that the richest nation in the world no longer has schooling, health, and welfare that are close to the top of the world’s distribution. So, too, do the results of Professor Kick’s study show nations rich in grains and meat sometimes distribute that food in far less than equal ways to everyone.  Fortunately, in their recent reports both the World Bank and the United Nations have reversed their earlier opinions and now agree with the results of this research.

Read the paper: Food Production or Food Distribution: The Key to Global Food Security?