This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, January 30, 2012

World is Running Out of Food and the Japanese

Two demographic news stories popped up from the Associated Press today and they are oddly related. The first is a summary of a new UN report suggesting that we don't actually have enough food and fuel for the projected population increase over the next few decades.

As the world's population looks set to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.
Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to U.N. estimates, at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply.
And if the world fails to tackle these problems, it risks condemning up to 3 billion people into poverty, the report said.
Efforts towards sustainable development are neither fast enough nor deep enough, as well as suffering from a lack of political will, the United Nations' high-level panel on global sustainability said.
"The current global development model is unsustainable. To achieve sustainability, a transformation of the global economy is required," the report said.
These are things I've been saying for quite a while, but as a species we tend not to want to think long-term. We are more into short-term gain and long-term pain, than the other way around.
However, at the same time, the Japanese are doing their part to help, so to speak, because they are essentially on the road to demographic extinction. 
Japan's population of 128 million will shrink by one-third and seniors will account for 40 percent of people by 2060, placing a greater burden on a smaller working-age population to support the social security and tax systems.
The grim estimate of how rapid aging will shrink Japan's population was released Monday by the Health and Welfare Ministry.
In year 2060, Japan will have 87 million people. The number of people 65 or older will nearly double to 40 percent, while the national work force of people between ages 15 and 65 will shrink to about half of the total population, according to the estimate, made by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
Since older people eat less and have a smaller carbon footprint, this should be an environmentally good thing for the world, even if it will present enormous challenges for Japanese society.

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