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Ran into this Forbes article saying that without changes that many people will starve by 2050.

I agree with the article’s argument that we should exploit the environment less and that we should focus more on sustainability.

However, I do not agree that we will have mass starvation by 2050.

First, we have made tremendous progress in terms of nutrition. According to the UN, number of undernourished people halved from the 1990s. This pace is unlikely to slow. Also, we have enough food. In the US alone, 40% of the food is thrown away due to lack of commercial value. As we become more effective in distribution, this waste will decrease and more people will be fed. I also remember when chicken feet were thrown away but now it is one of US’ hot export to China. So as population increases and demand for food increases, there will be less waste and other efficiencies will be gained.

Second, there is already agriculture breakthroughs. Hydroponics are becoming more efficient and more advanced agricultural technology is being used to increase yield. So by 2050, we will surely have more food. It is unlikely that Malthus’ doom story will win.

So should we just stand still and wait for economics and technology to kick in?

Well, that would not be very loving. Instead, we should do our best for a more positive future.

Here are some steps that we can take.

  1. Vote with your money. Boycott stuff made by companies that are clearly exploiting the world and the environment. Buy stuff from those companies that seem to try to do a more sustainable job.
  2. Invest in responsible firms. Invest in more responsible firms. I do not fully believe in corporate social responsibility measures but that would be a start.
  3. Consume Less. Yes, we consume a lot. Don’t eat as much. Don’t buy the clothing that you don’t need. Stop the impulse spending.
  4. Grow your own food. Of course, you can’t grow every thing and self-subsistence is very challenging. But you can grow some things and save money and the environment. You can grow lettuce, tomato, and mushrooms, which are relatively easy to grow.
  5. Reuse, recycle, and share. Things that we have been taught since young age. Now we just have to do it.
  6. Donate to effective charity. I donate to givewell.org and givedirectly.org to help alleviate poverty. These two charities do their best to be efficient and increase their impacts. Remember God loves and blesses cheerful givers 😀
  7. Encourage others to help out. Don’t nag but gently nudge. I always tell my friends to save the latte or the dessert and either save or donate. Most of the times, they don’t listen but some times they do 😀 So don’t be shy. Be gentle and encourage others to help out.

 

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