In Bjorn Lomborg article, The Truth About the Environment, he discusses the four big environmental fears that environmentalists worry about although he argues that environmental conditions are better now then they have ever been in the past. Lomborg makes the argument of there being more food produced in the world now then there has ever been throughout the history of humans in contrast with a significant decrease in world hunger. In the article he elaborates on his counter-claim by addressing how agriculture has increased, prices of food have dropped significantly, the caloric intake in developing countries has increased and the rate of starvation in developing countries has decreased as well as will continue to decrease over time. If Lomborg’s optimistic views are true, then in the future developing countries should be able to feed their populations that are in poverty and have well-balanced diets without starvation being an issue. If a developing country can achieve these goals and tackle the problem of starvation, their rankings will increase in the demographic transition model as well as the five stages and eventually they will become a developed country. If this happens to be the case, then developing countries will start increasing in population and start producing more food which will lead to an increase in agriculture as mentioned earlier. In addition to this, if agriculture expands the countries economy will rise, making the population healthier without a shortage of food since there will be a higher availability as well as greater quantities.
“Agriculture in the Global Economy” by professors Julian M. Alston and Philip G. Pardey is a paper published by the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2014 which addresses the increase and decrease of agriculture in developed countries compared to developing countries along with agricultural growth from 1961-2011. Through their research, Alston’s and Pardey’s paper describes how agriculture has changed over a period of 50 years. In their paper, they stated that “Today’s high-income countries produced 43.8 percent of total agricultural output in 1961 and by 2011 their share of the global total shrank to 24.6 percent” (Alston & Pardey,2014, P.123) as well as “The share of agricultural production increased for all other regions. In particular, the Asia and Pacific region increased its share from 23.9 percent of global agricultural output in 1961 to 44.7 percent in 2011” (Alston & Pardey,2014, P.124). China, The United States, India, Brazil, and Indonesia are the top five countries ranked for total agricultural output according to Alston and Pardey’s research. They also mentioned that “Four of the top five countries in global agricultural output, including the top one, are not high-income countries” (Alston & Pardey,2014, P.125). Over the period of 1961-2011 agricultural output has grown by 2.25 percent per year, from being worth $746 billion in 1961 to $2.4 trillion in 2011 (Alston & Pardey, 2014). Alston and Pardey’s paper support’s Lomborg’s claim by including research and evidence provided by peer-reviewed credible scientific sources of how agricultural production has been increasing over half a century. This goes to show that the paper is not based off opinions of the matter which helps get rid of controversy.
Similarly, in the paper “Global Agricultural Performance: Past Trends and Future Prospects” by Mette Wik, Prabhu Pingali and Sumiter Broca, the authors talked about an increase of food consumption in the world from the 1960s till the 2000s. They looked at the average daily calorie consumption of a person from the 1960s compared to the 2000s.
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The worlds caloric intake had “Increased from an average of 2280 kcal/person/day in the early 1960s to 2800 kcal/person/day today” (Wik & Pingali & Broca, 2008, P.6). In the 1960s majority of the increase in food consumption is from developing countries, due to developed countries having higher incomes and already having higher food consumption per capita according to their research. They also stated that “Overall progress of the developing countries has been decisively influenced by the significant gains made in East Asia” (Wik & Pingali & Broca, 2008, P.6). since Asia had an increase in agriculture and farming grew very popular there it became one of the biggest producers for all kinds of food like crops, livestock, etc.… which lead to an increase in food consumption and since more people were able to get more food to eat it helped decrease starvation overtime and increase food production. This paper supports Lomborg’s counter-claim of more food being produced in the world and fewer people facing starvation since it is also backed up by evidence as well as graphs which help show a visual of the data and help make their research more factual.
Furthermore, in the articles “Food Price Watch” by the World Bank Group and “Cheap food and feeding the world sustainably” by John Hodges, both articles discussed how food prices affect developing countries, farmers who produce the foods and how it relates to a decline in world hunger. The World Bank Group stated that “Since the last Food Price Watch, released in September 2014, international food prices have decreased 14% (between August 2014 and May 2015)” (World Bank Group, 2015, P.1). Since food prices are decreasing according to the World Bank Group this will allow poorer low-income families to be able to buy more food for themselves hence reducing starvation around the world. However, in Hodges article, he discussed how decreasing food prices are not good for farmers by stating that “It forces farmers into further intensive practices which shed negative effects and hidden costs upon society” (Hodges, 2005, Para.4.4). Although food prices have dropped over the years and are good for poor families, they do not account for the negative externalities that farmers face. Another statement Hodges makes in his article is that “paradigm shift occurred almost unnoticed because the banner headline remained “cheap food” (Hodges, 2005, Para.4.4). People were too focused on the words “cheap food” they didn’t realize they were changing the way markets were presenting it to them. If all the externalities were included into everything then food prices would not be decreasing as low as they have been. These articles support Lomborg and his counter-claim by providing data and diagrams on how food prices have declined and have helped decrease starvation but did not include all the negative and positive externalities that go into food prices declining and how that affected the society.
To Conclude, Lomborg stated that more food is produced in the world now then in all of history and there is less starvation. Many articles and papers supported Lomborg’s counter-claim by discussing agriculture and how developed countries compared to developing countries. As a result, an increase in agriculture lead to an increase in caloric intake in developing countries due to the decrease in food prices which did not account for the negative effects it had on society but, overall progress helped lower starvation around the world. I believe that Lomborg’s counter-claim is true and false because I agree that in the all of history world hunger has significantly decreased now than it has ever been in the past according to the research I assessed. Although most of the sources were backed up with evidence and data there were points that could be controversial. Nevertheless, most importantly if world hunger is decreasing and the goals to reduce it are being met then by 2050 developing countries should be able to go from low/middle-income countries to well established high-income countries as well as significantly making an Impact on the poverty they face today.
- Alston, J., & Pardey, P. (2014). Agriculture in the Global Economy †. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(1), 121-146.
- Global Agricultural Performance: Past Trends and Future Prospects – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Food-consumption-per-capita_fig6_252356344 [accessed 8 Mar 2019]
- Wik, Mette & Pingali, Prabhu & Broca, Sumiter. (2008). Global Agricultural Performance: Past Trends and Future Prospects.
- World Bank. 2015. Food price watch (English). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/960981468187734531/Food-price-watch
- Hodges, J. (2005). Cheap food and feeding the world sustainably. Livestock Production Science, 92(1), 1-16.