-17. THE FOOD-POPULATION RELATION
In 1798 the English economist Thomas Malthus published the first edition of his "Essay on the Principle of Population". In it he pointed out that population, when unchecked, increases geometrically — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so forth, but food supply increases arithmetically — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and so forth. Simply stated, his thesis suggests that increases in food supply cannot keep up with rapid increases in population. So the world population could, by natural increase, outstrip its ability to feed itself. Since Malthus' time, his theory has often been discounted by other economists and population experts as too pessimistic. But recent projections of population increase, coupled with the other problems facing the world's food supply, have earned him a renewed respect in some quarters. The world population in 1980 exceeded 4 billion. An unchecked increase would bring the total by 1985 to more than 6 billion. Even with the introduction of birth control policies in such populous societies as China, India, Latin America and Africa, the world population by the year 2020 could well exceed 10 billion. China has taken the lead in combating population increase by launching in 1979, a one-child family program. By this means China hopes to reach zero population growth by the end of the century. In India, Latin America and Africa, and other areas that do not have centrally planned economies, it will be far more difficult to limit growth. Religious and cultural factors play a significant role in attitudes toward the family and may prevent any effective birth control programs from being implemented.
It is clear from the passage that Malthus's theory ....... .
is far too pessimistic
has regained popularity with some
is accepted only by optimists
is too simple to be accurate
cannot be applied to modern times
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