(World Demographic Development (and Food Supply))


1.) The Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions

The two changes in the use of the earth’s resources that had the greatest effect on the world population were
the neolithic and the industrial revolutions.

The neolithic revolution (a.k.a. agricultural revolution) was a change in the way of life of our ancestors. It
took place about 8000 years ago among various tribes in Asia and the Middle East. It included a transition
from foraging and hunting to the domestication of animals (most probably starting with the dog) and to
farming. Tribes settled in fertile areas and formed agricultural communities many of which grew into villages
and cities. This relatively stable way of life and the more reliable food supply (and surplus) led to the
development of new professions, to labor specialization and ultimately to the stratification of these societies.
Improved conditions of life led to somewhat longer life spans. Nevertheless population growth remained low
due to high infant mortality rates. The impact of the neolithic revolution was not as much on immediate
population growth (even though it did have a long term impact on population growth) as on the material and
spiritual development of the human race. It is widely regarded as the beginning of civilization.
Industrial revolution was another process of change. It was the process of substituting muscle power with
machine power. It took place in the 18th century in Europe and is still happening in many parts of the world.
In many characteristics it has been similar to the neolithic revolution: it increased production, it led to the
use of resources that had been mostly unused until then and it improved the overall quality of life. It also led
to changes in the structure of society.
What was different, was its impact on population growth. It was quick and easily noticeable. Advanced
sanitation, hygiene and medicine led to longer life spans and declining death rates, with the birth rates
remaining high. This resulted in a high rate of population growth that still continues in many countries.
The information revolution is the process of change that began in the second half of the 20th century in the
developed countries of the world. It is the process of substituting "brain power" with "machine power". It
leads to increased production and has the potential to create a more even distribution of the world’s
population on the surface of the earth. It also has the potential to decrease the differences between the less
developed and the highly developed nations of the world. Then again it also has the potential to increase
those differences. It causes changes in the structure of society. Many of its impacts are still to be
experienced.

2.) Thomas Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus, an English economic thinker published a theory in 1798 concerning the relationship
between population growth and food supply. He said that population always increases exponentially, while
food supplies increase only arithmetically. He advocated that moral restraints can not be implemented on the
scale of the whole population because most individuals are will seek their own pleasure ignoring the global
impacts of their actions. The growing population will therefore put a strain on the limited food resources
that will lead to wars, famine and disease, decreasing the population thus restoring the equilibrium.
I think it is obvious that the first part of his theory, while it does apply to certain countries, proved to be
completely wrong on a global scale. There is no world-wide calorie deficit. The "food supply increase to
population increase" ratio is substantially higher in the developed world than in the less developed countries.
On a global scale, current food supplies do exceed the needs of the world’s population, but they are not
distributed in a way that benefits the whole population. Fortunately international programs aimed at
achieving a better distribution of food resources do make an impact in decreasing the calorie deficit, and it is
quite likely that the inhabitants and the leaders of the developed nations will eventually come to the
conclusion that it is better to "share some" than to risk loosing all. So, even where moral restraints don’t
work, common sense just might have a chance.

3.) Population Growth, Demographics

A.) In the early prehistoric times (1 million years ago) there were no more humans on the whole earth than
in a