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200 years ago, the world population ranged from two to three billion people. Today, the world population has reached seven billion people- an increase of four to five billion people in the last 200 years. Between the 1900s and 2000s, the increase in world population reached a high in human history, as the world population growth rate grew three times greater than during the entire previous history of humanity(POSTER). While one factor alone could not contribute to this dramatic increase in the growth rate of the human population, food and agriculture played a large role. Throughout the course of human history, increases of technology have led to advanced food preservation and nutrition, leading to a rise in human population. However, food and agriculture is unevenly distributed throughout various regions of the world, leading to famine in some territories. This being said, many events revolving around food and agriculture have affected the human population greatly. While some of these events reflect a loss of food and therefore a decrease in population, others represent an increase of food due to advances in science, such as the Haber Bosch Process. The Haber Bosch Process is a complex chemical procedure that has helped contribute to an extreme increase in human population. The process takes nitrogen from the air under high pressures, and temperatures help combine it with hydrogen. This results in ammonia, which is the base of the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers that are used to grow crops around the world ( Due to the increase of crop production, human population continued to rise with production rates. Scientists recognized that the limited supply of fixed nitrogen would have a negative effect on farming production and therefore food supply. Plants only use fixed nitrogen, making it a limiting factor for growth within the world’s ecosystem. By creating the Haber Bosch Process, scientists were able to successfully replicate fixed nitrogen, allowing plants to continue to growth without the previous limiting factor of a limited supply of fixed nitrogen. This therefore results in a steady increase in population, as food sourcing is no longer a problem for most stabilized countries. In fact, the Haber Bosch Process has been estimated to account for feeding a third to half of the entire world population ( While this process is to be credited for feeding such a vast amount of people, there are many negatives that coincide with this. For example, creating synthetic fixed nitrogen results in an imbalance of the nitrogen cycle and negative effects on soil organisms and organic matter. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the problems. The negative effects also spread wider than the realm of land and air, as excess runoff can cause dead zones in the ocean. Humans have also become incredibly reliant of this process, as many people believe that to stop or limit the use of synthetic fertilizers would lead to mass starvation ( While this process has led to a dramatic increase in human population, there are many other events that have counteracted it’s success. For example, in developing nations, population can be negatively affected by a limited food supply. While nations are developing, they may not have the tools and/or resources necessary to continue to feed their growing population. While many events such as the Haber Bosch Process have led to increases in the human population, there have also been many events involving food and agriculture that have led to a decrease in population in . One event that resulted in a decrease in population was the Irish potato famine, resulting in the loss of about two million people. The famine began in 1845, when Ireland was under British rule. A fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans spread, destroying half of the potato crop within the first year of the famine. Throughout the next few years, three fourths of the potato crops were destroyed. Because the potato crop was a valuable food source to farmer tenements, the decrease in potato production resulted in starvation. Roughly one million men, women, and children starved to death during the famine. Another one million perished in an effort to try to migrate as refugees, resulting in the potato famine leaving two million dead following its wake ( While the fungus was not wide-spread, it did affect the Irish population, putting a noticeable dent in the human population. However, this particular event is only one of many that has affected the human population over time. Food and agriculture in Africa is yet another famine that greatly affects the population. Africa is the second largest continent in the world, and their population consists of 1.2 billion people. North America, the third largest continent, only populates about 579 million people. This entails a higher demand in food in order to feed Africa’s growing population. However, although the population may be growing rapidly, the expectancy rate in the African race is quickly decreasing as well. Children living in Africa are suffering from a lack of nutrition in their diet. The lack of nutrition leads to a condition called wasting. If a child has a low weight compared to his or her height, they are more likely to live less than the expected average. This is the main cause of death in children under 5 years old. The World Health Organization (WHO) surveyed about 47 African countries on the rates of wasting and the results were shocking. 36 countries in Africa has a wasting rate of 5% – 9%, 6 countries had a 10%-14% wasting rate and 3 countries had over a 15% wasting rate in it’s population (Eritrea has 15.3%, Niger has a 18.7% and South Sudan has a 22.7% wasting rate). These statistics are incredibly scary, yet eye openers to how much the lack of food truly affects a population. “300-million Africans are undernourished. That is simply unacceptable…Twelve people die of hunger and malnutrition every minute,” states Boitshepo Giyose, a nutritionist advisor in the African Union. Another way the lack of nutritious food in Africa affects its population is through stunting. Stunting is the impaired growth and development due to children not receiving the necessary nutrition. This initially affects children under 2 and leaves traumatic, long term issues including poor school performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adults. The estimated African population in 2050 will be 2.4 billion people, and the demand for food will follow with a drastic increase as well. The absence of nutrition will reduce the expectancy rate, and the human population rate in Africa will be greatly affected (CITATION). As the population continues to rise, many developing nations are struggling to find enough food sources to support their country. While there is enough food produced globally to be able to feed the entire world population, it is not evenly distributed. As a result, nearly a billion people do not get enough to eat, 400 million people are chronically malnourished, and 11 million children under the age of five die from hunger related issues each year. While in recent decades food production has dramatically increased overall, food production in 51 developing countries have actually decreased. For example, among African nations, 24% experienced a drop in per caput cereal production. In some areas, losses from poor management of land has erased the benefits that have come along with increased food technology. Consequently to developing nations, food imports are rising to compensate for local deficits.

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