Thursday, 24 July 2008

Malthus again

The BBC news this morning warns of the grave risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa amongst a population 'battered by increases in world food prices'. To a point, Lord Copper. In last night's 'Standard' Nick Cohen profiled Anthony Browne, Boris' new Policy Director. Browne is a man with a reputation for impatience with expedient lies of the kind that the BBC used in this morning's news summary. As Cohen writes
A concern for fact and a hatred of conventional wisdom have marked his progress from journalism to the Conservative think-tank Policy Exchange, and now on to one of the most powerful jobs in London. Browne has stood up for free speech and against liberal alliances with radical Islam, and exposed the civil servants who were pretending that a rise in HIV was due to poor sex education rather than immigration from African countries where the virus is raging. A former press officer at the Department of Health staff told me that his arguments caused consternation, not least because they were true.
So I suspect Anthony Browne would rightly be critical of the BBC's contention that the Horn of Africa is in trouble solely because of 'world food prices'. The proximate reason they're in trouble is because their population has been growing at an unsustainable rate. The top map below shows world population growth; the bottom one world food shortages. Together they also show those nations whose population growth is sustained mainly by current oil revenue - and the location of further problems when the oil starts to run out.

The BBC will always prefer the global cost of food explanation over the unsustainable population growth explanation; the former is somehow our fault and therefore OK with the BBC's political orthodoxy. The alternative implies criticism and God forbid a neo-Imperialist interference in the rights to self-determination of these places. But hiding from the truth will cost millions of lives in the long term - these nations don't need a one-off emergency food handout, they need responsible governance and birth control.

Links to big images / sources:
Food shortages -


Blue Eyes said...

The two are linked because much of Africa is dominated by backward interpretations of Christianity and chauvinism which both discourage safe sex. While it might be "harsh", the West should not intervene with food aid every time there is a food crisis in Africa, it only reduces the chances that the problems will be resolved in time for the next crisis.

Anonymous said...

Are those maps available anywhere in a larger size?

Anonymous said...

Kev Myers in the Paddy Independent had a not unrelated column:

Raedwald said...

Sorry anon - image links now added to main text