Essay on Famine is Not a Natural Disaster

Essay on Famine is Not a Natural Disaster

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This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.
- Barack Obama

This quote taken from a speech that Barack Obama gave whilst running for the presidency will go down in history as an embodiment of the vision of hope and change that gave life to his campaign. It also is an explicit reference to anti-global warming movement. Although the sentiment is profoundly noble it is rather interesting that famine is presented in the same vein as sea rise and storms, that is to say presented as a direct result of environmental issues. Famine is however a greatly complicated issue.

There are two prominent strands of thought which consider famine a natural disaster- Malthusianism and climatology. Malthusianism takes its name from The Reverend Thomas Malthus. As a concept Malthusianism is concerned with demography. The theory claims that famine is a natural check on overpopulation. Famine keeps the balance between the need for food and food supplies (Devereux 2001:117). This is a simple yet deadly equation; too many mouths to feed + too little food = famine (Arnold 1988:34).However there is no evidence to support the claim that famine regulates populations. Yet there is evidence of baby booms following famines an example being that since the Chinese famine of 1960, where 30 million died, the population has increased from 650 million to over 1 billion (Devereux 2008:177) .Therefore perhaps the most useful way to see demographic pressure is as one of the underlying factors which increases vulnerability (Devereux 2001:126). ...


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...n Devereux, S. ed. The New Famines:Why Famines Persist in an Era of Globalization, London: Routledge pp. 1-26
Deverux, Stephen (2008) 'Food Aid and Trade', in S. Devereux and S. Maxwell eds. 2008 Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, ITDG. pp
Dréze, J. (2002) 'War and Famine', in V. Desai and R. Potter eds. 2002 The Companion to Development Studies, Arnold, pp.432-36
Madeley . J (2000) Hungry for Trade, Zed. pp 116-301
Sen, A (1981). ‘Poverty and Famines’, Clarendon Press ,Oxford pp39- 92
Smith, Ron. (2009). “Exceptional drought” covers 32 million acres in south Texas. Available: http://southwestfarmpress.com/management/exceptional-drought-covers-32-million-acres-south-texas. Last accessed 14th Dec 2010.
Wanmali, Suddhir and Islam, Yassir . (2002) 'Food Security’ in S. Devereux and S. Maxwell eds. 2008 Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, ITDG. pp 156-159

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