So, what does the scarceonomics of food, water, energy, and other critical commodities mean for governments, economies, investors, and consumers? If we apply some lessons learned and a little ingenuity, the prospects could be positive.
We need to freeze the footprint of food -- find ways to double the productivity of farming, so that we can produce twice as much food and fiber on the same amount of land. This will require many actors working on several strategies simultaneously.
By the time today's over, there were will about 200,000 more people on the planet than there were yesterday. We're long past due to talk about population, consumption and a smarter way of growing and surviving on Earth.
Eating some meat, preferably from lean, well-fed, well-exercised, and kindly tended animals is assuredly consistent with human health. But the health of humans and the planet argue consistently for Michael Pollan's excellent and pithy advice: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Mankind reached its first billion just as the 19th century got underway. That feat of fecundity required eons. It took us just 12 years, however, to tack on the last billion. We're definitely on a roll.
While many may assume the environmental and reproductive health movements have divergent agendas -- the health of the planet vs. the health of the people -- we agree on one very simple principle: everyone is entitled to a set of fundamental human rights.
The world population will cross the 7 billion mark on Oct. 31, 2011, but in a world suffering from climate change, water scarcity and the rising price of food and energy, population growth is a challenge, not an unequivocal triumph.
In the U.S., the continued prevalence of both a poorly educated underclass and a group of anti-modern, science-skeptical religious communities who reject equal opportunity for women makes us the "least developed" industrial society.