Sunday, February 20, 2011
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WASHINGTON (AFP) – A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an "unrecognizable" world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.
The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, "with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia," said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.
To feed all those mouths, "we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000," said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable" if current trends continue, Clay said.
The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.
But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years -- tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations -- and add more strain to global food supplies.
People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said.
It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.
"More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet," Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.
Population experts, meanwhile, called for more funding for family planning programs to help control the growth in the number of humans, especially in developing nations.
"For 20 years, there's been very little investment in family planning, but there's a return of interest now, partly because of the environmental factors like global warming and food prices," said Bongaarts.
"We want to minimize population growth, and the only viable way to do that is through more effective family planning," said Casterline.
Posted by flareneld at 8:18 PM
Thursday, February 17, 2011
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Vietnam tourist boat sinking kills 12 in Halong Bay
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At least 12 people, many of them foreign tourists, have drowned after a tour boat sank in Halong Bay in north-east Vietnam.
The wooden boat was touring in the Unesco World Heritage Site, in Quang Ninh province, when it went down.
Fifteen people, including nine foreigners, have been rescued.
It is not yet clear why the boat sank, although a local government official said initial information suggested part of the boat had broken without warning.
"So far the rescue team has rescued 15 people, including nine foreign tourists and six crew, and pulled out 12 bodies," Ngo Van Hung, director of the Halong Bay Management Department, told Reuters by telephone.
The bodies have been sent to a nearby hospital for formal identification.
Officials said the foreigners on board were believed to have come from 11 countries including Britain, Sweden, Australia and Japan.
The survivors were pulled from the water by people on other tour boats anchored close by and taken to hospital.
Halong Bay, renowned for its hundreds of tiny islands and freshwater swamp forests, is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations.
The boat, reported to be a traditional junk, appears to have gone down before dawn near Titov island.
Many visitors choose to stay overnight on boats with sleeping cabins, so it is likely those on board were asleep when the accident happened.
Those rescued reported seeing a plank of the wooden boat ripping, followed by a gush of water that overwhelmed it, pulling the vessel down, local government official Vu Van Thin said.
"Crew members tried to stop the water from coming in and alerted the tourists who were sleeping, but the water came in and the boat sank quickly. All of the 12 people who died were in the cabins," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
Posted by flareneld at 5:19 AM