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Man and Environment
Politically as well as philosophically, the dominant question of the '70s will be the quality of human life. The prospect is that man in the next decade will not be crowded into marginal existence by famine. Yet his ability to control depredation of the earth's shrinking resources will remain uncertain, even as it is today.
One dire prediction of the early '60s was that the world, within a generation, would starve itself to death. Happily, that is not likely to come true. One of the unexpected and unheralded developments of the decade past was what agriculturists call "the green revolution"the development of new, inexpensive high-yield wheat and rice grains. In the next ten years, the experts predict an extraordinary rise in farm productivity; even India, with its hundreds of millions, may become self-supporting in its food supply. Coupled with the gains from the land, man will have the technical ability to farm the sea instead of simply harvesting it; scientists believe that they will soon be able to breed and control fish and shellfish in large quantities and to cultivate underwater plants.
Certain staples of civilized life in the Western worldbutter, for instancemay be in short supply simply because they will become too expensive to produce in volume. Otherwise, though, the '70s will be a decade with a food surplus, perhaps even a grain glut, that could lead to agricultural depression. Whether hunger is eliminated, however, depends upon the mechanics of distributiona problem for politicians and economists, not for agricultural technicians.
Paradox: There may be too much food and too many people
Still, "the population explosion" is and will remain more than a cant phrase. The U.S. now has 204 million people (a 14% growth during the past decade). By 1980, the Census Bureau estimates, it will have at least 225 million (and perhaps as many as 250 million). If present trends continue, the world population will grow from an estimated 3.6 billion today to at least 4.3 billion ten years from now. Compulsory birth control will not be a political issue for America in the '70s, but it may well be in other lands. The governments of India and perhaps China and Pakistan, for example, will be under continual pressure to try to change traditional social attitudes that favor large families and stigmatize the single. It is unlikely that man's Biblical life-span of threescore years and ten, the average in the Western world, will be extended by more than a month or so during the next decade. Nonetheless, expectable developments in geriatrics, in