There are certain nations that happen to have huge populations. In that regard, we are looking at the likes of the United States, China and India. One challenge that these nations with huge populations often face is that of providing food to their huge numbers of people. You may argue that it is ultimately the individuals who have to work for their own sustenance, and that it is therefore the individuals who provide their own food. And that may be true, but you also have to understand that in the bigger scheme of things, it is the governments that have to ensure that their people are well fed. So, how do the nations with huge populations go about tackling this challenge?
Well, one way in which nations with huge populations can provide food to their people is by promoting large scale, scientific agriculture. There are constraints that the nations opting to take this route have to deal with. The first of those is the land constraint: as there is a limit to the amount of land available for agricultural endeavors. The huge population tends to put pressure on the land: because each and every person requires some bit of land to live on, yet the land is also required for agriculture. Often, nations may be forced to forcibly evict people from certain swathes of land, so that the swathes of land can be used for agriculture. There are also climatic constraints: where certain nations’ (or at least certain regions’) climates are simply not suitable for agriculture. Irrigation may be fronted as an alternative, but there are constraints there: like where lack of suitable water bodies, such as rivers or lakes, makes irrigation impossible.
Another way in which nations with huge populations can provide food to their people is by taking the route of importation. Again, there are constraints to be dealt with here. The first of these constraints has to do with the fact that countries from which the food is being imported have their own food needs. Thus, a nation that decides to depend entirely on importation of food ends up putting its food security in the hands of another nation: which can be a perilous course of action.
Another route that is taken is the hybrid route: where a nation endeavors to locally produce as much of its food as possible, and then import the deficit. The good thing with this route is in that it does away with the risks inherent in relying entirely on importation of food.
The subject of population control is a difficult one. You just have to bring it up for discussion in any forum, for you to get an idea as to how emotive it can be. We will now venture to look at some of the specific things that make population control so difficult.
The first thing that makes population control difficult is the fact that all human beings are inclined to reproduce. Thus, human beings are unlike other species, in which the weaker members of the species are often willing to forego reproduction, in favor of the stronger members — for the benefit of the entire species. With human beings, it is different: everyone – or pretty much everyone — wants to leave their genetic footprint on the planet. Those who are born in turn want to reproduce. So the population has to keep on rising, through a geometric progression: leading to a situation where the human population may simply become unsustainable.
The second thing that makes population control difficult is the fact that different religions have different thoughts on the subject. Generally though, we find that religions are in favor of unfettered reproduction. That would have been alright, were it not for the fact that the natural population control mechanisms that apply for other species don’t apply for human beings. Thus, for instance, human population control through disease doesn’t work well: for human beings have discovered cures for most illnesses. Human beings no longer have other species preying on them and therefore human population control through predation doesn’t work either.
The third thing that makes population control difficult is the fact that the different (artificial) methods that can be used to achieve it all have their side effects. So there is really no perfect birth control method. Thus we have even the folks who see the benefits of controlling the human population being in a dilemma. If they opt for the birth control methods that entail the use of hormonal formulations, then they know that they will have to live with certain consequences. If they opt for the barrier-based birth control methods, they know that they will have to live with certain consequences as well. And if they opt for the permanent birth control methods that basically involve sterilization, they know that they will have to live with certain side effects as well, besides the fact that the permanency/virtual irreversibility of these birth control methods scares many people.