Having pledged to write a little essay for populationspeakout.org, I have meanwhile been overtaken by reality: Riot and revolution in Tunisia and
So, no need to write much: Egypt looks like a paradigm of population overshoot. Here’s just a little rundown of facts.
Whilst Egypt’s total fertility rate has fallen from 7.2 children per woman in the early 1960s to 3 in 2005, there is now a huge population momentum, adding ca. 1.5 million each year. Total population has risen from 3 million when Napoleon invaded the country in 1798 to 19 million in 1947, 50 million in 1985, to 83 million in 2010.
What once was the Roman empire’s bread basket is today the world’s largest importer of wheat. What will be the fate of many countries is meanwhile reality in Egypt: Exports don’t match necessary imports any more. Until recently, Egypt was a net exporter of oil. These times are gone forever. Average Egyptians spend most of their income on food:
This won’t be the last peak, with climate disruption getting worse, Peak Oil (and other resource peaks) unfolding, and ever more countries turning into food importers…
Egypt is particularly threatened by one consequence of global warming: Sea level rise. Being mostly desert, farm land exists only along the Nile river and its delta. In parts of the delta sea water will seep into underground water and degrade farmland.
Next revolution possibly in Mexico: They also had food riots in 2008, and also will soon run out of exportable oil.
AFP, Feb. 13 2011, Food, population growth fueled Egypt uprising: analysts
the Atlantic, Jan. 31 2011, The Economics of Egypt’s Revolt
Seeking alpha, Jan. 31 2011, Mexico Will Follow Egypt Into Collapse
Reuters, Nov. 14 2010, Sea level rise threatens Alexandria, Nile Delta
Population Reference Bureau, Dec. 2001, Population Trends and Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa