Tom Friedman writes in Tuesday's New York Times about the "devastated agriculture, overpopulation, and unemployment" in West Africa. "Overpopulation" in Africa takes me back sixty-five years to my freshman year at Dartmouth, when my biology professor, newly back from Africa, said that we should not use DDT in Egypt because DDT killed mosquitoes, and mosquitoes were necessary for population control in North Africa. Since then, the population of Egypt has more than quadrupled -- 19 million to 84 million -- and we still use DDT against mosquitoes in the battle to end malaria.
The ending or decline of malaria is a major cause of the rising population throughout the African continent. The Middle East and Africa are ablaze as sects battle each other and well-armed groups compete with each other for supremacy in their countries. It seems to me that the world cannot afford "quadrupling" of populations forever. Even now, with millions fleeing Iraq, the rest of the Middle East and North Africa, we are far from finding an effective solution to overpopulation in an area that is losing acreage to desert every day, every week, every year.
Maybe avoiding DDT and other insecticides may be the only thing we can do to end the enormous migration from south to north.