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Chapter 5:

Food and hunger


P. 61 right and Fig. 24: FLAW

Lomborg presents the proportion of starving in percent in different regions of the developing world. He claims that "Since 1970, the proportion of starving people has fallen in all regions, and it is set to fall even further for almost all regions." The data sources are three FAO reports: Firstly, the report from the World Food summit in 1996; secondly, the report "The state of food insecurity in the world 1999", and thirdly, the same report for 2000. The first gives data for 1970, 1980, 1991 and (projected) 2010, the second for 1980, 1991 and 1996, and the third for 1991 and 1997. Each graph combines data from the three data sets. Flaw: Whereas the data sets from the two latter reports are congruent and may be combined, the data of the first report deviates from the others in that estimates for Asia are generally lower, and those for the Near East and Africa are generally higher. Thus, the estimates for Subsaharan Africa in 1980 and 1991 are 41 % and 43 % starving in the first report, but 37 % and 35 % in the second report. The first report presents a rising trend for Africa from 1970 onwards, whereas the second report presents a falling trend for Africa from 1980 onwards. Thus, the two data sets do not fit together and give different impressions. Nevertheless, they have been combined by Lomborg, and in doing this, he has happened to make the impression of a fall in Africa even a bit stronger than it was already. Likewise, the data for the Near East and North Africa are clearly not congruent and should not be combined. Lomborg might have said that data for 1970 are from a different report and not strictly comparable to the others, but then he has the problem that he uses the first report also for the projected figures for 2010. Here again he has a problem, because the projection for the Near East and N Africa is higher than the actual figure for 1997, so if the figure had been drawn strictly correct, one would see a rise for this region from 1997 to 2010. Actually however, the curve in the figure is horizontal for this period. The claim that the proportion of starving has fallen in all regions since 1970 is approximately correct, except that the data for Subsaharan Africa from 1970 onwards show a rise. Only when the two data sets are combined, can a fall in Africa since 1970 be"demonstrated". The latest report (FAO´s food insecurity report for 2003) has revised the estimate for Africa in 1997 opwards to 35 %, and so there is no fall from 1991. Also, this latest report gives a rise for the Near East and N Africa from 8 % in 1991 to 10 % in 1997.

P. 63 bottom right: ERROR

" . . important countries like China and India still use more fertilizers." Error: This is not true for China, where fertilizer consumption has been constant from 1995 to 2001 (http://apps.fao.org).

P. 63 right, note 446: ERROR OF REFERENCE

Error: It seems that the reference should be WI 1997b, not 1997a. This error has arisen in the translation of the book from Danish to English.