Contrary to popular opinion, our natural resources -- food, water, energy, minerals, forests -- are not crucial shock areas, or even major constraints. All the dire estimates, from the Club of Rome's to Global 2000's, are based on projections; they overestimate the demand side and are often wildly wrong on the supply side.

Consider the food problem. Ten years ago there were only about five major exporters of cereals and grains: the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and, marginally, one or two other countries. Today almost every country in the world is just about self-sufficient in food, and seeking export markets. India is a prime example. The only major importer of grains today is the Soviet Union, and that too many change.

Global 2000 had based its forecasts on assumptions that the world demand for food would increase steadily for twenty years, that food production would fall in the developed countries, that real food prices would double. This was in 1980. But global food production has increased everywhere, particularly in the United States, where farmers went deeply into debts to expand their acreage. Today we have a worldwide glut.

How about famines? Until the twentieth century, a famine was recorded almost every year somewhere in the world. Today famines are rare. The one in Ethiopia and surrounding regions was caused by a combination of drought and the destruction of the small-trading storage system by the political authorities. This is the key point in almost all instances; the problems of food production are political.

While famine is not a "problem," malnuturition surely is; but this derives from poverty, and the failures of economic growth; those are political and cultural.