Most people don't deny that the world is pretty screwed (i.e. everybody apart from George Bush) - so here's a humanitarian puzzle which has no obvious answer, which is guaranteed to catch out the ethically handicapped... .
Right, so the whole world's resources are being consumed at a faster rate than they are being replenished, yet the human population is growing at an exponential rate...nature's way of fixing things is to have a die back to restore balance (the problem with humans is that their technological balances allow them to go further than other animals).
If the human population is guaranteed to have a massive dieback in the future, it is 'obviously' better to decrease the population now (i.e. kill people) so that less people die in the future - but as you can see, his is highly unethical. The advantages of this would also be that species necessary to keep the world's ecosystems don't become extinct, whereas if we do nothing, our desire for resources means that they won't have any, and they will die out.
So, unless you believe things will sort themselves out naturally, it is actually less ethical to do nothing than to go round killing people (randomly, of course, to be fair ) - although, it obviously isn't as simple as that - consciously killing someone is less ethical than to leave them to die.
I would love the people of the world to have an equal distribution of resources (or something close to it), but giving money to poor countries where they typically have lots of children in order that enough resources can be garnered for the family is just contributing to the problem.
Everybody has the right to life (with maybe a few exceptions...) and it is unfortunate that people have to give money due to inequality, but helping people who are already poor survive means that they are creating more people who will have an added devastating effect on the world, making more people poor...and dead.
I just want to make it clear that I don't condone the killing of people, I'm not a racist, and that I don't have an answer to the problem - I just wanted to see whether there was an ethical answer to this, because just doing nothing obviously has it's problems, as I said.
On an individual basis, everybody could have no children and conserve resources, but the global population increases mean that somewhere down the line, loads of people are certain to die in mass famine etc. (they already are). I think it would wrong not to help such people in such situations, and it's also wrong to play god (though I'm an atheist ) and talk down on the world about what is right (as I have done in this thread) e.g. telling people not to have children or to lay down and die , because every person has a right to a life where they make their own decisions.
Send answers on a postcard to: UN Headquarters, New York
or just post them here, it's cheaper and has less of an impact on the environment.