(The Irish Times) – It’s a shift that has taken place slowly and without fanfare, but in the past 50 years the worst types of famine have become dramatically less frequent. Calamitous famines – those that cause more than a million deaths – have been eliminated. Great famines, defined as those that claim more than 100,000 lives, have reduced almost to vanishing point. The death toll from these calamities zig-zagged through much of the 20th century, but since the 1960s, in a period of rapid growth in the world population, the line on the famines graph has been sloping steadily downwards. That historic change convinces many specialists that famine and conflict-induced starvation could be brought to an end by 2030.